Skip to comments.URGENT: DISABLED VET TO MAKE HISTORY AS FIRST FLORIDA HOMESTEAD TO BE CONFISCATED VIA EMINENT DOMAIN
Posted on 03/10/2003 5:26:01 AM PST by AAABEST
David will take on Goliath, Mar. 13, as Southern Golden Gate Estates property owner Jesse Hardy fights the state of Florida for 160 acres of land he has called home for 27 years.
Located in what is called the "Hole in the Donut," the property is part of the state's 55,000-acre buy-out to restore natural water flows to the SGGE, once slated for development.
Hardy says his property is not necessary to the restoration project and will not be adversely affected by it.
"I'm not against any of the environmentalists' work to re-hydrate the Southern Golden Gate Estates," he says. "I'm all for it. The more water, the happier I will be. I'm not trying to stop anything. I just want to keep my home."
The 67-year-old Florida native homesteaded the rustic property in 1976. Using propane and a gas-powered generator, he lives in a tiny wood frame home with his seven-year-old son. Despite talk of offers of up to $5 million, Hardy says he has no plans to sell his property for any price.
"Living here is what has kept me going," he says. "It's my home. I'm too old to go anywhere else."
Hardy is one of three property owners holding out on the state's quest to purchase the final 4,000 acres of the buy-out, which has cost $90 million thus far.
Last month, the governor and Cabinet were asked to initiate condemnation proceedings on Hardy's property. If approved, it would be the first time the state has ever used eminent domain to take homesteaded land. Instead, the Cabinet directed the Department of Environmental Protection land acquisition agents to negotiate with property owners.
Hardy says it won't make any difference. He has no plans to sell his property for any price.
"My attorney asked me if there is any dollar amount I would take for my property. I told him, no,'" he says, "My attorney said, Don't be surprised if the Cabinet grants eminent domain.' He said it will be up to me to get the information to the governor to stop it."
Hardy is hopeful area residents will show their support by writing letters asking the governor not to grant eminent domain and allow him to keep his land.
Estates resident Cindy Kemp, founding member of the Property Rights Action Committee (PRAC), says the group hopes to assist Hardy in his quest. She says PRAC has connections with other property groups across the nation and a letter writing campaign is underway.
A special gathering to meet Hardy and hear his story will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Mar. 9, at his property. For directions, call 352-9033.
"He has such an interesting story," Kemp says. "People need to hear it to fully understand his situation."
At an elevation of 11-13 feet, Hardy says his property will never be affected by the restoration project. He says he doesn't understand why the state is insisting on buying him out.
"It was willing buyer, willing seller," he says. "It was always willing buyer, willing seller. It was a CARL project for the benefit of the people of Collier County. If they shut it off to where people can't use it, how is that a benefit to the people of Collier County?"
Hardy says he is frustrated by a lack of reasons as to why he is being forced to sell his land.
"They haven't given me no reason for wanting me out," he says. "They made their deal with everyone else, but here it's like they want it all."
A disabled Navy SEAL, Hardy says the money doesn't matter to him.
"It's my home and it means more to me than the money. If it (condemnation) was for something useful to the public health and well-being, like a school, a fire station, or a hospital, I would move with no problem," he says.
Nearly two years ago, Collier County gave Hardy the go-ahead to build the first of four proposed 20-acre ponds to create a fish farm. Several environmental groups including the Florida Wildlife Federation and the Collier County Audubon Society originally opposed the concept, but later agreed to support the construction of one 20-acre pond. Any future excavation will have to be re-approved by the county.
Hardy has three years to complete the first pond and have it stocked and landscaped. He says the project is currently one-third complete and the fill has been purchased by the county for road building.
He says the fish in the pond are doing well and predators have not been a problem. He hopes to one day open the area up to the public for recreational fishing.
"I'm not going to do just commercial catfish," he says. "We will have three to four different kinds of native species like bass and brim. It should be a real benefit to the people of Collier County."
God will bless you for that Sam.
You're absolutely right my friend. National exposure will help a great deal, as Jeb has his eye on Washington.
my property is being threatened under the nontidal wetland regulations, that can delegate drainage ditches as nontidal wetlands, with criminal fines of noncompliance of $500.00 a day, and nothing for complying... accept the ability to pay taxes on property i cannot do anything with, ie farm, till, harvest trees...
fight on homesteader....
We are certain that Jeb Bush will appreciate the local self-governance principle which prompted you to ping these people who live in California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Georgia, and New Jersey. We are certain that Jeb Bush will give them and their correspondence all the consideration they are due, which is none. In the meantime I will follow your lead and ping a bunch of other outsiders to contact Florida governmental representatives, and tell them how they should be self-governing themselves there, too. Asking people to be busy-bodies and stick their noses into other people's business must be one of those 'principles' we hear about.
SNORK! From now on, my mental image of AppyPappy is indelibly associated with the voice of a Barbie Doll ("Math is hard...").
You lurk here? I gotta ask -- do you get ticked off when people call you "Tiny Tom", "Dasshole", etc?
Hey Luis. I know it's an honest question.
He's a very determined ex-Navy frogman who won't sell at any price.
I swear this is uncanny. He just called me 5 minutes ago and stated exactly that. Then I read your post.
I need some of that Twilight Zone music.
This man served this country. The WHOLE country, not just a certain state. Of course, 'we' could always ask him if he was merely fighting/serving the United STATE of Florida.
AAABEST responds: It's the King of the Anti-American Freedom Hating Club! Nice of you to stop by.
CJ, your tune sure was different when Federal employee Dug Czar John Walters campaigned in Colorado against a State Medical Marijuana ballot intiative. I guess people are only busy-bodies when you disagree with what they support.