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Sarasota landowners paid for property seized for Legacy Trail expansion

Three landowners with property in the Sawyer Loop Road to Ashton Road segment of the Legacy Trail received $500,000.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Some landowners with property along a 1.7-mile segment of the Legacy Trail between Sawyer Loop Road and Ashton Road have received compensation after part of their land was seized under eminent domain for the trail's construction.

The federal government recently awarded nearly $500,000 to three landowners in Sarasota, who were forced to give up their property or parts of it to make way for the trail. 

The money is part of a settlement in the property owners' right-of-way lawsuit against the government and is made available to the property owners through a Judgment Fund set up by the Treasury Department. 

The land in question is made up of commercial and industrial properties.

Attorneys Meghan Largent and Lindsay Brinton of the law firm Lewis Rice are representing the landowners. They say these first payouts are only the beginning.

"This was absolutely a success on behalf of my clients. My clients wanted to recover the just compensation they were owed and the government agreed to their liability and agreed to compensate these owners," Brinton said.

"My three clients are the pioneers that have been the first to be successful, the first to receive the just compensation and the first to have a great result on their behalf," she added.

While three landowners in the Sawyer Loop Road to Ashton Road segment of the Legacy Trail have already been compensated, Brinton and Largent say there are numerous others in the area who are also eligible for compensation but have not yet filed a claim.

Brinton and Largent have helped landowners along the Legacy Trail recover more than $10 million in compensation. They focus on representing landowners across the country to pursue their Fifth Amendment Takings claims against the federal government.

The payout to the commercial property owners has given hope to several residential landowners who also have lawsuits and are anticipating their own compensation.

"It has been really frustrating and it's taking a long time to get to this point where it's actually an agreed amount so it's just been a lot of back-and-forth," Nicky Trueblood said.

About 35 landowners in the Ashton Road to Payne Park segment will recover more than $2 million later this year.

Some homeowners like Trueblood want to build a higher privacy fence to wall off the trail and their back yard. Trueblood hopes to used the money to fund that project and is looking forward to when homeowners like her would get compensated for their land.

"I am hoping that since they have received their checks, hopefully, we can get it soon because we definitely deserve it because they do they took our land and took away our privacy as well," she said.

The popular multi-use trail is more than 10 miles long and extends from Sarasota to Venice. Formerly a railroad corridor, the trail passes through a variety of unique habitats and includes a series of interpretive signs and stop stations, according to the Sarasota County Government website.

The original 12.5 mile-long Legacy Trail was opened in 2006 while enhancements including asphalt paving as well as expansions have occurred over time. 

Last week, the county opened a part of the trail from Bahia Vista Street to Shamrock Park.