Sarasota County is working to extend The Legacy Trail over the former CSX railroad right-of-way. The Legacy Trail currently covers ten miles from Venice to Sarasota. The County is looking to extend the trail an additional 7.5 miles to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.
Arent Fox estimates that several hundreds of Sarasota County landowners will have a Fifth Amendment constitutional claim against the federal government for a taking of their property. Under Florida law, the railroad holds only an easement to run trains over this right-of-way. And, when the railroad stops running trains, the easement is extinguished. The adjoining landowners would recover their land adjacent to the right-of-way, free and clear of any easements or other encumbrances.
But, the federal Trails Act will allow (and has previously allowed) CSX to sell this rail line to Sarasota County for recreational purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court has held this federal law is constitutional, but under the Fifth Amendment, the federal government must pay landowners for a taking of their property.
Several hundred landowners along this “northern extension” of the Legacy Trail have already engaged Arent Fox to represent them in filing their claims against the federal government. Members of Arent Fox’s legal team will be holding an informational town-hall meeting at 6:00 pm on June 8th at the Girl Scout Headquarters at 4780 Cattleman Road in Sarasota, 34233.
For more information about this case, please contact Lindsay Brinton.