A Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study is prepared to determine physical, natural, social and cultural impacts associated with a project. It is conducted to document the following information:
- Need for the project
- Benefits and impacts to the community and environment
- Design options
During the study, the project team will work with the public to get input and identify the best solution. Several outreach opportunities will be provided, including:
- Website with project updates (www.ImproveNeptuneRoad.com)
- Public workshops and meetings
- Public Hearing
When the study is complete, one of two recommendations is made:
- Build Alternative
- No-Build Alternative
The PD&E Study is expected to conclude by early 2020. The time required to complete the study is needed to be responsive to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. This allows us to evaluate various alternatives (i.e., widening to the north or widening to the south) and their impacts to the cultural, natural, social, and physical environments. This also gives us time to receive input from the public regarding the various alternatives we evaluate.
The study will consider traffic demands estimated to occur in 2045.
If a Build Alternative is selected, the next step will be the design of the roadway improvements, right-of-way acquisition followed by construction.
The project team will recommend an alternative to the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners and the Board will decide on which alternative will be implemented.
If a build alternative is selected, design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction could take five to six years. Thus, it is possible that the improvement could be completed by 2025.
The County is funding the existing PD&E Study using Mobility Fees collected from developers. The County has also applied for a federal grant which could fund most of the project. Ultimately, the funding will likely include some combination of county, state and federal funds.
Improving Neptune Road is a top priority of the County; however, there are limited funds to improve transportation. The County has been focusing on completion of Hoagland Boulevard, which began construction in October 2018. Now the County is able to focus on options for improving Neptune Road moving forward.
The County anticipates additional right-of-way will be needed along portions of Neptune Road to accommodate the proposed improvements. During the PD&E study, preliminary right-of-way needs will be identified. These needs will be finalized during the design phase.
If your property is needed for the improvement, you will receive a written offer from Osceola County along with an explanation of the rights guaranteed to you by law. The document will explain the nature of the project for which your property is needed, describe the portion of your property needed for the project and provide you the project and parcel designation we will use to identify the portion of your property being acquired. If you request copies of our appraisal of your property, right of way maps or construction plans, we will provide them within 15 business days of our receipt of your request. If our right of way maps and construction plans are not complete at the time of your request, we will provide them to the extent they are prepared.
Appraisal of Real Property
You will be contacted by an independent appraiser or real estate specialist working for Osceola County who will appraise or otherwise estimate the value of your property. The appraiser or real estate specialist must inspect your property as part of the valuation process. You are encouraged to be present during the inspection and provide any information you believe affects the value of your property.
You may obtain your own appraisal of the portion of your property being acquired. In order for the County to pay an appraisal fee, you must provide us a copy of your appraisal and submit an invoice showing the services performed by date, the hourly rate and the amount of the fee.
Negotiation for Purchase of Real Property
You will receive a written offer to purchase your property. The offer will be no less than the appraised value. If only a portion of your property is being acquired, the offer will also include an amount necessary to compensate you for any loss in value to your remaining property resulting from the partial acquisition. We will negotiate with you to try and reach a mutually acceptable agreement for the purchase of your property.
You may wish to be represented by an attorney or other agent during negotiations. If you choose to be represented, we will ask you to provide us written authorization, signed by both you and your representative. Once we have received your written authorization, we will conduct negotiations with your representative. However, the initial written offer must be delivered directly to you. Your authorized representative may be present when we deliver the initial offer, if you wish.
If you choose to be represented by an attorney, the County will pay a reasonable fee for his/her services provided the attorney is licensed to practice in Florida. If we reach an agreement with you for the purchase of your property, we will pay your attorney to review and analyze the details of the acquisition and to assist you in negotiations. The amount for attorney fees will either be based on a schedule contained in Florida Statutes, or if we both agree, based on a reasonable number of hours and hourly rate. If we cannot agree to a purchase price, attorney fees will be paid as described later under Eminent Domain. If we reach an agreement as to the amount of compensation, you will be asked to sign a purchase agreement agreeing to the terms of the sale.
You do not have to accept our offer of compensation for your property. You may make a counteroffer in the amount you feel is appropriate and we will consider your counteroffer in the negotiations. If we cannot reach an agreement as to the amount of compensation for your property the County may, as a last resort, seek to acquire your property through the courts. This is known as condemnation and is explained more thoroughly in the section entitled Eminent Domain. By law you must be given at least 30 days from the date you receive our written offer to respond before we can begin the condemnation process.
Real Estate Closing
At the closing we will provide the check for the agreed amount of compensation for your property and any damages to your remaining property, if applicable. In exchange, you will be asked to sign the appropriate documents to convey your property to Osceola County. The payment of fees and costs will also take place at closing. Fees and costs will not affect the agreed upon price for the real estate.
If we reach agreement on the value of your property, but cannot agree on the amount of the fees and costs, we can go forward with the closing for real estate and defer payment of the fees and costs. Ultimately, if we cannot agree on an amount for fees and costs, you have the right to file an action in the Circuit Court and have the court decide the amount to be paid.
- Osceola County always prefers to acquire property through negotiated settlements. However, if after negotiations we cannot agree on the price to be paid for your property, the County must consider acquisition through the courts which is called condemnation. The right to acquire private property through condemnation is known as the power of eminent domain.
- Although the County has the right to acquire private property, it must insure the owner is fully compensated for the property. In a condemnation suit, a jury may ultimately decide the amount the County must pay. However, if the County files a condemnation suit, we will continue to negotiate with you and your attorney to try to arrive at a mutually satisfactory amount to compensate you for your property. If we agree on the terms of settlement, the condemnation suit will be concluded, and your fees and costs will be paid as previously described.
- In a condemnation action, your attorney fees will be paid based on a schedule contained in Florida Statutes. Fees will be paid calculated as a percentage of the benefit your attorney achieves for you. The term benefit means the difference between the amounts the court awards (final judgment amount) and the amount of the last written offer made before you hire an attorney. If no written offer has been made before you hire an attorney, the benefit will be calculated from the first written offer made by the County after you hire an attorney. In determining the amount of benefit for the purposes of calculating attorney fees, the court may also consider nonmonetary benefits the attorney obtains for you.
- After 120 days have passed, from the time you file your answer to our lawsuit, you may make an offer to the County to settle all claims, except fees and costs. This offer is known as a defendant’s offer of judgment. If we reject your offer of judgment and the amount the court awards (final judgment amount) exclusive of interest, is equal to or more than your offer of judgment, your attorney fees will be paid based on an amount the court determines you would ordinarily be expected to pay if the County were not responsible for payment. Please be aware that the law limits your offer of judgment to a maximum of $100,000.
- The reasonable costs you incur for services other than legal services, as a result of the condemnation, will also be paid by the County. However, payment of these costs may be limited, if after 120 days from the date you file your answer to our lawsuit the County makes an offer to settle all claims, excluding fees and costs (petitioner’s offer of judgment). If you reject our offer of judgment and the amount the jury awards (final judgment amount), exclusive of interest, is equal to or less than our offer of judgment, you will be responsible for all costs you incur after the date you reject our offer of judgment.
The law does not allow the County to pay interest on amounts for fees and costs.
We understand that a transportation project requiring the acquisition of private property may cause concern and result in many questions. We are very interested in hearing your concerns and answering your questions. You will have adequate time to obtain all of the information you need, to study your options and make informed decisions. Please be assured we will do everything we can do to be sensitive and responsive to your needs and to insure you receive all of your rights.
The rights explained above are derived from Chapter 73, Florida Statutes.