DADE CITY — Pasco County officials got a key piece of land for a wildlife corridor and some right of way to use someday for the proposed Ridge Road Extension under a $1.8 million settlement reached with the property owners.
The deal, approved Tuesday by county commissioners, closes the 2011 lawsuit filed by Daniel and Kathy Jimison, who alleged that changes the county made in land use rules amounted to a taking of their 19.8 acres on the west side of U.S. 41 across from the Connerton development.
"It was a prime location for commercial," said David Smolker, the attorney for the Jimisons.
But because Five Mile Creek ran through the property, the county included it as part of its program to link up wildlife areas across the county.
The county also denied the couple's request to change the county's long-term growth plan.
After the Jimisons sued, the case went to mediation. Had a deal not been reached, it was set to go to trial in January.
Under the settlement, the Jimisons will get $1.8 million for the land and will drop their suit.
The purchase price is less than the sellers' appraised value of $3.25 million, less than the value based on the county's first appraisal, for the Ridge Road Extension project, but more than the county's second appraisal, which valued the property at about $1.23 million.
"The parties sort of met somewhere in between," Smolker said.
All but .72 acres will be preserved for wildlife, with the bulk of the money coming from the sensitive lands fund.
The smaller parcel will be used for right of way should the Ridge Road Extension ever get approved. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to approve a permit, which has been in the application process for more than a decade.