Hurricanes and Eminent Domain

Glenn Compton
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing to spend $5.5 billion for a hurricane protection plan that will buy and elevate homes in the Florida Keys.

The plan will involve elevating 7,300 houses, floodproofing 3,800 buildings and buying and demolishing about 300 homes.

If a homeowner decides not to voluntarily participate in the program, then local governments will be asked to use eminent domain to buy out the property. This buyout plan is currently happening in the Florida Keys, and it will likely occur throughout all of the coastal Florida communities eventually.

Although ManaSota-88 and other public interest groups have warned of the catastrophic losses that would occur from a major storm, both state and local governments continue to permit and subsidize development in low lying coastal areas.
Ignoring the probability of human injury and death, the costs to the taxpayer of subsidizing development in the coastal zone are enormous. While there has been no direct hit in our area for some time, damages from a significant storm will likely be in the billions. Roads will have to be replaced, bridges strengthened, structures replaced - all with federal & state funds or federal subsidized flood insurance.
Rather than continuing to throw away tax monies, plans should be put in place to limit the number of times flood insurance can be issued to rebuild. Florida should set aside funds to purchase land where structures have been destroyed etc. This strategy should continue until the government works its way out of subsidizing unwise coastal development.

Revised county comprehensive plans should prohibit the construction of new development in low-lying areas, such plans should designate these areas for conservation, recreation and open space.

Coastal governments need to recognize the futility of trying to evacuate an ever-growing population and decide to limit the population.

Glenn Compton is the Chairman of ManaSota 88, a non-profit organization that has spent over 30 years fighting to protect the environment of Manatee and Sarasota counties.