County to use eminent domain: Orlando (FL) Sentinel, 8/2/06

Efforts are under way to acquire land through eminent domain for a new parking garage that will serve the Lake County [FL] Judicial Center and the property appraiser and tax collector's offices.

County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to direct their legal staff to start condemnation proceedings for the land where Beef O'Brady's Family Sports Pub sits off North Texas Avenue as well as an unoccupied office building across the street from the restaurant.

County officials say they need the space to build a parking garage that could contain up to 1,500 spaces to help accommodate more traffic at the judicial center, which is being planned for expansion. The project will coincide with construction of new offices for the tax collector and property appraiser.

County Attorney Sandy Minkoff said the county is also looking to acquire Belton Bail Bonds, 322 W. Main St., to make room for the garage. County officials are negotiating a land swap with the owners.

Commissioner Debbie Stivender cast the lone vote opposing eminent domain. She said the county had promised to accommodate business owners by building the garage so that the businesses could operate at the bottom level.

Beef O'Brady's owners could not be reached for comment Tuesday but have previously expressed unhappiness about the idea of the county taking over the property. Stivender called it a "very viable business. A lot of people from the county and county employees come here for lunch."

Orlando Sentinel: http://www.orlandosentinel.com