BRADENTON, Fla. — A Florida attorney who says his property will be devalued by a private passenger train project wants to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging tax-exempt financing for the project.
Walter Postula, a homeowner in Martin County's Hobe Sound, filed a motion June 5 seeking to join the county's lawsuit, which is challenging the U.S. Department of Transportation's $1.75 billion private activity bond allocation for All Aboard Florida.
Postula said he lives close to the Florida East Coast Railway where All Aboard Florida trains would travel providing inter-city express service between Miami and Orlando.
Postula said he believes that his home and land will lose "substantial value" because of the project.
He cited a June 1 report on residential property sales by Dr. Jesse Saginor, director of Housing, Economy and Urban Development at Florida Atlantic University. The Martin County Property Appraiser's Office requested the report.
"The ultimate conclusion that can be made from Dr. Saginor's report is that the substantial loss in property values along the tracks will cause great harm to the property tax base of Martin County," Postula said in court papers.
Postula said his property will lose value, and "Martin County will lose a significant amount of its tax base causing the county to provide fewer services for residents and fewer improvements to its infrastructure."
Saginor's report examined the perceived impacts of the March 2012 announcement by AAF that it planned to build the 235-mile-long project.
The study examined single-family residential property sales between 2005 and February 2015 located within 400 feet and 1,000 feet of the rail line, and waterfront homes farther away.
The report concluded that smaller homes closer to the railroad exhibited the most negative sales price impacts. A majority of medium and large homes located further away benefitted from their proximity to the water.
The property appraiser said it requested the Saginor report to assist the office in documenting the train project's impact on property values for the preparation of the residential tax roll.