Cape Coral land owner fighting city over eminent domain

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- The owner of a tree trimming business in Cape Coral says the city is threatening to take his 5-acre parcel just off Pine Island Road, citing eminent domain.

Jeff Bunch purchased the plot of land about five years ago, hoping to one day develop it. He currently uses the land to dump excess mulch from his business to save both time and money.

“I feel like I’m being bullied. I feel like I got a bunch of gangsters trying to club me over the head and steal my property, that’s what I feel like,” Bunch said, adding he can’t believe the city can’t find another piece of land to use.

“The city contacted us and they said they wanted to buy our property,” Bunch said. “Every time they called, I told them it wasn’t for sale, they weren’t offering me much for it at all.”

Bunch says he later received a notice from the city saying it intended to take his land through eminent domain, the ability of a government to take private property for public use through compensation. The city plans to put a storage tank on the land to support an irrigation system.

Located near where a new Wal-Mart Supercenter will be built, the city appraised the land at $290,000 and offered Bunch roughly $330,000 for it, but he turned it down.

“They’re trying to get this property for cheap is what they’re doing. They’re trying to save a dime and take a working man like me and give me peanuts for it,” Bunch added.

Bunch hired attorney Bob Burandt who says the city doesn’t have to take his client’s property.

“There are other pieces around there for sale that they can negotiate with or they can condemn,” Burandt said. “The problem with government sometimes is they spend so much time and effort in one direction that they become blinded and they don’t look to other alternatives.”

Burandt says the city attorney called him on Friday to set up a meeting to discuss the issue.

The City of Cape Coral will not comment on the legal matter.

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