After being rebuffed by homeowners in the Rosehill neighborhood, the City of Tallahassee’s electric utility is moving to buy property off of Spencer Road to expand a electric distribution substation in northeast Tallahassee.
And homeowners on Spencer Road are not happy about the decision or the process.
The property purchase was scheduled to be handled at the January 31st city commission meeting under the consent agenda, until City Commissioner Gil Ziffer pulled the item for discussion. Normally, consent agenda items are not discussed.
Also, in an ironic twist, the homeowners on Spencer Road find themselves at the mercy of elected officials they cannot hold accountable at the ballot box. The residents are impacted by the City of Tallahassee’s utilities, but their property is not located within the city limits.
At the meeting, the City’ electric utility is slated to ask the city commission to approve the purchase of a 1.59-acre parcel of land and single-family residence located on the west side of Spencer Road, in advance of the substation expansion project. Negotiations resulted in an agreed upon sale price of $415,000.
The proposed purchase makes it clear that the City’ electric utility has decided that a part of Spencer Road will one day be home to the substation expansion.
However, before Spencer Road became the target of the expansion, an agreement with Rosehill residents was close to being finalized.
City documents show that in September of 2015, the City made a formal offer to acquire the land needed from the Rosehill homeowners.
In December of 2015, Rosehill formally rejected the offer and provided a $1.72 million counter offer. At the suggestion of Rosehill, the City agreed to enter into a pre-suit mediation on this issue. This mediation occurred in February of 2016 with a settlement agreement reached.
The settlement agreement was conditioned upon the approval of the Rosehill residents, consistent with their governing documents, and the City Commission. The settlement agreement provided for a $1.3 million payment with $1.125 million to Rosehill and the balance to their attorney and experts.
On June 1, 2016, the Rosehill HOA held a meeting with their homeowners and the settlement agreement was not approved.
It appears the City considered, but never followed through with, eminent domain proceedings.
Now comes the Spencer Road purchase which has left the residents upset about the lack of communication and wondering how many more homes will be purchased to accommodate the substation expansion.