Mr. Brigham represented A. Duda & Sons involving property transitioning between its Cocoa Ranch and Viera development. The original Cocoa Ranch tract of some 38,000 acres exhibited a whole spectrum of uses from mixed-use development proximate to I-95, to agricultural uses for a sod farm and cattle ranch, to preservation lands near the St. Johns River and Lake Winder.
Many years before, A. Duda & Sons had accommodated Brevard County in the location of an 80-acre regional wastewater treatment plant toward the western boundary of its Viera DRI. A. Duda & Sons had also granted a “disbursement easement” at nominal cost for Brevard County to use its overhead spray rigs consistent with its use of the underlying fee simple for sod farming.
Brevard County filed a lawsuit to take 240 acres of land from A. Duda & Sons adjacent to its wastewater treatment plant for the construction of a Wetlands Disposal System or Effluent Treatment Wetland. Extending an initial offer of $650,026, Brevard County threatened to proceed to trial with an estimate of value of approximately $200,000 discounting the fee simple value based upon A. Duda & Sons earlier courtesy of granting to Brevard County the “disbursement easement” under the interpretation that the County could flood the land under its easement rights. Of greater significance, however, was the fact that Brevard County was not acquiring any easement to discharge from its proposed Wetland Disposal System to A. Duda & Sons’ privately-owned 4-Mile Canal which provided drainage for all of its neighboring agricultural lands to Lake Winder. Because the state and federal governments were considering implementing regulation, at the time referred to as Pollutant Loading Reduction Goals (“PLURGS”) and Total Maximum Daily Loads (“TMDLS”), the worst-case scenario for A. Duda & Sons would be that Brevard County’s public use would consume the available pollutant loading capacity, requiring restrictions on A. Duda & Sons’ sod farming operations.
After litigation in both circuit and appellate courts, Mr. Brigham was able to secure a settlement of $2,113,190 and negotiate terms of a formal drainage easement with Brevard County which protects A. Duda & Sons’ agricultural uses of its Cocoa Ranch property.