Homeowners say SunRail contractors invaded their personal property


SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Construction for SunRail is moving forward, but some homeowners in Seminole County say they had no idea that construction would be happening right in their backyards.

They say the contractor has invaded their personal property.

WFTV's Bianca Castro went to Lake Mary on Friday to check out the damage.

Large trees and heavy brush surround Lee Field's home, a natural buffer to the railway next door.

But now much of it is destroyed.

"It's been a disaster," he said.

He said contractors hired by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to design and build the SunRail system cut down 15 to 20 trees and plowed down the natural vegetation on his property. His fence is damaged too.

According to land survey, the homeowner's property ends at 7 feet, which would mean construction crews obviously cleared out brush and trees on their property.

"We are naive to how the whole process was going to work and I'm concerned again that SunRail and FDOT and their contractors are unsure of what they're doing with respect to the land clearing," said Field.

WFTV took his concerns straight to the contractor:

"Did you clear brush that was clearly on their property?" Castro asked.

"I'm not aware of this, but I'll get back to you," the contractor replied.

But under the $163 million contract with FDOT, Archer Western is responsible for any damage to homeowners' properties.

"Are you going to fix it?" Castro asked.

"We've been talking with the property owners, so we've been getting in touch with them," he said.

But what Field wants most now is for someone to take responsibility and to let others know SunRail may be coming to their backyards as well.

"If you own property along these railroads, photo or video document what your property looks like and definitely know where your borders are," he said.

An FDOT spokesperson told WFTV Archer Western is re-surveying the land along the railway corridor to make sure the problem doesn't happen again.

But one Seminole County commissioner who just learned about the problem told WFTV he plans to make sure the contractor does the right thing.

The SunRail project is broken into two phases. The first connects DeBary to Sand Lake Road and the first trains are supposed to start running in 2014.

The trains will run every 30 minutes during peak morning and afternoon hours and at two-hour intervals in between.

The second phase runs from Sand Lake Road to Poinciana and north from DeBary to DeLand. Those trains are expected to start running in 2016.