Can the Department of Transportation Condemn a Portion of a Restaurant's Parking Lot for the Expansion of a State Road ?

In State Dep't of Transp. v. Murray, 670 So. 2d 977 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996), quashed on other grounds, 687 So. 2d 825 (Fla. 1997), the First District reaffirmed its previous holdings in Byrd and Williams. In Murray, the Department of Transportation ("DOT") condemned a portion of a restaurant's parking lot for the expansion of a state road. At trial, DOT proffered expert testimony that thirteen spaces would be taken, but a complete cure was available that effectively negated severance damages. Specifically, five spaces could be added to the end of the existing parking bays, and eight spaces could be created by striping a paved area on the east side of the restaurant that was used for overflow parking during peak business periods. The trial court disallowed that part of the cure testimony relating to the striping and use of the paved area for eight parking spaces. On appeal, the First District approved the trial court's action, relying on Byrd and Williams: "The Department ignores the fact that the area it proposes to stripe as replacement for spaces taken already is used for overflow parking. As a result, the expert's opinion ignores the reduction in value of the restaurant business with a smaller parking area available for customer use or a lesser area for parking expansion in the unstriped parking area." See Murray, 670 So. 2d at 979. The court subsequently quashed the First District's decision in Murray on other grounds. See Murray v. Dep't of Transp., 687 So. 2d 825 (Fla. 1997). In so doing, we limited our review to consideration of the certified questions not directly related to the pending issues, and expressly declined to address that portion of the district court's opinion regarding whether the trial court erred by excluding testimony concerning DOT's cost-to-cure proposal. See id. at 826.