Florida property owners may be interested to know that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of increased protections for property owners against abusive federal, state and local governments. The ruling specifically targets property owners who need permits in order to improve existing structures or develop vacant land. The ruling comes as a result of a recent real estate dispute case that has become relatively well-known, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.
Representation for Coy Koontz, Jr., an Orange County Florida resident, believes that all property owners stand to benefit from the recent decision. Thanks to the ruling, governments will be required to demonstrate a close connection between the request for fees or money and the impact of the property owner’s project. Prior to the ruling, there was no federal standard and federal, state and local governments could easily impose whatever actions they wanted.
The origin of the case spans two decades, when Coy Koontz, Sr. attempted to develop less than four acres of a 15 acre plot of land, which he owned. The land was not home to endangered plants or animals and had no wetlands. However, the St. Johns River Water Management District demanded that he spend $150,000 to improve some government owned property several miles away. The demand came despite the fact that Koontz agreed to place his remaining 11 acres in a conservation easement.
It seemed fairly obvious that the demand had nothing to do with Koontz's proposal, so he sued. Koontz, Sr. won his trial in Florida and in the appellate courts, but was not successful at the state Supreme Court level. And though he passed away in the interim, his family continued the legal battle.
Property owners have rights and certain protections under the umbrella of the law. This recent ruling could be considered a victory for property owners all over the state of Florida, and elsewhere for that matter. Thankfully, the Koontz family had the wherewithal to pursue legal action in the form of a real estate dispute when justice was compromised.
Source: Heartlander Magazine, "Huge Supreme Court Win for Property Owners," Steve Stanek, July 16, 2012