A major legal battle is occurring in Florida between one couple and a city over a piece of property. The issue revolves around waterfront property spanning 16 acres, which is connected to the restaurant that the couple owns. This legal real estate dispute has already lasted six years, and it doesn't look like it will be resolved anytime soon.
The family had hoped to turn the piece of land into a pier and nature walk, townhouses and a storage facility for dry boats; they bought the land for more than $20 million and spent more than $9 million developing it. However, the city of Ponce Inlet is against the project, with the city’s citizens voicing opposition to it through a 2008 referendum. Citizens felt the dry-boat establishment would become an eyesore and would produce too much traffic in the area.
The couple ended up suing the town, saying that forcing them to get rid of the facility meant that the land was being unconstitutionally taken from them because the land’s intended use was being denied. A judge in 2012 ruled in the couple’s favor, saying that the land was unfairly taken and that the government had to compensate the landowners because it inordinately burdened them through its regulations. The couple and the town attempted to complete settlement negotiations but failed in their efforts. The town thus appealed the judge’s ruling to an appeals court, and the court overturned the part of the judge's ruling that the government must compensate the couple.
The appeals court ruling may affect an upcoming jury trial scheduled to determine financial damages owed to the couple. A trial was originally supposed to take place in May, but it had to be rescheduled after one judge removed himself from the proceedings back in March. The new trial has been scheduled for August. Both sides of the property battle are gathering evidence as well as land appraisals in an effort to support their financial damage claims. When a real estate dispute occurs, it is within the rights of both parties to vigorously defend their best interests in Florida.
Source: news-journalonline.com, "Land dispute pits Ponce Inlet against local family", Lacey McLaughlin, June 26, 2014