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Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 25, 2013
Case #: 11-1447
Alito, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Kagan, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1447_6j37.pdf

Property Law: The Fifth Amendment requires that the government follow the Nollan/Dolan requirement when demanding property from a land-use permit applicant even when the permit is denied.

Florida required landowners to acquire permits under the Water Resources Act and the Wetlands Resource Management in order to build near wetlands. Petitioner applied for permits to develop a section of wetlands. Respondent told Petitioner that the permits would only be approved if Petitioner gave Respondent a conservation easement on the remaining acres. Petitioner refused the conditions and Respondent denied the permit applications.

The lower court held Respondent’s actions unlawful under the Nollan/Dolan standard. The circuit court affirmed, but the state supreme court reversed. The Supreme Court granted review and held that Respondents must satisfy the Nollan/Dolan standard when placing conditions on permits, even when the permit is denied.

Nollan, 483 U.S. 825 (1987), and Dolan, 512 U.S. 374 (1994), held that the government cannot place permit conditions that require landowners to give up property rights, unless there is a nexus and a rough proportionality between the condition and the effects of the land use. Extortionate demands from the government frustrate the Fifth Amendment right to just compensation, and the unconstitutional conditions doctrine prohibits them.