Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt.
October 5, 2012
Case #: 11-1447
Court Below: Supreme Court of Florida, 77 So.3d 1220 (2011)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2011/sc09-713.pdf
Property Law: Whether an "exactions taking" occurs under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution when the government actor does not compel dedication of any interest in the real property to the public use, and when the alleged exaction consists of imposition of a monetary obligation as a condition of permit issuance but the permit is never issued.
In 1994, Petitioner sought Respondent’s approval to develop 3.7 acres of a 14.2 acre parcel, most of which lies within a Riparian Habitat Protection Zone subject to Respondent’s jurisdiction. Petitioner wanted to develop 3.4 acres of wetlands and .3 acres of uplands, and sought a permit to dredge three and one quarter acres of wetlands. Respondent offered to recommend approval if Petitioner would deed the remaining portion of his property into a conservation area and perform offsite mitigation on property Petitioner did not own, or if Petitioner would reduce the development to one acre and deed the remaining 14 acres into a conservation area. Petitioner agreed to deed his excess property into conservation status but refused Respondent’s demands for offsite mitigation or reduction of his development from three and seven-tenths acres to one acre. Consequently, Respondent denied his permit applications.
Petitioner filed an inverse condemnation lawsuit in state court claiming that Respondent’s permit decisions violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The trial court found in Petitioner’s favor, the court of appeals affirmed, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed and held that under the takings clauses of the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution, the Nollan/Dolan rule applies only where the condition or exaction sought by the government requires the owner to dedicate an interest in real property in exchange for permit approval; and that even if the rule does not require the exaction of real property, it would apply only where the government actually issues the requested permit and thereby renders the owner's interest in the real property subject to the required dedication.
On appeal Petitioner argues that Respondent violated the Constitution by conditioning permit approval upon Petitioner’s dedication of money and labor to a public project wholly unimpacted by his proposal.