Published On: Sun, Jun 30th, 2013

Supreme Court sides with land owner, Coy Koontz, in Florida wetlands case batting ‘extortionate demands’ on the state

While DOMA and Prop 8 decisions by the Supreme Court made the headlines, a very important decision by the SCOTUS may affect a wide range of land-use regulations.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Central Florida property owner was unfairly required to compensate for the proposed destruction of some wetlands on his land nearly two decades ago.

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

The case involves a 15 acre wetland in east Orange County (near Orlando, Florida) owned by the estate of Coy Koontz, a veteran Orlando developer who sought permits in 1993-94 to prepare his land for commercial development by filling in wetlands that drain to the Econlockhatchee River.

Koontz sued the St. Johns River Water Management District when it suggested he could obtain the permit to fill the wetlands if he paid to have wetlands restored elsewhere in Orange County. (Emphasis added, BBJ – The Dispatch)

Last year, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the water district acted accordingly, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision.

“Today’s ruling says the Fifth Amendment protects landowners from government extortion, whether the extortion is for money or any other form of property,” said lawyer Paul J. Beard II, of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which handled the Supreme Court case on behalf of Koontz.

The 5-4 decision was comprised of the “conservative” judges with Justice Samuel Alito stating: “Extortionate demands of this sort frustrate the Fifth Amendment right to just compensation.”

Justice Elena Kagan sided with the water district, however, labeling it “unwise” for the court to undermine a routine part of how government regulators conduct business.

The water district, in a prepared statement released Tuesday, said it will be “working to ensure that the legal principles announced in today’s decision are being addressed.”

“The decision is a very serious loss for local governments,” said John Echeverria, a Vermont Law School professor specializing in land use and property rights who filed a brief for state and local government associations on St. Johns’ behalf.

“It means requirements to pay fees or other payments as a condition of permit approvals will be subject to heightened scrutiny. That is a revolutionary change in the law,” he added.

The developer died in 2000, but his son took over the case.


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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Supreme Court sides with land owner, Coy Koontz, in Florida wetlands case … - The Global Dispatch | Land Depot of Florida says:

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