Supreme Court to Hear Orange County “Takings” Case
The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it will hear a Florida case being closely watched by developers and environmentalists over the issue of government “takings” of property.
The case, Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, stems from a 1994 decision by the water management agency to deny a permit to Orange County landowner Coy Koontz for a development project.
The district had made the permit contingent on a mitigation project in another area miles away from the proposed project and Koontz argued that in denying him the ability to develop his land to its full value, the government was essentially “taking” his property.
Lower courts agreed with Koontz – who died as the case worked its way through the system – and a judge ordered the district to compensate his estate $376,000.
The Florida Supreme Court, however, overturned the 5th District Court of Appeal’s ruling in Koontz’ favor. The state Supreme Court said that government agencies had to have the ability to negotiate with landowners on permits to avoid “undue harm to the community.”
Local governments sided with the water management district at the lower court level, and have closely watched the issue, which appears not to have been addressed, at least specifically and definitively, by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nation’s high court included the case Friday on a list of seven new cases it has agreed to hear this term. It did so without comment.