KOONTZ V. ST. JOHNS RIVER WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT

Facts: Mr. Koontz wanted to build a commercial building on a portion of his property which contained jurisdictional wetlands. In order to remain compliant with all permitting requirements of the State of Florida, Mr. Koontz offered mitigation plans to grant a conservation easement on ¾ of the property to the state. However, the State would only grant Mr. Koontz the proper permits under 2 conditions; (1) Mr. Koontz must reduce the size of his proposed development AND deed to the water management an conservation easement on the entire property save for where the structure was constructed OR (2) Mr. Koontz could proceed as he planned, but would also have to personally pay for improvements to be made to district-owned land several miles away. Mr. Koontz sued the water management district contending that the water management district’s action was, “an unreasonable exercise of the state’s police power constituting a taking without just compensation.”

What the Supreme Court Found: That the water management district violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine. The water management district was effectively trying to coerce Mr. Koontz into giving up his right to enjoy his own private property. There must be an appropriate nexus and appropriate rough proportionality between the demands levied by the state and the permit sought by the property owner. The government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must have both a sufficient nexus and be roughly proportionate when the government denies a permit, even when the government’s demand is for money.

Justice Alito: “the government may not deny a benefit to a person because he exercises a constitutional right.”

“Extortionate demands for property in the land-use permitting context run afoul of the Takings Clause not because they take property but because they impermissibly burden the right not to have property taken without just compensation.”

Citizens of Miami dade county are being victimized by local government that has become punitive and predatory to the point where individual property rights and liberties guaranteed by The Constitution are being violated. The extent of government overreach and abuse of power has been felt by many of us and is a threat to all of us. MDCPR is here to help.

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