In 2008, Michael and Cathy bought a beach cottage in a Nags Head, North Carolina neighborhood. The Zitos live in Maryland and used the cottage as a rental property and family vacation home with their sights set on possibly retiring there one day.
However, the Zitos’ cottage burned down in 2016 after an apparent power surge. Theirs was the only vacant parcel of land in a line of beach homes, but when they tried to rebuild, they learned their lot was within a 60-foot coastal no-build setback zone.
The Zitos first tried to get a variance from the coastal setback requirements from the Town of Nags Head but were denied. The state Coastal Commission also denied the Zitos a permit, leaving tent camping and picnics as the only possible lawful, remaining use for the Zitos’ lot.
Michael and Cathy filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state and local governments’ decisions to deny the them all use and value of their beach lot as an unlawful property taking under the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.