Lost: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Zitos' case.

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.

What’s At Stake?

  • If the government wants to make private property useless so the public can enjoy it as open space or a beach area, it must pay the owners just compensation.
  • The government shouldn’t use a natural disaster to justify cleansing an area of development it doesn’t like or want.

Case Timeline

October 08, 2021
Petition for Certiorari
Supreme Court of the United States
August 09, 2021
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
August 10, 2020
PLF Reply Brief
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
June 02, 2020
Opening Brief
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
March 06, 2019
United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina