November 18, 2013

New scholarship on Koontz

By James S. Burling Vice President for Litigation

Two interesting pieces of scholarship on Koontz v. St. Johns River Management District.  The first is a law review article by Steve Eagle, a professor at the George Mason School of Law, and author of the excellent treatise Regulatory Takings.  His new article, Koontz in the Mansion and Gatehouse, begins with a riff from an old article by Professor Yale Kamisar comparing the disparate treatment of criminal defendants at the police station “gatehouse” versus the judicial “mansion.”  Here, the disparate treatment is between what the courts, especially the Supreme Court, have to say about a landowner’s constitutional rights versus the actual treatment before local permitting agencies.

Next, over the weekend there was a fascinating discussion of the Supreme Court’s recent takings claims, including Koontz, at the Federalist Society’s National Convention held last week.  PLF’s Paul J.  Beard II was on the panel, New Directions in Takings Law,  joined by Professor James L. Huffman, Professor Stewart E. Serk, Professor Thomas W. Merrill and moderated by the Honorable Edith Brown Clement from the Fifth Circuit.

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St. Johns River Water Management District v. Koontz

Coy A. Koontz sought to develop commercial land, most of which lies within a riparian habitat protection zone in Orange County, Florida. He applied for a dredge and fill permit with the St. Johns Water Management District, which  agreed to grant the permit only on the condition that he place a conservation easement over his land, and perform mitigation off-site by replacing culverts and plugging certain drainage canals on distant District-owned properties. When Koontz refused to perform the off-site mitigation, St. Johns denied the permit. PLF successfully represented Koontz before the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that a land-use agency cannot condition a permit on the payment of a mitigation fee to be used to pay for facilities that have no connection to the impacts of the permitted development.

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