March 06, 2019

Government’s line in the sand denies property rights

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Couple sues for right to rebuild North Carolina beachfront home after fire

Nags Head, North Carolina, March 6, 2019: North Carolina landowners have filed a federal lawsuit to restore their property rights following a 2016 fire that destroyed their beachfront home.

In 2008, Michael and Cathy Zito bought a vacation home in Nags Head, North Carolina, where they were considering retiring.

After the fire, however, local and state government officials denied permits to rebuild because the Zitos’ lot is now located in a coastal no-build zone. Even though theirs is now the only vacant lot in a line of beach homes, the Zitos can lawfully use their private property for nothing more than tent camping or picnicking.

Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, the Zitos have filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, arguing that the governments’ decision to deny all use and value of their land is an unlawful property taking under the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions.

“The Constitution makes it clear that your property rights don’t disappear because you live on the water,” said PLF attorney Dave Breemer. “If government wants to make private property useless so the public can enjoy it as an open space or beach area, it must pay the owners just compensation.”

PLF represents the Zitos free of charge. More information is available at pacificlegal.org/Nagshead.

Case Documents

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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 14 victories out of 16 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you are on deadline and need immediate assistance, or need a comment from a PLF attorney, please contact our media team at media@pacificlegal.org.

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