October 5, 2012

United States Supreme Court accepts new PLF case

By United States Supreme Court accepts new PLF case

We are pleased to report that the U.S. Supreme Court today granted review in St. Johns River Water Management District v. Koontz.

We represent the Koontz family, which tried to develop their Florida land, but were denied a permit by the government after they refused to submit to conditions requiring them to improve off-site public infrastructure.  The case is a follow-up to another PLF Supreme Court case, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, which held that the United States Constitution prohibits governments from imposing extortionate conditions on property owners’ right to use and develop their properties.  The case considers the extent to which Nollan should apply to protect property owners.

This will be the eighth PLF case taken up by the Supreme Court since PLF’s founding in 1973–and comes on the heels of another case–Sackett v. EPA–which resulted in a unanimous decision in our client’s favor.

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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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