U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Owners of Property

Authored by Jennifer Cranston
Published by Arcadia News

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Owners of Property

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision confirming a property owner's constitutional right to develop land free from government extortion.

The case — Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District — arose from a landowner's attempt to develop 3.7 acres near Orlando, Fla.

The local land-use agency agreed to issue the necessary permit for development only if Koontz agreed to certain conditions the agency said were necessary to address environmental issues related to the development.

The options offered by the government agency were: Develop only 1 acre and dedicate the rest of the land to the government, or pay for improvements to government-owned land located several miles away.

Koontz refused both options and filed suit against the government. More than 10 years later, that lawsuit made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court held Koontz could challenge the government's conditions to the permit on constitutional grounds even though 1) no permit was actually issued and 2) one of the options was only a "monetary exaction" (i.e., the owner could develop the full 3.7 acres if he paid for improvements to the government's nearby land).

So, some of you may be wondering why this ruling is significant. The answer is because it imposes additional limitations on what the government can demand from landowners in exchange for granting land-use permits.


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