Sunday, May 17, 2015

Expectation of a Future Plan Amendment Does Not Create “Existing Use” or “Vested Rights” that Are Compensable under the Bert Harris Act: A. Town of Ponce Inlet v. Pacetta, LLC et al, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1481a (Fla. 5th DCA, July 5, 2013).

The Fifth District reversed a non-final order of the circuit court finding the Town of Ponce Inlet liable under the Bert Harris Act.  While it is not discussed in the District Court opinion, the circuit court’s order demonstrated that the trial judge was incensed by the pattern of the facts:  one set of Town officials had encouraged the plaintiff to assemble a set of parcels of waterfront land in order to come in with a comprehensive redevelopment plan and a comprehensive plan amendment to implement it; the project then attracted political opposition, and a later set of Town officials not only refused to amend the comprehensive plan to allow the project, but amended the charter and codes to prohibit future approvals.

The Fifth District, applying the earlier Halls’ River case and Florida law on vested rights, found that there was no basis under which the landowner could claim a “vested right” to the plan amendments necessary to allow the desired development, and therefore no right that was burdened by the Town’s action or inaction.  Therefore, there was no basis for liability under the Bert Harris Act.

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