We must be getting old. We were distracted by the Sterling/Clippers fiasco to such an extent that we missed the April 30th opinion of the Florida Court of Appeal (on remand). It upheld the taking claim of Coy Koontz, that has received a lot of attention when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, reversing the Florida Supreme Court’s decision denying him compensation for the exaction/taking before issuing him a permit. The exaction in question involved land located offsite from his project that was arguably within the Nollan-Dolan rule forbidding exactions lacking a nexus to the harm brought about by the private project being created on the subject property.
The case is St. Johns River Water Dist. v. Coontz, Fla. Ct. App., Docket No. 5D06-1116, reaffirming the appellate court’s earlier ruling (that was reversed by the Florida Supreme Court). Griffin, J., dissented. You can find the opinion on line and there is a link to it on the Pacific Legal Foundation Liberty Blog, the Pacific Legal Foundations being the winning lawyers who in our book are now entitled to some serious bragging rights.
By the way, we learn from this opinion that the Koontz controversy has been the subject of four — count ’em, four — previous reported appellate decisions, this being the fifth one, that may yet be joined by No. 6 because we think its a snap that the Water District will seek further review in the Florida Supreme Court. Which gives rise to a question or two. You call this law? Aren’t those Florida Judges ashamed of themselves for subjecting a citizen whose constitutional rights were violated to this kind of economically ruinous intellectual torture that goes back to before 1998 (that’s 16 years ago, folks). All this to decide what is after all a simple legal issue: is the exactions doctrine applicable to money as well as to land, and does it meet the nexus requirement when it is sought to be applied offsite to the private project, as well as onsite?