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Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist.

Supreme Court of the United States

January 15, 2013, Argued; June 25, 2013, Decided

No. 11-1447


 [*599]  Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

Our decisions in Nollan v. California Coastal Comm’n, 483 U. S. 825, 107 S. Ct. 3141, 97 L. Ed. 2d 677 (1987), and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U. S. 374, 114 S. Ct. 2309, 129 L. Ed. 2d 304 (1994), provide important protection against the misuse of the power of land-use regulation. In those cases, we held that a unit of government may not condition the approval of a land-use permit on the owner’s relinquishment of a portion of  [***705]  his property unless there is a “nexus” and “rough proportionality” between the government’s demand and the effects of the proposed land use. In this case, the St. Johns River Water Management  [****8] District (Or District) believes that it circumvented Nollan and Dolan because of the way in which it structured its handling of a permit application submitted by Coy Koontz, Sr., whose estate is represented in this Court by Coy Koontz, Jr. 1 The District did not approve his application on the condition that he surrender an interest in his land. Instead, the District, after suggesting that he could obtain approval by signing over such an interest, denied his application because he refused to yield. The Florida Supreme Court blessed this maneuver and thus effectively interred those important decisions. Because we conclude that Nollan and Dolan cannot be evaded in this way, the Florida Supreme Court’s decision must be reversed.

In 1972, petitioner purchased an undeveloped 14.9-acre tract of land on the  [**2592]  south side of Florida State Road 50, a divided four-lane highway east of Orlando. The property is  [*600]  located less than 1,000 feet from that road’s intersection with Florida State Road 408, a tolled expressway that is one of Orlando’s major thoroughfares.

A drainage ditch runs along the property’s western edge, and high-voltage  [****9] power lines bisect it into northern and southern sections. The combined effect of the ditch, a 100-foot wide area kept clear for the power lines, the highways, and other construction on nearby parcels is to isolate the northern section of petitioner’s property from any other undeveloped land. Although largely classified as wetlands by the State, the northern section drains well; the most significant standing water forms in ruts in an unpaved road used to access the power lines. The natural topography of the property’s southern section is somewhat more diverse, with a small creek, forested uplands, and wetlands that sometimes have water as much as a foot deep. A wildlife survey found evidence of animals that often frequent developed areas: raccoons, rabbits, several species of birds, and a turtle. The record also indicates that the land may be a suitable habitat for opossums.

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570 U.S. 595 *; 133 S. Ct. 2586 **; 186 L. Ed. 2d 697 ***; 2013 U.S. LEXIS 4918 ****; 81 U.S.L.W. 4606; 43 ELR 20140; 76 ERC (BNA) 1649; 24 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 435; 2013 WL 3184628


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist. v. Koontz, 77 So. 3d 1220, 2011 Fla. LEXIS 2617 (Fla., 2011)

Disposition: 77 So. 3d 1220, reversed and remanded.


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