takings

Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District

Court below: 

In 1972, Coy A. Koontz, the petitioner, purchased a vacant lot consisting of 14.9 acres. Due to Florida regulations, all but 1.4 acres of Koontz’s property became a Riparian Habitat Zone, which could not be developed without permission from St. Johns River Water Management District, the respondent. In 1994, Koontz applied for a permit to develop 3.7 acres of this property. After investigating the property, St. Johns River Water Management District agreed to approve the permit if Koontz would agree to one of two conditions: 1) deed the remainder of his property into a conservation area and perform offsite mitigation by either replacing culverts located four and a half miles from his property or plugging drainage canals on a property located seven miles away from his property; or, 2) reduce development to one acre and turn the remaining 13.9 acres into a deed-restricted conservation area. Koontz refused to accept either of these conditions and St. Johns River Water Management District denied the permit. Koontz brought a lawsuit claiming an improper exaction of his property and the case has been through several appeals before the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. Koontz argues that the constitutional standards set out in Nollan and Dolan should apply to this case and similar cases so that the government can be held liable for improper taking when the government refuses to issue a land-use permit on the sole basis that the permit applicant did not accede to a financial or public service condition. St. Johns River Water Management District argues that the constitutional standards set out in Nollan and Dolan should not apply to this case and similar cases where the government did not actually take any property from the landowner. This decision has the potential to drastically modify takings jurisprudence with regard to exactions. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties: 
  1. Whether the government can be held liable for taking when it refuses to issue a land-use permit on the sole basis that the permit applicant did not accede a permit condition that, if applied, would violate the essential nexus and rough proportionality tests set out in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825 (1997), and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994); and
  2. Whether the nexus and proportionality tests set out in Nollan and Dolan apply to a land-use exaction that takes the form of a government demand that a permit applicant dedicate money, services, labor, or any other type of personal property to a public use?

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