Property rights victory at the Supreme Court

Sacramento, CA; June 25, 2013: The U.S. Supreme Court today handed a victory to all property owners by ruling in favor of  Coy Koontz Jr., in his constitutional challenge to the heavy, unjustified demands that his family faced as a condition for a building permit.

The late Coy Koontz Sr. sought a development permit for three acres he owned in Orange County, Florida. Even though he offered to dedicate the rest of his property — 11 acres — for conservation, he was told he must also pay for upgrades on government land, miles away, at a cost of up to $150,000. This demand was far out of proportion to any impact that the development plans might have had on the environment.

Today, the court recognized that the Koontz family was the victim of an unconstitutional taking. The court’s message is clear: Government can’t turn the land use permitting process into an extortion machine”, said PLF Principal Attorney Paul J. Beard II.

“The ruling underscores that homeowners and other property owners who seek permits to make reasonable use of their property cannot be forced to surrender their rights,” Beard stated. “Regulators can’t hold permit applicants hostage with unjustified demands for land or other concessions — including, as in this case, unjustified demands for money.

“The court has recognized that money is a form of property, and the Constitution prohibits grabbing money from property owners the same way it prohibits grabbing land without compensation,” Beard said.

The case is Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.

Pacific Legal Foundation statement

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