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Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Two cities in the State of Florida applied to the Defendant for permits, as required by state’s Beach and Shore Restoration Act for the placement of large deposits of sand and sediment, along 6.9 miles of submerged beach. A non-profit group of littoral owners challenged the legality of the statute at an administrative hearing, but they were unsuccessful. Thereafter, the non-profit group also challenged the beach restoration project in the state court of appeals, where the court held that there was an unconstitutional taking of the littoral owner’s property rights and certified the issue for review by the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court reversed the appellate court, and the non-profit group petitioned to the United States Supreme Court for review.

     

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    To satisfy a takings violation under the Fifth Amendment, a property owner must establish that he or she has a present and future right to the property, which is Superior to the State and in contravention to state law.

     

    Facts.

    The City of Destin and Walton County in the State of Florida applied tothe Department of Environmental Protection (“Defendant”) for permits to the state’s Beach and Shore Restoration Act (“the Act”) for the placement of large deposits of sand and sediment, along 6.9 miles of submerged beach. Per the statute, the abrupt and grand addition of sand and sediment, known as avulsion, removed littoral owners’ property rights to accretions, or gradual additions of sand that accumulated over time. The Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc., (SBR), a non-profit group of littoral owners, unsuccessfully challenged the legality of the statute at an administrative hearing. However, the SBR later challenged the beach restoration project in the state court of appeals. The appellate court held in favor of SBR on the grounds that the project constituted an unconstitutional taking of littoral owners’ property rights, thus violating the Fifth Amendment. Further, the appellate court certified the issue for review by the Florida Supreme Court. Thereafter, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the appellate court on the grounds that the Act did not unconstitutionally deprive littoral owners of any property rights. Subsequently, SBR petitioned to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that the Florida Supreme Court’s decision, by itself, constituted a “judicial taking” of their property rights.

     

    Issue.

    Whether a property owner must establish that he or she has a present and future right to the property, which is Superior to the State and in contravention to state law to satisfy a takings violation under the Fifth Amendment.

     

     

    Held.

    Yes, a property owner must establish that he or she has a present and future right to the property, which is Superior to the State and in contravention to state law to satisfy a takings violation under the Fifth Amendment.

     

    Concurrence.

    The plurality properly reached its verdict. However, the plurality’s great on the theory of a “judicial taking” should be handled cautiously.

    The plurality’s properly decided the case, but the rational employed by the plurality creates a substantial state-related property litigation in federal courts and before federal judges, who may not be as acquainted with state-law concepts.

     


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