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Russell P. Schropp practices in the areas of land use, zoning, and environmental law. He primarily represents property owners and others before local, regional, state and federal agencies. Russ is a regular contributor to the firm’s blog, The Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate.

Prior to attending law school, he worked as a city planner in Hillsborough County, Florida, and received his Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning. While in law school, Russ was a member of the Law Review, and is the author of an article entitled The Reasonableness of Aesthetic Zoning in Florida: A Look Beyond the Police Power, 10 F.S.U.L.Rev. 441.

For nine consecutive years (2007–2015), Russ has been named to Florida Super Lawyers® magazine, which recognizes the state’s top five percent of attorneys who are selected through an extensive peer review, statewide survey and independent evaluation. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in America® (2011-2016) and Florida Trend Magazine's Legal Elite (2015), noting his practice in land use and zoning law. Russ is also AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

As of January 1st of 2017, it has been reported that the total value of real property in Lee County increased for the fifth consecutive year to $105.6 billion (nearly 9% higher than 2016 values).

With this year’s Truth in Millage (“TRIM”) Notices just around the corner (typically mailed by the Lee County Property Appraiser in mid-August), one recent legal opinion highlights the nuances of remedies available to the property owner—and the Property Appraiser—in the event assessed values are contested.

Background on Florida’s “Save Our Homes” Doctrine

For real property that has been classified as a “homestead” in Florida, the Save Our Homes provision of Section 193.155(1), Florida Statutes, allows for an annual increase of only 3% in the assessed value of property, or the yearly increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever is less. Moreover, under 193.155(2), Florida Statutes, if the capped value exceeds the market value in a given year, the capped value will be reduced to the market value.

Nikolits v. Haney


Continue Reading Homestead, Save Our Homes, and Corrections to Assessed Value: Are You Ready for Your 2017 Property Taxes?

During the past 2-3 years, Lee County has been engaging in a systematic and comprehensive streamlining of its zoning, permitting and development review processes.  In a report released recently by the County’s Department of Community Development (DCD), the results of this streamlining effort are identified in detail.

Working independently and in conjunction with the Business Issues Task Force of the County’s Horizon Council, DCD has developed and implemented improvements in customer service and technology, amendments to the County’s Land Development Code, and is in the process of proposing changes to its comprehensive plan that facilitate the processing of permitting applications.  Some of the highlights include:


Continue Reading Lee County Continues Streamlining Its Permitting Processes

6944627691_75bdca0c5d_m.jpgIt took a while, but the Florida Supreme Court recently upheld a 2011 5th District Court of Appeals’ decision invalidating a city ordinance that gave priority to code enforcement liens over prior-recorded mortgages. City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. SC11-830 (May 16, 2013). Palm Bay’s ordinance had attempted to

On March 12, the Lee County Commission approved a 2-year, 80% reduction in road, park and school impact fees charged on new construction in an effort to encourage new development permitting and increase the County’s competitiveness for new business and industry. Fire and EMS impact fees were not affected. The reduction in impact fees will

Lee County has taken several steps over the last few weeks to streamline the development permitting process and improve the regulatory “climate” for new businesses and development.

Land Development Code Amendments

 On February 12, the Lee County Commission approved a series of amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC) that were recommended by the

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, the Lee County Commission unanimously voted to delay consideration of a proposed 2-year suspension of impact fees so that additional information could be provided regarding the effect of such a suspension on the County’s infrastructure budgeting.

Also of concern was the impact on the various municipalities within Lee County and

open till late.jpgA recent decision from the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal illustrates some special land use concerns that come into play when the affected party holds a leasehold interest rather than fee simple ownership.

Changing Regulations Can Affect Leaseholders

In Village of N. Palm Bch. v. S&H Foster’s, Inc., 80 So. 3d. 433 (Fla.

Code enforcement liens that were granted “superpriority” status by a local government ordinance were held to lack priority to a prior-recorded mortgage in a recent Florida appellate court decision. City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 36 Fla. L. Weekly D161 (Fla. 5th DCA January 21, 2011).

The City of Palm Bay enacted an ordinance creating its Code Enforcement Board in 1997. Under the ordinance, liens on real property created by the Board would be co-equal with state and local tax liens, and would be “superior in dignity to all other liens, titles and claims.”


Continue Reading Code Enforcement Liens Lack Priority Over Prior-Recorded Mortgages