Do you remember the 80’s? I sure do, Blondie sang Call Me and The Empire Strikes Back came out and we learned that Darth Vader was Luke’s father (still unbelievable nearly 40 years later)! More importantly, the First District Court of Appeal remembers the 80’s and recently referred to a decision it handed down in 1980 when ruling on an inverse condemnation claim.

Who owns an inverse condemnation claim?

In the case from this summer, Robert and Susan Simon owned property in Jacksonville that included a pond into which storm water drained. After owning the property for more than ten years, the Simons decided it was time for the City of Jacksonville to maintain the pond. The Simons filed an inverse condemnation suit against the City, claiming that the City’s drainage of water into the pond amounted to a taking of the pond. The trial court disagreed, saying that if a taking had occurred, it took place years before the Simons acquired the property. (I have talked about inverse condemnation before on this blog.)


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There are ways to do this, and I shared a few with the good folks in the Florida Association of County Engineers and Road Superintendents at their Annual Meeting in Orlando. They call themselves “FACERS, ” by the way, which is a rare case of an acronym that you can easily pronounce!

First things first, though: during my remarks, the crowd and I disposed of several myths:
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Buck Owens, country music legend, famous for, among other things, plucking a red, white and blue guitar on the variety show Hee Haw, wrote and performed the song “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” which hit No. 1 on the country charts in 1969. My wife and I liked Buck Owens so much that we picked his hit “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” for our walk up song to be played after exchanging our wedding vows. Later, we named our cat after Buck Owens.

Anyway, the song “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” is about love lost, a common theme in popular music. This blog post is about land lost, a common theme in inverse condemnation cases.

Can the State Take Your Land Simply By Mowing the Grass?


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Growing up out West, discussed a bit in my post about The Magnificent Seven and the Freedom to Choose, I remember going with my granddad and my dad when they hunted.  Like many families, we had a special nickname for granddad; we grandkids knew him as “Pompa,” from a name my oldest cousin, as a toddler, gave him.

When I was a kid, the first day of hunting season was a state or school holiday, if I remember right.  I was too little to carry a rifle, so I got up early, put on orange, froze my fingers and toes off, and had to be quiet and sit still.  Pompa would get his limit every year, which meant lots of venison and home-made jerky.  I remember the year my dad got a cow elk—lots of elk steak and elk burger for months! 
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Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary defines “ripe” in several ways. One example is “fully grown,” as in the case of ripe fruit. The Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th edition, on my credenza defines “ripeness” as:

[t]he circumstance existing when a case has reached, but has not passed, the point when the facts have developed sufficiently to permit an intelligent and useful decision to be made.”

That’s a lot of fruit in one bite.

According to a recent decision of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in GSK Hollywood Development Group, LLC v. The City of Hollywood, Florida, in order to bring a claim under the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act, the claim must be ripe.

What Does “Ripe” Mean Under the Bert Harris Act?


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In something of a rarity, an appellate court has written an opinion in favor of a property owner bringing a claim under The Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act.

In Ocean Concrete, Inc. v. Indian River County, Board of County Commissioners, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court order denying relief to a property owner under the Bert Harris Act. As the Fourth District explained, in order to obtain relief under the Bert Harris Act, a plaintiff has to show

a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property.”

Bert Harris Act in a Nutshell


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Last year, the Florida Supreme Court issued an important opinion on property rights that you need to know about if you own real estate in Florida. I had written a blog post right after the decision, but a case I was handling at the time involved some issues related to the post, so I delayed the post until after my case resolved. In any event, the Florida Supreme Court opinion updates my blog posts of July 8, 2015 and August 20, 2015 about the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act topic.

Land Use Designations in Hardee County

As mentioned in my earlier post, this case originates from a land purchase in Hardee County in 1996. The purchaser, FINR, bought land that held an “agriculture and public institutional purpose” future land use designation. In 2007, FINR successfully applied to amend the Hardee County Comprehensive Plan and change FINR’s future land use designation to rural center. The “rural center” designation provided FINR with a quarter-mile setback that applied to the adjacent properties and prohibited phosphate mining activities in the setback.


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Last week, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida hosted Cornell University Professor Dr. Tony Ingraffea, as part of its “Evenings with the Conservancy” series who spoke on the “Effects of Unconventional Drilling” on November 8.

Oil & Gas in Southwest Florida

The evening began with an introductory presentation by Nicole Johnson, Director of Environmental Policy

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (and I hope you are, or will become one!), you will know that many of my posts, over the years, have to do with property rights. An important component of property rights is valuation of the property right taken, or at stake. Today, as part of my series with local appraisers, I am interviewing Matt Simmons, an appraiser and principal with the firm of Maxwell, Hendry & Simmons, LLC.

Carlos: What do appraisers do?

Matt: At the core, we value the bundle of rights inherent in real property. We typically determine the value through application of one or more commonly accepted approaches to value: the Sales Comparison, Cost, or Income approach. But within each approach the nuance of the overall rights remains the value driver. The acronym DUE encompasses the fundamental rights most fee simple real property possesses. These are the rights of disposition, use, and exclusion. When an action (governmental or otherwise) impacts one of these rights, the value of the property is almost always impacted.

Carlos: What made you want to become an appraiser?

Matt: Like many professionals, I was introduced to the profession through a friend. I began working in appraisal data entry when I was 19 and gained my initial trainees license the following year. I’ve always had an interest in real estate and the opportunity to analyze properties, solve complex valuation issues, and build a real estate centered business is incredibly rewarding.

Carlos: How do you work with attorneys in property rights cases?


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