Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, 570 US ___ (June 25, 2013) involved discussions between plaintiff applicant and defendant Water Management District which had jurisdiction over permits to dredge or fill Florida wetlands. The District had specific authority under state law to offset environmental damages, including “creating, enlarging, or preserving wetlands elsewhere.” In 1972 plaintiff’s father had purchased a 14.9 acre parcel that included wetlands. Plaintiff succeeded to that parcel and proposed to develop 3.7 acres in 1994, agreeing to dedicate approximately 11 acres to the District for wetland preservation. Defendant found this action to be inadequate and proposed alternatives including development of just one acre (which would require a dedication of 13.9 acres to the District) or development of 3.7 acres so long as plaintiff would help restore wetlands on District-owned property within the same basin several miles away or pay an equivalent amount to do so.
Plaintiff refused to undertake or propose other alternatives; thus the permit was denied. Plaintiff sued for a taking. The trial court found actions above and beyond the 11-acre dedication proposal violated both the nexus and rough proportionality requirements of Nollan v. California Coastal Comm. 483 U.S. 825 (1987), and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. 374 (1994), respectively. The Florida Court of Appeals affirmed but the Florida Supreme Court reversed, finding no taking as there was no condition on which to predicate a Nollan/Dolan violation and because the claim involved a demand for money which it found not subject to a takings claim under those cases. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. (more…)