Land Use and Local Government Law and Litigation

The Law Office of Robert K. Lincoln, P.A.  provides legal services to private and public entities involved in complex land use disputes.  Hiring an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.  Before you decide, ask and I will provide free information about my experience and qualifications. 

An Interesting Issue about Post-Annexation Regulation - Unresolved

In this opinion styled St. Johns County v. City of St. Augustine, the 5th "PCD'd" a petition for cert. The lower court had denied cert in a challenge to an action by the City that amended a PUD on property that had been annexed into the City.

Here's the legal controversy: under the annexation statute, when a city annexes property it must continue to apply the County's comprehensive plan and land development regulations until the city amends its comprehensive plan to include the annexed lands. So, could the City amend the PUD?

Here's the factual controversy: the annexed lands include a large golf course, and the amendment to the PUD would allow it to be developed.
Disclosure -I know these and other facts not in the opinion because I'm friends with counsel for the landowners.

The majority denied the writ per curium, but Judge Sharp dissented with an opinion. She laid out lots of history to the statute to support the position that you can't amend the PUD or make any changes to the land use until the city plan is amended.

The other side, which we don't get, since the PCD had no opinion, is that the PUD development order, though adopted by ordinance, is an administrative development order issued under the regulatory authority of the comprehensive plan and land development regulations. Amending the PUD did not change, amend, or apply new regulations to the land.

Because the writ was denied without an opinion, the 5th didn't really resolve the legal question. There's another legal twist to it: because this was a case of first impression, and because this came before the court in certiorari, there's a school that says that the lower court could not have departed from the essential requirements of law and applied the wrong law because there was not binding law to apply.

Yet another good reason why we must get rid of certiorari as the means by which we review these things and get a statutory provision for appeal of local quasi-judicial decisions.

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