LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT K. LINCOLN, P.A.

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. 

4th DCA - 4 Limitation on Inverse Condemnation for Illegal Exaction and Stealing Doesn't Offend Public Policy

In a probably correct opinion that is marred by very bad discussions of public policy, the 4th DCA held in New Testament Baptist Church v. FDOT that the lower court properly dismissed a counter-claim/cross-claim for inverse condemnation brought 13 years after an allegedly illegal dedication demand.

The claim was brought by a church that had been required to dedicated 7.5 acres (of its 19) in 1992 for streets (that the city didn't build) in order to get a plat approval. When the DOT went to condemn more of its property in 2005, the church cross complained that the earlier dedication was illegal.

The 4th cites a bunch of other cases finding that inverse condemnation cases need to be brought within 4 years. The cited cases, however, involved direct regulation, not exactions. The court distinguishes several exaction cases where the claim was made much later than the regulatory requirement.

The disturbing issue is the court's treatment of the question of whether an unconstitutional exaction is void or voidable. The court noted that contracts or other actions that are in violation of public policy are void. The court then holds that even an illegal dedication requirement doesn't implicate public policy because only the victim of the illegal act is harmed. The court goes on to justify this position by claiming that the church "benefitted" from the plat. This totally flies in the face of the "unconstitutional condition" cases that Nolan and Dolan spring from, which recognize that where the government imposes an illegal and unconstitutional condition on a government action on a permit or benefit, the victim does not need to refuse to accept the benefit in order to complain.

The Court forgets the basic tenet: the issuance of a development order is not a "benefit" to the landowner because the landowner has an underlying property right to develop. The development order is the governments' OBLIGATION arising from its choice to regulate a property right in the public interest; a landowner's development pursuant to a plat is not the "acceptance of a benefit" from the government because the landowner has the underlying right in the first place.

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