Koontz v. St. Johns River Management District

Date: December 20, 2012

This case addresses a common problem: A business owner needs a permit from the authorities, but they refuse to approve unless the owner agrees to unreasonable conditions. This is a particular problem for landowners seeking to build on their properties. Often they have invested a great deal to acquire their property and they are put in a real bind when the authorities insist on conditions that have nothing to do with any public concern over the impact of their proposed project.

Here we filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Koontz—an entrepreneur who wanted to develop his commercially zoned property near Tampa, Florida. He was told that in order to receive the necessary permit approvals, he would have to (1) dedicate 75 percent of his property into conservation, and (2) pay for the improvement of 50 acres of government property. When he refused to capitulate to these improper demands, his permit was denied. But, the Florida Supreme Court saw no problem with this—despite recognizing that those conditions had nothing to do with any impact his development would have on the public.

In the Supreme Court we argued that government should not be allowed to take advantage of its permitting powers. Government should be limited in what conditions it can impose on a permit, and should be prevented from extortionate practices.

For more information, commentary and insight view our November 28, 2012 press release, or the NFIB Blog.

Status:  Pending - U.S. Supreme Court


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