WASHINGTON – In a decision bolstering private property rights, the Supreme Court ruled that a Florida landowner could sue a local government agency for denying him a building permit because he refused to pay for improvements on public property several miles away.
The 5-4 decision expanded the ability of property owners to claim that government requirements attached to land-use permits amount to an improper “taking” under the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment says private property cannot be taken for public use without “just compensation.”
In the case of Koontz vs. St. John’s Water Management District, the court said a government demand for money could constitute a taking of property. And the court said a landowner could make that argument even if nothing were taken because the permit was denied.