This week the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court decision, holding the nexus and rough proportionality requirements of the Nollan and Dolan takings cases apply to a government’s denial of a permit and demand for money exactions. The doctrine of Nollan and Dolan provides that the government cannot condition approval of a land-use permit on an owner’s relinquishment of a portion of his property without a nexus and rough proportionality between the government’s demand and the effects of the proposed land use.

In Koontz vs. St. Johns River Water Management District, Koontz sought a permit from the St. Johns River Management District (“District”), which had jurisdiction to regulate wetlands on Koontz’s land. Koontz wanted to develop 3.7 acres, including wetlands, and offered to deed his remaining 11 acres to the District as a conservation easement to mitigate development. The District rejected the proposal and informed Koontz it would only approve construction if Koontz either reduced his development to one acre and gave the District the remaining 13.9 acres, or agreed to hire contractors to make improvements to District-owned land several miles away. Koontz refused to comply with the District’s conditions and brought suit for the District’s unreasonable exercise of the state’s police power, alleging a taking without just compensation.

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Alito, the Court held the doctrine of Nollan and Dolan is triggered regardless of whether the government approves a permit on the condition that the applicant turns over property or denies a permit because the applicant refuses to comply with the condition. The Court also held a permit condition to spend money can provide the basis for a takings claim. To hold otherwise would permit land-use permitting officials to evade the limitations of Nollan and Dolan.

Koontz marked the third takings decision this term in which the Court held in favor of the property owner. The Supreme Court’s decision can be found here