The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike part of the Voting Rights Act is getting most of the media attention today, but the court also gave property owners a major victory in another case.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled for a property owner, Coy Koontz Sr., who wanted to develop land in Central Florida that contains wetlands subject to regulation by the St. Johns River Water Management District. To mitigate the environmental damage, Koontz offered to give the district a conservation easement on three-fourths of his property.
The district, however, rejected Koontz’s offer and told him it would approve a development permit only if he reduced the size of his development and gave the district a conservation easement on the rest of the property, or hire contractors to make improvements on district-owned wetlands several miles away.
Koontz refused these demands and was denied a development permit. He then sued the district, contending the governmental body wanted to take his land “without just compensation.”
The Supreme Court sided with Koontz, ruling that the district’s demands weren’t proportional to the environmental damage his development would cause.