Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yankeetown Files Complaint to Declare Community Planning Act Unconstitutional

Well, that didn't take long.

Tiny Yankeetown, with a population of less than a 1,000, has challenged HB 7207, this session's landmark growth management overhaul. I've written several times about the Community Planning Act. The Second Judicial Circuit has labeled the case as high profile, which means the docket is available online. I'll be following it to provide updates to all who are interested. Yankeetown filed an expedited complaint on August 1st and an amended complaint on August 8th.

In Yankeetown v. DCA (37 2011 CA 002036), Yankeetown requests that HB 7207 (ch. 2011-139, Laws of Fla.), be declared unconstitutional because it:
  1. contains more than one subject, was adopted in violation of the single subject rule, and was read by a misleading and inaccurate title; and because it
  2. contains an unconstitutional delegation, in violation of the non-delegation doctrine, to the State Land Planning Agency to define the vague terms "important state resources and facilities" and "important regional resources and facilities."
Yankeetown also seeks a declaratory judgment that it still apply its referenda provisions, requiring voters to approve all comprensive land use changes affecting more than five parcels. because they existed before HB 7207 was passed. The amended complaint adds allegations concerning the title of the bill and whether it was enacted properly.

Because HB 7207 went into effect upon being signed by Governor Scott in early June, local governments around Florida had to learn its provisions quickly. They must continue implementing the Community Planning Act, despite this challenge. If Yankeetown is successful, Florida land use and growth management law could get very messy, very quickly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Institute in Florida Pledges to Protect Property Rights

The Pacific Legal Foundation has created the Wade L. Hopping Institute for Private Property Rights. The Institute will fight to protect property rights through education and litigation. It will work, in part, through a network of pro bono attorneys to fight government abuse of property rights. It's a fitting tribute to Justice Hopping, with whom I had the privilege of working for at the firm he founded, Hopping Green & Sams.

The Institute already has environmental journalists and nonprofits worried. Their hand-wringing shows how much the Foundation's work is needed. Private property rights are about "individual autonomy and the enjoyment of liberty." But for folks like Monica Reimer of Earthjustice, private property rights can be reduced to nuisance claims. Ms. Reimer believes that growth management and environmental laws "were all intended to protect private property rights." Really? Those laws may have been intended, ostensibly, to protect the public health and safety. They may have intended to recognize "public environmental rights." Yet they have never been said to have been intended, first and foremost, to protect private property rights.

It's a testament to American's support for free enterprise that even environmentalists have hijacked the rhetoric of property rights advocates.