Despite 'stinky' conduct, Pasco County's actions toward property group not unconstitutional

By Charmaine Little | Feb 15, 2019

JACKSONVILLE — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit answered the question of whether applying an ordinance raises issues with a substantive-due-process claim, and made it clear the answer was “no” as it reversed a summary judgment in favor of a property suing Pasco County amid the application of an ordinance.

The issue comes from an ordinance that the county passed (No. 11-15) “to preserve, protect, and provide for the dedication and/or acquisition of right-of-way transportation corridors that are necessary to provide future transportation facilities and facility improvements to meet the needs of [projected] growth,” according to the lawsuit.

Hillcrest Property sued Pasco County, alleging it should not have applied an ordinance against it in its attempt to develop its property into a shopping center. The issue Hillcrest truly had in its substantive-due-process claim was that the county required it to leave space for a 4-lane road expansion without “having first made an individualized determination that the exaction was reasonably related both in nature and extent to the traffic impacts of the proposed development,” according to the lawsuit.

Still, the appeals court agreed with the county and reversed a decision from a lower court that granted Hillcrest its motion for summary judgment.


Circuit Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat  

Circuit Judge Gerald Bard Tjoflat wrote the opinion and Stanley Marcus and Kevin Newsom concurred.

Newsom also wrote a separate opinion to express why it concurred to the opinion. He pointed out that while what happened to Hillcrest is “stinky” it’s not against the Constitution (despite the lower court’s disappointment in the County’s conduct with Hillcrest). And yet, the County didn’t break the law.

Hillcrest, which owns 16.5 acres of undeveloped land in the county, asked the county if it could expand to an 83,000 square-foot retail shopping center that would advance its property.

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