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Brigham Moore Files Inverse Condemnation Suit Against SFWMD and Orange County on Behalf of Shingle Creek Property Owners

May 4, 2007

ORLANDO, FL – Attorneys S. William Moore and D. Mark Natirboff, both partners with Florida’s largest private property rights defense firm Brigham Moore, filed an inverse condemnation complaint against the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Orange County on behalf of a dozen private property owners. The complaint, Case No. 48-2007-CA-004772-O, was filed on April 24, 2007 in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Court In and For Orange County, Florida.

The lawsuit claims there has been a de facto taking of the plaintiffs’ properties, which are all undeveloped lots in the geographic area known as Shingle Creek. The ultimate goal of the SFWMD and Orange County is to acquire or preserve this area in its natural state.

While the county and the SFWMD have not invoked the use of eminent domain, they have publicly stated their intentions to acquire the property a number of times. Moore believes the conduct of the defendants over the past 13 years has violated the owners’ rights to develop their properties and greatly reduced their market value.

“This is a classic example of the injustice that can occur when a governmental agency puts a property under the cloud of eminent domain for an extended period of time without actually taking it,” said Moore. “Enough is enough. After 13 years, the county and the SFWMD need to make a definitive decision about whether or not they are going to condemn this land. They can’t keep these people tied up forever.”

The complaint alleges the SFWMD and Orange County engaged in coordinated, oppressive land acquisition policies designed to either force the plaintiffs to land-bank or preserve their properties for public use without compensation, or to coerce them to sell their land to the defendants at prices well below the normal fair market value.

The objectionable actions by the defendants outlined in the complaint include:

  • Targeting the land for acquisition as part of at least six different projects, which were made known to the public and private market;
  • Asserting to the landowners and real estate market that the land only has “conservation” value and won’t be developed;
  • Depressing the market by perpetuating false information about the Future Land Use Designation in the county’s comprehensive plan – asserting publicly and in-writing that the lands were officially designated for a non-developable “preservation” land use. Most of the lands were not so-designated, but have an urban land use designation for intense development;
  • Checkerboarding the owners’ lots and the subdivision with government purchases, so that access, private assemblage and realistic development appears impossible to any prospective developer or purchaser;
  • Asserting an express threat of condemnation on all the properties in the target area; and
  • Refusing to place the targeted but unacquired properties in condemnation actions where full compensation would be provided by law.
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    Brigham Moore is Florida's leading statewide eminent domain and property rights defense firm with offices in Jacksonville, Miami/Coral Gables, West Palm Beach, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, Brigham Moore has built a statewide and national reputation for zealous protection of property rights and for skillful advocacy in pursuit of constitutional full compensation. In addition to representing private property owners in the context of eminent domain proceedings, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings, Private Property Protection Act claims, and pre-condemnation counseling, the firm also devotes significant resources to maintaining and improving property rights protection by consistent advocacy for legislative and constitutional reforms in Florida.

    Contact: Sue Siebert or Don Silver of Boardroom Communications, 954-370-8999 or ssiebert@boardroompr.com.

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