In a significant ruling, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in the case of Ocean Concrete, Inc. v. Indian River County ruled the government violated the developer’s Bert J. Harris Act rights by denying a site plan for the development of a project that had established a reasonable, investment-backed expectation. The Ocean Concrete ruling is particularly important because Bert J. Harris claim is one of the only ways to protect development investment expectations against overstepping governmental regulations that fall short of a constitutional taking.
The Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act was codified in 1995, to provide protection to private property owners against burdens placed on their property rights by governmental entities. Bert J. Harris claims provide an important recourse for private property owners when a regulation burdens their property rights, but still falls short of an actual constitutional taking. Specifically, the action of a governmental entity is not required to reach the level of a taking, but only “inordinately burden” an “existing use” or a “vested right” in the private property. While the Act has been on the books since 1995, Florida courts still grapple with its interpretation. Continue Reading