Judge Rejects COVID-19 Property Rights Case

In Walton County, commissioners shut down beaches during the pandemic, like non-public ones. Home owners sued saying they are worthy of compensation, but a choose stated no.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In a dispute that begun immediately after a Northwest Florida county temporarily shut beaches early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal judge dominated versus waterfront home entrepreneurs who contended that they need to receive payment.

U.S. District Decide Robert Hinkle issued a 19-web site selection rejecting arguments that moves by the Walton County Commission to close shorelines in spring 2020 resulted in an unconstitutional “taking” of property. The lawsuit targeted on individuals staying unable to use regions of the beach that they have, rather than on shorelines currently being shut to the typical public.

Hinkle wrote that the plaintiffs had been still ready to use a great deal of their assets and that the county commission was applying its “police power in a community-well being crisis.”

“The bottom line is this. The Board of County Commissioners confronted an escalating pandemic that posed an great risk to public health,” Hinkle wrote in the determination issued last week. “There was no way to know at that time how several individuals would die or turn into gravely sick and how best to decrease the selection. Decisive action appeared ideal. In closing the seashores, the county exhibited no animus toward these plaintiffs or any person else. Instead, the commissioners exercised their most effective judgment, based mostly on the constrained awareness offered at the time, on how to protect life and well being.”

Hinkle also pointed to the non permanent character of the closure.

“The plaintiffs experienced comprehensive, unfettered, special entry to some of the world’s most attractive seashores for 337 days during 2020. … That the plaintiffs’ entry to component of their home was restricted for 29 times in an hard work to safeguard the neighborhood was not an unconstitutional using,” he wrote.

Seashore closures ended up a carefully watched issue early in the pandemic, as images of crowds of beachgoers, together with spring breakers, flashed throughout the nation though the figures of COVID-19 conditions began to soar.

Walton County, between Panama Town and Destin, has witnessed a constructing boom in current years, with multimillion-greenback houses popping up along its beach locations.

Hinkle wrote that the Walton County Commission handed an ordinance on March 19, 2020, that prohibited customers of the public from accessing beaches and followed up April 2, 2020, with a revised ordinance that utilized to all persons. Beach locations reopened May possibly 1, 2020, and have remained open since then.

Below Florida regulation, privately owned seashore house normally extends to a level recognized as the indicate superior-drinking water line. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit also cited assets owners’ “littoral” rights, which present obtain to the drinking water.

In a courtroom doc filed final yr arguing for summary judgment, the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote that “for 29 times the plaintiffs had been prohibited, less than risk of arrest, from entering their individual non-public residence (i.e., their backyards).”

“This (April 2, 2020) ordinance was not built to minimize transmission of COVID-19 on this private land but somewhat was designed to make enforcement of the County’s general public-beach closure much easier,” the document claimed. “Because Walton County deprived the plaintiffs of every strand in their bundle of residence legal rights though the ordinance was in result, the plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment as to all counts of the criticism.”

Resource: News Support of Florida

Lorrie R. Pedigo

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