Legal Report, June 2017

General Counsel, Jennifer G. Ashton
Corbett White Davis & Ashton

1. City of Riviera Beach v. J & B Motel Corp., 213 So. 3d 1102 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017). Code Enforcement; Foreclosure.

At issue in this case was the City of Riviera Beach's (“City’s”) attempt to foreclose a code enforcement lien encumbering commercial property owned by J & B Motel Corp. The City recorded its lien in 2003, but did not sue to foreclose until 2015. J & B Motel Corp. moved to dismiss the foreclosure action, arguing that it was barred by either the four or five year statute of limitations set forth in §§ 95.11(2)(c) and 95.11(3)(f), F.S. The trial court agreed and dismissed the City's code enforcement lien foreclosure count with prejudice. On appeal, the 4th DCA reversed because the statutes governing code enforcement liens provide that the City had twenty years from the date it recorded its lien to file its foreclosure suit. The 4th DCA held that the City's foreclosure of a code enforcement lien was not time-barred because, reading § 162.10, F.S. (2003), in conjunction with § 162.09(3), F.S. (2003), the City had twenty years from the date the lien was recorded to seek to foreclose, and this more specific statute prevailed over the more general provisions of § 95.011, F.S.

2. Highlands-In-The-Woods, L.L.C. v. Polk Cnty., 42 Fla. L. Weekly D 969 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2017).Reclaimed Water; Takings.

Highlands-In-The-Woods L.L.C (“Highlands”) filed a complaint in 2009 alleging that it is the owner and developer of a sixty-lot, single-family subdivision in Polk County (“County”). In 2003, the County conditioned Highlands' receipt of development permits on Highlands' installation of a system that would connect to a reclaimed water system. The condition was authorized by § 702.G of the County’s Land Development Code which states that “for any development where water reuse systems are available, connection to such reuse system shall be required.” The County also required Highlands to dedicate the reuse improvements to the County, which included a parcel of land that houses the above-ground main reuse line facility. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor the County on Highlands' three-count complaint for declaratory relief and for inverse condemnation under both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

Highlands appealed, arguing that the County’s condition requiring connection to a reclaimed reuse system and requiring dedication of the system to the County constitute an unlawful taking. The 4th DCA disagreed with Highlands and found there was no taking because there was a clear legitimate state interest in new developments using reclaimed water. Ultimately, the 4th DCA concluded that the exactions in this case did not constitute an unconstitutional taking under the standards set forth in Nollanand Dolan, therefore Highlands' claims for inverse condemnation under the U.S. constitution failed. Further, because Highlands did not establish an unconstitutional taking under the U.S. constitution, it failed to establish an unconstitutional taking under the Florida Constitution.