Hillcrest Property, LLC v. Pasco County
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a county ordinance which required a property owner to dedicate property to the county within a transportation corridor as a condition of obtaining a development permit did not violate the property owner's due process rights. The court also held that a land-use decision is an executive action, not a legislative action, and did not implicate a fundamental right under the Constitution.
Pasco County enacted the ordinance is question to preserve property for transportation purposes anticipating projected growth of the community. The ordinance contemplated potential disputes and contained a waiver process which was very similar to the process of seeking a variance. If the property the ordinance contemplated exceeded that actually needed the county could either compensate the property owner for the excess lands or it could simply not require the owner to dedicate the excess land and subject such land only to applicable zoning restrictions. Hillcrest owned 16.5 acres in the county and applied to develop its property with a large retail shopping center. In response, the county notified Hillcrest that the ordinance would require a dedication of 50 feet for a future road expansion. This was adjusted later to an addtional 90 feet for a total of 140 feet, with the county compensating Hillcrest for the additional 90 feet.
After some back and forth between Hillcrest and the county, Hillcrest did not seek a waiver and they filed suit in federal court. Hillcrest made a takings claim as well as due process claims. The district court granted Hillcrest's motion for summary judgment on the facial claim of due process but denied their claim on the as-applied claim. The district court, therefore, permanently enjoined the county from enforcing the portions of the ordinance which were in dispute. The county appealed and a panel of the Eleventh Circuit held that the due process claim was actually barred by the statute of limitations. As the litigation continued it came back before the Eleventh Circuit a number of years later and the court determined that Hillcrest did not allege any denial of a fundamental right. The court determiend further that Hillcrest challenged the applciation of the ordinance and not anything the design. As such, the court held that the executive was responsible for applying and enforcing the law.