Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

County offers to settle lawsuit with developer

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco officials are hoping to settle a lawsuit with a developer ahead of an appeals court ruling that could decide whether a county ordinance is unconstitutional.

Developer Hillcrest Properties sued Pasco last year after the county invoked its Right of Way Corridor Preservation ordinance, which forces landowners to surrender property for future roads if they want to develop their land.

At issue is a proposed 16-acre commercial site off Old Pasco Road west of Interstate 75. Officials invoked the ordinance to bank land for future roads, but Hillcrest sued, alleging the ordinance was unconstitutional.

A magistrate sided with the developer but the constitutionality question was referred to the U.S. District Court.

In April, District Judge Steven D. Merryday ruled in favor of Hillcrest and in a harshly worded 52-page ruling lambasted the ordinance as being "both coercive and confiscatory … and constitutionally offensive both in content and operation."

Pasco appealed the ruling in May.

Now, commissioners are trying to settle the lawsuit ahead of the appeals ruling. On Tuesday, they voted 5-0 to offer Hillcrest $1.35 million for a 100-foot parcel for the expansion of State Road 52 and to settle related claims and costs.

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-2636.

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