Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Pasco officials appeal ruling on land acquisition ordinance

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials have appealed a federal judge's ruling that struck down an ordinance allowing officials to make developers hand over property for future roads in exchange for a permit.

The notice was filed in response to U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday's recent ruling that he finds the ordinance "both coercive and confiscatory … and constitutionally offensive in both content and operation." Merryday went on to issue a permanent injunction forbidding the county from enforcing that provision of the ordinance. The county is seeking a stay so that it can appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 2005 county ordinance drew a court challenge from Hillcrest Properties, which argued it unfairly forces owners to surrender land if they want to develop their property.

The ordinance says property owners must dedicate part of their land to the county if part of it falls on a map of future road expansions. Owners who think that's unfair can argue their project won't generate enough traffic to justify the dedication or apply for a variance. The county's goal was to plan for road expansions and save taxpayers millions of dollars by acquiring right of way before costs balloon.

Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein said requiring right of way as a condition of approval has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and is common practice in Florida.

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