This case began when the Reahard family purchased 600 acres of land in Lee County in 1944. The Reahard's began subdividing and selling parcels from this track immediately and later in 1956 separated out a parcel of about 120 acres for development into individual home sites of 60 ft. by 125 ft or larger. They constructed roadways ,canals and filled lots and in 1960 recorded in the public records of Lee county a formal plat of the subdivision now known as Imperial Shores (OR Book 53 pp 128-132). Development and sale of lots continued unabated until 1972 when the CLEAN WATERS ACT resulted in the need to obtain permits from the Corp of Engineers USA. Development was slowed as a result of these requirements but not stopped until l982 when the cost of obtaining permits from the COE and the State of Florida exceeded the financial abilities of the Reahards. There remained at that time 126 undeveloped residential lots and an undeveloped MARINA SITE of 2.5 acres.
The Reahards were offered at that time 1.2 million dollars by another developer for the remaining undeveloped 40 acres this was refused because of certain conditions in the contract. Then in 1984 before the Reahards were financially able to reapply for permits LEE COUNTY passed a comprensive land use plan which took their development rights( if you prefer their known planned use of their land) away and in return issued an order allowing development of ONE RESIDENTIAL LOT on the 40 acres. In effect turning a 1.5 million DOLLAR forty acres piece of real estate into a 40 thousand dollar lot. This parcel has about 800 ft. of paved road frontage and about one mile of river and bay frontage.
This case was file in State Court by the Reahards in l989 and Lee county requested that the court transfer the case to Federal Court. The case was transferred and was tried before a Federal Magistrate in November l990. The magistrate ruled on the basis of all the evidence presented that Lee County had in effect by their actions taken the Reahard property. The magistrate further order that a jury trial be held to determine the amount owed the Reahards for the taking of their property. That trial was held in May 1991 and the jury found that Lee County owed the Reahards $700,000 as a result of their actions.
Lee County appealed the case to the 11th circuit court of appeals and the appeals court found that the Trial Magistrate had not done a proper analysis for his order (off the wall) and remanded the case for further proceedings. The magistrate amended his orginal order and reinstated the jury verdict. Lee county again appealed to the 11th circuit this time the court panel ruled that the case was not ripe when tried in the Federal Court and should have been tried in the State Court it was removed from at Lee County's request.(Lee County's mistake not the Reahards)....This ruling completely ignores previous federal circuit rulings and treats real estate holding differently from all other private property.
The Reahards requested the US Supreme Ct to accept cert and over- turn this clearly wrongful ruling by the 11 th Circuit. The Court refused without comment in April 1995. This in effect sends the case back to State Court were it will be retried and the facts not having changed the Reahards will win again. Lee County will continue to violate the Reahards constitutional rights for another 6 or 7 years of legal mumbo jumbo. The Reahards need your help and support (understand it is your constitutional rights as well) Write your congressman or woman in support of the Reahards and in support of strong legislation protecting your property rights at local, state, and federal levels.
The petition for cert was handled by Nancie G. Marzulla, President and Chief attorney for The Defenders of Property Rights.. They can be contacted at 1 (202) 686 4197 in Washington, DC or at http://www.defendersproprights.org/