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LANDUSE

Re: The Reahard Property taking case Reahard vs Lee County, Florida

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 comprehensive 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 original 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.

Nancie G. Marzulla, President and Chief attorney for The Defenders of Property Rights handled the petition for cert. They can be contacted at 1 (202) 686 4197 in Washington, DC or at http://www.defendersproprights.org/

 

UPDATE 1997

At a Trial held in the Lee County Circuit Court with Judge R Wallace Pack presiding this case was re tried beginning on the 13th of February with the closing arguments on Thursday February 20th. At the conclusion of the closing arguments the Judge issued a ruling that Lee County by their enactment of the 1984 Lee Plans had in fact taken the Reahard's

property. He further ordered that a jury trial be held beginning on the 25th of February 1997 to determine the value of the property taken.

 

Lee County's attorney John Rennerís argument was that the Reahards were only entitled to the property rights that had been granted to them by Lee County's Government and since they had no previous approval, permits, acceptance or other official recognition by Lee County they therefore had NO PROPERTY RIGHTS. If you that do not understand this argument it means that we are now governed by a group of non-elected bureaucrats who think the God given rights of

free human beings only exist if they have government approval..

 

Talk about unconstitutional government

 

 

The Jury Trial was completed on the 26th and the verdict published was for a value of $600,000 on the date of taking 21 Dec 84 thus amounting to an award of $1,416,000 counting the interest.

On June the 6th a hearing was held to set attorney's fees and costs the judge ruled that Lee County must pay $455,000 of the Reahard's attorney's fees and $100,000 in costs. Therefore Lee County owes the Reahard's and their attorney a total of $1,971,000 and the interest is running at $600/day

 

January 5, 1998

The appeal was heard before the 2nd circuit court of appeals today. Lee County's Attorney stated once again that LEE COUNTY had given the Reahard's no RIGHTS therefore they had none. They await the response from the panel to the claims put forth by Lee County. It is interesting to note that Lee County at this point hired a new attorney, a former supreme court justice of the state of Florida.

Further it is interesting to note that on the 15th of December 1997 the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling in the case of City of

Chicago v The International Board of Surgeons that stated that ripeness was not an issue in having a trial in federal court for a violation of an individuals 5th amendment rights. The defendant may transfer the case to Federal Court and if the judge wants to take the case the plaintiff can transfer the case. Therefore the Reahards case was properly tried before

the Federal Court and the Ripeness Ruling by the 11th Circuit was wrong.

Where is the justice here?

 

The Justice is that the Reahards recieved the news today (02/12/98) that the appeals court has affirmed the lower court's ruling in favor of the Reahards and Lee County has now paid them.

Thank you Lord!