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Highlands-In-The-Woods, L.L.C. v. Polk County

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

April 28, 2017

HIGHLANDS-IN-THE-WOODS, L.L.C., a Florida Limited Liability Company, Appellant,
v.
POLK COUNTY, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Polk County; John Radabaugh, Judge.

          Eric S. Adams and Lauren A. Taylor of Shutts & Bowen LLP, Tampa, for Appellant.

          Hank B. Campbell and Jennifer M. Vasquez of Valenti Campbell Trohn Tamayo & Aranda, P.A., Lakeland, for Appellee.

          Christopher B. Lunny of Radey Law Firm, Tallahassee, for Amici Curiae National Association of Home Builders and Florida Home Builders Association.

          MORRIS, Judge.

         Highlands-In-The-Woods, L.L.C. (Highlands), appeals a final summary judgment entered in favor of Polk County on Highlands' three-count complaint for declaratory relief and for inverse condemnation under both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions. Polk County conditioned Highlands' permit for development of a subdivision on the installation of a reclaimed water use system in the subdivision and the dedication of the system to the County. In this appeal, Highlands argues that these exactions constitute an unlawful taking. We disagree and affirm the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Polk County.

         In its 2009 complaint, Highlands alleged that it is the owner and developer of a sixty-lot, single-family subdivision in Polk County. In 2003 the County conditioned Highlands' receipt of development permits on Highlands' installation of a system that would connect to a reclaimed water system. This condition was authorized by section 702.G of the Polk County Land Development Code, adopted in 2003, which provides the following:

For any development where water reuse systems are available, connection to such reuse system shall be required. A municipal, County owned, or private Water Reuse System is considered to be available when:
1. There is sufficient capacity to serve the subject property, and
2. An adequately sized distribution system is within one mile of the property.

         Highlands referred to the reclaimed water system it was required to install as "reuse improvements." The County also required Highlands to dedicate the reuse improvements to the County, which included a parcel of land that houses the above-ground main reuse line facility.

         Highlands became aware in 2006 that several developments had been unable to connect to a reclaimed water system due to the construction boom during those years and the resulting unavailability of reclaimed water. This caused Highlands to consider installing an irrigation well for use in the common areas of the development. Highlands decided against installing such a well after it received assurances from the County that there was sufficient reclaimed water capacity to serve the subdivision. Thereupon, Highlands installed landscaping in the common areas in an effort to complete development of the subdivision.

         Later in 2006, the County informed Highlands that reclaimed water was unavailable to Highlands due to demand exceeding supply but that the reuse lines were still required in the subdivision. Highlands was required to reroute its irrigation system and use potable water for irrigation of the landscaping it had planted in the common areas. In November 2006, at a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, the County accepted and took possession of ...


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