What happens if a private citizen or company buys some land and the government comes along after the purchase and tells the person or persons, “You cannot build anything on some or all of it because it is a wetlands area”?

Thanks to the Florida Land Dispute Resolution Act, property owners in Florida can get some relief. Under the Act, if the government “restricted or limited the use of real property such that the property owner is  permanently unable to attain the reasonable, investment-backed expectation for the existing use of the real property or a vested right to a specific use of the real property with respect to the real property as a whole, or that the property owner is left with existing or vested uses that are unreasonable such that the property owner bears a disproportionate share of a burden imposed for the good of the public, which in fairness should be borne by the public at large.”

In other words, the government cannot just come to you and say “you have to leave this section of your property alone because there are little animals here that we must protect” and leave you the property owner stuck with a worthless piece of property you paid real money to obtain. If they do that to you, they must pay you for it.

In 2006, in Brevard vs. Stack, Brevard County challenged the constitutionality of the law. Thankfully for property owners, it was upheld. The County tried to argue several points. Their main point was that the courts had no business getting involved. The courts disagreed.

The county claimed that the courts were delegated the power because there are no standards or criteria to guide interpretation of the Act. The court found that there were guidelines on time periods, settlement options and determinations to be made by the judicial system.

So in other words, you can take the government to court if they won’t let you develop your property and you can get your money back.