Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 1, 2009

Denial of Zoning Amendment Constituted Reverse Spot Zoning

Petitioner sought a zoning change for a parcel of undeveloped property in southwest Miami-Dade County from AU (agricultural zoning permitting one residence per five acres) to EU-1 (estate zoning permitting one residence per one acre).  The Miami-Dade County Commission denied the zoning change and the circuit court appellate division, on first-tier certiorari review, upheld the decision of the County Commission.  On second-tier certiorari review, the Third DCA quashed the decision of the circuit court and remanded with directions to quash the zoning resolutions in question.   The court held that the circuit court departed from the essential requirements of the law under the legal construct of reverse spot zoning.  First, the court stated that there was indisputable evidence “that (a) the previous agricultural nature of the area no longer prevails, so that (b) the surrounding property is now used as permitted either by EU-1 or, if anything, even more liberal zoning.” Specifically, the court pointed to a dialogue by a county commissioner and the planning director, in which the planning director admitted that all but one parcel surrounding the subject property were zoned EU-1.  Second, it was determined through evidence presented at the hearing that the Petitioner’s application was rejected on grounds that to add development on the subject parcel would present flooding issues in the neighborhood, and that the subject property was important as a drainage facility for excess water from surrounding properties.  “The Petitioner’s property was thus forced to act, … as an uncompensated storm sewer for the neighborhood. As a matter of constitutional law, however, a policy such as this one, which is unrelated to appropriate zoning principles, cannot support the action below.” The court concluded that while good drainage is a worthy public goal, “it emphatically may not be promoted on the back of a private landowner by depriving him of the constitutionally protected use of his property.”


Richard Road Estates, LLC v. Miami-Dade County Bd. of County Com’rs, 2009 WL 454537 (Fla. 3d DCA 2/25/2009).


The opinion can be accessed at:


Special thanks to Steven Wernick of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP for providing this abstract.


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