Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 8, 2014

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Holds City’s Denial of Application did Not Violate Substantive Due Process Protection

IAK Florida Builders, LLC (IAK) agreed with Kathy Kellum, trustee of the Reel Estate Trust, to purchase certain real property in Florida for the purpose of developing it as Sans Souci Bay. As part of the development, IAK petitioned the City to rezone the property from single-family and agricultural use to single- and multi-family use. The City and its Planning and Zoning Committee both denied the proposal. IAK sought review of the denial at a hearing before a special magistrate, and the Planning and Zoning Committee approved IAK’s amended proposal, subject to a series of conditions. IAK complied with the conditions and presented the amended proposal to the City at a final determinative hearing on May 24, 2010. The City denied the proposal and took certain actions that IAK claims were improper during the hearing. Appellants claimed the City violated their right to procedural due process because it reached a decision that amounted to a taking of Appellants’ property interests without providing a full and fair hearing, and they claimed that the City violated their substantive due process rights because its denial of Appellants’ rezoning petition was “an arbitrary and irrational exercise of power.” The federal district court dismissed the action, and IAK appealed.

The Eleventh Circuit likewise dismissed the substantive due process claim because areas in which substantive rights are created only by state law are not subject to substantive due process protection under the Due Process Clause because substantive due process rights are created only by the Constitution; however, the zoning restrictions at issue in this appeal concerned land-use rights that are state-created and therefore fell beyond the scope of substantive due process protections. As to the procedural due process claim, the court adhered to the rule that a procedural due process violation has not occurred when adequate state remedies are available. Because appellants did not take advantage the judicial review of final agency actions, including zoning decisions, available under Fla. Stat. § 120.68, the procedural due process claim was also dismissed. Accordingly, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the holding of the district court.

Goodman v City of Cape Coral, 2014 WL 3702433 (11th Cir. 7/28/2014)

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