Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 3, 2019

FL Appeals Court Finds Plaintiff Did Not Have a Cause of Action Under the Harris Act

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

The City Commission of Coral Cables created the Historic Preservation Board and vested it with the power to designate properties as historic landmarks. In 1984, the City Commission enacted Ordinance No. 2508, which set forth preservation standards, review procedures, and the criteria to determine whether to designate a landmark historic or to issue a demolition permit. In 2007, plaintiff became the owner of a historic residence located on two acres of waterfront property in Coral Gables, Florida. In 2012, the residence was designated a historic landmark by resolution pursuant to Section 3-1103. Cascar asserted that modern buyers found the residence undesirable and requested a permit to demolish the residence, but its request was denied by resolution pursuant Section 3-1107(D). Cascar filed a Harris Act claim to recover for diminution of the property’s value allegedly caused by the refusal to allow demolition of the historic residence. After a hearing, the trial court granted the City’s motion for summary judgment, holding that because Ordinance No. 2508 was enacted in 1984, Cascar did not have a viable cause of action under section 70.001(12).

By its express terms, the Harris Act stated that its provisions do not apply “to the application of any law enacted on or before May 11, 1995.” Here, the undisputed evidence reflected that Ordinance No. 2508 was enacted on August 28, 1984. As such, when the City designated the residence a historic landmark in 2012, it merely applied the grandfathered-in Ordinance as codified in Section 3-1103. Similarly, when the City denied Cascar’s request for a demolition permit, it applied the grandfathered-in Ordinance as codified in Section 3-1107(D). The court therefore held that the application of the Ordinance to the subject property did not give rise to a cause of action under the Harris Act. Accordingly, the trial court’s holding was affirmed.

Cascar, LLC v. City of Coral Gables, 2019 WL 2607425 (FL App. 6/26/2019)

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