Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 7, 2019

Fed. Dist. Court in FL Dismisses Federal Due Process Claim Over Denial of Application for Special Exception Mobile Home Park as State Remedies Existed

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

In 2006, Clewiston Commons LLC purchased property in Clewiston that was zoned residential and was being used as a mobile home park. Less than one year later, Clewiston Commons sought to rezone the property from residential to commercial. After a public hearing, the City’s Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance granting Clewiston Commons’ rezoning request. In 2016, the City began to deny Clewiston Commons permits related to its use of the property as a mobile home park. Clewiston Commons applied to the City for a special exception to allow it to operate and be able to repair and replace RV/mobile units within the park. The Board of Commissioners denied Clewiston Commons’ application for the special exception. Following this, a City code enforcement officer issued two violation notices to Clewiston Commons for failure to comply with the commercial zoning designation. A special magistrate ordered the removal of all mobile homes and that Clewiston Commons cease its use of the property as a mobile home park within 180 days.

On appeal, the City argued the federal due process claim should be dismissed because state remedies existed. The court agreed, finding that since Clewiston Commons did not complete its appeal of the Special Magistrate’s opinion, it could not bring any due process claim arising out of that opinion, even one alleging bias. Furthermore, because the Special Magistrate’s opinion was appealable and not final, Clewiston Commons’ bias argument failed.

Clewiston Commons next contended that its claim should not be dismissed because the City did not provide “pre-deprivation review” of its claims and that any post-deprivation remedies were not “meaningful”. Here, however, even construing all of the facts in the Fourth Amended Complaint as true, the court determined the City’s actions did not arise to the level of a constitutional violation because the existence of a legal remedy for the alleged due-process violations was conclusive. Accordingly, the claim was dismissed without prejudice, pending the state-court case’s outcome.

Clewiston Commons, LLC, v. City of Clewiston, 2019 WL 6614220 (MD FL 12/5/2019)

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