Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 13, 2020

FL Appeals Court Finds Neighbors Had Standing in Zoning Enforcement Action

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Peter and Galina Haver alleged that their neighbor, Miriam Galan, was installing plumbing without a permit and violating the single-family zoning classification by providing room and board at her residence to at least two individuals unrelated to her. The Havers sued the City of West Palm Beach and two City employees, Rick Greene and Aleandro Lopez for failure to enforce zoning codes. In this case, Peter and Galina Haver appealed the circuit court’s final order dismissing with prejudice their five-count complaint in a zoning enforcement action.

Counts I and III of the complaint sought injunctive relief against the City. The court noted that in Boucher v. Novotny, 102 So. 2d 132 (Fla. 1958), the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed that “where municipal officials threaten or commit a violation of municipal ordinances which produces an injury to a particular citizen which is different in kind from the injury suffered by the people of the community as a whole, then such injured individual is entitled to injunctive relief in the absence of an adequate legal remedy.” However, a plaintiff “is without redress in equity unless he can allege and prove special damages peculiar to himself and differing in kind rather than in degree from the damages suffered by the people as a whole.” Since the claims set forth in this case were specifically permitted by Boucher, the court reversed the circuit court’s order dismissing them, and remanded for further proceedings. On remand, the court was instructed to determine whether the Havers have adequately pleaded special injuries as required by Boucher.

Count II of the complaint sought a declaratory judgment on the Neighbor’s activities and that the City’s refusal to enforce its zoning classification was an ordinance violation. The court also reversed the court’s order dismissing count II, and declined to address the issue. On remand, the court was ordered to determine whether the allegations are otherwise sufficient under chapter 86, Florida Statutes.

Count IV of the complaint was pleaded in the alternative and sought mandamus relief. The court affirmed the court’s dismissal of this claim, as the City did not issue any enforcement order or decision that could be challenged. As such certiorari was inappropriate, and the court therefore affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of count V of the complaint.

 Haver v City of West Palm Beach, 2020 WL 3067760 (FL App. 6/10/2020)


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