Posted by: Patricia Salkin | April 8, 2021

11th Circuit Court of Appeals Concluded a Requirement to Obtain a Permit for Farming Activities Did Not Constitute a Regulatory Taking and Found No Due Process and Equal Protection Violations

This post was authored by Olena Botshteyn, Esq.

In May 2012, Mohit purchased a 20-acre property in Haines City for the purposes of farming activity. Two months after he purchased the property, Haines City adopted a regulation, prohibiting using the subject land for keeping farm animals or for other agricultural purposes without a permit. Mohit filed a lawsuit with the state court, and the trial court determined that Mohit needed to apply for a permit to pursue farming activities. Mohit further applied for a conditional use permit, and Haines City granted the permit, which allowed Mohit to have up to twenty goats, twenty cattle on a rotational basis, and five horses. However, Mohit continued to pursue legal actions in courts. He first alleged at a trial court that the regulation and the permit requirement were contrary to state law. Haines City was granted summary judgment on most issues. In July 2018, Mohit filed a complaint in federal district court and asserted violation of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause, violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and violation of the Fair Housing Act. The court granted Haines City summary judgment with regard to the takings claim and dismissed the case with regard to the rest. Mohit appealed.

On appeal, the court affirmed the decision of the district court. In his complaint, Mohit alleged a regulatory taking, stating that the adopted regulation “denies all economically beneficial or productive use of land.” According to the court, this was not true, since he was allowed to engage in certain agricultural activities, even if less than he wished. The court thus concluded that the district court did not err in granting Haines City a summary judgment on this issue and determining there was no regulatory taking. Further, with regard to the due process claim, the court stated that “there is generally no substantive due process protection for state-created property rights”, and that Mohit failed to show that his property rights were fundamental or that the regulation which was passed by the City did not meet the rational basis test. For an equal protection claim, Mohit had to show that the facially neutral ordinance was unequally applied for the purpose of discriminating against him, and failed to do so as well. Finally, with respect to the claim under the Fair Housing Act the court stated that Mohit provided only conclusory statements that Haines City discriminated against him and ultimately found no error in the district court’s decision.

Mohit v City of Haines City, 845 Fed. Appex. 805 (11th Cir. CA 1/26/2021)

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