SW Legal studies in Business

Buildings Not in Compliance with Land Use Plan Must Be Destroyed
Description Appeals court held that a developer, who constructed over $3 million worth of apartment buildings prior to final judicial review of a request for a zoning variance to allow their construction, must tear down the buildings even though the loss in value to the complaining neighbor was only $26,000.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Land Use Plan; Zoning; Variance; Remedy; Razing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A developer began work on a development in the early 1980s that was subject to the county's land use plan. After an area of homes had be built, the developer petitioned to have the adjoining land re-zoned from single-family houses to apartment buildings. The county commission approved the developer's change in plans. A home owner who lived next to the land being re-zoned sued, contending that the change in zoning was improper. The trial court upheld the commission decision. The home owner appealed. While the appeal was pending, the developer began work on the apartment buildings. The appeals court held that the approval by the commission was not proper and the matter had to be reconsidered. By the time the trial court reviewed the case again, and held that the re-zoning was inconsistent with the county's land use plan, several buildings had been completed and occupied. The trial court ordered that the apartment buildings had to be torn down. The developer appealed, contending that the remedy was not proper, since the loss would be $3.3 million, which is far greater than the estimated loss of $26,000 in property value by the complaining home owner.
Decision

Affirmed. The change in the development plan sought by the developer and approved by the commission was improper. The home owner was entitled to a remedy of injunction against further improper construction and the demolition of the apartment development. This is a remedy allowed by statute. Balancing the equities by comparing the relative values of the properties "would allow those with financial resources to buy their way out of compliance with comprehensive plans."

Citation Pinecrest Lakes, Inc. v. Shidel, 795 So.2d 191 (Dist. Ct. App., Fla., 2001)

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