Great news for the taxpayers of Boca Raton! The 15th Circuit Court for Palm Beach County has issued the Order to dismiss the $137 million lawsuit filed against the City of Boca Raton by Crocker Partners. Although Crocker has the right to appeal, their chances to succeed have diminished drastically. It may now be in the best interest of Crocker and the residents of Boca for Crocker to work with the City to develop a real plan for Midtown. Let’s hope Crocker Partners have gotten the message. Here is the court decision:
Recent lawsuits filed against the City of Boca Raton have been based on the Bert Harris Private Property Protection Act (70.001Fl Stat). It states “No political entity may inordinately burden, restrict, or limit private property rights and relief is available when a new law, rule, or ordinance is applied to these vested property rights.” Damages are available due to this “rule” being unfairly applied resulting in the reduction of fair market value of the effected property.
-On Oct 26, 2010 City established Planned Mobility requirement regulations in the SW district where upon Plaintiffs, in 2014, bought Midtown properties which had a prior designation in 2010 as a PM District to include residential units.
-During 2018 the City explores a “Small Area Plan” which is construed as a “rule” which is covered in the Bert Harris act and inordinately burdened owners.
-Claim is for $137 million arrived at subtracting present value of Midtown subject properties at $60 million from $197 million which would been value if rezoned and owners were allowed to build 1,274 units on 67 acres at 20 units an area.
-By not rezoning Midtown to include residential this constitutes a specific action covered by the Bert Harris Act.
City’s Motion To Dismiss
-The PM designation in Midtown did NOT create a RIGHT. PM regulations clearly state MAY rezone not shall.
-Plaintiffs failed to allege that a law/rule has been applied therefore case should be dismissed.
-Plaintiffs failed to allege they suffered an “inordinate burden” on their claim and they do not have a vested right to develop residential.
-Bert Harris does not apply.
Further considerations. There were two lawsuits by Crocker regarding the Bert Harris Act. The first was filed 5/22/2018 and claimed that a Tri-Rail station should not be a requirement to rezone Midtown for residential uses and Transit Oriented Development subareas.
The second lawsuit was filed 10/23/2018 and dropped above and focused just on Bert Harris.
A third lawsuit filed 03/27/2019 focuses on Sunshine violations.
4th and 5th lawsuits by two other owners with similar claims were combined into the prior lawsuits to go forward as one.