Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Walton County, No. 1D00-3538

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtLEWIS, J.
Citation833 So.2d 215
PartiesEDGEWATER BEACH OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., Appellant, v. WALTON COUNTY, Florida; Grand Dunes, Ltd.; and KPM, Ltd., Appellees, and Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida, Appellant, v. Walton County, Florida; Grand Dunes, Ltd.; and KPM, LTD., Appellees.
Decision Date19 December 2002
Docket Number No. 1D00-3555., No. 1D00-3538

833 So.2d 215

EDGEWATER BEACH OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., Appellant,
v.
WALTON COUNTY, Florida; Grand Dunes, Ltd.; and KPM, Ltd., Appellees, and
Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida, Appellant,
v.
Walton County, Florida; Grand Dunes, Ltd.; and KPM, LTD., Appellees

Nos. 1D00-3538, 1D00-3555.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

December 19, 2002.


833 So.2d 217
Richard E. Doran, Attorney General; Jonathan A. Glogau, Special Counsel, Tallahassee, for Robert A. Butterworth, Appellant

W. Douglas Moody, Jr. of Graham, Moody & Sox; J. Riley Davis of Katz, Kutter, Haigler, Alderman, Bryant & Yon, P.A., Tallahassee, for Edgewater Beach Owners Association, Inc., Appellant.

W. Douglas Hall, Martha Harrell Chumbler, Nancy G. Linnan of Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith, & Cutler, P.A., for Grand Dunes and KPM, Appellees.

ON MOTIONS FOR REHEARING, REHEARING EN BANC, AND CERTIFICATION

LEWIS, J.

We deny the motions for rehearing en banc and certification. However, we grant the motion for rehearing for the limited purpose of clarifying our previous opinion. Therefore, we withdraw our opinion dated August 22, 2002, and issue the following clarified opinion in its place.

Edgewater Beach Owners Association, Inc. and Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida, ("appellants") seek review of an order dismissing their action for injunction filed under section 163.3125, Florida Statutes (1995), and granting final judgment in favor of Grand Dunes and KPM ("developers"). Although the trial court erred in finding that appellants lacked standing, we affirm the trial court's order because the developers have statutory vesting rights in the development, exempting them from complying with Walton County's comprehensive plan. Because we affirm on the basis of statutory vesting, we decline to address the remaining issue on appeal.

In 1982, Walton County ("County") approved development of a six-phase condominium project containing 476 residential units. The project was authorized as a Development of Regional Impact (DRI). The County issued Resolution 82-12, authorizing construction of the project without any conditions. In 1984, Phases I and II consisting of 175 total units were completed. Edgewater Beach Owners Association, Inc. ("Association") is a condominium association and the owner of Phases I and II. The developers own the remaining undeveloped property.

As the 1982 development order had an expiration date of June 8, 1992, KPM sought an extension of the build out date and expiration date. In 1993, the County issued Resolution 93-2, which extended the expiration date of the original development order. Resolution 93-2 also approved KPM's proposed design changes, which lowered the density in Phase III from 42 units to 19 townhomes. The resolution conditionally approved construction in Phases IV through VI at the 1982 levels, subject to a traffic study. The County concluded that the amendment to the 1982 order was not a substantial deviation and

833 So.2d 218
required no further DRI review under chapter 380, Florida Statutes

The Association sought review of the County's 1993 resolution with the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission ("FLWAC"). FLWAC dismissed the appeal for lack of standing, stating that the Association was not a permissible party under chapter 380 to appeal to FLWAC. This Court determined that chapter 380 permitted the Association to appeal to FLWAC and remanded for further proceedings. Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n v. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Walton County, 645 So.2d 541 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994). On remand, FLWAC found that the Association did not adequately allege an adverse effect in order to establish standing. In addition, FLWAC held that the DRI was not abandoned and that the County had the discretion to revive the 1982 DRI. On appeal, this Court affirmed FLWAC's decision. Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n v. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Walton County, 694 So.2d 43 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997). The Association did not file any other action regarding Resolution 93-2.

In October 1995, the developers filed a Notice of Proposed Change, seeking to construct only two additional phases rather than four. The developers proposed building 89 units in Phase III and 89 units in Phase IV, each phase consisting of 20 stories. The County approved this development plan by issuing Resolution 95-82 as an amendment to the 1982 development order, as amended by Resolution 93-2. The Resolution further stated that the "DRI project is vested from application of the 1993 Walton County Comprehensive Plan pursuant to Section 163.3167(8), Florida Statutes" for development rights to 301 condominium units, the number of units allowed under the 1982 development order. The County's 1993 comprehensive plan imposed a four-story height restriction and limited the density of development to 12 units per acre.

The Association filed an appeal of this resolution with FLWAC, arguing that the changes in the development were not vested from compliance with the comprehensive plan. FLWAC upheld the Association's challenge to Resolution 95-82. This Court, however, determined that, based upon the record, the Association did not have standing to maintain the action before FLWAC. Grand Dunes v. Walton County, 714 So.2d 473 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998). The Court vacated FLWAC's order and remanded the case with directions to dismiss the petition for lack of standing. Id. at 475.

On March 7, 1996, the Association filed a complaint against Walton County, Grand Dunes and KPM, pursuant to section 163.3215 seeking to enjoin any development under Resolution 95-82.1 It challenged

833 So.2d 219
the validity of Resolution 95-82, claiming that it was inconsistent with the county's comprehensive plan. Grand Dunes and KPM responded that their rights to complete development vested under section 163.3167(8), Florida Statutes (1995), and under the common law principle of equitable estoppel. On December 16, 1998, Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, moved to intervene in the action, claiming that the issue of vested rights was an issue of statewide importance. The parties stipulated that the development amended by Resolution 95-82 would be inconsistent with the density requirements of the 1993 comprehensive plan but for the vesting of rights under statute or common law

At trial, the Association's president testified that some members' ocean views would be blocked by the development which would lower the members' property value. She further stated that the proposed development would place some of their recreational facilities in the shade until noon. After the Association rested, the developers orally moved to dismiss, stating that the motion was a bench trial equivalent to a motion for directed verdict.

The trial court dismissed the action finding that the appellants failed to establish that they were "an aggrieved or adversely affected party" as defined in section 163.3215(2), Florida Statutes (1995). The trial court further held that, even assuming the Association had standing, the developers had vested statutory and common law rights despite the attachment of conditions to the future construction of phases IV through VI in Resolution 93-2.

Determining whether a party has standing is a pure question of law to be reviewed de novo. See Putnam County Envtl. Council, Inc. v. Bd. of County Comm'rs of Putnam County, 757 So.2d 590 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000). Prior to 1985, the common law rule for standing applied to actions challenging a land use decision. Id. at 593. Under the common law rule, a party had to possess a legally recognized right that would be adversely affected by the land use decision in order to have standing to challenge that decision. Id.; see also Citizens Growth Mgmt. Coalition of West Palm Beach, Inc. v. City of West Palm Beach, 450 So.2d 204, 208 (Fla.1984). The 1985 adoption of section 163.3215, however, liberalized the standing requirements by providing a right to enforce a comprehensive plan to parties having more than a general interest. Putnam County, 757 So.2d at 593; Southwest Ranches Homeowners Ass'n v. County of Broward, 502 So.2d 931 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987) (stating that "this section liberalizes standing requirements and demonstrates a clear legislative

833 So.2d 220
policy in favor of the enforcement of comprehensive plans by persons adversely affected by local action").

To establish standing under section 163.3215(2), a party must demonstrate that it is an "aggrieved or adversely affected party" who will "suffer an adverse effect to an interest protected or furthered by the local government comprehensive plan." As a remedial statute, section 163.3215 should be liberally construed to ensure standing for a party with a protected interest under the comprehensive plan who will be adversely affected by the local government's actions. See Educ. Dev. Ctr., Inc. v. Palm Beach County, 751 So.2d 621 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999). The statute, therefore, gives citizens with adversely affected interests a significantly enhanced standing to challenge the consistency of development decisions with the local comprehensive plan. See Pinecrest Lakes, Inc. v. Shidel, 795 So.2d 191 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).

Here, the Association alleged that the proposed development was inconsistent with its protected interests in density and intensity as limited under the 1993 comprehensive plan. At trial, the Association presented testimony of adverse effects to these interests if the development proceeded as approved. The Association's president testified that members' ocean views would be blocked by the development which would lower the members' property values. She further stated that the proposed development would place some of the Association's recreational facilities in the shade until noon. As an adjacent landowner, the Association has a more direct stake in the impact of the development than the general community. Under the liberalized standing...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 practice notes
  • City of Coconut Creek v. City of Deerfield Beach, No. 4D02-1413.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2003
    ...Shidel, 795 So.2d 191, 200 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001), review denied, 821 So.2d 300 (Fla.2002). Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215, 219-20 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). Coconut Creek's right to challenge the consistency of Energy Center's site plan approval with Broward County's C......
  • Save Homosassa River v. Citrus County, No. 5D07-2545.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • October 24, 2008
    ...427 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007); Payne v. City of Miami, 927 So.2d 904 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005); Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002), receded from on other grounds, Bay Point Club, Inc. v. Bay County, 890 So.2d 256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004); Putnam County Envt......
  • Alachua County v. Scharps, No. 1D02-3240.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 12, 2003
    ...whether a party has standing is a pure question of law to be reviewed de novo. See Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215, 219 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). The trial court failed to explicitly address the arguments as to Scharps' standing to bring this action. The trial ......
  • NASSAU County v. WILLIS, No. 1D09-1008.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 3, 2010
    ...the standing requirements by providing a right to enforce a comprehensive plan to parties having more than a general interest. 833 So.2d 215, 219-20 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (citations omitted), receded from on other grounds, Bay Point Club, Inc. v. Bay County, 890 So.2d 256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • City of Coconut Creek v. City of Deerfield Beach, No. 4D02-1413.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 19, 2003
    ...Shidel, 795 So.2d 191, 200 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001), review denied, 821 So.2d 300 (Fla.2002). Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215, 219-20 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). Coconut Creek's right to challenge the consistency of Energy Center's site plan approval with Broward County's C......
  • Save Homosassa River v. Citrus County, No. 5D07-2545.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • October 24, 2008
    ...427 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007); Payne v. City of Miami, 927 So.2d 904 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005); Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002), receded from on other grounds, Bay Point Club, Inc. v. Bay County, 890 So.2d 256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004); Putnam County Envt......
  • Alachua County v. Scharps, No. 1D02-3240.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • September 12, 2003
    ...whether a party has standing is a pure question of law to be reviewed de novo. See Edgewater Beach Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Walton County, 833 So.2d 215, 219 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002). The trial court failed to explicitly address the arguments as to Scharps' standing to bring this action. The trial ......
  • NASSAU County v. WILLIS, No. 1D09-1008.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 3, 2010
    ...the standing requirements by providing a right to enforce a comprehensive plan to parties having more than a general interest. 833 So.2d 215, 219-20 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002) (citations omitted), receded from on other grounds, Bay Point Club, Inc. v. Bay County, 890 So.2d 256 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004) ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT