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Nassau County v. Willis

District Court of Appeal of Florida
41 So.3d 270 (2010)


Nassau County, Florida (Nassau) (defendant) had a comprehensive plan that prohibited the development of designated wetlands at a density greater than one residential-dwelling unit per five acres. The comprehensive plan also permitted that those areas determined not to be wetlands by Nassau with the advice of the St. Johns River Water Management District (Water Management District) could be developed at the least intense adjacent land-use density. In 2006, the Water Management District determined that 71.58 acres of Crane Island, which had previously been designated as wetlands, were in fact uplands and not wetlands. Accordingly, Nassau categorized those 71.58 acres as low-density residential and approved the acres’ development at a density of two dwelling units per acre. Lynwood Willis and other adjoining landowners (plaintiffs) challenged Nassau’s interpretation of the comprehensive plan, arguing that the interpretation led to an absurd result, because its application significantly changed the land-use designation of 71.58 acres of land. The plaintiffs also argued that Nassau had made prior attempts to amend the comprehensive plan to achieve the same result. The trial court agreed that Nassau’s interpretation would lead to an absurd result and quashed the ordinance approving the low-density development. Nassau appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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