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Palm Beach Polo, Inc. v. Village of Wellington

918 So. 2d 988 (2006)

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Palm Beach Polo, Inc. v. Village of Wellington

Florida District Court of Appeal

918 So. 2d 988 (2006)

Facts

Big Blue Reserve (Big Blue) was a 92-acre undeveloped tract of land in the Village of Wellington (Wellington) (plaintiff). In 1971, most of Wellington was owned by two developers. The developers sought to develop the land and entered into a planned unit development (PUD) with Palm Beach County to establish the conditions and terms for the development of the land. The PUD was approved and required that the developers protect Big Blue by enhancing the vegetation and water levels, preserving the existing vegetation, and preserving the area from alteration and development activities. Big Blue was given an open space-reserve (OS-R) designation in an agricultural/residential zoning district. The developers expressed an appreciation for Big Blue and that they would be careful to preserve it during development. In 1993, Palm Beach Polo, Inc. (Polo) acquired an interest in Wellington property that included the Big Blue Reserve. Polo acquired the property interest as a result of a bankruptcy auction, and Polo received a five-volume due-diligence report regarding the property. The report included that Big Blue was designated as an OS-R. Polo did not contact the county planning and zoning department to check any other land-use or zoning regulations. In 1999, Wellington adopted a comprehensive plan that mimicked the Palm Beach County Plan. The Wellington plan included a conservation designation for Big Blue, which imposed no new duties but affirmed the property’s longstanding OS-R designation. Polo contested the conservation designation despite the lack of change. Wellington subsequently filed a suit for declaratory judgment to enforce the requirements of the 1972 PUD regarding the preservation of Big Blue. Polo claimed that it had no legal obligation to preserve Big Blue because the preservation boundaries were not legally described and claimed that the restorative measures were too general in the 1972 PUD to be enforced. Polo counterclaimed for inverse condemnation. The trial court found in favor of Wellington and ordered Polo to comply with the preservation, protection, and enhancement provisions of the PUD. Polo appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Warner, J.)

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