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Pinecrest Lakes, Inc. v. Shidel

795 So. 2d 191 (2001)

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Pinecrest Lakes, Inc. v. Shidel

Florida District Court of Appeal

795 So. 2d 191 (2001)

Facts

Pinecrest Lakes, Inc. (Pinecrest) (defendant) owned a large parcel of land that it sought to develop in phases. For the first nine phases, the land was developed with single-family homes in low densities. For example, the first phase had a maximum density of two units per acre. The tenth phase was developed as two-story buildings with a density of 6.5 units per acre. The Martin County Commission (the commission) approved a revised site plan for the tenth phase and issued a development order permitting construction despite objections from Karen Shidel (plaintiff), Charles Brooks, and others. Shidel, Brooks, and the homeowners’ associations for the first nine phases filed a complaint with the commission to challenge the decision to issue the development order as inconsistent with the Martin County comprehensive plan (the plan). They argued that the development order permitting the higher-density development for phase 10 was inconsistent with the plan’s requirement that the new development of undeveloped land must be developed with compatible structures if the land adjacent to the new development comprised predominantly single-family homes. The commission affirmed its issuance of the development order. Then, Shidel and Brooks filed a complaint with the circuit court. The court initially granted injunctive relief against Pinecrest, which included an order to remove all apartment buildings from the phase 10 development through demolition or relocation. During the trial, Pinecrest continued to build and lease apartments for the phase 10 development even though the court had found that the development order was inconsistent with the plan early in the litigation. Many apartments were already complete and occupied at the time the court entered its final judgment. Removal of the apartments would result in a $3.3 million loss for Pinecrest and only a $26,000 reduction in value of Shidel’s property. Notably, the circuit court had not considered the balance of equities between the parties in granting injunctive relief because Florida Statute § 163.3215 authorized injunctive relief as the preferred remedy for local-government action taken that materially altered the density or intensity of use of a property that was not consistent with the local government’s comprehensive plan. Pinecrest appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Farmer, J.)

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