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Sarasota Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 4 years ago

Court sets hearing for land-taking case

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If mediation fails, the 12th circuit court will decide in October if Sarasota County “took” a Palmer Ranch developer’s land without compensation.
by: Jack Short Staff Writer

After what will be two years since Palmer Ranch developer Hugh Culverhouse sued Sarasota County, the 12th Judicial Circuit Court may decide if local long-term growth restrictions impose excessive restrictions on the use of his land.

McCann East, Inc., filed a lawsuit in October 2014 accusing the county of “taking” more than 1,200 acres of land east of Interstate-75, without just compensation. McCann claims the county did so by amending its comprehensive plan to establish “greenways” or conservation areas where development is to be avoided under the Sarasota 2050 plan.

According to that suit, the “greenways” system requires private landowners to “devote a substantial portion of (their) private property, to a public ‘open space/conservation’” easement, which normally prohibits development, without being compensated for that land.

McCann owns about 2,600 acres east of I-75, which was designated rural in 2001.

The 2050 plan allows alternative development options for rural use areas, but in return the landowner must agree not to develop in greenways. Landowners are typically allowed to develop at higher densities elsewhere in return.

McCann claims that makes its land “unviable.”

If mandatory mediation fails, Judge Rochelle Curley of the 12th Circuit Court will hear the case, during a non-jury trial, over three days starting Oct. 17.

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