Property Rights vs. Height Limits

Local officials in Manasota Key, FL tried to preserve the character of their community by putting height restrictions in place, but a thwarted developer has been awarded $500k for the limitations these restrictions imposed on his property rights.

1 minute read

July 23, 2008, 12:00 PM PDT

By Tim Halbur

"The case underscores Florida's endless conflict between preservation and property rights, and the difficult choices government leaders face in balancing those interests. It also highlights the impact of the Bert J. Harris Jr. Act, a 1995 state law giving landowners more power to sue for compensation when government limits what they can do with their property.

The threat of lawsuits deters many communities from passing development laws meant to protect the safety and well-being of residents, said Steve Pfeiffer, a Sarasota attorney and board member for 1,000 Friends of Florida, a growth management advocacy group.

"The act has a shadow impact that is beyond any impact of actually filing Bert Harris claims," Pfeiffer said, using the shorthand legal term for challenges under the law.

The Harris Act was used recently to file suit against the city of Sarasota after a zoning change rendered a planned 18-story building downtown unbuildable. The change restricted height in the area to 10 stories."

Monday, July 21, 2008 in Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Concrete walkway with landscaping, decorative tiles, and picnic tables in a Los Angeles County park.

Wish Granted: Former Brownfield Transformed to New Park

Wishing Tree Park in West Carson, California officially opened last month, replacing a brownfield site with a much-needed green space for recreation and respite.

June 14 - Urbanize LA

"No right turn on red" and "Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" sign.

The Tide is Turning on Right Turns on Red

The policy, which stems from the gas embargo of the 1970s, makes intersections more dangerous for pedestrians.

June 14 - NPR

Thick green forest on edge of lake in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Begins Process to Clean Superfund Site

A public forest is home to dozens of barrels that have been leaking toxic materials for decades.

June 14 - Inside Climate News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.