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Circuit Court finds for Cape in old golf course land use lawsuit

May 24, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A circuit court judge has ruled in favor of the city of Cape Coral, finding that the municipality did not "take" a developer's property when it denied transmittal of a land use map amendment.

"The Court finds that the Plaintiff's distinct investment-backed expectations when it took title to the property in 2006 were not objectively reasonable, but, were instead unreasonable," Judge Michael T. McHugh wrote in a 10-page final judgement issued Wednesday in the case of Florida Gulf Venture LLC vs the city of Cape Coral. "Further, this Court concludes that this case is likewise not ripe for adjudication as the Plaintiff never submitted meaningful application to the CITY."

Florida Gulf Venture sought legal redress, alleging that the city denied it full use of a 175-acre parcel in downtown Cape Coral that previously was used as a golf course. The company applied for the amendment so to allow for more intense use of the site, which the Cape Coral City Council denied, declining to forward the request to the state.

The court found that the city staff "consistently left the door open for favorable consideration of a development plan of lesser intensity..." than the mixed use development designation sought and that "the Plaintiff still has reasonable uses to which it can put the property that are economically viable."

" ... the credible appraisal testimony before the Court does not demonstrate that the Plaintiff has suffered substantial loss of all economically viable uses to the magnitude required by existing case law," the judgment states. "Although the Plaintiff may not be able to recoup its total investment here due to the decline in the market, and other economic considerations, it does continue to have economically viable uses for the property including all those that the property could have been put to at the time of purchase."

The attorney for the plaintiff could not be immediately reached for comment.

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