A Florida family has gone to the state’s Supreme Court in hopes of reining in a city’s decision to simply take a nine-acre island they inherited from their parents by declaring it a bird rookery and banning everything but “temporary” camping on the private property.

“The city is violating the Constitution by refusing to pay the family a meaningful form of ‘just compensation,’ as the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause demands when government seizes private property or prohibits any economically beneficial use of it,” said officials in the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is working on the case for the Beyer family.

The city did say it would allow the family to go buy other land elsewhere and develop that, instead, by granting them permission in the city’s limited growth scheme.

But that’s not good enough, according to the petition filed with the Florida court.

“This case is about an uncompensated property grab — literally, an unconstitutional island grab,” said Mark Miller, a lawyer to runs PLF’s Florida Office.

“The island has been seized from the Beyers in all but name. Although the city is oh-so-generously allowing the family to continue paying taxes on their island property, and to retain all the liabilities that come with property ownership, bureaucrats have commandeered the actual use of it for purposes of their own choosing. The Beyers aren’t allowed to do anything but camp on the island, and they haven’t been offered a dime in reimbursement.”

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He continued, “We’re asking the Florida Supreme Court to take this case – and we’re prepared to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. … The city’s excuse for not compensating the Beyers is, literally, ‘for the birds.’ So-called development points or credits are not a tangible payment. At best, they amount to guesswork about possible development at some undetermined time in some unidentified place. At worst, they amount to peanuts in a shell game. Either way, the Constitution’s protections for property owners are being evaded, not obeyed.”

Gordon and Molly Beyer bought Bamboo Key, in Monroe County, for $70,000 in 1970. It then was authorized to hold one house per acre – for a total of nine building sites.

Over the years, however, various changes were made to building regulations and eventually when Marathon, Florida, was incorporated at a city, it took control of the land by declaring it a bird rookery, saying that only temporary camping was allowed.

Instead, the city said, it would allow the family under its limited-growth plan to buy land elsewhere and develop it instead.

Not good enough, the PLF charges.

The case is on behalf of Tom, Hugh and Teresa Beyer, who, according to the lower court, had no “distinct investment backed expectations for the property.”

“Fortunately for the Beyers, the Fifth Amendment provides that the government cannot take private property for public use without just compensation, and with the help of PLF, this family is determined to fight for its constitutional right to receive compensation for the taking of its property,” the legal team explained.

“Our father spent so much time thinking about building a house on Bamboo Key, it was sad that by the time he retired and had the time to devote to the project, the government had taken away his ability to develop it,” said Tom Beyer, in a statement released by the legal team.

“He pursued the court case but, unfortunately, it outlived him. I know that he wanted us to be able to develop the island as we saw fit and to continue to pursue the court case to see the injustice put right. We are grateful that PLF is helping us pursue that goal.”

Miller warned of the consequences of not challenging that island grab.

“The principles at stake in this case are important for all property owners, large or small, wherever they live. To paraphrase a famous poet, no property owner is an island to himself. When property rights are eroded for some landowners, they are weakened for the rest of us as well. This case asks the crucial question: When government takes property, is real restitution required or can officials get by with offering an empty substitute?

“The Florida Supreme Court should take this case not just to right the wrong done to the Beyer family, but also to affirm, more broadly, that ‘just compensation’ means ‘just compensation,’ and any form of bureaucratic counterfeit won’t do,” he said.

“The Liberty Amendments” is the blueprint on how to fix our broken government by Mark Levin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “Liberty and Tyranny” and “Ameritopia.” Order it today at WND’s Superstore.


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