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City of Destin prevails in property rights case against Destin Fishing Fleet

The First District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida has affirmed the circuit court’s decision in favor of the City of Destin in a long-standing legal battle against Destin […]

Destin Fishing Fleet's location on the Destin Harbor.

The First District Court of Appeal of the State of Florida has affirmed the circuit court’s decision in favor of the City of Destin in a long-standing legal battle against Destin Fishing Fleet, Inc. over property rights claims.

In an opinion dated June 12, 2024, the appellate court upheld the amended final judgment that denied Destin Fishing Fleet’s claims brought under the Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act. 

  • The case stemmed from the city’s amendments to its comprehensive plan in 2015 and 2018, which limited building heights to 75 feet.

Destin Fishing Fleet, which owns a three-acre parcel on the Destin Harbor, had initially applied to build a 160-foot-high-rise development on the property in 2009. The company invested approximately $291,457 in the development application but ultimately tabled the project due to an economic downturn before the city acted on the application.

Following the city’s comprehensive plan amendments, Destin Fishing Fleet submitted a claim in 2018 for $14,590,000, alleging a diminution in value to its property. The company asserted that the amendments would limit any building’s height on the property to 75 feet.

In February 2023, the circuit court ruled in favor of the City of Destin on all counts, finding that the city did not violate the Bert Harris Act and did not take any action that constituted an “inordinate burden” or prevented Destin Fishing Fleet from having “any reasonable, investment-backed expectation” on its property.

The city made a settlement offer of $12,000, which the trial court determined to be bona fide. However, the appellate court vacated the determination that the city is entitled to reasonable costs and attorney’s fees under section 70.001(6)(c)2. of the Harris Act and remanded the issue back to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

The city’s request for an award of reasonable costs and attorney’s fees, along with its motion for appellate costs and fees, will be determined by the trial court in light of the appellate court’s decision.

  • “The city will be seeking attorneys fees to recoup its costs in defending the litigation brought by the Destin Fishing Fleet against the City,” said City of Destin Attorney Kim Kopp. 

This long-standing legal battle, which began nearly five years ago, has now reached a significant milestone with the appellate court’s ruling in favor of the City of Destin.

One Response

  1. In Okaloosa co. The system will always win is the system bought and owned to the top well I haved loved here over50 yr and my self I think so

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