Flagler County Commissioners were served this morning with letters and copies of property appraisals from 35 property owners showing that the county’s anti-vacation rental ordinance passed this spring will cost each of them an average of $650,000 in lost property value. The appraisals were submitted as part of litigation filed by the property owners under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act.
“County officials have placed an inordinate burden on these property owners by severely restricting and vindictively targeting their properties with this ordinance,” said attorney Pete Heebner, who represents a number of the property owners. “We’re going to fight tooth and nail to protect the private property rights of everyone in Flagler County. These county officials have no right to single out one type of property owner over another. If they keep it up, it’s going to cost all county taxpayers millions of dollars.”
The majority of the properties are situated in the Cinnamon Beach area, and the $22,704,000 total property value loss is linked directly to the Flagler County ordinance that restricts how these 35 homes can be used.
“When these properties were purchased, this overreaching ordinance wasn’t in place,” said Heebner. “Homeowners rightfully had the freedom to use the properties as they wish, just like everyone else. But now, Flagler county commissioners have decided to single out certain types of properties and restrict their use, which has resulted in a significant drop in values.”
If successful, the claim against Flagler County would represent one of the largest judgments against any local government for the taking or inordinate burden of private property values.
“Not only are county leaders stripping rights from property owners and driving down home values, they are opening up county taxpayers to even more liability,” said Heebner.
The lawsuit was filed on March 6th, 2015. Mr. Heebner’s law firm recently won a $30 million judgment against the city of Ponce Inlet, Florida. A jury there found that city leaders stopped citizens from completing a development project after they had already invested substantial sums of money.