Walton County moves for dismissal of case involving Gulf Shore Manor property [PREMIUM]

By DOTTY NIST

Walton County has asked for a dismissal of a court complaint filed on behalf of a number of land trusts involving property in the Seagrove-area Gulf Shore Manor subdivision.

The original complaint had been filed in April 2019, with amended complaints filed in July and November 2019. Those had included assertions by the land trusts in connection with “remnant” and beach property within the subdivision to which the trusts identified themselves as “fee-simple absolute owners.” Land trusts included in the most recent complaint are Beach Life Land Trust, Santa Clara Land Trust, Coastal Resources Land Trust No. 1, and Coastal Resources Land Trust No. 5.

The land trusts acquired their interest in the subject property, which they term their “Private Real Property,” in 2018, according to the complaint. Being sought by the plaintiffs are quiet title and relief under the Florida Constitution and U.S. Constitution “related to continuing, unlawful use of private property by the County Government,” according to the complaint.

In its Dec. 5, 2019, motion for dismissal, Walton County responded to the trusts’ allegations that the county’s use of portions of the subject property for beach access, parking and vendors represented an inverse condemnation claim or “taking.”

“Plaintiffs must show that they owned the real property at issue at the time of the taking, that the County took that property for a public purpose, and that the County failed to pay them full compensation for the real property,” according to the county motion.

Citing case law, Walton County maintained that damages to compensate for a taking, if any, would be due to the entity owning the property at the time.

“Where a complaint fails to state when the taking occurred, the nature and extent of the taking, and whether the taking was with the consent of the other property owners, a dismissal is warranted,” the motion continued, observing that other than stating that the county had built a parking lot on a portion of the subject property in 2012, there had been no statement by the plaintiffs as to when “the alleged taking by the county took place,”—nor as to its nature, extent, or whether a previous owner had granted consent for the use.

The motion includes the observation that previous owners of the property had not taken any legal action against the county for the use in question, and that the absence of any objection could be said to have ratified the use.

“Moreover, Plaintiffs were on notice that the County was using this property as the County’s use of the land has been open and obvious,” according to the motion.

Responding to the quiet title action being sought by the land trusts, among other arguments Walton County requested dismissal due to failure of the plaintiffs to name “a host of adjacent property owners, each of whom stand to suffer significant loss and are indispensable parties to the full and fair adjudication,” of the quiet title claims.

A hearing previously set for Nov. 21, 2019, in the matter was cancelled. Currently a hearing is scheduled on the motion to dismiss for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 3 in Walton County Circuit Court.