Denial of Plat Vacation Subject to Judicial Review

In a recent Florida district court case[1], the Court held that the circuit court had judicial power to review the county planning board’s denial of a land owner’s application to vacate a plat.

In this case, the landowner (“Blair Nurseries”) sought to vacate a subdivision plat in order to use its property for agricultural purposes.  In order to receive approval of the application to vacate the lot, the platting statute[2] required Blair Nurseries show that 1) it owned the property discussed, 2) vacation of this property would not affect the ownership of other people who also own part of the subdivision, and 3) convenient access to the property would not be affected due to vacation. Only one lot was sold according to the plat.  The owner of the lot argued that the value of her home would be reduced by vacating the plat, and thus her quality of ownership would be negatively affected. As a result, the board denied Blair Nurseries’ application.

Blair Nurseries appealed the decision of the board seeking certiorari review. The Circuit Court denied the appeal ruling that the platting statute states that the commission “may” accept the application if the conditions are met, but it did not have to. Therefore, the Board has discretion and the Circuit Court refused the case.

Blair Nurseries appealed again.  This time it appealed the Circuit Court’s ruling to the First District Court of Appeal. The District Court overruled the Circuit Court’s decision.

In its ruling, the District Court stated judicial review should be provided as a matter of right regardless of the unfortunate wording of the platting statute. Although the county zoning and planning board may have discretion, the Circuit Court must review the denied application to make sure that the board properly followed the law. Due to the Circuit Court’s flawed decision to deny the landowner’s petition, the case was sent back to the Circuit Court for reevaluation and proper review.

[1] Blair Nurseries, Inc. v. Baker County, 199 So.3d 534 (2016)

[2] 177.101(3), Fla. Stat. (2014)

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This is not intended to be legal advice for any specific situation and the reader should consult their attorney regarding their situation.