Developer's property rights case against Hollywood upheld

, Daily Business Review

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Judge William Haury
Judge William Haury

Broward Circuit Judge William Haury on Friday denied a city motion to dismiss a compensation claim filed by a developer denied the opportunity to build a 15-story luxury condominium on Hollywood Beach.

Ruling from the bench without explaining his reasoning, Haury allowed the complaint of developer GSK Hollywood Development Group LLC to proceed. GSK sued in 2009 alleging a due process civil rights violation and lost property rights under the state Bert Harris Act.

GSK paid almost $4 million for two parcels—the former Mirador Motel and an adjacent apartment complex—in 2002 with city assurances that it could build a 150-foot condominium tower.

The Mirador project site was near the 24-story Summit condo tower, and neighbors protested the effect new construction would have on their views.

Without consulting the city planning director, then-Mayor Mara Giulianti proposed a zoning ordinance to restrict building heights in an eight-block area around the Summit building to 65 feet.

This met resistance from the City Council, which instructed the planning department to study a height reduction. The planning director returned with proposal for "transitional, step-down heights" that would have allowed the GSK project to proceed.

Two ordinances were considered, but Summit residents pushed for a flat-height ordinance, which the council 6-1 in 2006.

In 2006, GSK made its Bert Harris claim. The city responded by saying it would not change the ordinance or compensate GSK.

Dan Abbott of Weiss Serota Helfman Pastoriza Cole & Boniske in Fort Lauderdale, speaking for the city, argued GSK's claim should be dismissed because it never filed a development plan.

He cited a 2009 First District Court of Appeal opinion involving a changing height restriction that said, "until an actual development plan is submitted, a court cannot determine whether the government action has 'inordinately burdened' property."

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