As Charlotte County has grown through the years we have seen many new developments. One such planned community was Rotonda Villas. More than 20 years ago, a developer paved streets and later installed water and sewer lines in Rotonda Villas. Despite the growth through the years, Rotonda Villas has not seen many houses built and much of the infrastructure originally installed deteriorated beyond use.
In 2005, when the plaintiff purchased the property, county employees advised them that water and sewer lines were available, failing to realize that those lines (having never been utilized) had deteriorated beyond use or repair. The new owner, understandably upset, sued Charlotte County for the confusion.
However, instead of asking Charlotte County to be held liable for the misinformation, the plaintiff sued saying that by not having the water and sewer lines operational Charlotte County had ‘taken’ his land. After four years of litigation, a judge ruled as no other judge in the entire country has ever ruled, and agreed with the plaintiff—holding Charlotte County taxpayers responsible for more than $10 million.
This unprecedented decision is being appealed by Charlotte County. This type of decision could have a far reaching impact on taxpayers across the country. Charlotte County, while willing to be held accountable, is unwilling to allow our taxpayers to be taken advantage of to the benefit of one real estate investment corporation.
Charlotte County accepts some liability, but vehemently denies the principal that the land was ‘taken’. A few key points:
- Water and sewer are not a constitutional right guaranteed to a property owner.
- Brand new water & sewer lines were installed on the property in early 2011 and cleared for use by FDEP on 3/30/11.
- Charlotte County in no way altered the property as would be typical in a takings case – i.e., access was not limited nor was any regulation imposed by the county.
Currently, the plaintiff and its attorneys stand to not only receive more than $10 million in taxpayer monies, but still hold title to the property. Seeing the success of the original plaintiff, another suit was filed that could possibly result in significantly more damages to Charlotte County taxpayers. This suit is even more egregious since several of these property owners once owned the original deteriorated utility and were fully aware of the decrepit state of the water and sewer. Charlotte County deeply regrets the mistakes made and miscommunication that occurred. However, Charlotte County is committed to standing up for taxpayers and not allowing these real estate speculators a chance to make a profit on the backs of our citizens.
For more information, contact:
Public Information Office