"TO HELL WITH
THE COURT ORDER:
YOU'RE NOT GETTING YOUR $1.4 MILLION"!
The James and Elevira DeVincenzo Story
In 1970, James and Elevira DeVincenzo purchased a 1.1-acre
parcel of submerged land in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Their
plan was to fill the submerged land, which was basically shallow
mudflats, and build condominiums on the site. But for more than
20 years, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
stopped the DeVincenzos from building on the property. Although
the courts recently ruled that the DEP owes the couple more than
$1.4 million for depriving them of rightful property use, the
DEP is refusing to abide by the decision.
When the DeVincenzos applied for a dredge and fill permit from
the DEP in 1978, they had no reason to believe that there would
be any problem. Other submerged land was being filled and
developed all around the DeVincenzos' property. The State of
Florida had even sold the property in 1952 for the express
purpose of development. Yet the DEP refused to grant the
DeVincenzos a fill permit. For the next 16 years, the couple
fought the DEP in an attempt to get their application approved.
Finally, in 1994 the DEP said that it would issue the
DeVincenzos a fill permit only if the couple agreed to establish
a conservation easement consisting of 47,276 square feet of
their 47,916 square-foot property. That would leave the couple
with only 640 square feet of land to develop, impossibly small
for any economically-profitable development.
The DEP's decision cost the DeVincenzos more than $1.4 million.
The couple had spent more than $100,000 in purchasing the land,
maintaining it and commissioning the engineering and survey work
required by the DEP application process. The DEP's ruling
rendered the land - once worth as much as $1 million -virtually
In 1996, the DeVincenzos filed a lawsuit seeking compensation
for a regulatory taking. In 1998, a state circuit court ruled
that the DEP owed the DeVincenzos more than $1.4 million. But
the DEP has refused to pay the money out of its budget, claiming
that the state legislature has to appropriate the money. The
DeVincenzos have taken their case to the state supreme court
hoping that the court will order the DEP to pay them what they
Source: David Smolker
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