South Florida contractor William Jesberger thought he was taking advantage of a great business opportunity when he purchased two residential lots for $20,000 in order to custom build houses. But in 1992, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) refused his application for a building permit because his land was considered vital habitat for the Florida scrub-jay bird which is legally protected as a threatened species by the FWS and the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission. "You can't build on scrub-jay property and the county is assessing property value lower every year because of that," says Jesberger.
Jesberger's ultimate dream has turned into a nightmare. He cannot sell his property because it is deemed a "white elephant." As one realtor aptly stated, "I do not know of any builder that would even want a lot like this as a gift." The lots are completely worthless and Jesberger has been warned to not touch anything on his property or he will be arrested and fined.
Overall, there are 480 lots involved. Jesberger wants to file a class action lawsuit to seek just compensation because "it would be too costly as an individual to go in and sue." Unfortunately, no one else wants to join him; he is the only one that dutifully attends all the meetings on the scrub-jay. Jesberger's case to this day remains at a standstill - he cannot build on his property or sell it as long as the FWS deems it scrub-jay habitat.
Source: William Jesberger