What is the Bert Harris Act?
The Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act (the “Bert Harris Act”) is a Florida statute (
s. 70.001, Fla. Statutes
). The Bert Harris Act provides a cause of action against a local government if the local government enacts a law, regulation, or ordinance that inordinately burdens, restricts, or limits private property rights without amounting to a taking of property under the State Constitution or the United States Constitution. The State Legislature passed the Act to protect the interests of private property owners by creating a separate cause of action in addition to the existing laws for the unconstitutional taking of private property by government. This separate cause of action is intended by the Legislature to provide for relief from the inordinately burdensome law by changing the manner in which it is applied and/or providing for the payment of compensation to the property owner.
What does a Bert Harris Act claim consist of?
The statute provides that a property owner seeking compensation under the Act must file the claim in writing with the local government not less than 150 days prior to filing an action in the circuit court. The claim must include a bona fide, valid appraisal supporting the claim and demonstrating the loss in fair market value to the real property.
What happens after a Bert Harris Act claim is filed?
Within 15 days after the claim is filed, the local government reports the claim in writing to the Department of Legal Affairs and provides the name and contact information for the local government from whom additional information about the claim can be obtained. The statute provides that the local government must provide written notice to contiguous property owners to the claim using the addresses on the most recent County tax rolls. During the 150 day notice period (unless the period is extended by agreement of the parties), the local government shall provide a written settlement offer to the owner. Also during the 150 day notice period, but unless a settlement offer is accepted by the property owner, the local government shall issue a written statement of allowable uses for the subject property. If the settlement offer is accepted by the property owner, then the local government takes whatever necessary steps to implement the settlement offer. If the settlement offer and the statement of the allowable uses are both rejected by the property owner, then the owner may file the claim with the circuit court.
Will a public hearing be held related to a Bert Harris Act claim?
The statute does not specifically require a public hearing for a Bert Harris Act claim. The governing body of the local government will consider the settlement offer options as part of a public meeting.
Can public comments be submitted related to a Bert Harris Act claim?
The statute does not specifically provide for a method of public comment. When the matter is heard by the Board of County Commissioners to consider the settlement offer that is required by statute, members of the public will have the opportunity to appear and submit any comments subject to the usual rules of public participation. Comments can also be in writing and should be addressed to Adam Mengel, Planning Director, by mail at: 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg. 2, Bunnell, FL 32110; by fax: (386)313-4109; or by email:
The claims are under review by Flagler County and as of this time there is no formal determination.