Justices Back Florida Beach-Widening Project

     (CN) – The Supreme Court rejected claims by homeowners in Florida that their property was taken without compensation as part of the state’s efforts to add about 75 feet of dry sand to the receding shoreline along the Gulf of Mexico.

     The decision upholds a Florida Supreme Court ruling that supported the state’s efforts to haul in sand to save eroding shorelines. That court found that a state law allows for the beach restoration project without having to pay property owners.
     Destin City and Walton County restored nearly 7 miles of beach eroded by several hurricanes to add about 75 feet of dry sand.
     Six homeowners in Walton County, Fla., banded together, called themselves the Stop the Beach Renourishment and claimed they were deprived of their exclusive beach access and weren’t compensated for their loss.
     But the high court ruled that the state has the right to fill in submerged land without having to pay residents.
     “It cannot be said … that the Florida Supreme Court’s decision deprived” homeowners “of an established property right,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote. Additions to the land “no longer add to (a homeowners’ property), since the property abutting the water belongs not to (the homeowner) but to the state,” Scalia wrote.
     Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens did not participate in the ruling because he owns a beachfront home in Ft. Lauderdale.

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