Brannock & Humphries Wins Annexation Appeal
In a relatively rare feat, Brannock & Humphries prevailed today in a second-tier certiorari proceeding that challenged the City of Cape Coral’s attempt to annex six parcels of environmentally sensitive land on an island community in unincorporated Lee County.
Second-tier certiorari proceedings are notoriously difficult to win. These types of appellate proceedings are perhaps most common in land-use cases, where an administrative board and a circuit court have already weighed in on the issue in dispute. The appellate court’s review in such cases is limited to whether the trial court afforded procedural due process and whether it departed from the essential requirements of law.
The dispute in this case centered on the Cape Coral City Council’s proposal to annex six parcels of land on the eastern edge of Matlacha, in Lee County, into the City. Several groups of residents objected to the City’s decision but the trial court dismissed their complaints, finding that they lacked standing, or legal authority, to challenge the City’s decision.
Brannock & Humphries assisted with the written briefing and orally argued the case in the Second District Court of Appeal. Today, the appellate court agreed with Brannock & Humphries’ position and reversed. The court held that the trial court had misapplied the applicable law on standing.
The appellate court’s opinion contains an interesting discussion regarding what sort of interest a citizen must have to challenge an annexation. The court’s opinion can be read in full here.