Agritourism- Skydiving

AGRITOURISM. The plaintiffs owned and operated a large farm and sought permission from the county planning department to operate a skydiving business on the property as agritourism. The permission was denied because the department decided that the skydiving business violated the large scale agricultural district zoning designation for the property. The county cited the plaintiffs for violating the zoning ordinance and the plaintiffs appealed to the county code enforcement board which held for the plaintiffs, allowing the skydiving activity. However, before the board ruled, the plaintiffs petitioned the trial court for relief and the county filed a cross claim for an injunction, which was granted by the court. The plaintiffs appealed the injunction. The appellate court  noted that in order to obtain an injunction against someone who is violating the zoning code, a county must show (1) a clear legal right to the relief, (2) inadequacy of a legal remedy, and (3) irreparable injury if the relief is not granted. In this case, the appellate court found that the trial court failed to properly find that the county had a clear legal right to relief because the ruling of the county was not sufficient to establish a legal right in that the zoning ordinance did not clearly state that skydiving was not an allowed activity for the zoning designation of agricultural district. In addition, once the enforcement board ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the board’s ruling established the lack of a legal right for relief for the county, undermining the legitimacy of the injunction imposed by the trial court. The appellate court noted that the large scale agricultural district zoning ordinance allowed “outdoor recreational activities such as hunting or fishing camps, bait and tackle shops, shooting ranges, and golf courses.” Since the ordinance could be interpreted to allow a commercial skydiving activity, there did not exist a clear legal right for relief to support the injunction; therefore, the appellate court reversed the trial court and remanded the case. Nipper v. Walton County, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 361 (Fla. Ct. App. 2017).

The case summary is from Vol 28 No. 3 of the Agricultural Law DigestClick here for information on how to subscribe to the Digest.

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