Last month, developer Carlos Beruff lost more than a lawsuit. He lost another battle with reality.
Mr. Beruff claimed the very existence of certain parts of Manatee County's Comprehensive Plan must be unconstitutional because they wouldn't let him do whatever he wanted on his property at Long Bar Pointe.
William Clague and his team from the county attorney's office did a masterful job of defending the county's right to regulate development -- and of pointing out that Mr. Beruff's lawsuit was more than 20 years too late. The statute of limitations ran out in 1993.
Circuit Judge John Lakin ruled for the county not only on the statute of limitations, but on every legal point. The suit failed not only in a court of law, but also in the court of common sense.
It came from a county commission meeting in 2013 at which more than 1,000 people watched commissioners unanimously reject an amendment Mr. Beruff offered to the Comprehensive Plan.
Earlier that year, Mr. Beruff submitted a proposal to develop Long Bar Pointe which violated the plan nearly a dozen ways, including tearing out mangroves, building a marina and dredging a channel on the most environmentally sensitive property in the county.
Instead of changing his proposal, Mr. Beruff drafted an amendment giving himself an exception to the parts of the plan he wanted to violate while promising to do his best not to.
When the county wisely declined to cede its authority to one of the people it was supposed to regulate, Mr. Beruff came to the only conclusion he could: the Comprehensive Plan must be unconstitutional.
So he sued, and now has lost again. Apparently the framers failed to stipulate that the laws of the land do not apply to Carlos Beruff.