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Florida Supreme Court affirms the circuit court’s decision to validate the Clean Energy Coastal Corridor

On October 1, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s decision to validate the Clean Energy Coastal Corridor (the “Coastal Corridor”) bonds, which are to be issued in order to fund energy efficient, renewable energy and wind resistant improvements (the “Qualifying Improvements”) pursuant to Section 163.08, F.S. (the “PACE Statute”).  The only issue before the Court was whether the bonds should not be validated because the financing agreement to be signed by Coastal Corridor and property owners participating in the PACE program purported to authorize a remedy for the collection of unpaid assessments that is not authorized by Florida law, namely judicial foreclosure.  Coastal Corridor argued that the language in the financing agreement reserving the right to seek all appropriate legal remedies, including foreclosure, should be read to mean that the remedy of foreclosure can only be sought if it ever becomes an appropriate legal remedy, and does not authorize a remedy not currently permitted by the PACE Statute. The circuit court agreed with Coastal Corridor and validated the bonds.  Appellants argued that the inclusion of remedies in the financing agreement not currently authorized under the PACE Statute was fatal to the validation of the bonds, and that the circuit court had no authority to interpret the meaning of provisions in the documents.  The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the circuit court’s decision, and found that precedent supported reading bond documents in a manner that complies with Florida law.  Accordingly, the Court ruled that the foreclosure remedy could be severed from the financing agreement as a result of the severability clause within the agreement, and that the validation should be affirmed.  By affirming the circuit court’s decision, property owners will now be afforded the opportunity to finance needed Qualifying Improvements on their properties through the issuance of the Coastal Corridor’s bonds.  The Court’s opinion in this case can be found at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2015/sc14-1282.pdf .  The Coastal Corridor was represented by the WSHCB Team of Ed Guedes, Jeff DeCarlo and Chad Friedman.

Categories: Appellate Law & Practice
Tags: Jeffrey DeCarloChad S. FriedmanEdward G. Guedes