I'm trying to help a friend of mine who has a problem with the local small town city hall and the [State] Marine Resources Commission (lets call it SMRC). Friend has the deed to an old dock with a (historic) building on it (and public access off the end of the road) and wants to fix it up and have a docking, rental and repair business for small boats.
There are lots of side details in this case, of course, but I think I can cut to the relevant parts without missing anything important.
It seems there is a neighbor who owns the adjacent waterfront lot (a lawyer), who, along with his buddies the city attorney, the city manager, the mayor and probably a few members of the city council, want my friend out of the way so they can take advantage of the new laws they just got pushed through the city council, over the protests of many local residents, which will allow high-density housing to be built on the waterfront.
The SMRC has jurisdiction because the structures are built in the water, but they must rely on the local building inspector and city engineer to determine the soundness of the structure. The determination from the city is that the structure is unsound and in need of extensive repairs, which my friend already knew and was ready, willing and able to do when he bought the thing. The SMRC has given him 6 months to either make the structure sound, or remove the structure completely, at which time he would then have no claim at all because it is now grandfathered in, but would never be permitted to be built from scratch now under current regulations.
The problem is that the city will not approve any plans, grant any permits, or allow any progress whatsoever. Some work was done to prevent/repair storm damage before and after a recent severe storm, and the city issued a stop work order when they detected even that activity.
After being stonewalled by the city and with his deadline to fix or remove the structure running out with the state, an appeal was made with the local circuit court. The judge ruled against my friend and with the city.
The local congressional representative for that district was contacted and my friend was informed that when that particular city manager, city attorney and judge are working together, nothing can be done.
We've heard a rumor of some sort of a law (maybe from an electrical codes manual suppliment?) that says government can't stop one from making improvements and repairs and then condemn a property for lack of improvements and repairs, but we can't find that anwhere.
There might be some sort of an legal assistance organization that would take up the cause of property rights... Or some sort of historical society with pull at higher levels to get things preserved and restored... But I've not found them.
Any ideas on what he might do next? He doesn't have tens of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers to fight city hall...