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Friday, July 12, 2013

An Under-The-Radar SCOTUS Decision

The recent SCOTUS decisions related to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and DOMA have received a great deal of attention in the media and in the blogosphere. Agenda-driven political footballs always trump other matters.

As one who lost the opportunity to sell a real estate property in 2005 because of the local government's Draconian environmental policies related to Agenda 21, I found THIS SCOTUS DECISION of particular interest:
In Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, the Court ruled that withholding development permits may mean that governments owe compensation to land owners. NPR’s Mark Memmott, the ABA Journal’s Debra Cassens Weiss, Daniel Fisher of Forbes, Reuters, and the Associated Press (via The Washington Post) all have coverage.
According to THIS OPINION ESSAY in the New York Times:
A Legal Blow to Sustainable Development

LOST amid the Supreme Court’s high-profile decisions on affirmative action, voting rights and same-sex marriage was another ruling that may turn out to have a profound impact on American society. The court handed down a decision on Tuesday that, in the words of Justice Elena Kagan, will “work a revolution in land-use law.”


The court’s 5-to-4 decision, with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. writing for the majority, arose from an order issued by a Florida water management district denying an application by Coy A. Koontz Sr. to fill more than three acres of wetlands in order to build a small shopping center. The district made clear that it was willing to grant the permit if Mr. Koontz agreed to reduce the size of the development or spend money on any of a variety of wetlands-restoration projects designed to offset the project’s environmental effects. Because Mr. Koontz declined to pursue any of these options, the district denied the permit.

Mr. Koontz, who is now deceased, went to court and claimed that the permit denial constituted a “taking” under two Supreme Court precedents, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Dolan v. City of Tigard. These cases established that when the government approved a development subject to certain conditions, like a requirement that a developer dedicate an easement to the public, the conditions would be deemed an appropriation of private property unless the government could show a logical relationship and a “rough proportionality” between the conditions imposed and the projected effects of the development.

...[The court's decision] makes it hard for communities to get property owners to pay to mitigate any environmental damage they may cause....
This ruling bolsters private property rights. Furthermore:
The Obama administration had urged the court not to expand property owner rights in the case. The attorneys general of California, New York, Illinois and 17 other states, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, also urged the court not to side with Koontz
Treehugger has more information in an article entitled "Supreme Court Decision on Property Rights Is an Environmental Disaster."

Considering what environmentalism has become, something deemed "an environment disaster" could well be a good thing for both property owners and the economy!


  1. My husband and I went to a couple of city meetings. We were shocked to what P&Z and the city were requiring the developers to pay for. This passage might make it interesting at P&Z meetings.

  2. And this same court o.k.ed eminent domain and put it on steroids. My family had a business and what did the so called planners do? Zoned it residential and made it practically worthless. Then took about 50 acres and zoned it "open space" thus totally worthless.

  3. We hear these horror stories and it makes me sick. It seems like nothing is being done to stop the government's reach.

    I don't see the end.

    Right Truth

  4. Didn't the "New Congress" in 1994 make a law requiring the government to compensate property owners their losses in such cases? I do believe that was at the federal level anyway.

  5. The environmental radicals are well placed within the EPA. As a result, if you own land where periodic mud puddles form after a rainfall, your land can be designated a wetland and you will be prevented from developing it or you wwill be blackmailed into funding some bone headed project of theirs. The Supreme Court got this one right///1

  6. HEY, Everybody! Take a deep breath, and back up a few feet. Didn't anyone take in the keaning of THIS sentence?

    This [SCOTUS] ruling BOLSTERS private property rights. ... (emphasis added)

    That's a VICTORY --- not a defeat -- for "US."

    Have we become so heavily steeped in negativism we can't even recognize something GOOD when it comes our way?


  7. sigh when will the madness end AOW....Have a relaxing weekend my friend:)

  8. Steeped in negativism? Perhaps. Or rather an indication that the US government no longer enjoys the trust and confidence of the American people.

  9. Bunkerville pointed out the schizophrenic nature of the ruling.
    It's OK to take it for a shopping center/real estate development, but not for eco purposes.

  10. Yes, there is a schizophrenic nature in this decision.

    That said, a lot of property owners see their sale destroyed or curtailed because of ecomaniacs.


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