Washington Report

Advocacy Updates from Washington D.C.

Justices Hear Oral Arguments in Property Rights Case

On Jan. 15, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District.  This case addresses a Florida landowner's claim that he is owed compensation by a land-use agency after it declined to issue permits for a wetlands area he wanted to develop because he wouldn't agree to certain conditions. The case raises major questions about the right of government to impose conditions in return for permit approval. It hinges in part on whether Supreme Court precedents limiting the ability of government entities to place conditions on landowners in exchange for permits applies to "money, services, labor or any other type of personal property." The court is also weighing whether a constitutional violation occurs even when no permit is actually issued. It is not clear how the court will rule, although the decision could rest on whether a majority of justices conclude that a taking, subject to compensation under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, even occurred.

NAR signed on to an Amicus Brief with several other regulated stakeholder groups. The focus of the Amicus Brief was to further elaborate on the property rights implications of the case and describe how real estate development and related activities are adversely affected by these types of situations. A decision in the case is expected in the spring.

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