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Regulatory Takings - Supreme Court Sticks To Fact-Intense Test For Defining The Parcel At Issue

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When state and county regulations prevented owners of two adjacent lots from selling one lot, the owners pursued a regulatory takings claim. The claim failed because the value of the two lots together, which was the proper "parcel" to analyze, exceeded the value of the lots separately.

Facts: In the 1990s, the Murr siblings (the Murrs) acquired from their parents (the elder Murrs) two adjacent lots on the St. Croix River in Wisconsin. The lots are similar in size and shape: about 1.25 acres, long and narrow, with flat land next to the river rising to a steep bluff and more flat land above. Because of the bluff and the water line, each lot contains less than an acre of developable land. Together, the two lots have .98 acres of buildable land.

The elder Murrs acquired the lots separately in the early 1960s and owned them separately: Lot E was owned by the family company, and Lot F was owned by the elder Murrs. Ownership in the two lots came under common ownership once the elder Murrs conferred Lots E and F to their children.

The instant dispute arose from the Murrs’ interest in relocating a small cabin contained on Lot F; they sought to sell Lot E to fund this project. This plan was thwarted by Wisconsin regulations that prevent using riverfront lots like the Murrs’ as separate building sites unless they have at least one acre of developable land.

The regulations grandfather substandard lots that were "in separate ownership from abutting lands" on the regu[...]

 
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