Denial of CWA Dredge and Fill Permit Is a Taking.

The landowner bought the tract at issue as part of a transaction in which the landowner purchased an entire peninsula on which the tract was located.  The landowner developed the other land into a gated community and did not treat the tract as part of the same economic unit, but later decided to develop the tract.  In order to develop the tract, the landowner needed to acquire a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit.  The permit was denied and the landowner sued for a constitutional taking.  Initially, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims  determined that a constitutional taking had occurred and that the relevant parcel against which to measure the impact of the permit denial was the tract plus a nearby lot and scattered wetlands located nearby that the landowner owned.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the tract was the relevant parcel.  On remand, the Court of Federal Claims, held that the loss of value caused by the permit denial was 99.4 percent of the tract's value, or $4,217,888 based on the difference in the tract's value before and after the permit denial.  As a result, only a nominal value remained and the entire value of the tract had essentially been taken which constituted a taking under the rationale of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, 505 U.S. 1003 (1992).  The court rejected the government's argument that the "before valuation" must account for the permit denial.  The court said that the government cannot lower the tract's value by arguing the possibility of the permit denial.  The court noted that such an argument was also rejected in Loveladies Harbor, Inc. v. United States, 28 F.3d 1171 (Fed. Cir. 1994) and Florida Rock Industries, Inc. v. United States, 791 F.2d 893 (1986).  Lost Tree Village Corporation v. United States, No. 2014-5093, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 9018 (Fed. Cir. Jun. 1, 2015), aff'g., 115 Fed. Cl. 219 (2014) on remand from 707 F.3d 1286 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

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