Takings" under the Fifth Amendment
26, 2001, one year and one day from the date of the Rhode Island
Supreme Court decision in the same case, the United States Supreme
Court heard oral argument in a case that could have significant
impact on the treatment of "regulatory takings" under
the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Palazzolo
v. Rhode Island (99-2047), the Supreme Court is urged by Petitioner
to set reasonable parameters on establishing the availability of
compensation under the Takings Clause when regulation goes too far.
Mr. Palazzolo, has owned the subject property directly and indirectly
(through a corporation he held shares in) since 1961. He purchased
the 18 acres near the Rhode Island shore when it was nearly all
undeveloped marshlands. In the mid-seventies the state changed the
designation of the property from "marshlands" to "wetlands."
The development of wetlands is essentially prohibited by recently
enacted environmental regulations. A short time later, the property
ownership transferred officially from the corporation to Mr. Palazzolo
upland portion of the property has been developed, the State will
not permit Mr. Palazzolo to place any fill upon the wetlands. Mr.
Palazzolo sought relief in the Rhode Island courts on grounds that
the restrictions constituted a regulatory takings for which he should
be compensated under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
which provides in relevant part: "Nor shall private property
be taken for public use, without just compensation."
Last year the
Rhode Island Supreme Court upheld the trial court decision on grounds
that the claim was not ripe because Mr. Palazzolo failed to apply
for less ambitious development plans. The court further ruled that
Mr. Palazzolo lacked standing to pursue the claim because he acquired
the property (in his individual interest from the corporation) after
the adoption of the envirnomental regulations and that he had no
reasonable "investment-backed expectation" to develop
the wetlands. Finally, the court found that his claim failed because
he was not deprived of all beneficial use of the property.
The United States
Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on those three issues. More
specifically, the Court heard argument and received numerous briefs
from amici on the following questions:
Is a regulatory
taking categorically barred whenever the enactment of the
regulation predates the claimant's acquisition of the property?
Is a claim
ripe for consideration if the owner has failed to file additional
applications seeking permission for "less ambitious uses"
of the property?
mere fact that the property retains some relatively small
value and use after imposition of a regulation prevent the
occurrence of a compensable taking?
us at our forum, We The People, to discuss the potential ramifications
of this case.
Court Docket Sheet
Court of Rhode Island Decision from FindLaw
to Legal Archive 2001