South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Regulation That Prevents Economic Use of Property Is Compensable Taking
Description Appeals court held that a city regulation that prohibiting continuation of a legal business was a taking of property that required compensation for the property owner.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Fifth Amendment; Eminent Domain; Taking
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Vulcan had limestone quarry rights on land in and next to the City of Tehuacana, Texas. Vulcan was licensed to engage in quarrying operations. Some residents objected to the noise, dust and vibrations from the quarrying. The city passed an ordinance prohibiting quarrying within city limits. Vulcan sued, contending that the ordinance was an unconstitutional taking or inverse condemnation without compensation. The district court held for the city; Vulcan appealed.
Decision

Reversed and remanded. The ordinance was a taking of Vulcan's interest in the property. Although a city may enact reasonable regulations to promote health, safety, and general welfare, if regulation of private property goes too far, the city may be held to have taken property, thus requiring it to pay compensation. Vulcan's property was rendered nearly useless by the regulation, so it is a compensable taking of private property. It is possible that the quarrying activity was a nuisance, but that is a separate legal issue.

Citation Vulcan Materials Co. v. City of Tchuacana, 369 F.3d 882 (5th Cir., 2004)

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