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No Compensation Due Land Owner Denied Construction Permits Due to New Environmental Concerns
Description The Federal Circuit affirmed denial of compensation to a land owner who, after 14 years of litigation and background permit work, was denied a construction permit due to endangered species concerns. The fact that the ESA was passed after he bought the land did not affect the outcome.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Endangered Species; Wetlands; Takings
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Good owned land in the Florida Keys prior to passage of the Endangered Species Act. In 1980, he began to prepare the land for construction. Permits from various federal, state and county agencies were granted by 1984 after modifications had been adopted by Good. The Florida Department of Community Affairs then opposed the project, which tied it up in court for years, by which time the Army Corp permit expired. A new permit was issued, but then was opposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service because of the discovery of an endangered specie in the area. After more environmental work and permit process, the Corp denied its permit in 1994. Good sued the government for illegal taking that entitled him to compensation. The Court of Federal Claims denied the claim; Good appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "For any regulatory takings claim to succeed, the claimant must show that the government's regulatory restraint interfered with his investment-backed expectations in a manner that requires the government to compensate him.... In view of the regulatory climate that existed when Appellant acquired the subject property, Appellant could not have had a reasonable expectation that he would obtain approval to fill ten acres of wetlands in order to develop the land." Good knew that "either state or federal regulations could ultimately prevent him from building on the property" so he is not due compensation. He knew that "rising environmental awareness translated into ever-tightening land use regulations" that came into play after he bought the land.
Citation Good v. U.S., - F.3d - (1999 WL 673336, Fed. Cir.)

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