Palazzolo - Page 1 LEXSEE 533 U.S 606 ANTHONY PALAZZOLO v...

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Page 1 LEXSEE 533 U.S. 606 ANTHONY PALAZZOLO v. RHODE ISLAND, ET AL. No. 99-2047 SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 533 U.S. 606 ; 121 S. Ct. 2448 ; 150 L. Ed. 2d 592 ; 2001 U.S. LEXIS 4910 ; 69 U.S.L.W. 4605 ; 52 ERC (BNA) 1609 ; 2001 Cal. Daily Op. Ser- vice 5439 ; 2001 Daily Journal DAR 6685 ; 32 ELR 20516 ; 2001 Colo. J. C.A.R. 3358 ; 14 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 458 February 26, 2001, Argued June 28, 2001, Decided PRIOR HISTORY: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF RHODE ISLAND. DISPOSITION: 746 A. 2d 707 , affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. DECISION: Claim that Rhode Island wetlands regulations amounted to "taking" of property under Fifth Amendment held (1) ripe for review, and (2) not barred by claimant's acquisition of title after effect- ive date of regulations; however, deprivation of all economic use held not established. SUMMARY: In 1959, an individual and his associates formed a corporation to purchase some parcels of land on the Rhode Island coast, which parcels consisted mostly of salt marsh but included some upland property. After the individual had bought out his associates and become the corporation's sole share- holder, the corporation applied to the state's division of harbors and rivers for permission to dredge an adjoining pond, fill the marsh, and develop the resulting land as a beach club. However, these ap- plications were ultimately denied. In 1971, the state enacted legislation creating a coastal resources management council, which promulgated regulations designating salt marshes like those on the cor- poration's property as protected coastal wetlands, on which only limited development was permit- ted. In 1978, the corporation's charter was revoked and title to the property passed to the individual, who subsequently made another series of applications to the council for permission to fill the marsh and build a beach club. The council, however, ruled that (1) under its regulations, a landowner seek- ing to fill salt marsh in that area needed a special exception; and (2) the beach-club proposal con- flicted with the regulatory standard for a special exception, which standard required a compelling
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Page 2 public purpose providing benefits to the public as a whole. After state courts affirmed the council's decision, the individual filed an inverse condemnation action in Rhode Island Superior Court, which action (1) alleged that the state's wetlands regulations, as applied by the council, (a) had taken the individual's property without compensation in violation of the Federal Constitution's Fifth Amend- ment , and (b) specifically, had deprived him of all economically beneficial use of the property, causing a "total taking" which required compensation; and (2) sought damages based on an estimate of the value of a proposed 74-lot residential subdivision. The Superior Court ruled against the landowner. The Supreme Court of Rhode Island affirmed on the grounds that (1) the takings claim was not ripe, because the council's rejection of the individual's specific development proposals left some doubt as to the extent of development which the council would allow on the property, (2) the
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