Properties Magazine April 2017 : Page 24

LEGAL PERSPECTIVES Navigating property laws & regulations Denoting the Denominator re big changes coming to the world of zoning and eminent domain law? In a landmark case in front of the United States Supreme Court, oral arguments were posed that could have a huge impact on zoning and eminent cases around the nation. A ANTHONY R. VACANTI The case of Murr v. the State of Wisconsin was heard in front of the Supreme Court on March 20, 2017 regarding a recurring issue that has plagued state and fed-eral courts deciding zoning and eminent domain cases: how to define real estate when determining the constitutional requirement of just compensation. and takes possession (normally in roadway or other public projects) and compensates the owner for the property actually taken and any “damages” to the remaining prop-erty if not taken in its entirety. One + one = one? In these cases, the question may be, “what is the actual property being taken?” This is known in zoning and eminent domain circles as the “denomi-nator” or “parcel as a whole” question. This can arise where there are separate but contiguous legal parcels under the same ownership. Should the court con-sider: (a) all contiguous parcels together to determine the amount of economic deprivation, compensation or damages; or (b) only the parcel that is being impacted by the zoning regulation or eminent domain action? Property owners want the parcel(s) to be the parcel actu-ally impacted, which results in more economic impact and thus more com-pensation and damages. Governments want it to be all the contiguous parcels . After several decades of confusion and lack of clarity, the Supreme Court has ‘This land is your land, this land is my land’ What happens if you don’t agree with zoning and feel it significantly changes the usability or profitability of a parcel(s)? One way to challenge a local zoning regulation is to claim that the burden of the zoning regulation is such as it essen-tially constitutes a “regulatory taking” of the property, which requires just com-pensation as required by the Ohio and United States constitutions. A property owner may argue that most or all of the economic viability of the property in question is diminished because of the zoning regulation. A similar analysis is conducted in eminent domain proceed-ings, which are proceedings where the government appropriates private property TARA J. ROSE 24 Properties | April 2017

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