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Thread: Environmentally sensitive area rezoning

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Environmentally sensitive area rezoning

    In our county, as well as 2 others, we have a protected area centered on a major river. It is statutorily protected for development of a rural nature only. Over the last couple years, a panel appointed by the governor proposed development standards, including acquisition of certain sensitive lands, for the area, which were adopted by the state.

    Owners of one 1500-acre site agreed to the development/purchase restrictions, and are now seeking a rezoning for increased density from an adjacent county, after being turned down by an abutting city. The P&Z has recommended denial, the community and regional newspaper are up in arms. The state says if the site is rezoned, they won't be able to buy it.

    The question: I hear so much about eminent domain being abused, to force property owners to relinquish their land so a government can turn properties over to a private developer. What about the same use for environmental preservation? Has this occurred anywhere that you Cyburbians are aware of?

  2. #2
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Does this request involve only a zone change and not a large scale amendment to the comp plan? State law has language about conservation subdivisions that our land use attorney has mentioned. That might be of help. I think I have some notes on this at work. I'll try and find them and get back to you.

  3. #3
    I'm just now having my first cup of coffee, so I'm a little slow: If the owners have agreed to the development restrictions, why are they seeking a zone change to permit greater density? Are they trying to jack the price to rip the state off?

    The definition of "public benefit" in eminent domain can be abused -- hence the case yesterday before the Supreme Court. On the face of it, the preservation of environmentally senstive property probably can be shown to have a community benefit.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Are they trying to jack the price to rip the state off?
    You betcha. They bought the property in 2001 for 7 mil. The state is now offering 25 mil for it. Obviously the developers want more.

  5. #5
    Member JLA's avatar
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    Feb 2005
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    Not sure that it would work, but...

    There may be precedents related to the use of eminent domain to take properties in flood plains for hazard mitigation that are applicable to your situation. Look into what the Army Corps has done...also, I know that EPA has the authority to take property under CERCLA/NCP for hazardous waste remediation, though I'm not sure how many times they've excercised it.

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