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Thread: Planting endangered species?

  1. #1
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    Planting endangered species?

    I was just curious about something. The way the law seems to be written, is that if a property has an endangered species living on it, the land cannot be developed. Is that still true, regardless of how the endangered species got there? Natural vs. Placed? And would developments made before the species moved in be allowed to remain in use?

    And can a Property which is a habitat for endangered species be subject to eminent domain, if the property cannot be developed? Can the government develop land which is against the law to develop?

    And how does the rights of a property owner change once endangered species move in? And what about properties around it? (since some species may or may not spread to nearby properties)

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Elliander View post
    I was just curious about something. The way the law seems to be written, is that if a property has an endangered species living on it, the land cannot be developed. Is that still true, regardless of how the endangered species got there? Natural vs. Placed? And would developments made before the species moved in be allowed to remain in use?
    Good question. When I worked in Colorado, there was a case where a certain group deliberately introduced an endangered species (Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse) to a parcel to stifle development. I don't know what the outcome was; maybe Zman will check in with more.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    This isn't an area I'm an expert on, but just because there is an endangered species on a piece of property doesn't mean it can't be developed. . .

    I know that in some areas municipalities have used multispecies habitat conservation plans to minimize hardship on individual land owners. . .

    The topic did make me think of a group of ranchers on the NM/AZ border who were actually doing work to help an endangered frog and were really concerned about getting into regulatory issues. They ultimately used a safe harbor agreement to help prevent them from getting into trouble for doing something that was actually good for an endangered species.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Stil a good story

    Trouble in bloom at California development site http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=25581

    SEBASTOPOL, Calif. -- Did someone in this wine country town illegally plant an endangered flower to sabotage a proposed housing development? That is the question at the center of a quarrel folks here have dubbed "Foamgate."

    ... opponents seized on the discovery of the federally protected species in hopes it would force the developer to scale back plans for 145 houses and apartments.

    But state wildlife officials investigated and concluded that the meadowfoam had been transplanted there. They ordered it dug up.

    "Our community takes a very hard, careful look at development," said Kenyon Webster, the town's planning director. "That small-town character is the reason a lot of people want to live here."

    When the meadowfoam appeared in April 2005, and the Department of Fish and Game determined it had been planted, it appeared to be the work of zealous conservationists.

    "The people who planted it mistakenly believed that it would be the silver bullet that killed the project," said Scott Schellinger of Schellinger Brothers, the developer behind Laguna Vista.
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/...wer-feud_x.htm

    Recycling a thread I had started back in 2006-07.
    Also googled "california foamgate" numerous hits.
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  5. #5
    Zoning Lord Richmond Jake's avatar
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    This discussion reminds me of a controversial hotel proposed for a coastal bluff in California (since built). About a month before the first public hearing before the planning commission, a neighbor of the project each night ran a garden hose from his house to the project site. Two days before the hearing he calls us to report the EIR failed to identify a seasonal wetland on the property.

    "Go look for yourselves," he tells us. We did. It was late September. Hadn't rained in five months. It was clear what caused a seasonal wetland on the site. Even Barney Fife could figure that one out.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian LorenzoRoyal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    This discussion reminds me of a controversial hotel proposed for a coastal bluff in California (since built). About a month before the first public hearing before the planning commission, a neighbor of the project each night ran a garden hose from his house to the project site. Two days before the hearing he calls us to report the EIR failed to identify a seasonal wetland on the property.

    "Go look for yourselves," he tells us. We did. It was late September. Hadn't rained in five months. It was clear what caused a seasonal wetland on the site. Even Barney Fife could figure that one out.

    A sure sign that someone has TOO MUCH money to burn. What was that guy's water bill every month during that time?

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the quick responses with sources.

    Ok, so generally it can be assumed, that the planting of an endangered species to stop an already planned project won't stop development.

    I'd like to expand on the question. Has there been a case of a property owner putting an endangered species on their own property, long before any development project was decided (such as that one nice example of people wanting to help a species recover) which ended up preventing a later on development plan?

    I would think that in the case of recent plantings, it shouldn't be so protected because the species didn't have a chance to really settle there and there wouldn't even be a guarentee it could naturally survive in that place. But a species that has been there for a while, regardless of how it got there, must be able to survive and would potentially harm it to transplant, but that much is just my opinion.

    ...

    One of the reasons I am asking is that I am looking into buying a new home, not so much in the near future, but within the next year. I prefer small towns, open spaces, generally the kinds of towns that get developed fast. I don't really care where I buy, but once I do, I would plan to spend the rest of my life there.

    What makes me nervous is all the news of the abuse of eminent domain. Not just taking property for needed public resources, but to transfer the ownership from one private person to another private person, in the hopes of increasing tax income. The idea that I would not have any rights as a property owner, if any future elected official decides to take the land away, that I would work hard to make beautiful, makes me less interested in buying a home. (perhaps this is one of the factors that is declining the american economy? When people cannot trust that they own what they earn, why bother trying to own to begin with?)

    Anyway, one of the ideas I had would be to get some land with some wide open spaces, and devote most of the land to the restoration of endangered species. It would break my heart, if, say, 10 years down the road, someone decides that I am not good enough "to the community" to live there, and that all my hard work would go to waste.

    I'm sure this is an odd question, because most property owners want to be able to develop their own land if and when they buy it. And while I understand that in some circumstances, eminent domain is crucial when used correctly (and so hope I don't stir some debate over it here) as one who likes to live in nature, I want to know that all my bases are covered BEFORE I even start.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Forget it.

    I am not sure where to start. First, the eminent domain issue is overblown, particularly once you get away from the old, decaying cities of the east coast. Unless there is some explicit reason you suspect that the city will want the land in the future, you don't need to give eminent domain any thought. I have been in planning and economic development for over twenty years and have only once been involved in one eminent domain case, where the city acquired a fire-damaged structure next to city hall, when the owner had still not attempted repairs two years after the fire.

    Second, eminent domain is more likely to be used to acquire property for public purposes. Let's say, perhaps, that the city would want to acquire a property for a park, or perhaps to save an endangered species habitat. Get it? Your strategy seems to be based more on paranoia than on any rational reasoning.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  9. #9
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    The simple truth is, that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Paranoia isn't a realistic explanation when it's part of every day reality. Since there is no way anyone can know if there home may eventually be taken from them according to current laws, as a potential home owner it is my responsibility to learn what I can do to protect my long term investment. I would have no one to blame but myself if, knowing what can happen, I choose to act like it never can. That's a big difference from paranoia.

    You are right, eminent domain is not used all that often, and more likely than not, it should not concern me. It is used much more often for roads and parks then even new public buildings, and if I avoid an old "decaying city" chances are I won't be subject to iminent domain in even 50 years.

    However, I have seen towns turn from small towns into cities. People in general prefer to move from cities into smaller towns. This in turn makes a smaller town a larger town. Where at one time the low tax income country home was fine, when the city gets larger, it learns it needs more taxes. As the town grows into a city, it considers eminent domain as an option.

    One of the choices I have made to protect my long term investment is to go with an underground Monolithic Dome. Though I still have to research it more, I believe that if my home was 30 feet under ground, the chances of me being affected by a city wanting to build a new road or park is much smaller. I have not chosen that just to protect my home though. That would be stupid. I want to enjoy my home. I think having a garden right on top of the home would be Beautiful.

    I generally enjoy gardening and want to keep a garden regardless of if including Endangered Species would protect my home or not. However, I would still like to know if there has ever been a case where an Endangered species present for a period of time before a city plan has begun has at all hindered plans of development.

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