June 28, 2017
On June 23, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Murr v. Wisconsin. This is a regulatory takings case which addressed the question: should two legally distinct but commonly owned contiguous parcels be combined, as described in Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York, for takings analysis purposes?
In 1960 and 1963, the Murrs purchased two adjacent lots in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, each over an acre in size. In 1994 and 1995, the parents transferred the parcels to their children. These lots became nonconforming due to various setbacks imposed in the 1970s, but a grandfathering provision would have allowed independent and separate uses – but only if the lots were not owned by the same individuals. Seven years later, the children wanted to sell one of the two original lots and were denied permission to do so by the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment. The Murrs sued the state and county and claimed the county’s actions resulted in an uncompensated taking of their property. The trial court granted summary judgement to the state and county and the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin affirmed.
James Burling, Vice President of Litigation at the Pacific Legal Foundation, joined us to discuss this interesting case and offer his thoughts following the decision.
James S. Burling, Vice President of Litigation, Pacific Legal Foundation