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E-M:/ Takings Update

Enviro-Mich message from Julie Stoneman <juliemec@voyager.net>

Rep. Charles Canaday (R-FL) has introduced H.R. 2372 in Congress, the
Private Property Implementation Act of 1999.   A duplicate of last
session's H.R. 1534 (basically written by the National Association of Home
Builders), the bill would allow developers to bypass local and state
appeals processes and jump to federal courts with takings claims.  The
following letter was released last week by Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
(D-Detroit) urging his colleagues not to co-sponsor this disastrous bill.

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:	Burton, Dawn 
>> Sent:	Wednesday, August 18, 1999 2:04 PM
>> To:	Dear Colleague
>> Subject:	dear colleague; judiciary; H.R. 2372
>> U.S. House of Representatives
>> Committee on the Judiciary
>> August 18, 1999
>> Oppose Takings Legislation (H.R. 2372)
>> Dear Colleague:
>> 	We urge you not to co-sponsor H.R. 2372, the so-called "Private
>> Property Implementation Act of 1999," introduced by Rep. Charles Canady
>> (R-FL).
>> 	H.R. 2372 is virtually identical to takings legislation considered
>> during the last Congress (H.R. 1534), which was sponsored by Rep. Elton
>> Gallegly (R-CA).  The last takings bill provoked strong opposition,
>> leading nine Republican and four Democratic co-sponsors to vote against
>> their own bill.  The Justice Department recommended a veto of the bill
>> noting that it raised serious constitutional issues and would "elevate the
>> rights of developers at the expense of property owners and others who
>> would be harmed by deleterious land use proposals."  
>> 	Because the bill severely undercuts traditional state prerogatives,
>> it was opposed by the National Governors' Association, National League of
>> Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Conference of State
>> Legislators, National Association of Counties, and the Judicial Conference
>> of the United States.  The legislation was also opposed by a broad array
>> of environmental groups, including the National Wildlife Federation,
>> League of Conservation Voters, Alliance for Justice, Sierra Club, Center
>> for Marine Conservation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon
>> Society, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Scenic America, Natural
>> Resources Defense Council, and Wilderness Society.
>> 	  H.R. 2372 mandates a series of unprecedented rules allowing
>> expedited access to the federal courts for property takings claims.  The
>> bill grants developers the opportunity to ignore local zoning appeals
>> processes, bypass the state court system, and directly pursue cities,
>> towns, and counties for alleged takings in federal court.  In addition to
>> providing large property developers and corporations with special
>> procedural advantages (in overcoming judicial "ripeness" and "abstention"
>> concerns), the bill also elevates the rights of real property owners above
>> all other categories of persons with constitutional claims against their
>> government (including civil rights victims).  
>> 	Under H.R. 2372, if a large corporation seeks an oversized
>> commercial development and is dissatisfied with the initial land use
>> decision by a small town, in most cases it could immediately threaten to
>> bring suit against that town in federal court.  The costs of litigating
>> this issue in federal court could overwhelm, if not bankrupt, many small
>> towns and counties.  Under the bill, this case could proceed even if
>> negotiations regarding alternative developments were ongoing, if there
>> were insufficient facts available for the federal court to make a reasoned
>> takings decision, and if there were important unresolved state legal
>> issues.  Not only would we be telling the states that the federal
>> judiciary knows best when it comes to local land use decisions, but the
>> legislation is very likely unconstitutional under the Supreme Court's
>> recent decision in City of Monterey v. Del Monte Dunes, which held that
>> these takings claims must be decided in state court before filing a claim
>> in federal appeal.  
>> 	If you require any additional information on this matter, please
>> contact our staff at 5-6906.
>> Sincerely,
>> /s/	Rep. John Conyers, Jr.				
>> 	Ranking Member					
>> 	House Judiciary Committee	
>> /s/	Rep. Howard Berman
>> 	Ranking Member 
>> 	Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property


Julie Stoneman
Director of Land Programs
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Dr., Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
Ph:	517-487-9539
Fax:	517-487-9541
Email:	juliemec@voyager.net

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