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Enviro-Mich message from "DAVID ROSS" <ROSS@nwf.org>

This has been updated with additional Michigan specific information since the last alert I sent on this:

>>> Glenn Sugameli 09/07/00 02:25PM >>>
CONTACT: GLENN SUGAMELI 202-797-6865 sugameli@nwf.org

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED: PLEASE CONTACT Sen. Spencer Abraham [R-MI] (Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121) who is critical to the fate of a developer-drafted federal "takings"/"property rights" bill that is designed to cripple local smart growth, zoning, and planning.  On Sept. 14th, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to mark-up (vote on) the House passed bill, H.R. 2372, The Private Property Rights Implementation Act.

Sen.  Abraham is a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In the last Congress, he voted for H.R. 1534 in Committee, as part of a 10-to-8 party line vote, and voted in favor of an unsuccessful attempt to break a bi-partisan filibuster that killed the bill (S. 2271).  However, he expressed federalism concerns that the Constitution prohibited the bill's provisions that would allow "takings" claims against local governments to skip state courts, and he is not a cosponsor of this year's companion Senate bill, S. 1028, Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch's [R-UT] Citizens Access to Justice Act. 


The developers' organization that originally wrote the bill finally admitted that:  "This bill will be a hammer to the head of these [state and local] bureaucracies," declared Jerry Howard, the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Home Builders.  National Journal's CongressDailyAM (March 14, 2000).  Big developers would use premature, costly federal litigation as a hammer to coerce local communities into approving projects that will harm nearby homeowners and the environment.

>> It would allow developers to bypass local zoning procedures and state courts and file premature federal lawsuits which unjustifiably claim that local land use decisions amount to "takings" of private property without just compensation.  To avoid lawsuits, small towns, counties and cities would be forced to design and approve harmful projects for developers.

 >>The bill would undermine hundreds of popular local initiatives that protect everyone by limiting and controlling growth, without "taking" any property rights.  For example, state courts have rejected "takings" challenges to smart growth limits and to controls on mining, factories, liquor stores and other harmful activities in residential neighborhoods. 



PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS IMPLEMENTATION ACT OF 2000 (House of Representatives - March 16, 2000)
Roll Call No. 55 
Michigan Delgation: Voting against final passage: Republican Ehlers, and Democrats Stupak, Barcia, Stabenow, Kildee, Bonior, Levin, Rivers, Conyers, Kilpatrick and Dingell
Voting for: Republicans Hoekstra, Camp, Upton, Smith and Knollenberg

Two Detroit Free Press Editorials
   From: http://www.freepress.com/voices/editorials/etake7_20000307.htm                

                   Property Rights 

                   Bill would give developers too big an

                   March 7, 2000

                   It isn't enough that Lansing is in the business of
                   subverting local control these days; now Congress
                   is getting into the act. This week the House
                   Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up a
                   beast of a bill that purports to protect property
                   rights but really strips ordinary people and small
                   communities of their ability to control their own
                   growth and future.

                   Call it the Developers' Wildest Dreams Act, and
                   you get some idea of the flavor of it. The bill
                   would make a federal case -- literally -- out of
                   every planning and zoning dispute. Forget the local
                   appeal process; skip the state courts. If HR2372
                   passes, every business owner or developer with a
                   gripe gets to push local governments straight into
                   an expensive federal court fight.

                   Why is this so bad? Because local hearings are
                   where ordinary people get to put in their two
                   cents' worth about decisions that affect their
                   property, safety, environment and quality of life.
                   Sending every land use dispute into a distant
                   federal court means only those who can afford
                   lawyers are heard.

                   Most people recognize that land ownership comes
                   with reasonable restrictions. Zoning ensures that
                   there won't be a topless bar or an adult video
                   store next door to a school or church, or a landfill
                   in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
                   Communities adopt plans to balance growth and
                   green space, the rights of one landowner against
                   the rights of a community of owners.

                   The so-called property rights bill would blow all
                   that away. You don't have to look very far to see
                   what its impact would be in metro Detroit. The
                   most important land use decisions are made on the
                   urban fringe, as small towns and townships try to
                   cope with sprawl. Those are the very communities
                   that can least afford a federal court fight and
                   would feel most pressured to roll over for every
                   developer who challenged them.

                   Indeed, that's what the "property rights" bill is all
                   about. It's the classic case of special interests
                   writing their own bill and greasing its way through
                   Congress over the objections of the real people it

      All content  copyright 2000 Detroit Free Press and may not be republished without permission.

See: http://www.freepress.com/voices/editorials/etake15_20000215.htm
Detroit Free Press, Editorial, Takings Mistake: Congress shouldn't undermine local control (Feb. 15, 2000)

Takings Mistake 

                             Congress shouldn't undermine local

                             February 15, 2000

                             In Washington, the House Judiciary Committee
                             today is scheduled to consider one of the infamous
                             "takings" bills that pretend to protect property
                             rights. The bill, HR2372, is in fact an all-out
                             assault on local control and local taxpayers. 

                             The bill would do two bad things: It would allow
                             developers, builders or landowners to go quickly
                             into federal court when they didn't like a decision
                             by a planning board or other local government
                             body. And it would encourage a spate of "takings"
                             claims from people who argue their property
                             values are unfairly reduced if they must follow land
                             use or environmental rules.

                             The bill is really designed to scare local
                             governments into rolling over anytime their land
                             use plans or efforts to protect wetlands or open
                             space are challenged. It also advances the idea
                             that taxpayers should pay industry or landowners
                             for complying with laws to protect the public
                             interest -- a proposition courts have repeatedly

                             Just as townships in Michigan and elsewhere are
                             becoming more sophisticated about working with
                             responsible and creative developers to preserve
                             green space, floodplains and other natural
                             features, the federal bill would knock the pins out
                             from under them, and hand power over to the
                             rape-and-scrape gang.

                             The bill, written by a home builders group and
                             sponsored by Florida Republican Charles
                             Canady, is a takings bill, all right. It takes away
                             local control, environmental protection and any
                             hope of sensible land use planning. The committee
                             would do well to take it off the table and let local
                             communities determine their own character and

Rep. James BARCIA, D-5th-MI, who voted for a similar bill (HR 1534) in the last Congress, went to the House Floor and removed his name as a cosponsor of this year's bill, HR 2372, and later voted against it on the Floor.

Last Congress, Rep. Vern Ehlers R-3rd-MI was one of only 30 Republicans to vote against HR 1534 and he voted against H.R. 2372 this year.

Rep. John Conyers, Jr. D-14th, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Comm., once again helped lead the fight against the bill

For the vote, text of the bill and other info on H.R. 2372, Rep. Charles Canady's [R-FL] "Private Property Rights Implementation Act" and the companion Senate bill, Sen. Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch's [R-UT] S. 1028, the Citizens Access to Justice Act, see THOMAS:

For general background info see: http://www.nwf.org/nwf/takings/ 

National Wildlife Federation's letter on HR 2372

Please send me any feedback or media coverage.



Glenn P. Sugameli
National Wildlife Federation
1400 16th Street, N.W., Suite 501
Washington, D.C. 20036-2266
FAX 202-797-6646

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