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Landowner rights upheld in unanimous Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on April 12 that a California county violated a landowner’s rights when it demanded upwards of $23,000 in development impact fees.

The ruling curbs the power of governments to use the permitting process to force property owners to pay large development fees and is one in a series of decisions in recent years by the Court in favor of private property rights.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the Court’s opinion in Sheetz v. County of El Dorado, finding that the unconstitutional conditions doctrine precludes the fees.

The doctrine forbids unrelated fees from being attached to permission to move forward with construction on private land.

In the case, homeowner George Sheetz, represented by Pacific Legal Foundation, sued El Dorado County, California, claiming it violated his rights under the Fifth Amendment’s takings clause and the 14th Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment states that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

The 14th Amendment says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

In 2016, Sheetz purchased a vacant lot, intending to build a small, manufactured home in which he and his wife would live in retirement.

But when he sought a building permit from the county, he was told he would have to pay a so-called traffic impact fee of $23,420 to cover studies on traffic impact.

Read more details at the EpochTimes

Story by Matthew Vadum

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