US Supreme Court Issues Landmark Property Rights Decision

While not widely reported, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark property rights decision on June 25, 2013 in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District. The Court clarified the scope of two prior rulings, Nolanand Dolan, and the constitutional protections against government exactions. Koontz requires conditions of approval for land use decision requiring dedications of real property or expenditure of money for the construction of physical improvements (“monetary exactions”) have a nexus and be roughly proportionate to the impacts of the project.  Previously, Oregon courts only offered these protections to real property dedications, which exposed developers to potential extortive behavior.  Now, disputes over whether traffic improvements, utility upgrades, and other impact fees determined on an ad hoc basis have a nexus or are roughly proportionate to the project’s impact may be challenged by a reviewing court.  Moreover, the Court further clarified that a local government cannot simply deny an application if a developer refuses to comply with such conditions of approval.  The record for such denials must also contain evidence and findings that the rejected conditions of approval have a nexus and are roughly proportionate to the impacts created by the project. For further information on how to insure your project does not incur unnecessary conditions of approval, please contact either Mark Shipman ( or Alan Sorem (