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wetlandsI have talked a lot about the implications of coastal erosion and other issues of interest to seaside home and property owners. But not enough information is out there for ALL the inland property owners who are, or may be affected by federal wetlands regulations.

On April 10, Realestaterama.com reported that a federal appellate court ruling giving landowners a right to judicial review when federal regulators label their land as “wetlands” subject to federal control. The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in favor of three property owners represented by PLF: The Hawkes Co., Inc., Pierce Investment Company, and LPF Properties.

The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), which defended the property owners, claims the decision in its favor is a “victory for the principle of accountability in government.” The donor-supported PLF is a legal watchdog organization that litigates free of charge in seeking a balanced approach to environmental regulations across the country.

The litigating parties reportedly own property in New Maine Township, Marshall County, Minnesota, which was designated as “wetlands” over which the Army Corps of Engineers had regulatory authority. That designation took the form of a “Jurisdictional Determination” by the Corps, holding that the property is subject to the federal Clean Water Act, according to a PLF statement.

Overturning a lower court ruling, the Eighth Circuit agreed with PLF that property owners have the legal right to bring a court challenge to such a regulatory determination.

In litigating to hold Clean Water Act regulators accountable to the courts for their decisions about whether private property is subject to strict federal regulation, this case follows up on PLF’s previous Sackett v. EPA decision.

In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that property owners may appeal directly to the judiciary from a federal wetlands “compliance order.”

Read more about the April 10 Hawkes Co., et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and get more information, including PLF’s briefs and an explanatory blog post, at About Pacific Legal Foundation.

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