Should two legally-distinct, but adjacent, commonly-owned parcels be treated as a single parcel when determining whether a regulatory taking has occurred?
In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether two commonly-owned, contiguous parcels should be considered as a single parcel when determining whether a regulatory taking has occurred. The case arises after four residents of Wisconsin, the Murrs, decided to sell one of two contiguous parcels they had received from their parents. Wisconsin forbid the sale, citing a regulation under which two contiguous parcels of less with a combined area of less than one acre are considered a single parcel. The Murrs argue that the parcels are separate and distinct, as evident by the separate deed to each property. The State of Wisconsin argues that the parcels should be aggregated under the “parcel as a whole” analysis the Supreme Court devised. At stake is just compensation to landowners harmed by overreaching regulation, and the ability of the states and localities to regulate their domain and protect the environment.
Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties
In a regulatory taking case, does the “parcel as a whole” concept as described in Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York, 438 U.S. 104, 130-31 (1978), establish a rule that two legally distinct, but commonly owned contiguous parcels, must be combined for takings analysis purposes?
Between 1994 and 1995, Joseph, Michael, Donna, and Peggy Murr (collectively, “the Murrs”), received from their parents two neighboring lots along the St. Croix River—Lots E and F. See Murr v. Wisconsin, No. 2013AP2828, at *2, 4 (Wis. Ct. App. Dec.
- Richard Epstein, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (1985).
- Roberty A. Levy & William Mellor, Taking Property by Regulation, in The Dirty Dozen 169 (2010).
- Amanda Reilly, Justices Set March Date to Hear Key Property Rights Case, E&E News (Feb. 3, 2017).
- Ilya Somin, The Grasping Hand: “Kelo v. City of New London” and the Limits of Eminent Domain (2015).
- Ilya Somin, Thoughts on the California Amicus Brief in Murr v. Wisconsin – an important takings case currently before the Supreme Court, The Washington Post (June 22, 2016).