Examining Public’s Interest in Property


Viewed as a collection of rights, ownership of property can be broken-up among many parties – including the public. Usually accounted for by government action, the right to use property for a particular purpose will often be constrained by land use or zoning laws as well as environmental laws. Further, the public has the right to take by eminent domain a portion or all of the rights one might have to a particular piece of property. Finally, the right to tax property is common commonly held by local governments throughout the government and often comes with a powerful involuntary lien on the property that, left unattended for a period of time, may result in a foreclosure by the government and loss of property.
Respecting the role of the public within the bundle of rights is of critical importance in any property located anywhere being used for almost any imaginable use.
Identify the purpose and operation of land use.
Recognize the purpose and operation of eminent domain.
Identify the purpose and operation of environmental laws, rules and regulations.
Recognize purpose and operation of taxation applied to real estate. Answer 2 question 250/260 words each. QUESTION 1:The Madison County Livestock & Fair Association owns a tract of land that has been used as the location for county fairs. The tract is now located in an area in which zoning changes prohibit such uses. The use of the tract as a fairgrounds has been a nonconforming use. The Association filed for a permit to build a race track on the tract. Neighbors objected because they said that such a proposed use could not be grandfathered in under the nonconforming use.
Review Perkins v. Madison County Livestock & Fair Ass’n, 613 NW2d 264 (Iowa 2000). Discuss the standards for determining whether a nonconforming use may be changed. Based on the holding in Perkins, can a church located in a residential zone that does not permit office uses, lease out a portion of its administration building to a private company for commercial office use? Why or why not? QUESTION 2:The developer of a corner property in downtown Washington, D.C. seeks to construct a 12-story office building (permitted as a matter of right under applicable zoning) on a piece of land that, until now, has been vacant and used only as a surface parking lot. As a condition of approval for the new office building, the District of Columbia has required that the developer dedicate to public use as a public plaza a portion of the property located in front of the building at the intersection on which the property sits. This is consistent with the zoning requirement that new office buildings be designed in accordance with the goal of “improving the pedestrian experience.” The area requested by the District represents approximately 20% of the land area of the property. The District has demanded that the plaza contain public art, furniture for public use and passive recreation, and trash/recycling receptacles, and that the property owner maintain the area as a public plaza in perpetuity.
Review Koontz v. St. John’s River Water Management District, 133 S.Ct. 2586 (2013). Do you think that the District’s request is constitutional? Why or why not?