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SCOTUS to hear oral arguments in Wisconsin land case

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March in a case out of St. Croix County that could clarify what constitutes a parcel of land in analyses of regulatory takings.

The case, Murr v. Wisconsin, stems from a dispute between St. Croix County and a group of heirs who were bequeathed lakefront land along the St. Croix River, east of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

According to a calendar the justices released Friday, arguments will be held in the case on March 20.

The heirs are challenging St. Croix County’s decision to reject a zoning variance that would have let them sell a vacant part of that land. They sued the state and county in 2013, alleging that a regulatory taking had occurred and that they should be compensated for the county’s decision and its effects on the value of their property.

St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham disagreed, finding that the Murrs’ claim was made too late and that local regulations had not deprived the Murrs of all substantial use of their property.

The District 3 Court of Appeals agreed with Needham, affirming his decision in 2014.

The Murrs appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which declined in 2015 to hear the case. They then turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, which voted last January to take up the appeal.

The Murrs are being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian public-interest law firm that litigated two prominent cases that are now fixtures in property-law classes: Nollan v. California Coastal Commission and Palazzolo v. Rhode Island.


About Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal and a law school student at UW-Madison. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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