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On March 20, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Murr v. Wisconsin. In 1960 and 1963, the Murrs purchased two adjacent lots (Lots F and E), each over an acre in size, in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. In 1994 and 1995, the parents transferred the parcels to their children. In 1995, the two lots were merged pursuant to St. Croix County’s code of ordinances. Seven years later, the Murrs wanted to sell Lot E but not Lot F, but they were denied permission to do so by the St. Croix County Board of Adjustment. The Murrs sued the state and county, claiming that the ordinance in question resulted in an uncompensated taking of their property and deprived them of “all, or practically all, of the use of Lot E because the lot cannot be sold or developed as a separate lot.” The circuit court granted summary judgment to the state and county. The Court of Appeals of Wisconsin affirmed, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied further review.
The question before the Supreme Court is whether, in a regulatory taking case, the “parcel as a whole” concept as described in Penn Central Transportation Company v. City of New York, establishes a rule that two legally distinct but commonly owned contiguous parcels must be combined for takings analysis purposes.
To discuss the case, we have James S. Burling, who is Director of Litigation, Pacific Legal Foundation.