OCA Blog

December 10th, 2020 — In News & Events

Dwight Merriam Chosen By Connect Real Estate News As One of Only 50 Lawyers for 2020 Award

Dwight Merriam at Connecticut Law Tribune

In recognizing Dwight Merriam for its first annual New England Trailblazers publication last year, Connecticut Law Tribune called the four-decade legal veteran “a major figure in American planning law.” Based in Weatogue, CT, Merriam represents land owners, developers, governments, and individuals in land use matters. The Connecticut Law Tribune says Merriam is “one of just a handful of nationally-recognized true planner-lawyers, fully credentialed in both professions.” It was Merriam’s desire to advocate for individual rights that drew him away from pursuing a career in planning to one in the law during his formative years, according to the Tribune.

Merriam is a Fellow and Past President of the American Institute of Certified Planners; a former Director of the American Planning Association; a former chair of APA’s Planning and Law Division; a former chair of the American Bar Association’s national Section of State and Local Government Law; the Connecticut member of Owners’ Counsel of America; a former Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors; a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; a member of the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute National Advisory Board; a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation; a Counselor of Real Estate; a member of the AARPI, and a Fellow of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.

Merriam has taught land use law at the University of Memphis, the University of Bridgeport, Vermont Law School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and the Quinnipiac University School of Law. Merriam has published more than 200 articles and 13 books. He is lead author of the leading casebook in his field, Planning and Control of Land Development, and co-editor of the leading treatise in the field, Rathkopf’s The Law of Zoning and Planning 4th.

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November 21st, 2020 — In OCA Blog

Virginia Statute Allowing Electrical Easements to be Use for Broadband Challenged as Unconstitutional

OCA Virginia member, Joshua BakerAfter the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 831 authorizing utility companies to use existing “easements for the location and use of electric and communications facilities,” OCA’s Virginia member, Joshua Baker, filed suit, asserting that the law amounts to an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation and a denial of due process. Mr. Baker seeks a repeal of the legislation as part of the lawsuit. Mr. Baker explains that the property owners he represents, “are essentially giving up additional rights for  for-profit companies to use their land,” but without being compensated for such rights. To read more about the case and the Complaint that was filed go to Robert Thomas’Inverse Condemnation Blog. 

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October 30th, 2020 — In News & Events

Announcing OCA and PLF Joint Webinar on Shutdowns, Closures, Moratoria, and Bans

OCA and PLF Joint WebinarSince the beginning of the pandemic we have seen Governors and State Legislatures across the country implement  an array of policies in an attempt to contain the virus and its socioeconomic impacts. Many of these policies effectively broadened the scope of government power while placing a heavy burden on property owners and businesses already struggling during the COVID 19 pandemic.  Jim Burling from Pacific Legal Foundation and Robert Thomas from Owners’ Counsel of America will explore these COVID related policies and legal challenges. Topics to be covered include: 

  • The constitutional implications of emergency orders restricting property and business owners
  • The rights and legal status of property and business owners impacted by emergency orders
  • Past, current and upcoming litigation challenging emergency orders
This is a public event. If you would like to register, please click here.

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October 30th, 2020 — In News & Events

William & Mary Law School’s Annual Property Rights Conference Brings Experts Together Virtually

William & Mary Law School’s Annual Property Rights ConferenceFor those who could not attend this year’s Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference on October 1-2 at William & Mary Law School, a link to the panels, speakers and recorded sessions can be found on OCA Member Robert Thomas’ Inverse Condemnation Blog. This year’s conference opened with the Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize being awarded to Professor Henry E. Smith of Harvard Law School. The prize is named in honor of the lifetime contributions of Toby Prince Brigham, founding partner of Brigham Moore, LLP and founder of OCA, and Gideon Kanner, professor of law emeritus at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. The award is given annually and is presented to a scholar, practitioner or jurist whose work affirms the fundamental importance of property rights.

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October 28th, 2020 — In Articles

Mike Rikon and Jon Houghton Discuss A Recent New York Case Addressing the Practice of Advance Payments and Sandbagging

Mike Rikon on  Staten Island Land Corp

In an article published in the New York Law Journal Owners’ Counsel of America Members Mike Rikon and Jon Houghon discuss the recent decision in Staten Island Land Corp and how it seeks to address the problem of advance payments and sandbagging in the State of New York. As they explain in the article, under New York’s quick take statute, the government can take title to property which it seeks to condemn by making an advance payment based on the government’s ‘highest approved appraisal’ before the final determination of just compensation has been made, which payment can subsequently be used by the owner to purchase replacement property. However, what happens if the condemning authority tenders a second (and much lower) appraisal at trial (a tactic called sandbagging) that results in a final just compensation determination well below the advanced payment?  In such situations, the landowner can be forced to repay the deficiency amount, something that is difficult to do if the owner has already reinvested the money in replacement property. Read here on how the Staten Island case seeks to remedy this obvious injustice.

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October 14th, 2020 — In Articles

Nailing Down Knick and Governmental Takings in Louisiana by OCA Member Randall A. Smith

OCA member Randall SmithOwners’ Counsel of America member Randall Smith writes in a new article published in the October/November issue of the Louisiana Bar Journal about the unique interplay between Louisiana’s expropriation laws and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in the Knick case. The article focuses on what Knick may mean for Covid-19 claims against local governments in the wake of mass shutdowns and other regulatory measures that are currently impacting businesses and property interests, both in Louisiana and nationwide. The article also highlights a case currently before the 5th Circuit involving enforcement of a $28,764,685 just compensation and interest judgment against Bernard Port that Randall Smith obtained for his client Violet Dock Port, as a result of the taking of  its’ port facility in 2010. To read the Bar Journal article in full click here

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October 8th, 2020 — In News & Events

Podcast Episode 54 – The Emotions of An Eminent Domain Case with Stephen Clarke

OCA Affiliate Member, Stephen ClarkeOCA Affiliate Member, Stephen Clarke of the law firm of Waldo & Lyle in Norfolk Virginia recently joined Clint Schumacher on his Eminent Domain podcast to share a story about the reaction of his clients to the cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.  On a lighter note, Stephen also introduces Clint to the board game “Settlers of Catan.” To listen to the podcast, click here. Clint’s Podcast can also be found on iTunes and Stitcher.

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October 6th, 2020 — In News & Events

OCA Crystal Eagle Award Winner and Law Professor David Callies Authors Book on Landmark Knick Case

David Callies Authors Book on Landmark Knick CaseThe Supreme Court’s recent decision in Knick v. Township of Scott has been aptly described as one of the most influential property rights cases of the last decade. In Knick, the Court explicitly overturned the second prong of the so-called Williamson County ripeness test that required property owners to seek a remedy through state action –usually just compensation – for the alleged taking before coming to federal court. In David Callies new book, published by the American Bar Association, entitled “Regulatory Takings after Knick: Total Takings, the Nuisance Exception, and Background Principles Exceptions: Public Trust Doctrine, Custom, and Statutes,” he provides a summary of takings law in general and discusses in detail total takings and the exceptions which permit governments to so strictly regulate property as to permit no economically beneficial use.  Legal scholars from across the country already have commented on the importance of Mr. Callies’s work. Professor Henry Smith of Harvard Law School called it “a lucid and insightful guide through the labyrinth of the caselaw on categorical takings,” and Steven J. Eagle, of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, noted that the new book “sets forth federal and state law respecting the tension between private property rights and government regulation in a way useful to both general readers and specialists.” David Callies is a professor of law at the University of Hawaii Law School and a former recipient of the prestigious Crystal Eagle Award from Owners’ Counsel of America. 

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September 24th, 2020 — In News & Events

Joseph Waldo Continues Fight For Oystermen in Income Loss from Latest Dump of Raw Sewage into Nansemond River

Joseph Waldo Continues Fight For OystermenTo follow up on a story we ran earlier regarding OCA’s Amicus Brief filing in the case of the City of Suffolk’s operation of a sewage and stormwater system so as to discharge wastewater into the Nansemond River, we learn that after recent rains an estimated 1.5 million gallons of raw sewage has been dumped in the river. “They are discharging and allowing raw sewage to be discharged into the rivers that we swim in…” says attorney Joe Waldo (seen in the photo) who represents several oystermen currently suffering huge losses due to the situation.  Robert Johnson, who owns one of the  businesses impacted, estimates he has 750 acres of oyster beds that can’t be harvested right now, and that is costing him $2,000 to $3,000 a day. “We are totally shut down. Ninety percent of our oysters are in the Nansemond River which is the best growing ground in this area.”

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September 18th, 2020 — In News & Events

OCA Members Robert Thomas and Katie Gray To Present at the CLE International Eminent Domain Conference in Denver

For the past 22 years, CLE International has sponsored presentations by the most knowledgeable and experienced eminent domain professionals. This year will be no exception! During a two-day virtual Conference to be held on September 24-25, the industry’s leading experts and attorneys in eminent domain, relocation, appraisals, and land planning will present on a variety of timely topics. Owners’ Counsel of America’s Hawaii Member, Robert Thomas, Owner’s Counsel’s Executive Director, Leslie Fields, and Glenn Roper with the Pacific Legal Foundation will all participate in a panel discussion on the landmark Knick case. Further, Katie Gray, an affiliate member with Owners’ Counsel of America and an associate with Faegre Drinker & Biddle will present on Oil and Gas Assets in Eminent Domain. For more information about the conference and how to register, click here.

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