Property Law Keyed to Cribbet
Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council
Petitioner bought two residential lots for $975,000.00 on the Isle of Palms in Charleston County, South Carolina in 1986, upon which he intended to build single-family homes. Petitioner filed suit against the South Carolina Coastal Council, which had deemed Petitioner’s land as protected under the Act, claiming that his land had been taken without just compensation, but Petitioner did not challenge the facial validity of the Act. Petitioner claimed that the Act’s complete extinguishment of his property’s value entitled him to compensation regardless of whether the legislature had acted in furtherance of legitimate police power objectives. The trial court found for Petitioner, and determined that, at the time of Petitioner’s purchase of the land, the lots were both zoned for single-family residential construction and there were no use restrictions placed on the property by the State of South Carolina, the County of Charleston, or the Town of Isle of Palms. The trial court also found that the Act decreed a permanent ban of construction on Petitioner’s lots and that the prohibition deprived Petitioner of any reasonable economic use of the lots, eliminated the unrestricted right of use, and rendered them valueless. The trial court found that the property had been “taken” by operation of the Act and that Respondent was ordered to pay “just compensation” in the amount of $1,232,387.50. The Supreme Court of South Carolina reversed the trial court and found that, because Petitioner did not challenge the facial validity of the Act as a reasonable use of the police power, no compensation could be owed. The Supreme Court of the United States reviewed the case.
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