Friday, April 18, 2014

Alexander on Property's Ends

Greg Alexander (Cornell) has posted Property's Ends: The Publicness of Private Law Values, 99 Iowa L. Rev. 1257 (2014).  Here's the abstract:

Property theorists commonly suppose that property has as its ends certain private values, such as individual autonomy and personal security. This Article contends that property’s real end is human flourishing, that is, living a life that is as fulfilling as possible. Human flourishing, although property’s ultimate end, is neither monistic or simple. Rather, it is inclusive and comprises multiple values. Those values, the content of human flourishing, derives, at least in part, from an understanding of the sorts of beings we are ― social and political.  A consequence of this conception of the human condition is that the values of which human flourishing is constitutive ― property’s ends― are public as well as private. Further, the public and private values that serve as property’s ends are mutually dependent for their realization. Hence, any account of property that assigns it solely to the private sphere, categorically removed from public values, is incoherent.

Jim K.

April 18, 2014 in Constitutional Law, Property, Property Rights, Property Theory, Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

May 5 - The Future of Environmental Finance - UNC School of Government and online

From the EPA listserv announcement:

Please save the date for "The Future of Environmental Finance," a public forum at the UNC School of Government, Chapel Hill, NC on May 5th, 2014 from 1:30pm-4:30pm Eastern. This event will also be streamed live on-line. Visit http://www.efc.sog.unc.edu/event/future-environmental-finance-public-forum for more information and registration.

The costs of environmental services, programs, and infrastructure continue to rise. At the same time the individuals, communities, and governments tasked with paying for environmental protection are experiencing significant financial challenges. Whether a billion dollar effort to restore a region's polluted water supply, a $4,000 project to weatherize a financially disadvantaged family's home, or a program to replace a small town's 50 year old water treatment plant, environmental initiatives share a common challenge of figuring out who pays and with what money. Without implementing fair and sustainable solutions to these environmental finance questions, the most brilliantly conceived environmental technology or program will likely fall short of achieving its environmental goals.

On May 5th, 2014, the Environmental Finance Center at the UNC School of Government, an EPA grantee, will host a public forum on "The Future of Environmental Finance" to share promising strategies for financing current and future environmental challenges.  This event will feature talks from prominent environmental finance experts and innovators from a variety of perspectives that cut across sectors and issues (federal, state, and local governments, academics, foundations, international organizations, and private investment firms). The event is intended to foster discussion and identify emerging trends, strategies, and ideas that will help answer the basic "how will we pay" questions at the heart of successful environmental protection.

Stephen R. Miller

April 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rissman, Owley, Thompson and Shaw on Adapting Conservation Easements to Climate Change

Adena Rissman (Ecology-Wisconsin), (our very own) Jessie Owley (SUNY-Buffalo), Buzz Thompson (Stanford) and Rebecca Shaw (Env. Defense Fund) have posted Adapting Conservation Easements to Climate Change, Conservation Letters (2014).  Here's the abstract: 

Perpetual conservation easements (CEs) are popular for restricting development and land use, but their fixed terms create challenges for adaptation to climate change. The increasing pace of environmental and social change demands adaptive conservation instruments. To examine the adaptive potential of CEs, we surveyed 269 CEs and interviewed 73 conservation organization employees. While only 2% of CEs mentioned climate change, the majority of employees were concerned about climate change impacts. CEs share the fixed-boundary limits typical of protected areas with additional adaptation constraints due to permanent, partial property rights. CEs often have multiple, potentially conflicting purposes that protect against termination but complicate decisions about principled, conservation-oriented adaptation. Monitoring is critical for shaping adaptive responses, but only 35% of CEs allowed organizations to conduct ecological monitoring. Additionally, CEs provided few requirements or incentives for active stewardship of private lands. We found four primary options for changing land use restrictions: CE amendment, management plan revisions, approval of changes through discretionary consent, and updating laws or policies codified in the CE. Conservation organizations, funders, and the IRS should promote processes for principled adaptation in CE terms, provide more active stewardship of CE lands, and consider alternatives to the CE tool.

Jim K.

 

April 16, 2014 in Climate, Conservation Easements, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Op-ed on agritourism

This year, my Economic Development Clinic has been working with rural communities interested in using agritourism to assist small farm survival.  The projects have proven a really interesting source of legal issues, many of which were unexpected to me.  I tried to highlight some of those issues in an op-ed I published today in the Idaho Statesman.  A copy of that op-ed is attached, and also available here (the headline is not my own, but the rest is).  Many of the legal issues I mention are relevant elsewhere as Idaho's laws on agritourism are similar to most other states.

Download Melding agriculture with tourism can pose legal issues - Miller

Stephen R. Miller

April 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

If mayors ruled the world

Readers of this blog may want to tune in to the latest Freakanomics podcast, which investigates Benjamin Barber's recent book.  A blurb from the Freakanomics website:

The episode expands on an idea from political theorist Benjamin Barber, whose latest book is called If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. Barber argues that cities are paragons of good governance – compared at least to nation-states – and that is largely due to their mayors. Mayors, Barber argues, are can-do people who inevitably cut through the inertia and partisanship that can plague state and federal governments. To that end, Barber would like to see a global “Parliament of Mayors,” to help solve the kind of big, borderless problems that national leaders aren’t so good at solving.

Listen here:

 

Stephen R. Miller

April 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sheep-shearing a hillside for fire prevention

Boise sits hard-by a range of foothills that lead into the Boise National Forest.  Those foothills have a lot of grasses that, come summer, could light up in a fire.  And so, what is the fire prevention strategy devised here in Boise?  Sheep.  Lots of them.  This week 2,500 sheep were brought into the Boise foothills and they will slowly eat their way across those foothills north of the populated region.

The yearly arrival of the sheep for this ritual is one of my favorite things about living here.  Here's another article from last year about the event.

Below is a clip of what it looks like when 2,500 sheep cross the road.

 

Stephen R. Miller

April 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Forty-six ways to define resilience

I was just introduced to a useful 2013 report by the Community and Regional Resilience Institute entitled Definitions of Community Resilience:  An Analysis.  The report provides cites to and summaries of forty-six articles that attempt to define resilience in a variety of manners.  The report is a useful resource for scholars seeking out definitions of resilience across disciplines.

H/t to Jeff Litwak, who introduced me to the report.

Stephen R. Miller

April 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CFP: San Diego's Annual Energy Conference

Energy use and renewable energy development is very much a land use issue. Here is the second conference announcement I have for you!

Proposals Due: Monday, April 21, 2014

On Friday, November 7, 2014, the University of San Diego School of Law will host its Sixth Annual Climate & Energy Law Symposium.

You are invited to submit a title and abstract of an article that you can present at the symposium and publish in the sixth volume of the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law. If we select your proposal, the university will pay for all travel expenses to and from the symposium. You must submit your completed article to the journal’s editors by Monday, December 8, 2014, for consideration in the journal's sixth volume. View agendas and webcasts of past symposia online.

Theme for 2014 Climate & EnErgy Law Symposium

The theme for the 2014 Climate & Energy Law Symposium is "Innovative Regulatory and Business Models in a Changing Electric Industry."

Regulatory frameworks and business models for electric utilities developed decades ago, and the fundamentals of the landscape are changing. Public policy, technological, and economic shifts are undermining the logic of the current system. Policies to encourage energy efficiency, increase renewable energy production, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are changing the context in which the industry operates. Technological innovations, including distributed photovoltaics, smart meters, and energy storage are enabling customers to understand and control their energy needs. Slower economic growth, increased efficiency, and more distributed generation are contributing to slower load growth. The confluence of these factors presents challenges and opportunities for the electric industry

Academic and policy experts will analyze and assess three aspects of this complex issue:

  1. Regulatory Changes
  2. Utility Business Models
  3. Market Structures

All article proposals related to these broad issues in climate and energy law are welcome. It is not necessary for an article to focus specifically on California law and policy. If you are interested in participating, please submit the following materials to Zachary Flati, editor-in-chief of the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law, at zflati-11@sandiego.edu:

  1. The proposed title of your article and a brief 300-word abstract
  2. Your CV
  3. Written acknowledgement that you will attend the symposium on Friday, November 7, 2014, and submit a complete draft of your article to the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law by Monday, December 8, 2014.

The University of San Diego Climate & Energy Law Symposium is co-hosted by the Energy Policy Initiatives Center and the San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law.

Please submit your proposal by Monday, April 21, 2014.

April 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CFP: AALS Natural Resources Section on Local Solar and Distributed Generation

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

The AALS Section on Natural Resources and Energy Law is seeking proposals for its first energy-focused program:  "Seismic Shifts in Energy; The Repercussions of Local Solar and Distributed Generation."

As part of our effort to be inclusive, the section is Calling for Proposals from anyone who would like to present on this topic at the AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-6, 2015.
 
If you are interested in participating in this program, please submit a one-page proposal to kkduvivier@law.du.edu  by 5:00 p.m. MDT on Monday, April 14, 2014.

Please put "AALS Prospective Proposal" in the subject line and make sure that you receive an email response acknowledging receipt of your proposal. 

The executive officers will choose 2 or 3 of these proposals for presentation at the annual program.  The AALS requires that all presenters pay their own registration, transportation, food, and lodging expenses, so please do not submit a proposal unless you can commit to being present in Washington, D.C.

The Environmental Law Reporter has kindly agreed to give all presenters the option of publishing any articles written in conjunction with the program.

April 10, 2014 in Clean Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Farber on Property Rights and Climate Change

Daniel Farber (UC Berkeley) has posted Property Rights and Climate Change, his Wolf Family Lecture on American Law presented just last month at the University of Florida.  Here's the abstract:

Climate change poses a challenge for maintaining the stable entitlements that are basic to property law. Yet property rights can also serve as aids to climate adaptation. This essay, which was initially delivered as the Wolf Family Lecture on the American Law at the University of Florida, explores both aspects of the property/climate-change relationship. The first part of the article discusses takings issues that may arise in connection with sea level rise. The second part of the article discusses the constructive role that transferrable development rights and the public trust doctrine could play in climate adaptation, including their role in limiting takings claims.

A web video of the Lecture is available here.

Jim K.

April 10, 2014 in Climate, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Green Building, Property Rights, Property Theory, Transferable Development Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

McLaughlin on Perpetual Conservation Easements in the 21st Century

Nancy McLaughlin (Utah) has posted Perpetual Conservation Easements in the 21st Century: What Have We Learned and Where Should We Go from Here?, 2013 Utah L. Rev. 687.  Here's the abstract:

The public is investing billions of dollars in conservation easements, which now protect an estimated 40 million acres throughout the United States. But all is not well. Uncertainties in the law and abusive practices threaten to undermine public confidence in and the effectiveness of conservation easements as a land protection tool. This short article is part of a series of articles published in the law review discussing conservation easements, with a focus on what we have learned thus far and where we should go from here. This article sets the stage by describing the dramatic growth in the use of conservation easements, the various laws that impact easement creation and administration, a timeline of important legal and policy developments, and the recent surprising lack of certainty and consensus regarding what it means to protect land “in perpetuity” or “forever” with a conservation easement. The article concludes by discussing how the perpetuity issue might be productively resolved.
 
Jim K.

April 8, 2014 in Agriculture, Conservation Easements, Environmental Law, Environmentalism, Federal Government, Historic Preservation, Scholarship, Servitudes | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Call for Presenters at 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference

Community Law Center, Inc. and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law are hosting the 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference on September 19, 2014 in Baltimore to share information and best practices in urban agriculture laws, policies and practices across the country. We are currently accepting proposals for conference papers, presentations, and workshops. Click here for the Call for Papers and Presentations.  To download the application, you need to click here.

Located in the heart of Baltimore, the 2014 Urban Agriculture Law Conference  will bring together national and local leaders, legal practitioners, and scholars who are addressing the diverse roles of urban agriculture in the renewal of urban communities.

All proposals must be submitted by June 15, 2014.  Community Law Center will notify all selected speakers by July 15, 2014 of their acceptance and time slot.

Jim K.

April 7, 2014 in Agriculture, Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Schindler on Unpermitted Urban Agriculture

Sarah Schindler (Maine) has posted Unpermitted Urban Agriculture: Transgressive Actions, Changing Norms and the Local Food Movement, 2014 Wisc. L. Rev __ (forthcoming).  Just in time for the finalizing of my presentation on unauthorized vacant property use for next month's ALPS conference (in Vancouver!).  Here's the abstract:

It is becoming more common in many urban and suburban areas to see chickens in backyards, vegetable gardens growing on vacant, forclosed-upon, bank-owned property, and pop-up restaurants operating out of retail or industrial spaces. The common thread tying all of these actions together is that they are unauthorized; they are being undertaken in violation of existing laws, and often norms. In this essay, I explore ideas surrounding the overlap between food policy and land use law, and specifically the transgressive actions that people living in urban and suburban communities are undertaking in order to further their local food-related goals. I assert that while governmental and societal acceptance and normalization of currently illegal local food actions is likely needed for the broader goals of the local food movement to succeed, there are some limited benefits to the currently unauthorized nature of these activities. These include transgression serving as a catalyst for change and as an enticement to participate.

Jim K.

 

 

April 7, 2014 in Agriculture, Food, Local Government, Nuisance, Scholarship, Urbanism, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Resilient Cities: Idaho Law Review symposium streaming live all day Friday

The Idaho Law Review symposium, Resilient Cities:  Environment | Economy | Equity, will be live-ResilientCitiesstreamed all day on Friday, April 4.  Check out the live-stream here.  You can also join into the conversation by entering questions into the chat function next to the live-stream video.  A student will be watching for questions and we will try to integrate them into the live discussion, as possible. 

The schedule is below with all times Mountain.

TimeEvent
8:00 – 8:30 Registration and Continental Breakfast

 

8:30 –  9:00 Introduction and Welcome Symposium Introduction:  Alexandra Grande; Tori Osler (ILR symposium student editors) Welcome:  David Bieter (Mayor, City of Boise) Dean's Welcome: Michael Satz (Idaho)
9:00 – 10:30

Disaster, Destruction, and Resilient Cities Moderator: Dale Goble (Idaho) Kellen Zale (University of Houston Law Center) – Urban Resiliency and the Right to Destroy John Travis Marshall and Ryan Rowberry (Georgia State) – Urban Wreckage and Resiliency: Articulating a Practical Framework for Preserving, Reconstructing, and Building Cities Andrea McArdle (CUNY) – Imagining A Resilient New York After Superstorm Sandy

10:45 – 12:00 Social Aspects of Resilient Cities Moderator: Anastasia Telesetsky (Idaho) Palma Strand (Creighton) – Increasing City-System Resilience by Cultivating Civic Social Networks Melissa Berry (University of Missouri) – Thinking Like a City: Grounding Social-Ecological Resilience in an Urban Land Ethic
12:00 – 1:30 Lunch with Keynote Moderator: Barbara Cosens Ken Alex (California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research) – 20-30 minute presentation
1:30 – 1:45 Break
1:45 – 3:15 Resiliency, Equity, and Economy Moderator: Jerrold Long Christopher Odinet (Southern University Law Center) – Fairness, Equity, and a Level Playing Field: Land-use Goals for the Resilient City Jeff Litwak (Columbia River Gorge Commission) – Implementing Resiliency: Urban Services Without Borders Jon Rosenbloom (Drake) – Funding Resiliency
3:15 – 3:30 Break
3:30 – 5:00 Resiliency and Planning for City Growth Moderator: Stephen Miller Tom Bergin (Blaine County Land Use & Building Services) and Tom Wuerzer (Department of Community and Regional Planning Boise State University) – Fire Resilience Policy and Planning at the Wildland-Urban Interface: Impressions from Idaho Keith Hirokawa (Albany) – Planning for Scarcity: Enabling Resilient Urban Water Planning Through Eco System Services
5:00 – 5:15 Concluding Remarks
5:15 – 6:15 Reception

April 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 10: Mary Christina Wood delivers Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law

An invitation from Tony Arnold (Louisville):

You might be interested that our colleague, Mary Christina Wood, Philip H. Knight Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Oregon, will give the Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law on Thursday, April 10, at 6:00 p.m. in Room 275.  The title of her Lecture is "The Public Trust Doctrine: Our Inherent and Inalienable Property Right."  The Boehl Distinguished Lecture in Land Use Policy is given annually by a prominent scholar and is funded by the Boehl Chair in Property and Land Use, the Kentucky Challenge Research Trust Fund, and the Center for Land Use and Environmental Responsibility.  If you are in the Louisville area next Thursday, perhaps doing some early scouting for your Kentucky Derby seats, please stop by and hear a great lecture by Mims.  We would love to host you. 

All the best,

Tony

April 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Will the generous tax deductions for conservation easements stick around?

Potential tax deductions are one of the driving forces behind creation of conservation easements. The exact contours of the tax deduction (how much can you deduct and over how many years can you stretch your donation) has varied over the years. For the past several years, the deductions have been particularly generous.

Under standard law, individuals can deduct the value of the donated property up to 30 percent of their adjusted gross income, and any excess value can be carried forward for 5 years. But in 2006, Congress passed the enhanced landowner incentive. It allows deductions up 50 percent of donors’ adjusted gross income and over a 15-year carry-forward period. That incentive ended this past December. The consistent support of this tax deduction by Congress led many to people the enhanced version would be extended without struggle.

Perhaps not. The most recent tax-extension proposal from the Senate Finance Committee does not extend the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements. Russ Shay at the Land Trust Alliance has hypothesized that the bill drafters may want to change the nature of the deduction, but are still likely to keep the enhanced deduction available to some extent. In particular, this might appear an attractive opportunity to remove deductions for conservation easements over golf courses, something both parties (and the IRS) have indicated their support for. Others suggest that a better approach would be to craft legislation making the enhanced deduction permanent so it does not require periodic extensions.

April 2, 2014 in Conservation Easements, Federal Government, Historic Preservation, Land Trust, Servitudes | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Harvard Business Review on the resilient corporation

The cover article for the April, 2014 edition of the Harvard Business Review is entitled, "Resilience in a Hotter World."  It provides a fascinating look at how climate change will redefine corporate strategy.  It is an interesting market perspective for those of us who may spend a lot of time thinking about resilience from a regulatory perspective.  Here is an excerpt from the article intro:

It's impossible to pin any one weather event on climate change, but the scientific consensus is that as the planet gets hotter, the frequency and severity of destructive weather will only increase. Along with -- and often because of -- these weather patterns, we're seeing increases in the prices of most commodities that business and society rely on. This is a sharp reversal of the trend toward lower prices that occurred during the past century. (See the exhibit "Soaring Commodity Prices.") Major storms, droughts, and floods are cutting the supply of some renewable commodities, such as crops and clean water. Nonrenewable resources, such as oil and some metals, are also becoming scarcer. The world won't run out of them immediately, but easily obtained, cheaper stores of them are dwindling. Meanwhile, growing populations and new wealth, particularly in China, are driving up demand for all commodities. This recently happened with cotton. As a consequence, prices for it rose 300% over one two-year period, forcing apparel makers and retailers to choose between passing along the costs to consumers, which would reduce sales, or keeping prices steady and taking a direct hit to margins.

Though companies today face many global-scale challenges -- from destabilizing demographic shifts to the threat of financial system collapse -- extreme weather caused by climate change and increasing limits on resources are both having an unprecedented impact, threatening corporate profits and global prosperity. These "megachallenges" will require companies to fundamentally rethink their strategies and tactics.

The article cannot be linked because its Internet version is behind a paywall; however, it is available at newsstands and also to most academics through online e-libraries.

Stephen R. Miller

April 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pace Future Environmental Law Professors Workshop: Sept 26, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pace Law School, White Plains, New York

 Designed for Visiting Assistant Professors, Fellows, Researchers, Law Clerks, Practitioners and others who are, or plan to go on, the academic teaching market in the areas of environmental law, natural resources law, food and agricultural law, animal law, energy law, land use planning, and/or ocean and coastal resources law.

Receive advice on the environmental law teaching market

Obtain an insider’s view of the appointments process from faculty with extensive hiring experience

Learn about the history and future of environmental law in law schools

Participate in a mock AALS interview and gain feedback from environmental law professors

Present your work to future colleagues in the environmental law academy

Hear a Keynote Address by Harvard Law Professor Richard Lazarus about current issues in environmental law

Register by clicking here.  There is no cost to register.  Participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging.

 Preliminary Schedule: 

9:30am:  Introductory Remarks by Professor Jason Czarnezki (Pace) & Continental Breakfast

10:00-11:00am: Panel Discussion with Professors Dave Owen (Maine), Sharon Jacobs (Colorado), David Cassuto (Pace) and Andrew Lund (Pace) —“How To Be Successful on the Environmental Law Professor Job Market”

11:00am-Noon: Mock Interviews

Noon: Keynote Lunch Address by Professor Richard Lazarus (Harvard)

Afternoon: Job Talk Presentations with feedback provided (A selected number of participants will be asked to present their job talks)

Evening: Cocktail Reception and Dinner

Travel and Lodging Information: A block of hotel rooms for both Thursday and Friday nights has been reserved at the Crowne Plaza, White Plains, NY.  Directions and travel information can be found at http://www.law.pace.edu/directions.

 For further information, please contact Professor Jason Czarnezki at jczarnezki@law.pace.edu

Confirmed Current Law Professors Scheduled to Attend as of March 2014:

 Rebecca Bratspies (CUNY)

David Cassuto (Pace)

Jason Czarnezki (Pace)

Michael Gerrard (Columbia)

Sharon Jacobs (Colorado)

Katrina Kuh (Hofstra)

Richard Lazarus (Harvard)

Andrew Lund (Pace)

Richard Ottinger (Pace)

Dave Owen (Maine)

Ann Powers (Pace)

April 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Glass Case Saga

Some conservation easements in Michigan have been the subject of dispute for over 20 years. In 1992 and 1993, the Glasses donated conservation easements to the Little Traverse Conversancy to protect the shore of Lake Michigan. Charles and Susan Glass then sought a tax deduction for these donations. The IRS was skeptical. These were two conservation easements over a 10-acre parcel and the real conservation value of them seemed seems questionable.

The IRS challenged the Glass’ contention that the conservation easements should qualify for a deduction under § 170(h)(1). Specifically, the IRS felt that the conservation easements did not meet the requirement of being “exclusively for conservation purposes.” The Tax Court disagreed with the IRS holding that the conservation easements qualified because they protected a relatively natural habitat or plant or wildlife (§ 170(h)(4)(A)(ii)) and because the Conservancy had to hold the conservation easements exclusively for conservation purposes (§ 170(h)(5). [Yes there are days when I wish I had taken Tax.] The 6th Circuit upheld the tax court's ruling.

Despite these rulings of the Tax Court and the 6th Circuit, the conservation easements in this case appear to be of questionable value. One of the conservation easements (from 1990) is for a greenbelt along a state scenic highway. The other two conservation easements prohibit development along the lakefront. The parcels they encumber are small, the area would be hard to develop, and development would likely be undesirable. These are plots with vacation homes along the shore of Lake Michigan that are bordered by a bluff. Some parcels in the area however have larger homes and the Conservancy saw a need to seek out and protect shoreline parcels. The proceedings regarding the conservation value of these conservation easements illuminated some inconsistencies in the deeds and questionable appraisals of the value of the conservation easements. The litigation described above indicated that the appraised value of the conservation easements ($340,800) was too high, but it didn't resolve what the value should have been set at.

The Glasses ultimately acknowledged that the value had been assessed incorrectly and that therefore the Glasses had underpaid their federal income taxes. This left the Glasses with substantial tax debt and they looked for a way to make some money. Thus, the Glasses sought to sell the southern portion of their property to their neighbors (the Van Lokerens). Once the neighbors saw an accurate survey detailing the property lines and any servitudes, they decided they were no longer interested in purchasing just the southern portion but indicated that they might consider buying the entire 10 acres. The Glasses then listed just the southern parcel for sale.

The Van Lokerens then reached out to the Conservancy to complain that the proposed sale of just the southern parcel appeared to violate the conservation easements in place. The Glasses were then forced to withdraw the listing. Next, the Glasses developed a plan to subdivide the parcel into condos but keep the conservation easement areas in place to serve as common area. Again, the Van Lokerens complained to the Conservancy (notably Mary Ann Van Lokeren was a member of the Conservancy's Board). After attempts at amicable settlement with the Glasses, the Conservancy ended up suing the Glasses and seek reform of the conservation easements based on the theory that there had been a mutual mistake in the earlier conservation easement description. The Glasses counterclaimed arguing that the Conservancy (and the Van Lokerens) had engaged in some shady practices including “threatening meritless litigation.”

In unpublished decision, the Michigan Appellate Court found against the Glasses, explaining that the Conservancy was not out of line in seeking to ensure its conservation easement was complied with.

As the Glasses were foreclosed on and the parcel is now in other hands, it seems likely possible that we have reached the end of this saga.

 

April 2, 2014 in Beaches, Caselaw, Conservation Easements, Land Trust, Servitudes | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fellowship at EPA Office of Sustainabile Communities

Potentially of interest to some recent law grads or friends of recent law grads...

Research Project Description

Research Participation Program
Office of Sustainable Communities
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC

Project Summary:

A postgraduate research training fellowship is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities (OSC) in Washington, DC. A major focus of this appointment will be supporting OSC through the development of new geospatial data, methodologies, and tools for analyzing the environmental outcomes of land use decisions and scenarios. This work will build the capacity of local, state, and federal governments for measuring the actual and anticipated benefits of pursuing smart growth strategies.

About EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities:

OSC works with federal agencies, including other parts of EPA, and state governments to develop policies, regulations, standards, guidelines, spending priorities, and provide technical assistance to programs and initiatives that help communities become stronger, healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable through smarter growth and green building. OSC works across EPA offices to develop EPA regulatory policy which can improve environmental quality by creating incentives and encouraging better economic development, land use, and building design/management approaches such as brownfields redevelopment, transit-oriented development, infill development, and energy and water efficient buildings. For more information go to epa.gov/smartgrowth.

DESCRIPTION OF RESPONSIBILITIES:

The research participant could be involved in one or more of the following activities.

  • Reviewing and synthesizing research literature on the relationships between land use, transportation, environmental impacts, and fiscal outcomes – particularly with regards to its policy relevance and practical applications.
  • Statistical and quantitative analysis of large geospatial datasets such as census, travel surveys, transit ridership, real estate, land use, and land cover.
  • Assisting with the management of complex research studies, performance measurement, and mapping tool development activities.
  • Using quantitative and geospatial analysis to evaluate the environmental, economic, and social outcomes of alternative land use scenarios.
  • Communicating the results of research and analysis through reports, maps, visualizations, and information design.
  • Pursuing and cultivating partnerships with other EPA offices, federal agencies, state and local governments, foundations, and nonprofits.
  • Presentation of research and analysis results at conferences and to audiences of varied backgrounds.

For an example of OSC’s data and tool development work see epa.gov/smartgrowth/smartlocationdatabase.htm. The candidate will also have opportunities to meet with senior staff and managers within the Office in programmatic and/or informal, career-oriented discussions.

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a master’s or Ph.D. degree in geography, planning, environmental science, ecology, engineering, statistics, natural resources, environmental economics, or a related field within five years of the desired starting date, or have completed all degree requirements prior to the start date. The appointment is full-time for one year and may be renewed for up to three additional years upon recommendation of EPA and subject to availability of funds. Participant will receive a monthly stipend up to $XX,XXX per year. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but can also hold an appropriate visa status, however, an H1B visa is not appropriate).

POINT OF CONTACT:

Adhir Kackar, Acting Director of Operations, OSC, kackar.adhir@epa.gov,

202-566-2846 

How to Apply:

The Research Participation Program for EPA is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. For additional information and application materials contact: Research Participation Program/ORD-EPA, Attn: Betty Bowling, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, P.O. Box 117, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-0117, Phone: (865) 576-8503 FAX: (865) 241-5219 e-mail:betty.bowling@orau.org.

April 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)