Sunday, February 27, 2011

Teaching Outside the Box

We're now entering week 4 of the spring semester at Buffalo. I'm very excited about my classes this e. Both of which are firsts for me.

I am teaching Natural Resources Law. This is a fun course and I have a great group of students. I was a bit taken aback when I learned how many of my students are from Buffalo. Place matters for many reasons, but it is especially strange feeling to teach a public lands class without one person in the room from west of the Mississippi.

I am also teaching a distributed graduate seminar called Land Conservation in a Changing Climate. "A distributed what?" you say? Yep, a distributed graduate seminar. I believe it is the first seminar of its type in the legal academy. A group of eight professors at six different schools (Buffalo, Denver, Indiana,South Carolina, Stanford, Wisconsin) are all teaching a course with roughly the same title at the same time. We have similar but not identical syllabi and take slightly different approaches to our classes. Although law students probably dominate the classes, we have opened up our classes to graduate students in other departments. All students are examining case studies, collecting data, and inputting results of interviews and research into a joint system. At the end of the semester, both the faculty and students will have access to the collected data. I am excited about this project for many reasons. First, our students are learning how to work with social scientists and understand scientific reports and papers. Second, students are actually collecting data and interviewing people who are conserving land. Third, the data collection will enable us to think both about our own states and do comparative work. Studying conservation easements is often challenged by the lack of available data. We are specifically examining how conservation easements will react (or not) to climate change. I think this project will be good for the students of course, but I also hope they learn things that will help others.

I will be speaking more about this project in May at Pace's Practically Grounded Conference (and elsewhere). If any of you are engaged in (or know of) similar projects, please let me know!

- Jessica Owley

 

February 27, 2011 in California, Charleston, Climate, Conferences, Conservation Easements, Environmentalism, Land Trust, Lectures, New York, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Illegal Spot Zoning

A judge in Charleston, SC, determined by order dated August 20, 2010, that the City of Charleston's attempt to rezone an area within its historic district to allow the construction of an otherwise aesthetically incompatible high-rise hotel constituted illegal spot zoning. Of note for preservation lawyers, the court recognized the standing of the Preservation Society of Charleston and the Historic Charleston Foundation, based on injuries they suffered as owners of preservation facade easements on properties adjacent to the proposed development site.  During trial, the preservation groups argued, among other injuries to their easement programs, that the City's zoning decision diminished the value of their ownership interests in the easements in proportion to the increased risk of loss to the area's historic setting and context, one of the factors employed by the U.S. Department of Interior in granting National Register status.

Ultimately, the court accepted the arguments of the preservation plaintiffs that the City's spot zoning amounted to an arbitrary and capricious decision.  The court reached its decision after noting multiple conflicts between the City's decision to rezone and provisions of the City's governing comprehensive plan that seeks to preserve the lower scale of the historic skyline.  For a copy of the court's order in PDF format, please email me at wcook@charlestonlaw.edu.  For a copy of the controlling spot zoning test applied by the court, see Knowles v. City of Aiken, 407 S.E.2d 639 (S.C. 1991).

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

August 31, 2010 in Aesthetic Regulation, Charleston, Property, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hurricane-Proof Dome Homes

I'm back from a summer sabbatical from the Land Use Prof Blog.  Thanks to my fellow bloggers for holding down the blogging fort in my absence.

Also, thanks to Will for lending us his apartment in Charleston for a long weekend earlier this month.  Will's got the southern hospitality thing down pat, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

While in Charleston we visited Sullivan's Island for a beach walk. Unfortunately we got caught in a thunderstorm, but in the subsequent drive around the island we happened upon this interesting house:

HurricaneHouse
I've seen pictures of homes like this before; they are ostensibly hurricane proof.  They're also pretty interesting from an aesthetic point of view, very different from the other beach houses on Sullivan's.  If you Google "hurricane proof house" you find some interesting websites of firms who build these types of homes.  They're funky, but they may be the wave of the future in coastal architecture.

Jamie Baker Roskie

August 10, 2010 in Architecture, Beaches, Charleston, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Land Use Panel at Law & Society Association

This weekend is the always-excellent annual meeting of the Law & Society Association in Chicago.  I haven't scoured the program, but there is sure to be a plethora of interesting panels and events.  I do have firsthand knowledge, however, of one particular land-use panel that is guaranteed to present fascinating projects from interesting up-and-coming scholars.

Panel: Managing the American Dream: Land Use and the Politics of Growth after the Mortgage Crisis.  Fri., May 28, 12:30-2:15
Chair: James J. Kelly, Jr. (University of Baltimore)

The Effects of SmartGrowth on the Preservation of Historic Resources, William J. Cook (Charleston School of Law)

Debtors' Environmental Impact: Structured Finance and the Suburbanization of Open Space, Heather Hughes (American University)

Sustainability and the Practice of Community Development, James J. Kelly, Jr. (University of Baltimore)

The Artifice of Local Growth Politics: At-Large Elections, Ballot Box Zoning, and Judicial Review of Land Use Initiatives, Kenneth Stahl (Chapman University)

The abstract:

Land Use is one of the most interdisciplinary areas of legal theory and practice, yet in today's environment there are common issues facing land use planners. The goals of promoting growth, land development, and property ownership are in tension with emerging priorities such as growing “smart,” reducing sprawl, and sustainability. These issues expand across borders and regions yet remain intricately tied to local politics. The mortgage and financial crises have impacted the land use environment for governments, communities, and landowners. This panel explores contemporary land use challenges from the perspectives of local growth politics, sustainability and community development, smart growth and historic preservation, and the impact of policies promoting home ownership.

I had really hoped to be there for this panel, and I am very disappointed that I won't be able to make it.  But perhaps since Will, Jim, Ken, and (I hope) Heather are friends of the blog, perhaps we might be lucky enough to get a report, and we'd love to host more discussion of these forthcoming papers on the blog (hint, hint!).  At any rate, if you are going to LSA or will be in the Chicago area, I highly recommend that you attend.
Matt Festa

May 26, 2010 in Charleston, Chicago, Community Economic Development, Conferences, Environmental Law, Finance, Financial Crisis, Historic Preservation, Local Government, Politics, Scholarship, Smart Growth, Suburbs, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cruise Ships & Land Use

Cruise 

The talk in Charleston these days--apart from Boeing's decision to build a new manufacuturing center nearby--focuses primarily on proposed plans to construct an upgraded terminal for cruise lines--specifically for Carnival, doubling the current number of cruises departing from the Holy City.  Even though Charleston boasts a seafaring past, the land use community's reception to the proposal has been mixed.  By way of example, for those who've visited Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a busy day when thousands of tourists pour from multiple muti-story cruise ships and overwhelm local infrastructure, similar developments in Charleston may not be such a good thing.  To this end, preservationists are weighing in, pro and con, on the proposed two-story system of shops, dining, and lodging planned for the area adjacent to the terminal.  Striking the right balance between tourism, economic diversity, quality of life for local residents, and preservation of historic resources is never easy, but public discussions on the topic suggest that local consensus may be reached.  Click here and here to learn more.  New York design firm Cooper Robertson & Partners, which has already designed several public buildings in historic Charleston (Visitors Center, Judicial Center, College of Charleston School of Education) has been selected to do the work. 

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

January 17, 2010 in Aesthetic Regulation, Charleston, Community Design, Community Economic Development, Development, Downtown, Historic Preservation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)