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LET'S CALL IT A WETLAND!
The Walter Olsen Story 

In 1987, Walter Olsen purchased a 1.5-acre parcel of waterfront property in Southampton on New York's Long Island. He and his wife wanted to develop the property, lease it out and use the income to fund their retirement. But the Town of Southampton later determined that there was a wetland on their property, making development impossible.

When the Olsens purchased the land, they knew that part of the property was affected by tidal wetlands and they thus were willing to surrender about one-third of the property for wetlands protection. That still left enough land for their plan to construct a small restaurant. But about three years into the permitting process, when the couple was on the verge of getting approval to build, the town said there was a freshwater wetland on the site.

Olsen says there was absolutely no evidence presented by the town, the state Department of Environmental Conservation or anyone else that there was a freshwater wetland on their property. The town, however, ruled that a man-made mud puddle constituted a protected wetland. Runoff from a state highway in front of the Olsens' property created a small puddle on their land for one or two weeks a year during the rainy season before drying up. The town used that as an excuse to declare another third of the Olsens' land a protected wetland.

That additional wetland ruling did not leave enough land for development so the Olsens sued the town for a regulatory taking. Unfortunately, they lost because the town said there were 27 other uses the Olsens could apply for.

Says Olsen, "You can imagine how old I'd be if I went though the 27 other uses if this application took ten years." After seven additional years of unsuccessful attempts to develop the property, he sold it to the town for $150,000 even though its assessed value was $350,000. Olsen made no money on the sale because he used the money to pay off the lawyers and consultants he had employed during his fight with town regulators.
Source: Property Rights Foundation

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