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Fideicomiso de la Tierra del Caño Martín Peña v. Fortuño

Citation: 40 ELR 20133
No. No. 09-2569, (1st Cir., 04/28/2010)

The First Circuit dismissed a land trust's claim that a statute revoking its title to lands in a canal area amounted to a taking and violated its due process rights. The statute amended Law 489, which among other things, created the land trust and transferred to the trust title to certain lands that had originally belonged to public agencies of the commonwealth and the municipality of San Juan. The amending statute revoked the trust's title to those lands and returned title to the agencies. The trust argued that the transfer of lands back to public agencies does not meet the “public use” requirement of the Takings Clause. It claimed that the alleged taking is not for public use because it serves no legitimate purpose and undercuts the purposes of Law 489. But there can be no doubt that the statute's transfer to public ownership is for public use under the Takings Clause. The amending statute revokes the transfer of public agencies' lands to the trust and returns the lands to public ownership. This transfer to public ownership reflects Puerto Rico's judgment that the goals of rehabilitating and revitalizing the canal will be better served, and will be consistent with other missions of its public agencies, if these agencies, rather than the trust, again hold and administer the lands in the canal area they once owned.