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Downing/Salt Pond Partners, L.P. v. Rhode Island

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20191
Nos. No.10-1484, (1st Cir. , 05/23/2011)

The First Circuit upheld the dismissal of a developer's federal takings claim against two state agencies for restricting its development of a coastal residential subdivision in Rhode Island. In Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, 473 U.S. 172 (1985), the U.S. Supreme Court set forth ripeness requirements for federal takings claims, one of which provides that if a state provides an "adequate procedure for seeking just compensation, the property owner cannot claim a violation of the Just Compensation Clause until it has used the procedure and been denied just compensation." Here, the developer acknowledged that it never initiated an inverse condemnation proceeding in state court and went directly to federal court. Rather, it argued that it was excused from Williamson County's state litigation requirement because Rhode Island's state law remedies are "unavailable" or "inadequate." But Rhode Island's inverse condemnation procedure satisfies the ripeness requirements set forth in Williamson County. The Rhode Island courts have long allowed recovery through suits for inverse condemnation, and the state has an adequate process available to takings plaintiffs. The developer, therefore, must resort to it before their federal takings claims will ripen.