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Hearts Bluff Game Ranch, Inc. v. United States

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20020
Nos. 2010-5164, (Fed. Cir., 01/19/2012)

The Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing a landowner's claim for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment for an alleged taking based on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' denial of the landowner's proposal to operate a mitigation bank on its property. A mitigation banking instrument is not "an inherent stick in a landowner's bundle" of property rights. The landowner, therefore, was never entitled to operate a mitigation bank solely by virtue of its ownership of the land. The mitigation banking program is run exclusively by the Corps, subject to its pervasive control, and no landowner can develop a mitigation bank absent Corps approval. It is therefore undisputed that the Corps has discretionary authority to deny access to the mitigation bank program. Because the landowner did not possess a legally cognizable Fifth Amendment property interest in a mitigation bank instrument, the lower court properly dismissed the landowner's case. Hearts Bluff Game Ranch, Inc. v. United States, No. 2010-5164, 42 ELR 20020 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 19, 2012).