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Florence Dolan owned a store in the City of Tigard, Oregon. Dolan wanted to expand her store to double its size and pave her gravel parking lot, so she applied to the city for a building permit.
The city, concerned with the additional traffic to the larger store and potential for flooding caused by paving over the lot, refused to grant the permit unless Dolan agreed to two conditions. Specifically, the city told Dolan that she’d have to deed the portion of her property within the floodplain to the city for development as a greenway and storm-drainage system and turn over an additional strip of land for a walkway and bike path. In total, to meet the city’s demands, Dolan would have to give roughly 10 percent of her property to the city.
Dolan appealed the decision, and the United States Supreme Court ultimately took up the case. The issue for the Court was whether the conditions the city placed on Dolan’s permit constituted an uncompensated taking of property in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The Court ultimately concluded that the city’s conditions weren’t sufficiently related to its stated governmental interests to constitute valid land-use regulations and thus violated the Takings Clause. The decision was neither unanimous nor uncontroversial, but it remains an important decision on governments’ authority to place conditions on building permits.