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12th Annual Takings Conference

Yesterday Vermont Law School hosted the 12th annual conference on Litigating Regulatory Takings Challenges to Land Use and Environmental Regulations. That’s sort of a mouthful, but a takings claim is one where a private property owner says that the government has essentially taken the property without properly compensating the individual. Essentially, the person is claiming that the government regulation placed so great a burden on the individual that it was like the functional equivalent of eminent domain, and therefore the individual is entitled to compensation for the lost property. That might even be more of a mouthful, but if you aren’t sure what a taking is, you can go to the Regulatory Taking entry on Wikipedia for more information.

The conference was excellent. I went for the entire day, and listened closely to all but one of the sessions. Each of the speakers was well prepared, and spoke eloquently about his or her subject. I was surprised that I was as interested as I was, but the subject matter was really fascinating. It probably also helps that I was able to follow along because we’ve been talking about takings in two of my classes — Land Use and Water Law — so I knew nearly every case that was referenced. That was a nice feeling, especially since I haven’t even finished one semester, and I was able to understand nearly all of the presentations at the conference.

It was also neat to see so many experts come all the way to South Royalton, VT for the conference. Most notably, Joseph Sax, who authored my water law textbook and many other books, was there. His talk was one of the most inspiring. He talked about rising sea levels that will come about as a result of global warming, and how this will impact beachfront private property owners. Takings challenges are largely about private property rights, and he said that it was important to realize that the public is also a property owner, with rights just as legitimate and important as private individuals. There are those who fiercely protect private property rights, and I felt like his was a really important point that is often overlooked.

Anyways, it was a really neat thing to have such an important group of people come to VLS for this conference that directly related to two of my classes. I’m so glad VLS made the effort to make it happen, since it seems that conferences like these are normally at bigger schools located in bigger cities. And, I’m excited to talk with my professors about some of the issues raised during the discussions.

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