Zoning, Takings and Water Resources


  • Effective zoning regulations that protect water resources such as shorelines, with standards and processes that minimize impacts on water quality and aesthetics
  • Identify and resolve takings issues in zoning regulations that protect water resources through standards and processes that respect property rights, create a favorable record for review, and provide due process
  • Assess alternatives to density-based water-quality regulations that control impacts on water quality, avoid takings liability, and address the aftermath of hostile state legislation


In 2017, the United States Supreme Court announced its most significant takings decision in decades, involving a shoreline protection regulation in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. In this course, the planners involved in the case and an attorney describe the facts in Murr v. Wisconsin, unravel the case's holding, and explain how to apply its principles to zoning and environmental regulations. The planners explain how the county's shoreline protection regulations work, how the application was processed, and the lot-merger provisions that led to this lawsuit. An attorney/planner and author of a recent article on Murr explains the opinion in easy-to-understand terms. The panel engages the audience with an opening question and feedback about their experience with water-resource protection regulations. This course provides insights from the planners who were part of the application that led to the legal proceedings on how to write standards and processes that protect water resources and avoid legal liability. The panelists conclude with principles that planners need to know when writing regulations that avoid takings liability, as announced in Murr, followed by audience questions and answers.