Property Fights: Taking on Takings

Article excerpt

WADE BENNETT, the proprietor of a 70-acre orchard and bamboo grove outside Seattle, is not a confrontational man. But when state officials decided they wanted to increase development-free river buffers for environmental and recreational purposes, Bennett got belligerent. The new rules would put 10 percent of his orchard out of production.

"Do we need some common regulations to keep people together?" Bennett asks. "Yes. But when it comes to transferring my rights and my property to the state because other people want it for recreation? That's wrong."

Bennett isn't the only one who thinks taking private property is bad business. Having attracted the signatures of more than 318,000 citizens, the Property Fairness initiative will appear on the Washington state ballot in November. The measure would require the government to "consider and document" the impact of new regulations on private property and either compensate or exempt landowners if new rules damage the use or value of their property. …