When Does Government Policy Trump Property Rights?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 (11:30 AM - 1:30 PM)


The Sensible Land Use Coalition will bring together two prominent individuals representing each side of this provocative question.

Desyl Peterson, retiring Minnetonka city attorney


Lee McGrath, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Institute of Justice will participate in a point/counterpoint debate of the tension between public interest and individual rights in the land use arena.

The clear choice to moderate this event is
John Shardlow, with Stantec

The panelists will address the following questions. To help shape the conversation to our audience, questions can be submitted in advance.


  • Virtually all zoning ordinances start with the statement “to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the community.” Who is responsible for interpreting how the “general welfare” is protected

  • Does protecting the general welfare include selection of the color of brick on a building or the percentage of glass on the exterior or the pitch of the roof?

  • Can or should the vote of the surrounding neighbors stop a project from going forward?

  • Is there a legitimate role for eminent domain in assembling property for a large public-private redevelopment project when one hold out jeopardizes the entire project?

  • Is it reasonable for government policy to establish a minimum development density to support public infrastructure investments rather than just establish minimum standards?

  • Can a city require dedication of a conservation easement on private property without compensation if the feel the trees on the property have “public value?”

  • Can an environmental agency impose a larger setback from a water body or wetland because they believe it would improve the quality of the water body or wetland?