Supreme Court Issues Common-Sense Wetlands Decision
In a unanimous decision this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed NAHB’s long-held position that courts should be able to review federal decisions that determine whether and how a property owner can develop a piece of land so that the owner doesn’t have to go through the time- and money-consuming federal permit process before a decision can be made.
The court ruled in the case of Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc. and concluded that when the government conducts a Clean Water Act jurisdictional determination (JD) the recipient landowners can contest the decision in court. The verdict marks the culmination of a 25-year NAHB battle for regulatory certainty.
“NAHB commends the Supreme Court,” chair Ed Brady said in a statement released this morning. “This common-sense ruling represents a clear victory for property owners to assert their rights if they disagree with an arbitrary edict by the federal government.”
“Previously, the only way to contest such a ruling in court was to obtain a federal Clean Water Act permit, which is costly and time-consuming, or proceed without a permit and risk ruinous Clean Water Act penalties,” Brady added. “Today’s ruling will allow property owners to be able to dispute a JD in court without first seeking a permit that they believe is not required in the first place.”
When the Corps conducts a JD, it determines whether “waters of the United States” are located on a parcel of property. The government has argued that before property owners can ask for a court review of the JD, they must first either obtain or be denied a wetlands development permit, or to go forward with their project without a permit and face an enforcement action.
Of course, permits are costly and time-consuming to obtain, and... Read the story on NAHBNow

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