Dolan v. City of Tigard, Supreme Court of the United States, (1994).

Facts: The petitioner owns a plumbing and electric supply store in the Central Business District of the City of Tigard. Her 1.67 acre parcel abuts Fanno Creek, identified by the city’s Drainage Plan as a flooding hazard. The petitioner applied for a permit to double the size of the store to 17,600 square feet and pave a 39 space parking lot. The City Planning Commissions granted the permit application subject to conditions imposed by the city’s Community Development Code. These would require the petitioner to dedicate the portion of her property lying within the creek’s 100 year flood plain for storm drainage improvements and dedicate an additional 15 foot strip adjacent to the floodplain as a pedestrian and bicycle pathway. The required dedication encompasses roughly 10% of the property.

Procedure: The Oregon Supreme Court found the permit requirements were valid because the conditions were be reasonably related to the impact of the expansions of the petitioner’s business.

Issues: 1) Does an “essential nexus” exist between the “legitimate state interest” and the permit conditions (dedication of the floodplain and bike/ped easements) exacted by the city?
2) Are the conditions exacted by the city roughly proportional to the petitioner’s proposed development and a reasonable use of the city’s police power, or are they a veiled exercise of the power of eminent domain and an unconstitutional taking of private property without just compensation?

Holding: The US Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Oregon Supreme Court, holding that the City of Tigard did not show a roughly proportional relationship between the floodplain and pedestrian/bicycle pathway easements and the impacts of the petitioner’s proposed new building.

Rationale: There exists an essential nexus between the city’s permit conditions and the “legitimate state interests” of prevention of flooding and the reduction of traffic congestion. However, the city did not demonstrate that the exactions are roughly proportional to the impacts of the proposed development. It did not demonstrate why a public greenway instead of a private one was necessary for flood control. Nor did it quantify any findings showing that the increased traffic generated by the development would be offset by the dedicated bike/ped pathway.