State accused of stealing land to expand public beaches

July 17, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A new lawsuit accuses the state of Rhode Island of stealing land from every coastal property owner and giving it to the public for "beach use."

The case has been brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation and challenges a law that takes, without any compensation, "private property from every coastal property owner in the state and gives it to the public for beach use."

The case is being brought on behalf of members of the Rhode Island Association of Coastal Taxpayers.

"The government can’t take private property without paying for it, and this basic principle applies even when the government pursues popular goals, like public access," explained J. David Breemer, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. "Rhode Island’s new beach expansion law is clearly unconstitutional as a taking of private property."

What lawmakers did was simply move the demarcation line for "public beach" property inland 10 feet.

But that takes that land from private property owners.

"Historically, the 'mean high tide line' served as the boundary between the public beach area and private property in Rhode Island," the legal team explained. The new law, adopted this year, simply by fiat changes that by 10 feet, "giving the public an extra strip of land at the expense of private property owners."

The change lets the public "enter, occupy, and use" private property now, while still demanding that landowners pay taxes on it.

The complaint explains lawmakers apparently thought "the current public beach area is not expansive enough.."

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