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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release February 26, 1998



I regret that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to ignore the voices of our Nation's governors, mayors, and local officials by approving a bill that would burden taxpayers, put the federal courts in charge of local zoning, and put special interests ahead of community interests.

This bill would radically change the American tradition of working out land use disputes at a local level. Instead, those disputes would go directly into Federal court. As a result, this so-called property rights bill would actually take away the rights of our communities to control their future.

Across the country, cities and towns are confronting tough choices about whether and how their communities should grow. Currently, a town deciding whether a farm or open space should give way to development works with developers to find a way to protect the interests of both the community and the property owner. Under the bill approved today, developers would have little incentive to cooperate with local governments because they could take their case to a federal court. As a result, this bill would give developers a new club to wield in their negotiations with local officials and citizen groups -- the threat of premature and costly litigation in federal court.

I applaud Senator Leahy for his leadership in opposing this threat to our communities, and I join him in urging the full Senate to abandon this bill.