" BES Project Abstracts 2006
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2006 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Takings vs. Givings: Science and Policy in Riparian Setback Zoning
Schwartz, Stu
Abstract: Takings vs. Givings: Science and Policy in Riparian Setback Zoning Stuart S. Schwartz, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist, Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education. Riparian setback zoning attempts to maintain riparian services (flood control, erosion control, water quality benefits) through local zoning instruments that limit development and encroachment in riparian areas. The essential value of riparian services derives from maintaining the connectivity, dynamic exchanges, and processes throughout the riparian system. The superposition of political boundaries and individual property rights presents the challenge of effectively managing the functional integrity and valuable resulting services of the riparian corridor, through the collective efforts of individual decisions by riparian landowners. Riparian setback regulations attempt to institutionalize this joint coordinated management of the riparian resource in simple easily implemented zoning instruments. Riparian setbacks also engender explicit limitations on the use of private property by riparian landowners and have been subject to aggressive legal challenges based on the uncompensated taking of property rights. Local zoning control rests on municipal authority to address issues of public health and safety, public nuisances, etc. Current knowledge and understanding of riparian processes and services relevant to riparian setback zoning was reviewed for the thirty-four municipalities in the Chagrin River Watershed in Northeast Ohio, to support the promulgation and legal defense of riparian setback regulations. The emerging understanding and unresolved questions about riparian function are summarized, and provide a robust framework for hypothesis driven interdisciplinary research in urban stream systems.