Howard W. Heck and Associates v. United States

134 F.3d 1468 (1998)

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Howard W. Heck and Associates v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
134 F.3d 1468 (1998)

Facts

Howard W. Heck and Associates, Inc. (Heck) (plaintiff) wished to build residences on its land in Farmingdale, New Jersey. In January 1989, Heck applied to the state of New Jersey for a Water Quality Certification (WQC). New Jersey asked Heck to submit a discussion of on-site and off-site alternatives to the proposal that would avoid affecting wetlands. Heck responded that the site could not be developed without being cleared and filled for drainage and that there were no on-site or off-site alternatives. New Jersey replied that the alternatives analysis was required. In 1991, Heck applied to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (corps) for a permit to develop the site under Clean Water Act (CWA) § 404. The CWA required applicants for a § 404 permit to have obtained a state WQC permit. As of 1992, Heck had not obtained the WQC permit. Heck argued to the corps that New Jersey had waived its WQC requirements by failing to act on Heck’s application within one year. However, New Jersey had ultimately cancelled Heck’s application because the application was incomplete. The corps informed Heck that the WQC requirement could not be waived and removed Heck’s application for a § 404 permit from active status without prejudice. Heck filed a claim for violation of the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution against the United States government (defendant) with the United States Court of Federal Claims. Because the corps had not ruled on the merits of Heck’s application, the court ruled that Heck’s claim was not ripe.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Michel, J.)

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