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In a victory for advocates of private property rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that governments may owe compensation to property owners who are denied permits to develop their land.

Critics said the 5-4 decision, with the conservative justices comprising the majority, will make it more difficult and costly for governments to promote development or enact environmental changes designed to help the public generally.

The court sided with Coy Koontz, a Florida man who said limits imposed by the St. Johns River Water Management District on how he used his land were a "taking" subject to compensation under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

He was supported by conservative legal groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group, while the U.S. government, 19 states and wetlands conservation activists backed St. Johns. Continue Reading.