Supreme Court seems divided in riverfront rights dispute

US Supreme Court, Photo Date: March 19
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - The Supreme Court appears deeply divided in a property rights dispute that could make it tougher for state and local governments to limit development in coastal areas.

The justices heard arguments on Monday in the case that involves a family's effort to sell part of its riverfront land in Wisconsin. The family says conservation rules forbidding the sale stripped the land of its value, and the government owes them compensation.

County officials nixed the sale because regulations treat the family's two lots as a single property that can't be split up.

The court's four liberal justices seemed to side with state and local officials, while conservative justices were more skeptical.

The case has drawn interest from property rights and business groups that say such rules let the government avoid paying landowners for restricting land use.

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