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• In 1957, a Lutheran church in California purchased a 21-acre parcel of land in a canyon along the Mill Creek. The church constructed several buildings on the property, including a dining hall, two bunkhouses, a lodge, and a chapel, and used the improved property as a campgrounds known a "Lutherglen." In 1977, a fire destroyed the forest upstream of the campgrounds, creating a serious flood hazard. A severe storm in 1978 flooded Lutherglen and destroyed its buildings. In response to the dangerous conditions in the area, the County of Los Angeles adopted a temporary ordinance prohibiting anyone from building any structure within a flood zone that included Lutherglen. The church thereafter sued the state of California, arguing that the state's prohibition of any further use of the campgrounds violated the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution, which specifies that "private ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • July 1, 1987

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