By Pat Curry. Rational nexus involves the physical location of your project in relationship to where the impact fees are going to be used.
Reasonable relationship and rough proportionality both pertain to what your project has to do with the fee or exaction.
Reasonable relationship was tested in the Supreme Court in 1987 in the case of Nollan versus the California Coastal Commission. The owner was a government worker whose wife had inherited a beach house they wanted to fix up. The coastal commission wanted the easement; the Nollans said the dedication requirement was unrelated to the improvements. The Supreme Court agreed, saying the exaction was an unconstitutional taking of the property without just compensation.
In the 1994 case of Dolan versus the City of Tigard, Ore., Mrs. Dolan owned a plumbing supply store along a flood plain. She wanted to expand her store, but the city government would only give her a permit if she donated land between the improvement and the flood plain for a bike path and for flood plain improvement. The Supreme Court ruled "that the increase in the scope of her building was unrelated to the land dedication both in nature and impact." In layman's terms, they didn't have anything to do with each other.
Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, January 2003