PUBLISHED:September 12, 2010

Julian Juergensmeyer '63: Leading scholar of land use

Describing land use scholar Julian Juergensmeyer as “one of the giants in his field,” Tulane University law professor Colin Crawford adds that Juergensmeyer’s contributions have been far broader than the areas of impact fees and infrastructure financing for which he is best known.

“One of the noteworthy things about his professional production is that he is one of the few whose work reaches a wide range of stakeholders — from academics and practicing lawyers, to planners and other technical professionals, as well as judges,” says Crawford, who co-directed the Center for the Study of Metropolitan Growth at the Georgia State University College of Law with Juergensmeyer.

Crawford’s accolades were echoed by many last March when Georgia State celebrated Juergensmeyer’s 45-year scholarly career with an academic symposium in his honor. Papers presented during the two-day festschrift titled “A 2020 View of Urban Infrastructure” will be published in a special edition of the American Bar Association’s The Urban Lawyer.

For his part, Juergensmeyer attributes his scholarly career largely to “accident.” He was lured out of practice at Squire, Sanders and Dempsey and into the academy by Duke Law Dean Elvin “Jack” Latty, who recommended him for numerous jobs. Another enthusiastic law dean at Indiana University in Bloomington persuaded him to develop a 1966 class in pollution control; it was one of the earliest environmental law classes taught at a U.S. law school. Juergensmeyer later taught environmental law at Tulane and at the Louisiana State University law schools, but transitioned to teaching land use regulation when he settled at the University of Florida, where he spent 30 years as a professor of law. His work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, many federal and state courts, and is widely respected abroad.

A pioneer in the development of impact fees
As a state experiencing explosive growth, Florida was a veritable laboratory in land use regulation. Impact fees, imposed on developers by local governments to cover the capital costs of infrastructure required to serve new property development — schools, sewer and water networks, and emergency response services, to name a few — quickly became Juergensmeyer’s specialty; he has been involved in drafting or consulting on and often litigating impact fee ordinances in more than 26 states.

“I think impact fees have worked quite well in Florida, where they were implemented on a county by county basis,” he says. Pushback from developers is inevitable, he adds. “In economic downturns, they increase housing costs and decrease profit. But that’s not just the case with impact fees, nobody wants to pay for infrastructure yet somebody must. You have to build it. You have to put school kids somewhere.”

Retiring from the University of Florida in 1999 as a professor of law, Gerald A. Sohn Research Scholar, and affiliate professor of urban and regional planning, Juergensmeyer became the first Ben F. Johnson, Jr. Chair in Law at the Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta — another fast growing and fascinating laboratory for a scholar of land use. Many challenges facing metropolitan Atlanta, he observes, stem from its development from a “series of small towns” — approximately 170, to be more precise.

“Instead of consolidating governments, we’re just creating more new ones — in fact, we are now up to nearly 170 local governments in the Atlanta metropolitan area,” says Juergensmeyer, who also is an adjunct professor in City and Regional Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “But you can’t address regional problems without having some sort of regional entity concept.”

An influence internationally, in practice, and in class
Juergensmeyer continues to direct Georgia State’s Center for the Study of Metropolitan Growth, which he co-founded with Crawford in 2004. “Our concept was to try to get a more comparative, international world view and perspective on urban legal problems,” says Juergensmeyer, pointing to academic exchanges with international experts in land use law, a summer program in Brazil, and a series of initiatives, studying specific problems around the world.

Having studied as a Fulbright scholar in Bordeaux after graduating from Duke with a degree in political science in 1959, Juergensmeyer taught in Ethiopia in the early days of his academic career. Since his time in Africa — a stint cut short by the outbreak of revolution — Juergensmeyer has taught and worked internationally on infrastructure-finance and environmental issues throughout his career. In Poland, where his wife, Ewa, directs the University of Florida’s Center for American Law, he was involved in a recent initiative to preserve a significant wetland area threatened by a trans-continental highway financed by the European Union.

The author or co-author of nearly 100 books and article, Juergensmeyer collaborated with colleagues in Denmark, Norway, and New Zealand on a 2009 book, Legal Systems and Wind Energy (DJǾF Publishing) which takes a comparative look at legal frameworks for the development of wind power. That book, like many of his works, is geared as much to members of the practicing bar, as it is to scholars; his hornbook and treatise titled Land Use Planning and Development Regulation Law, co-authored with Thomas E. Roberts, also is widely used by planning practitioners and lawyers.

Juergensmeyer is currently working with colleagues on a practical handbook on issues surrounding transferable development rights and revising his series of audio study guides for students of property law in collaboration with Carol Brown ’95, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Opening the symposium in Juergensmeyer’s honor last March, his Duke Law classmate, Frank “Tom” Read ’63, recalled reading glowing student evaluations of Juergensmeyer’s teaching, at the end of Read’s first semester as dean of law at the University of Florida.

“Julian is the epitome of what a great teacher and scholar should be," said Read. "He is Mr. Chips with a better publication record. He has touched countless student lives and influenced many careers for the better.”