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Country Club Bank of Kansas City v. Smith

Citation: 6 ELR 20046
No. No. 74-CV73-W-3, 399 F. Supp. 1097/(W.D. Mo., 07/25/1975)

In an action to review the Comptroller of the Currency's grant of a bank charter without first preparing an environmental impact statement, the court rules that defendant's approval of the charter application must be postponed for failure to comply with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Under the Act, the Comptroller has the responsibility to make the initial determination as to whether an impact statement is necessary, but this decision is subject to judicial review and may be upset if it is not reasonable under the circumstances. Minnesota PIRG v. Butz, 498 F.2d 1314, 4 ELR 20700 (8th Cir. 1974). To ensure an adequate record for review, the Comptroller has an affirmative duty to develop a reviewable environmental record. Hanly v. Mitchell, 460 F.2d 640, 647, 2 ELR 20216 (2d Cir. 1972). In this case, there is no evidence in the administrative record to indicate that the Comptroller ever considered whether a NEPA impact statement should be prepared. First National Bank of Homestead v. Watson, 363 F. Supp. 466 (D.D.C. 1973), where a court was presented with a similar failure to comply with NEPA's procedural requirements and declined to vacate a charter grant, can be distinguished because in that case the record showed the Comptroller had considered all relevant environmental factors. The court emphasizes that it is not ruling on whether the failure to file an EIS was reasonable under the circumstances; such a decision can only be made after the Comptrolier prepares a statement of reasons for his action. Noting that remand may result in no change whatever in the Comptroller's ultimate decision, the court nevertheless postpones the charter grant pending the filing of an adequate statement of reasons.

Full text of opinion is available from ELR (7 pp. $1.00, ELR Order No. C-1011).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert I. Donnellan
PaulR. Lamoree
Watson, Ess, Marshall & Enggas
15th Floor, 1006 Grand Avenue
Kansas City, Mo. 64106

Counsel for Defendant
Bert C. Hurn, U.S. Attorney
Vernon A. Poschel, Asst. U.S. Attorney
U.S. Courthouse
Kansas City, Mo. 64106

Harland F. Leathers
David C. Shonka
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dorothy Kuling
Edward Jiran
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Washington, D.C. 20220

Counsel for Intervenor-Defendant Columbia National Bank & Trust Company
Jack W.R. Headley
William H. Leedy
Lathrop, Koontz, Righter, Clagett, Parker & Norquist
15th Floor, Ten Main Center
Kansas City, Mo. 64105

Becker, C.J.

[OPINION OMITTED BY PUBLISHER IN ORIGINAL SOURCE]