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Committee to Save the S. Green v. Hills

Citation: 7 ELR 20061
No. No. H-76-328, (D. Conn., 11/05/1976)

The court enjoins demolition of an historic house and further construction on an urban renewal highway project through an historic district pending trial on the merits of plaintiffs' claim that the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) are applicable to the project. The project plan was approved in 1969, but the contract was not executed until September 1970. The South Green district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.No environmental impact study of the highway project was made, and the local redevelopment agency found the rehabilitation costs of the Mather House prohibitive. In granting plaintiffs' motion for an injunction, the court rejects every defense raised by federal and local urban renewal officials. The interest in preserving cultural and historic landmarks is well in excess of the jurisdictional amount required for suits in the federal courts, and sufficient injury in fact is threatened to plaintiff users of the Green. Laches is no bar to the action because plaintiffs first tried to pursue administrative and political remedies. The court finds that plaintiffs have proven probable success on the merits sufficient to justify the preliminary injunction. On the date when NEPA became effective, certain federal decisions relating to this project had not been made or were open for revision that would permit an analysis of the project's environmental impact. In addition, under its own regulations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development should have followed the consultation procedures of NHPA. Finally, plaintiffs and the public interest in preserving the environment will be irreparably injured if the project is permitted to proceed, while the harms threatened to defendants do not outweigh the possible benefits of a delay pending full trial on the merits.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
William Howard
Shaw and Howard
83 crescent St.
Middletown CT 06457
(203) 346-1377

Counsel for Defendants
Charles W. Snow, Jr.
164 Court St.
Middletown CT 06457
(203) 347-4437

Francis O'Neill
Municipal Bldg.
DeKoven Drive
Middletown CT 06457
(203) 347-4671