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Hovson's, Inc. v. Secretary of the Interior

Citation: 12 ELR 20065
No. No. 81-97, 519 F. Supp. 434/19 ERC 1760/(D.N.J., 07/14/1981)

The court upholds the Secretary of the Interior's approval of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve and rejects challenges to the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the plan. The court first notes that the purpose of judicial review of an EIS is "to insure that the procedural bases have all been properly touched" by the agency, a standard more stringent than the "arbitrary and capricious" standard. The court holds that since the Secretary was required to approve or disapprove the CMP within a 90-day period, he adequately complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by basing the EIS largely on a draft version of the CMP. Although an EIS should ordinarily evaluate the final version of a proposal, NEPA obligations must yield in the case of a statutory conflict. The court also holds that the EIS adequately discussed socioeconomic impacts, set forth underlying methodology and data, and discussed alternatives to the CMP. Turning to the Secretary's approval of the CMP, the court applies an "arbitrary and capricious" standard of review and finds that the Secretary performed the requisite good faith consideration and determination of the factors set forth in § 502(g) of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. Finally, the court abstains from determining whether the CMP results in a taking of property without just compensation, deeming this an unsettled issue of state law which should be resolved in pending state administrative and judicial proceedings.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Robert V. Paschon
Paschon, Feurey & Murray
1277 Hooper Ave., Toms River NJ 08753
(201) 341-3900

Raymond A. Brown
Orloff, Lowenbach, Stifelman & Siegel
Gateway One, Newark NJ 07102
(201) 622-6200

Counsel for Defendants
William W. Robertson, U.S. Attorney; Jerome B. Simandle
P.O. Box 511, Trenton NJ 08608
(609) 599-3371

Counsel for Defendants-Intervenors
James R. Zazzali, Attorney General; Richard M. Hluchan
Dep't of Law & Public Safety
2d Floor, State House Annex, Trenton NJ 08625
(609) 292-4925