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Wisconsin Heritages, Inc. v. Harris

Citation: 9 ELR 20082
No. No. 78-C-632, 460 F. Supp. 1120/12 ERC 1759/(E.D. Wis., 11/17/1978) Injunction issued

The court issues a preliminary injunction against demolition of an historic building as part of a federally funded urban renewal project and orders the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed demolition. Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that defendants have failed to comply with the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act and the implementing Executive Order and regulations. The Act applies to buildings included in urban renewal projects only if they were actually included in the National Register of Historic Places at the time the urban renewal agreement was signed, and the agreement in this case was signed 10 years before the mansion was listed as eligible for inclusion in the register. Moreover, the Executive Order and implementing regulations were issued long after the point at which project alterations to avoid adverse impacts on the mansion could be made. Plaintiffs have, however, demonstrated a likelihood of success on their claim that defendants illegally failed to prepare an environmental impact statement on the proposed demolition. HUD's control over the remaining demolition funds is sufficient to impose responsibilities upon the agency under the National Environmental Policy Act. Although retention of the mansion at its present site is probably precluded by a contractual commitment to deliver the cleared lot to Marquette University, the agency can devote meaningful consideration to relocating part or all of the mansion.

Counsel for Plaintiff
William H. Lynch
Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union
1840 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee WI 53202
(414) 272-4032

Daniel J. Steininger
Ebert & Ebert
230 W. Wells St., Milwaukee WI 53203
(414) 276-5100

Counsel for Defendants
Joan F. Kessler, U.S. Attorney
517 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee WI 53203
(414) 291-1700

James B. Brennan, City Attorney; James E. Fitzgerald, Ass't City Attorney
200 E. Wells St., Milwaukee WI 53202
(414) 278-2601

Ray J. Aiken
Legal Counsel, Marquette University
1324 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee WI 53233
(414) 224-7343