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Highland Coop. v. Lansing, City of

Citation: 10 ELR 20852
No. No. G79-53 C.A., 492 F. Supp. 1372/(W.D. Mich., 07/07/1980)

The court preliminarily enjoins a highway project pending completion of an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Plaintiffs sought to restrain further federal, state, and local agency action to create a four-lane boulevard through their neighborhood. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) authorized funds for preliminary work, but the city subsequently withdrew its request for federal funds. The FHWA and the state transportation agency prepared a negative declaration statement which enumerated probable unavoidable adverse environmental impacts and considered several alternatives but nonetheless concluded that the project would not have a major environmental impact. The court first holds that despite the withdrawal of the request for federal funds, the federal-local partnership continues, and the project is a "major Federal action" under NEPA. Second, the court concludes that in light of FHWA regulations governing whether a project will have a "significant" environmental effect requiring preparation of an EIS, plaintiffs have raised "substantial environmental issues," thus authorizing the court to review the merits of the negative determination. Using a "reasonableness" standard of review, the court concludes that the negative determination fails to take a hard look at the environmental effects of the project. Applying the traditional four criteria, the court issues a preliminary injunction against further work on the highway project pending preparation of an EIS because plaintiffs have shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, that irreparable injury will result unless an injunction is issued, and that the injunction would not cause substantial injury to others and would serve the public interest. The court further refuses to segment its order to apply the injunction only to phase two of the project. Finally, the court declines to require plaintiffs to post a bond.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
John D. Pirich
Downs, Pirich & Downs
603 Capitol Savings & Loan Bldg., Lansing MI 48933
(517) 372-2990

Counsel for Defendants
Stephen R. Sawyer, City Attorney; Ingrid Brey, Ass't City Attorney
5th Floor, City Hall, Lansing MI 48933
(517) 487-1150

Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General
7th Floor, Law Bldg., Lansing MI 48913
(517) 373-1110

Janet T. Neff, Ass't U.S. Attorney
544 Fed. Bldg., Grand Rapids MI 49503
(616) 456-2404