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Beaucatcher Mountain Defense Ass'n v. Coleman

Citation: 6 ELR 20198
No. No. A 75-112, (W.D.N.C., 12/12/1975) Preliminary injunction denied

The court refuses to dismiss an action challenging the opening of a cut through Beaucatcher Mountain near Asheville North Carolina for freeway construction, but denies plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunctive relief. Plaintiffs clearly have standing since members of their association live on or visit the mountain and appreciate its natural beauty. The suit, which alleges that defendants' compliance with NEPA was only perfunctory with no sincere intent to evaluate the environmental consequences of the project, also clearly states a claim upon which relief can be granted. In view of the strong policy set forth in NEPA, the court rules that this suit should not be barred by laches, even though it was filed three years after the challenged environmental impact statement was prepared. The court denies plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, however, because they have made no "strong" showing that they are likely to prevail on the merits of their contention that the EIS fails to consider alternatives, noise impacts and economic, social and cultural effects. The court distinguishes Arlington Coalition on Transportation v. Volpe, City of Davis v. Coleman and Lathan v. Brinegar, because there has been here at least prima facie compliance with NEPA's procedural requirements. Furthermore, the harm plaintiffs will suffer in the two months before trial in the absence of injunctive relief does not balance with the harm that defendants and the public will suffer by further delay in the highway project. Plaintiffs are also mistaken in asserting that an additional public hearing on the EIS is required.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Norman B. Smith
Michael K. Curtis
Smith, Carrington, Patterson, Follin & Curtis
704 Southeastern Building
Greensboro NC 27401
(919) 274-2992

Prof. Thomas J. Schoenbaum
University of North Carolina Law School
Chapel Hill NC 27514
(919) 933-5106

Counsel for Defendants
Keith S. Snyder, U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 132
Asheville NC 28802
(704) 258-2850 ext. 655

James B. Richmond Spec. Deputy Attorney General
P.O. Box 25201
Raleigh NC 27611
(919) 829-3377