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College Gardens Civic Ass'n v. Department of Transp.

Citation: 12 ELR 20237
No. No. Y-80-2641, 522 F. Supp. 377/16 ERC 1455/(D. Md., 08/28/1981)

The court rejects a challenge to a proposed highway extension under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The challenged roadway, an extension of Gude Drive in Rockville, Maryland, would pass within 100 feet of plaintiffs' residences and was alleged to be part of a proposed "Rockville Circumferential Highway." Initially, the court declines to exercise pendent jurisdiction to consider claims under state law. Plaintiffs still have a forum in the state court, which is more convenient to the parties and more familiar with the state-law issues. Next, the court upholds plaintiffs' standing to challenge the highway extension. Plaintiffs allege a threat of environmental and economic harm, interests that are protected by NEPA, and have shown that the project would produce "some identifiable effect" upon them.The court also declines to invoke the doctrine of laches to bar the suit. Defendants failed to show that the costs of altering or abandoning the proposed roadway would clearly outweigh the benefits of such action. On the merits, the court finds that the various roadway projects in and around Rockville have independent utility and were planned separately.Therefore they should not be treated as a single project for the purposes of NEPA. Since there has been no federal involvement in the planning, development, or financing of the Gude Drive extension, it is not a federal action subject to NEPA's requirements.

The full text of the opinion is available from ELR (26 pp. $3.75, ELR Order No. C-1270).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Jerry R. Goldstein
27 W. Jefferson St., Rockville MD 20850
(301) 251-9525

Counsel for Defendants
Janice Siegel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4076

Paul A. McGuckian, Cty. Attorney; Robert G. Tobin Jr., Deputy Cty. Attorney; Alan M. Wright, Associate Cty. Attorney
3d Floor, Executive Office Bldg., 101 Monroe St., Rockville MD 20850
(301) 251-2600

Roger W. Titus
Titus & Glasgow
501 Suburban Trust Bldg., 255 N. Washington St., Rockville MD 20850
(301) 762-8877

Young, J.