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Rochester, City of v. U.S. Postal Serv.

Citation: 6 ELR 20723
No. No. 76-6065, 541 F.2d 967/9 ERC 1362/(2d Cir., 09/08/1976)

The Postal Service erred in concluding that construction of a new postal facility in a suburb of Rochester, New York, did not require preparation of a full-scale NEPA impact statement. The Service's environmental assessment for the project neglected to consider a number of possible major environmental effects, including increased commuter traffic and urban decay caused by the transfer of 1,400 employees from the existing downtown post office to the new facility. The city of Rochester has standing to challenge such federal action which will allegedly result in environmental damage within the city, and the regional planning board designated under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act as the areawide clearinghouse for that region has standing to seek review of federal projects which do not comport with the regional plan. The court also holds that the Postal Service is not immune from the latter statute and that the Service failed to comply with its requirements by not fully considering the interests of local agencies or developing a reviewable administrative record. Overturning the lower court's determination that the suit was barred by laches, the court nonetheless declines to enjoin construction of the facility which is now 35 percent complete because of the economic waste such action would entail. The court does, however, preliminarily enjoin the transfer of activities or employees from the old post office to the new facility pending preparation of an adequate NEPA impact statement.

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellants
Larry A. Strumpf
Goldstein, Goldman, Kessler & Underberg
400 Executive Office Bldg.
36 Main St., West
Rochester NY 14614
(716) 325-1930

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Gerald J. Houlihan, Asst. U.S. Attorney
Federal Building
Rochester NY 14614
(716) 546-4900

Oakes, C.J. for himself, Smith and Mansfield, JJ.