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Goshen Rd. Envtl. Action Team v. Department of Agric.

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 20803
Nos. No. 4:95-CV-36-H(1), 891 F. Supp. 1126/(E.D.N.C., 06/28/1995)

Adopting a magistrate judge's opinion, the court denies residents' claims for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunctive relief that would bar the operation of a municipal wastewater treatment and spray irrigation facility in their neighborhood. The court first addresses several procedural motions. The court denies the residents' motion for a TRO, orders the parties to supply additional briefs on the residents' motion for a preliminary injunction, denies the municipality's motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), and holds moot the federal defendants' motion for an expedited briefing schedule on their motion for summary judgment. Turning to the magistrate judge's findings, the court holds that although the facility may subject the residents to irreparable injury, the balance of hardships weighs in favor of the facility. The alleged harm to the residents—noxious odors, pest infestations, and lowered property values—is more similar to nuisance than environmental hazard, whereas the hardships to the municipality and other local citizens outweigh the residents' harm. These hardships include the municipality's potential default on the construction loan, the lenders going unpaid, and other citizens being unable to use their newly constructed and self-financed sewer line connections to the facility. The court also holds that the residents are not likely to succeed on the merits. The factual impediments to their success include the statute of limitation on the Title VI claim that the municipality sited the facility in their predominately African-American neighborhood with intent to discriminate, the application of laches to the National Environmental Policy Act claim, and the insufficiency of the evidence in support of their Title VI claim.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Maccene Brown
Land Loss Prevention Project
P.O. Box 179, Durham NC 27702
(919) 682-5969

Counsel for Defendants
Steve West, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
800 Federal Bldg.
310 New Bern Ave., Raleigh NC 27611
(919) 856-4530