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Allens Creek/Corbetts Glen Preservation Group, Inc. v. Caldera

ELR Citation: 30 ELR 20469
Nos. No. 98-CV-6136L, 88 F. Supp. 2d 77/(W.D.N.Y., 03/22/2000)

The court holds that the equitable doctrine of laches bars a community group's Administrative Procedure Act and Clean Water Act (CWA) claims seeking to prevent the permitted filling of a wetland and, hence, to stop further development of a neighboring industrial park. After their attempt to stop the project in the state courts failed, the members filed a complaint in federal court. However, they did not file their complaint until eight months after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorized the project under nationwide permit 26 and over six weeks after the existing wetlands were filled and construction of the new wetland system was nearly complete. The court first holds that the group's claims are barred by the doctrine of laches. The group knew of the development plans well before work commenced. Yet, the group waited until after construction was commenced and nearly completed before they served their complaint. Further, the group was not diligent in seeking federal judidical review of the challenged action. The group did not initiate this federal action to obtain judicial review of the Corps' issuance of a permit until eight months after the permit was issued and the wetlands work was nearly completed. Likewise, after filing this action, the group inordinately delayed their prosecution. In fact, the group never took action to stay the activities about which they complain, and they have chosen not to request the cessation of such work in any formal manner in this case. To allow such a tardy application at this time would severely prejudice the developer of the industrial park. Similarly, the groups' inordinate delay in filing this action has prejudiced the developer. Moreover, the group cannot recharacterize its action as a CWA citizen suit not subject to the defense of laches.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (11 pp., ELR Order No. L-194).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
David J. Seeger
Law Offices of David J. Seeger
69 Delaware Ave., Buffalo NY 14202
(716) 856-1536

Counsel for Defendants
Brian M. McCarthy, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
620 U.S. CtHse.
100 State St., Rochester NY 14614
(716) 263-6760