Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Village Of Bald Head Island v. USACE

Apr 15: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Case Nos. 11-2366 & 11-2368. Appealed from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Wilmington. The Village of Bald Head Island, a coastal town in North Carolina, commenced the action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and admiralty jurisdiction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to require it, through an order of specific performance and injunction, to honor commitments made to the Village and other North Carolina towns when developing its plans to widen, deepen, and realign portions of the Cape Fear River navigation channel. The Village alleged that when implementing the project, the Corps failed to honor commitments to protect the adjacent beaches against the adverse effects of the project and to restore sand to the beaches, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, Corps Regulation 33 C.F.R. § 337.10, and contract principles.
    The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, concluding that the Corps' alleged failure to implement the project in accordance with its commitments was not "final agency action" that was subject to judicial review under the APA and that it lacked admiralty jurisdiction over the complaint's contract claims.
    The Appeals Court agreed with the district court's holding saying,  "that the Corps' failure to implement 'commitments' made to the Village during development of the plans for the project was not final agency action subject to judicial review, and we also conclude that the alleged contracts on which the Village relies for its contract claims are not maritime contracts that justify the exercise of admiralty jurisdiction. Accordingly, we affirm."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Water, #CA4]
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