Bypass foes: We’ll file federal lawsuit

Members of the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition say they will not be deterred from trying to stop construction of Phase II (the northern portion) of the roadway even though Fayette County received federal clearance for the project last week with a permit issued under the Clean Water Act. Next stop for the coalition will be federal court.

“This week the West Fayetteville Bypass issue has arrived at a significant turning point. Fayette County has obtained a permit under Clean Water Act (CWA) for the road project. Therefore, the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition has initiated the first steps within the federal court system to stop the project as planned,” coalition member Dennis Chase said in a letter to The Citizen. [Dennis Chase’s column about the lawsuit decision is here.]

Contacted Monday, Chase said the coalition is being represented by environmental law firm Stack & Associates, with paperwork expected to be filed in federal court later this week.

Chase said he believes the merits of the coalition’s position will be evident once presented to a federal judge. In noting the coalition’s perspective, Chase told The Citizen that, “When they first learned the details the proposed alignment of Phase II (north side) of this road, the impacted property owners tried everything they could to find the logic in this planning process. For many of those homeowners, planning for the road was well under way before they had ever heard of this project.”

The coalition initially hoped to depend on an interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to stop the Phase II project. But that hope did not come. The county last week essentially obtained the go-ahead for the project when it received a permit under the Clean Water Act for the construction.

And that approval does not sit well with Chase and the coalition.

“Just a few years ago, the Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency would not have issued this permit,” Chase said. “Evidently, somewhere along the way, the procedures used to implement the CWA have changed and now the federal reviewers no longer include a requirement that the applicant (Fayette County) provide evidence that there is a real purpose and need for a project. All our government officials have to do is say they want a road and the federal officials will not question why before they issue a permit.”

So for the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition, Chase said there was little alternative left other than taking the matter to federal court.

Federal law says you have to have a purpose and a need, and it says the proposed plan is the only way to accomplish that need, Chase emphasized.

“This will be the sticking point I hope the judge will use to say he doesn’t see the justification for the project,” Chase said.

Phase II of the bypass extends north from Sandy Creek Road with plans calling for the road to tie in to West Bridge Road at Ga. Highway 92.

Meantime, Phase I of the bypass that extends from Lester Road south of Ga. Highway 54 to Sandy Creek Road will open on Oct. 28.

ginga1414
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Bad, Little Do You Know

Did you ever hear, "I can't talk about it because we are in litigation?" Contrary to your belief or the belief of others, the folks involved are not stupid or naive. We would never jeopardize our position by publicizing everything we know. Be patient, Bad, we are working on the next thing that needs to be accomplished. As with everything, even road construction, there is something called protocol.

NUK_1
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"we are in litigation" ????

Not according to Dennis Chase. He claims that something is going to get filed, but there is no word at all of any "litigation" right now over the WFB, just threats as usual.

As far as naive goes, tell me how many times Dennis Chase has taken on the government and other entities and won even a partial victory. All I'm saying is don't get your hopes up too much.

grassroots
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Who Sued First

Let us not forget County Commissioner Robert Horgan is suing all the other commissioners and the Krack Heel that sits next to him. Now that's whacked.

ginga1414
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Nuk, Courthouse - Commissioners' Legacy

My "hopes" aren't up. I know better than to pin my hopes on anything that has to do with government. We just live hour to hour here.

No one has ever pushed this lawsuit, least of all the attorneys. The only ones pushing this lawsuit are our current county commissioners. We could just sit here and wait for the bulldozers to roll over our homes and property. We could just give up and take whatever sum the county decides is fair in a compromised economy.

But you know, Nuk and Courthouse, there are just some things that are more important than money. Self-respect is more important than money. Family is more important than money. A dear sweet elderly lady who lives along a peaceful dirt road is more important than money. Helping her continue to live in her home with her stately oak trees, flowers and beloved cats is far more important than money. At this particular time, that dear sweet soul has a surveyors stake 8' from her front door. People are more important than the West Fayetteville Bypass/Veterans Parkway, developers, banks, commissioners and money.

If our county commissioners had produced one shred of justification for destroying the lives of folks who have been paying taxes to the county for decades, legal action probably wouldn't be happening. If Mr. Maxwell had treated me as if I were more than a joke to him, he would probably still be in office. If Mr. Smith had displayed even a modicum of respect for citizens who wanted to stand in silence for a brief 5 seconds instead of screaming at them to "sit down," he might still be in office.

Jack Smith and Eric Maxwell decided what they wanted to leave in the way of a legacy for the voters of Fayette County. It is a real shame, but it appears as though Frady, Horgan, and Hearn are determined to leave a very similar legacy.

Courthouserules
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NUK: WBC

Lawyers are pushing this "law suit," if there is to be one. They are also smart enough to know it will be useless also! But they are lawyers.

"Will of the people," means a dozen or less who don't want it, I suppose!

Has anyone ever clued these folks in as to the secondary reason for the WBP?

One of course is development. The second one is to avoid that horrid square at the old courthouse, and of course GA 85!

I remember when the Interstates were being built in the 50s and they were skipping every downtown possible. All manner of hell was raised by the merchants and property owners, but they were built anyway---thank goodness.

However, I must mention that the town did get a half dozen exits at strategic businesses owned by congressmen and rich dudes!
Hey, we are capitalists!
Look up the word "capitalize." (on situations).

bad_ptc
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I asked this earlier

Where was the lawsuit?

It seems that the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition has bitten off more than it can chew.

I had asked earlier why haven't they already filed a lawsuit and now it appears that they have no teeth to bite with.

The EPA has sided with the commissioners. So much for the "slam dunk" that was anticipated.

It appears now that the argument against the bypass by the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition won't hold water. (pun intended)

It looks like the lawyers are the only ones that are going to make anything out of this whole cesspool.

ginga1414
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Lawsuit Basis

Bad, in order to sue there must first be a basis for the suit. The basis for this suit was firmly established on September 30, 2010.

If someone doesn't have the courage to stand up to bullying and intimidation, powerful public officials will run roughshod over the folks who can't defend themselves.

For example, there is a very sweet elderly lady who lives along the bypass/parkway route with a surveyors stake 8' from her front door. The lady has a very small home with "gorgeous huge oak trees. She seems to delight in her oaks, her flowers, and her cats."

The WFBC has never been against well planned justifiable road construction. We are against roads that will destroy established neighborhoods, well maintained homes, and a sweet old lady's peaceful life. We believe that if the county is going to destroy lives they should at least be able to prove that the road will solve a problem. Our current public officials cannot or will not justify the destruction.

Spyglass
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Why not file a lawsuit, instead of

just talking about it on here?

Robert W. Morgan
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Because of the personal liability Dennis and others would have

The coalition is just that - a bunch of people unhappy with what is truly a stupid project and a waste of taxpayer money. However, in Georgia there is a law that allows someone being sued to turn around and sue the plaintiff for bringing a frivolous lawsuit and the penalty for the plaintiff (now defendant) is that he or they have to pay the other guy's legal bill - plus their own legal fees, of course. This could be well over $100,000 for a suit in federal court and Dennis and his friends are not incorporated or shielded in any way from that, so they could take a serious financial hit.

You can't just bully your way into federal court without some cost and risk. I suspect they would have to sue the county commission first - which opens them up to the frivolous lawsuit penalty in Georgia and then go to federal court. No matter what it will cost big money.
Just because the project is stupid, ill-conceived and unpopular it is not necessarily illegal.

PTC Observer
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RWM - Bypass

I don't see anything illegalhere and the commission did everything by the book. I don't think they have a case on anything.

With that said, the law of imminent domain is theft by taking and it is immoral.

It is government out of control, again.

Spyglass
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Without imminent domain laws..

We are all probably still in Europe. Or not even born.

PTC Observer
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Spy - ?

Explain this rationale please.

Spyglass
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IF I have to explain it..

I'm not sure you would get it. The law can be abused for sure, that said, how would cities grow, roads be built, power plants be located etc..where they NEED to be, not just where someone wanted to sell their property. Do you ever travel the interstates? Have you ever been down the Blue Ridge Parkway? Have you ever been to the Smoky Mountain National Park? Much, if not all of the land was not donated to the Govt.

I would contend the law is a necessary thing.

PTC Observer
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Spy - read

History - early American history before the government began stealing property.

If someone doesn't want to sell their property so be it.

Spyglass
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5th Amendment..

1791 I believe. Been going on for a while.

My advice, stay out of the National Parks, the land they occupy was rarely donated willfully. Same way with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just a few examples that come to mind.

I'm willing to bet many things you come into contact with fairly regularly are involved with this law.

As you were quick to tell me about the Cops hassling the 19-20 year olds for having a BEER, if you don't like the law, work to change it. :)

PTC Observer
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Spy

Will do ;-)

More later on all this.

NUK_1
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Spy: True, plus you have that Native American thingie

Seems like we used something very similar to eminent domain on them also to acquire everywhere they lived. I thought that was the point you were making originally, but your explanation is also true:)

Spyglass
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Nuk, the Indians weren't even given just compensation

for their land. We just took almost all of it for a penance. That is why I didn't go there with my explanation, it really doesn't fit into the law.

NUK_1
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Spy:True

at least the homeowners getting the shaft now get "something" in return, though they probably won't like it.

grassroots
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RWM Who's the Bully?

Your perspective of bully is misdirected.
bully 1 |ˈboŏlē|
noun ( pl. -lies)
a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
verb ( -lies, -lied) [ trans. ]
use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants : a local man was bullied into helping them.
Honestly, who does that sound like? Voting down SPLOST is not bullying. Voting out incumbent ego maniacs is not bullying. A lame duck executive order is what? Moving forward with no traffic study or provable public need is what? According to Webster, they have the bully attitude against the weaker. We don't have $50 Million to blow.Call us naive to think that our large majority vote would actually change their thinking. Wait until the injunction comes out.
From what I read from the first attorney legal letter a year ago the case is very strong.Have you read that?vA warning over a year ago is not bullying.

Robert W. Morgan
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Bully as a verb is correct, English major

In this case using the "superior influence" of popular opinion which has been enhanced by the press coverage to create the basis for a lawsuit. You need to prove that your lawsuit has some legal reason for being brought to any court and you have to show you have standing to bring the suit into court - as in you were harmed in some way. You have to do it legally - not just because you are outraged and you (and others) feel like suing somebody.

Nevertheless, the bypass is a bad idea and I can see why some would use the bully pulpit of media coverage to advance a cause and I can certainly understand why an attorney would encourage the bullies to proceed with a lawsuit. Not calling Dennis a bully here, just giving you some fodder to analyze and critique as an english major.

I seriously doubt that a group of loosely connected citizens will bite the bullet on a lawsuit and assume the financial risk. I hate the bypass and the corruption that surrounds it as much as anyone, but I wouldn't sign up for participation in a lawsuit since on the surface it appears that proper and legal procedure was followed - no matter how scummy the motivation of the participants.

Courthouserules
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Morgan

Wouldn't the "corruption" that surrounds it, if it exists, be a good thing to investigate? By say a good newspaper!
I know no lawyer or DA would do it.

Robert W. Morgan
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What a great bonkers idea - investigate

We will. In fact we have our best and brightest already on the case. Steve Brown. As an extra bonus he has the culprits already named before the investigation has even started - ITS THE DEVELOPERS!!!! Yep, Jack and Eric and the others, but especially Jack and Eric approved this road so that their developer friends could profit. Proof? Don't need no stinkin' proof, instead we have a successful accusation that if repeated enough starts to sound like the truth - ala Cheney/Haliburton.

Why the county commission and all those evil developers want a developer road built right now when there is no need for any development of any kind, is a little hard to explain, but our caped crusader will no doubt come up with something after he settles into his county commission seat. Of this I have no doubt.

TinCan
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In a somwhat related issue

Not trying to co-opt your topic here, but this is somewhat related. Just printed a sample ballot and noticed amendment 5 to allow an owner to pull out of industrial zoning if they so choose. I had not heard of this one before. Anyone know if this is directly connected to or instigated by Callula Hills?

Courthouserules
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Morgan

Now are you trying to tell us that Eric and buddies would pull something like this on old ladies with small cute houses and cats where this road goes near their house? (either in the front yard or on the back forty somewhere)

They want to sell but at four year ago prices!

WOW, we are going the route of Gwinnett County farmers 20 years ago.

I think it is over the head of those you accuse! Check who bought some out already and who financed it!

Spyglass
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So basically....they are SOL..

I guess ranting and raving about it here gives them some type of "cause".

My Family has lost land to road development in South Georgia. I sort of know how they feel, that said, not much they can do about it in my opinion.

Salvo10
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Commissioners have caused this storm coming, not the people.

Keep it up and sooner or later through "discovery" the people will find the true cause of what's driving their twisted dark cloud that keeps threatening the will of the people and common sense. They warned them a year ago of legal action and I read it on SPLOSTPOLL. The lame ducks should take a breath and have a real open public forum before one more dollar is spent, one more house is condemned, and one more life is lost. Not one record shows a positive comment from any commissioner meetings. And Still NO TRAFFIC STUDY that justifies or proves the public need or that the "meandering" route will even work. When the Corps of Engineers sees that no need can be proven I believe they will withdraw the permit because that is a chief reqirement. Fire away WFBC.

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