Case 77

Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents, &;Associates v. Pierce, No. 81-4777 (E.D. La. Aug. 10, 1982).

The city of New Orleans proposed to construct, with the aid of an urban development action grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a hotel and retail facility near the Vieux Carré district, a National Historic Landmark. The grant agreement was executed in 1981. Soon after, the city, as HUD's delegate under the Housing and Community Development Act (HCDA), concluded that the project would have no adverse effect on historic properties. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation disagreed, and after an unsuccessful consultation conducted under the Council's regulations implementing Section 106 and Section 110(f) of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), convened a meeting of a panel of Council members to comment on the undertaking. The panel concluded that the requirements of Section 110(f) of NHPA had been met and recommended that HUD make final approval of the grant. Plaintiffs brought this action to enjoin Phase II of the project, arguing that HUD and the city had not complied with NHPA and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The court first determined that HUD could delegate to the city its responsibilities under Section 110(f) of NHPA just as it could its duties under Section 106 under the authority of HCDA. That Section 110(f) was added to NHPA after the enactment of the delegation provision of HCDA did not imply repeal of the delegation provision. Slip op. at 5-7.

The court next concluded that the Council's review of Phase II of the project was appropriate. The city was not obligated to ensure that later, indefinite phases of the project were included in the historic review. The city was found to have complied with Section 110(f). Id. at 18.

In considering plaintiffs' NEPA claims, the court concluded that the visual impacts on the historic district did not amount to such a "significant effect on the human environment" as to require an environmental impact statement. Id. at 14-16.

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