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Posted by gofer on April 28, 2003 at 12:53:07:
In Reply to: Article. Thought some may be interested. posted by Craig W on April 25, 2003 at 19:35:58:
updates on this subject when you get them.
Thanks again, and have a good day.
Judge Gives Snakes A Hard Day In Court (The Northern Pine Snake)
:Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) 10 April 03 Mount Holly: The Northern
:pine snake lobby and the developers squared off in Superior Court yesterday, and
:if Judge John Sweeney's remarks were any indication, it was a bad day for the
:"Tomorrow, frogs will be found, and then maybe it will be butterflies," Sweeney
:said as he heard arguments from attorneys for the Pinelands Commission and for
:an upscale Evesham subdivision.
:"How far does this have to go before we say it's over?" Sweeney asked. "Why
:should you be able to hold up a whole section [of the development] because a
:snake was found several roads away?"
:Sweeney said he would wait two weeks to rule on the lawsuit. The suit was
:brought by Signature Homes, one of the builders of the partly complete Sanctuary
:development, against the commission.
:An earlier lawsuit was settled in November 2000, accommodating the endangered
:Pinelands timber rattlesnake, which was discovered five years ago when the
:Sanctuary was one-third built.
:In October, the Pinelands Commission halted construction in the northern section
:of the 663-acre community bordering Wharton State Forest, five months after a
:threatened Northern pine snake and 10 of her eggs were found.
:The lawyer for Signature Homes asked Sweeney to overrule the Pinelands
:Commission and allow the company to begin building on 22 lots it owns in the
:development. Last month, the builder sued the commission and also Evesham
:Township, arguing that it had obeyed the terms of the 2000 settlement.
:Signature Homes has invested money for sidewalks, roads and utility lines since
:the settlement, argued the lawyer, Richard Hluchan.
:"The Pinelands Commission can't just change its mind $7 million later," he said.
:But Ellen Barney Balint, a deputy attorney general representing the Pinelands
:Commission, told Sweeney that the discovery of the pine snake was a separate
:legal issue from the rattlesnake settlement. Pinelands regulations require
:Signature Homes to survey the snakes' habitat and make arrangements to
:accommodate them, she said.
:"The idea behind the Pinelands Commission is to reduce or regulate development,"
:she said. "[Signature] is the one who chose to go through this process."
:The Pinelands Commission has halted construction on 71 lots, 22 of which are
:owned by Signature Homes. Pine snakes need about 100 acres for their habitat,
:Attorneys for the two other builders affected by the commission's action sat on
:one side of the courtroom, while representatives from environmental groups sat
:on the other. Both sides may petition Sweeney to let them join the case, lawyers
:"The builders created this situation [with the snakes], and now they are
:claiming to be the ones who are victimized," said Carleton Montgomery, executive
:director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.