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Pye v. United States
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
269 F.3d 459 (2001)
A county sought to improve one of its dirt roads. A small segment of the road was considered federal wetlands that would need to be filled, so the county needed to obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) (defendant) before it could construct the new road. The road as planned affected the nearby area comprising Area M of the county’s property, the property of Russ and Lee Pye (plaintiffs), and other adjacent properties. Area M contained an eighteenth-century plantation house and was situated next to the site of a historic cemetery, both of which had been declared eligible for designation as historic properties. The cemetery adjoined the Pyes’ land, and it was probably partly on their land. During the permitting process, the Corps consulted various government agencies regarding environmental impacts, but not impacts on historic sites, and ultimately granted the permit. The Pyes brought an action under the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Historic Preservation Act (preservation act) against the Corps for failing to properly consider the effect of the road’s construction on nearby historic properties. As a result, the Corps suspended the permit to ensure the permit had been authorized properly. The Corps conducted further review but considered only the road’s impact on the small area to be filled that contained wetlands and did not consider any impact on the nearby historic sites in Area M, even though the area was less than a mile from a major highway and easier access likely would lead to increased looting of the historic sites. Subsequently, the Corps reinstated the permit then moved for summary judgment against the Pyes, which the district court granted, finding that the Pyes lacked standing. The county then completed the road project although the wetlands could be unfilled. The Pyes appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Widener, J.)
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