DRN v. Sportsmen's Club for Failure to Protect Wetlands
On April 19, 2012, DRN provided notice of its intent to sue the Italian American Sportmen’s Club (IASC) under the Environmental Rights Act for its longtime violations of New Jersey’s Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act (FWPA). For the last ten (10) years, IASC has failed to record a conservation easement required by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on a portion of the IASC property it is now attempting to sell for development.
In 2001, DEP granted IASC a wetlands transition area waiver allowing IASC to develop property in the buffer area of wetlands provided IASC record a conservation easement on a portion of its neighboring property. More than ten (10) years later, the project has been long completed, however, IASC has yet to record the conservation easement. This is a clear violation of the FWPA. Now, IASC is attempting to sell the should-be restricted property. The prospective buyer, Sharbell Development Corporation, plans to subdivide the property and build fifty-two (52) single-family residences, including on the area that should be protected by the easement. While DEP issued IASC a notice of violation ten (10) months ago for its noncompliance with the freshwater wetlands laws, IASC still remains in violation and DEP still fails to take the appropriate enforcement action.
Update: In 2014, NJDEP held public hearings to decide whether the conservation easement could be vacated and released. DRN submitted comments and expert testimony arguing for the conservation to remain in place. Nearly two years later, NJDEP rejected the developer’s proposal to vacate the conservation easement and has required developer to file a conversation easement. In February 2016, the easement was filed.