More Wins for Home Builders and NAHB Legal Action Fund

Two recent Legal Action Fund victories demonstrate that patience is a virtue when it comes to litigation — and that NAHB’s Legal Action Fund is here to support NAHB members for the long haul.

New York Victory Years in the Making

Seven years after the Environmental Protection Agency launched a federal lawsuit against NAHB and Buffalo Niagara Builders Association member Acquest Development for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, a federal district court has dismissed the action.

At issue was whether Williamsville, N.Y.-based Acquest discharged stormwater and fill material into “jurisdictional” wetlands without first securing federal permits.

The federal government sought to stop all future discharge activities on the 96-acre parcel, require remediation of the impacted wetlands, and impose tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Acquest rejected the claim, arguing that the onsite wetlands do not have a “significant nexus” with a traditionally navigable water as detailed in the U.S. Supreme Court Rapanos decision and subsequent guidelines established by the Corps and EPA.

With the Department of Justice’s realization that it would be difficult to prove EPA’s claims, all charges against Acquest were withdrawn and the case was dismissed.

The long and bitter fight, and ultimate win, secured by Acquest was made possible in part through the assistance of the New York State Builders Association, Buffalo Niagara Builders Association and financial support from NAHB’s Legal Action Fund.

Idaho Builders Finally See Relief after Victory

Idaho property owners received a favorable decision in September when the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that a portion of the city of Pocatello’s water and sewer fees were illegally collected from end users and should be refunded.

In 2011, the Building Contractors Association of Southeast Idaho (BCASI) had filed an action challenging this fee as an unlawful charge. BCASI won the case in 2013, and the city agreed to stop assessing the charge on future bills. However, it refused to refund the millions it had already collected. So in 2014, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking to recover those funds from the city.

Through NAHB’s Legal Action Fund, NAHB submitted an amicus brief to support the interests of Idaho builders. In the September 2017 decision, the Idaho Supreme Court found in favor of property owners, and the case now will move back to the Idaho District Court to determine the final costs to be paid back to customers.

The NAHB Legal Action Committee will consider Legal Action Fund applications when it next meets in January. Applications are due Dec. 4.

Both members and HBAs can apply for funding if they are or will be involved in litigation that is likely to have industry-wide implications. Sign into nahb.org to see instructions and download the application.

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