We learned Tuesday that the federal court has ruled that the case the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed against FEMA and the Department of Veterans Affairs in DC federal court in May will be transferred to New Orleans federal district court. Our suit maintains that the two federal agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act when they OK’d the development of hospitals for Louisiana State University and Veterans Affairs in the Lower Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans.
The suit was filed in DC because the decisions were made by agency officials in DC, and the case has broader implications about the application of environmental law to historic properties. Nevertheless, we understand the court’s ruling for the venue and accept it. Local citizens and local media will have a greater opportunity to follow the case, which was a key part of the court’s reasoning, and this could be a very good thing.
The City and the State had asked the court to intervene in the case, but this decision hasn’t been made.
Walter W. Gallas, AICP, is the director of the New Orleans Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.