Judge rules development must stop until flooding fixed

Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) praised last week's ruling by Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carmen D. Minora that ordered the city of Scranton and local developers to stop all further development at the Village at Tripp Park until they have permanently corrected the extensive flooding problems caused by the development. The December 4 ruling was in response to a civil lawsuit by PennFuture on behalf of neighbors of the development...

• PennFuture delighted clients will finally have relief

SCRANTON, PA, Dec. 8, 2008 -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) today praised last week's ruling by Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carmen D. Minora that ordered the city of Scranton and local developers to stop all further development at the Village at Tripp Park until they have permanently corrected the extensive flooding problems caused by the development. The December 4 ruling was in response to a civil lawsuit by PennFuture on behalf of Grace and Robert Medallis, neighbors of the development who have suffered repeated floods on their property. The ruling also calls for any proposed solution to the problem to be reviewed by experts for the Medallis'; to be approved by all applicable governmental bodies; to be implemented immediately; and for the defendants to pay all legal costs of the Medallis family.

"We never had a flood in nearly five decades before the development; but since the Village at Tripp Park development began over seven years ago, we have suffered repeated floods in our home, causing financial damage, health risks and unrelenting stress," said Grace Medallis, a retired officer of the Scranton Police Department. "We tried everything we could think of to protect ourselves, including doing our own sandbagging. We tried every government agency imaginable -- the city of Scranton, the city Department of Public Works, the Sewer Authority, the Police Department, the City Engineer, City Council, and the Mayor; Lackawanna County, the Conservation District, the county Emergency Management Coordinator; the state of Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Fish and Boat Commission, the state Emergency Management Agency, our State Representative; the United States government, including the Army Corps of Engineers, our U.S. Senator and the United States Attorney. And of course, we repeatedly pleaded with the developer to fix this horrific problem.

"Finally, PennFuture agreed to represent us in our civil lawsuit, and -- at last -- we now have a firm promise that this problem will be fixed," continued Medallis. "As someone who spent my life protecting the citizens of Scranton and upholding the law, I am saddened that it had to come to a lawsuit. But I am delighted that justice is prevailing, thanks to Judge Minora and PennFuture."

"We were very pleased to be able to help the Medallis family, and hope their experience serves as a warning to other developers who think they can short-cut stormwater management requirements," said Brian Glass, staff attorney for PennFuture, who handled the case. "No other family should have to suffer."

The defendants in this civil action, Northeast Land Development, LLC, CJS Dev. Inc., Tripp CDC Inc., CIDC-1, LLC, and the city of Scranton, must report their progress to the Judge within 90 days. No further development of the Village at Tripp Park is permitted until the storm water issues are corrected and the fix is verified, and the city is forbidden from issuing any more permits until the same terms are met. A copy of Judge Minora's order is available online.

PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization, founded in 1998. PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

Working from the premise that "Every environmental victory grows the economy," PennFuture has successfully advocated for landmark environmental legislation, including passage of the largest-ever environmental funding bond, public investment in green energy and energy savings programs, passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act, adoption of the Clean Vehicles Program and adoption of a regulation that protects Pennsylvania's babies by restricting mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. PennFuture has staff throughout the state, in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, West Chester, Doylestown and Wilkes-Barre. The Philadelphia Inquirer called PennFuture the "state's leading environmental advocacy organization."

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