NY Sues for "Crimes Against Nature"

Liberty Matters News Service


The New York Department of Environmental Control (DEC) has filed suit against homeowner, Nancy Cady for crimes against nature, defiling a wetland area.

DEC officials say that in January, 2002, Cady asked for and was granted permission to construct a six-foot path through the wetland conservation easement on her lot, leading to Lake Ontario. When the DEC conducted an inspection of her property in July, they discovered a twenty-five-foot swath of cleared ground behind her house.

Ms. Cady was advised of the terms of the permit limitations and told to mend her ways. However, a subsequent inspection in October revealed the area had shrunk to only twelve feet, still a grave violation of the permit.

Cady's fiancé, Ken Campagna, argued that DEC officials exaggerated the size of the area and that construction crews were responsible for the damage, anyway. However, Campagna did admit to chopping weeds around the patio as protection against his asthma.

Cady and Campagna have hired a lawyer to fight the government's suit, saying they have pictures and documents to prove their case. Judith Enck, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office said they usually don't handle cases of this nature, "[b]ut we took this (to uphold) the integrity of the state wetlands law."

If found guilty, Cady could be fined $3,000, $1,000 for each day of the violation, and be forced to restore the wetland.


Parma homeowner sued over wetlands

By Corydon Ireland
Democrat & Herald Staff Writer

(October 10, 2003) — PARMA — In an unusual legal action against a citizen, state environmental authorities are suing a homeowner in this lakeside town for damaging a protected wetland.

Nancy Cady bought her new subdivision home sy 22 North Shore Drive in June 2001, aware that a conservation easement protected a marshy portion of the lot leading to Lake Ontario, court papers say.

The following January, the state Department of Environmental Conservation granted Cady a permit to build a 6-foot-wide trail through the wetland.

In July, DEC staff observed a cleared area 25 feet wide behind the house, and discussed the limits of the permit with Cady.

In October 2002, a second DEC inspection found a path 12 feet wide.

State law protects freshwater wetlands that are 12.4 acres or larger — and smaller ones of “unusual local importance.”

Ken Campagna, Cady’s fiancè, who lives at the house and dealt with the DEC, said the path is narrower than the agency claims and that the cleared area behind the house was left by construction crews.

“I can’t believe how far (the DEC) is taking this, for something so small,” said Campagna, who admitted clearing a small patch of “weeds” within a few feet of the patio — as protection against his asthma.

He and Cady have an appointment with a lawyer next week, and say they will fight the charges with pictures and documents.

The conservation easement “was all there in advance” of Cady buying the house, said Linda E. White, the Buffalo-based assistant attorney general of counsel who filed the suit on behalf of the DEC. “I don’t know what her arguments will be, but (she) always had the choice of not buying the lot.”

Four other lots in the Payne Beach Estates Subdivision are restricted by the wetlands conservation easement. The development, with houses selling for up to $1.2 million, contains 116 acres of wetlands.

Cady was served with the legal papers Tuesday, and has 30 days to respond.

If she is found liable in state Supreme Court, Cady could be fined $3,000, and $1,000 for each day of the violation, based on two other counts. The state would also require her to restore the wetland.

“This is not a typical case referred to us,” said Judith Enck, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office in Albany. “But we took this (to uphold) the integrity of the state wetlands law.”

Wetlands provide rich habitat, temper stormwater runoff and buffer shorelines from erosion.

The DEC “bent over backwards to get the damage to the wetland addressed” before resorting to legal action, said Enck. “No one should be surprised here.”


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