Park Advocates Move Forward With Legal Challenge to Ordinance Permitting Inappropriate Development in Valley Forge National Historical Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 5, 2009
Contact:   Cinda Waldbuesser, Senior Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 215.327.2529


Park Advocates Move Forward With Legal Challenge to Ordinance Permitting Inappropriate Development in Valley Forge National Historical Park

Philadelphia, PA--Lower Providence residents and the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) yesterday followed the direction of the federal court and moved forward in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas with their case to protect Valley Forge National Historical Park (NHP) from inappropriate development. In addition, residents and the National Parks Conservation Association filed an appeal of the federal court decision not to hear the claims.

“While we respectfully disagree with Judge Brody’s decision, we are nevertheless taking steps to do as she said by moving forward with our case in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, Pennsylvania senior program manager.  “We look forward to showing the Court of Common Pleas that the ordinance is invalid.”

Filed on December 1, 2008, with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawsuit asserts that the ordinance is preempted by federal law because it would interfere with and undermine the National Park Service's role in managing Valley Forge NHP.  The suit also claims the zoning is unlawful under Pennsylvania law as “spot zoning” because it permits development that is inconsistent and incompatible with the neighboring national parkland and other open space.

In her April 7, 2009, decision, Judge Brody did not decide the case on its merits, but rather decided that the issue was a local matter and not one the federal court should hear.

“Because we disagree with Judge Brody’s decision that this is a local matter, we are also appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia,” said Waldbuesser.  “Valley Forge is a national icon belonging to all Americans, which must be protected for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

The historic land at risk is an area that was vital to the Continental Army encampment during the winter of 1777–1778. The parcel of land is almost totally surrounded by parkland, in a remote location not easily accessible by visitors to the park. Moving forward with this inappropriate development proposal would forever change the historic character of Valley Forge.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 325,000 members, and allies work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.

The National Parks Conservation Association and its co-plaintiffs are represented in this lawsuit by the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP.

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