Richland Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
commences Legal Challenge to expanded
Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Project
For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Berseth, Public Outreach Committee of Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority.
Perry Miller, Chairman, Richland – Wilkin Joint Powers Authority
Chairman, Richland County Commission.
Richland and Wilkin counties, acting through The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority, today authorized their legal counsel to take the first steps towards a comprehensive legal challenge to the selection of the expanded Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project by its local sponsors and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Our legal counsel has concluded that the project as currently configured likely violates state and federal law, and the Richland-Wilkin JPA has authorized issuance of two Freedom of Information Act requests seeking additional evidence to support our position.
We believe that the evidence obtained so far, and the further evidence we are now pursuing, will support our legal position:
• That expansion of the scope of the Flood Control Project to convert flood plain violates
national flood control policies which prohibits expansion of flood control in order to
further development within an existing undeveloped flood plan.
• That the North Dakota Constitution prohibits the use of eminent domain to take private
property to facilitate economic development, especially to enable conversion of
undeveloped flood plain
• That project proponents have violated North Dakota’s constitution by including in the
project justification the economic benefit that would accrue by development of currently
• That project proponents have failed to provide justification that would qualify the
expanded project for approval under Minnesota law and that failing Minnesota approvals,
the project cannot be funded nor authorized and any such approval would not meet
standards established by Minnesota’s Environmental Rights Act (MERA).
• That the last minute alteration of the project objectives and other material errors in
the environmental review process renders the Final Environmental Impact Statement
unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.
• The Richland-Wilkin Joint Powers Authority believes that the destruction of upstream
communities through the use of eminent domain is an example of the abuse of the power
of government that the voters rejected when they passed the recent anti-Kelo Constitutional
Amendment. In contravention of the ND Constitution, as a direct result of the decision
to expand development in Fargo into undeveloped flood plain, private property is being
taken to provide additional upstream flood storage.
We believe that Fargo and Moorhead deserves adequate flood protection, but not at the expense of upstream farmsteads, churches, schools and communities. The expansion of this project, and consequent taking of our lands, is a product of an ill-founded, environmentally and economically unjustifiable plan. Richland and Wilkin counties believe that we should be working together to find a plan that preserves Fargo-Moorhead’s legitimate flood protection objectives, without destroying other communities. With the assistance of our legal counsel, Rinke-Noonan, we intend aggressively to defend our communities with all appropriate legal action.
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