Leon County officials are mum on appeal

Leon County commission officials are mum on last week’s ruling by a federal judge in a lawsuit filed by Florida’s Capital County against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Grady County over the damming of Tired Creek to form a 960-acre fishing lake.
Repeated requests for comment from Leon County Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi are unanswered.
In an email, Leon County Commissioner Bryan Desloge, who pushed for Leon County to join in the law suit originally filed by American Rivers and Georgia River Network, wrote, “I haven’t seen the order as it is still with our legal counsel, Herb Thiele. Mr. Thiele (the Leon County attorney) will bring the issue before the County Commission at our next meeting for a decision from the Commission on how to proceed.”
The Leon County commission’s next meeting is not until Tuesday, April 10, at 3 p.m.
Should the Leon County Commission decide to appeal the ruling of the Honorable B. Avant Edenfield, it will likely be an expensive proposition.
According to Leon County public records, the Florida county has already spent $73,250.68 in legal fees related to the law suit.
In a 52-page order filed last Monday in the United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division, Judge Edenfield ruled in favor of Grady County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the suit challenging the federal 404 permit issued by the Corps to Grady County permitting the construction of the fishing lake.
Georgia River Network and American Rivers filed suit against the Corps in federal district court in November 2010, just over five months after the federal 404 permit had been issued by the Corps to Grady County. It was not until April 2011 that Leon County joined the environmental groups in the suit as a plaintiff.
Grady County officials attempted to meet with Leon County, Fla., commissioners or their representatives to discuss the subject as early as February 2011, before Leon County decided to join in the suit, but the officials refused.
“I don’t see how there can be any further questions of the validity of our permit after it has been reviewed and signed off on by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, other state and federal agencies and now the federal district court. They all concur this project does not materially impact natural resources south of the project,” said Grady County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley.
“The allegations made by Leon County and the environmental plaintiffs were embellished and inaccurate and this case has proven them as such,” Cauley said.
The Grady County attorney said he is confident the county and the Corps will prevail should Leon County and the environmental plaintiffs choose to take the issue another step and appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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