In November, WCAS signed onto a letter along with 14 other environmental and watershed organizations asking the NJ Attorney General to file a motion to dismiss a frivolous lawsuit which was filed by a developer against a NJDEP Herp Atlas volunteer. The Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP) suit accused Helen Henderson, who is co-chair of the Lacey Rail-Trail Committee, of lying about vernal habitat even though DEP verified the site. The SLAPP suit seeks damages from Ms. Henderson. The Trail Committee, along with the Association of NJ Environmental Commissions and Save Barnegat Bay, filed an appeal of a NJDEP wetlands permit for a road crossing adjacent to the vernal habitat issued to the developer, Lacey Town Square. The sign-on letter, which was initiated by ANJEC, urged Attorney General Peter Harvey to file a motion to dismiss the suit and to assist Ms. Henderson in her defense.
This lawsuit is of particular concern to our chapter because several of our members, including members of the Board of Trustees, are also Herp Atlas volunteers. Furthermore, this is the second such lawsuit filed in an attempt to intimidate a dedicated Herp Atlas volunteer. At our November program meeting, WCAS asked those present to sign a petition urging dismissal of the suit and many did. The petition was sent to the Attorney General, with a copy to the Governor.
Many thanks to everyone who responded. Our efforts have brought a positive result. The Attorney General's office has approved and hired outside counsel for Ms. Henderson. In her letter to supporters, Ms. Henderson says, "I would like to say that I was overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support from the environmental community regarding my SLAPP suit representation. It seems not enough just to say Thank You!"
|If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact either of the following:|