"NJ Suits Put Farmland Development Under Microscope"

"MONTVILLE, N.J. - Thomas Perrone's three girls were in grade school when the family received a letter from township officials notifying them that their upscale development had been built on pesticide-contaminated soil from a former apple orchard.

As his oldest daughter prepares for college, the questions of who knew about the contamination, when they knew it and what they were obliged to do about it have dragged on through a maze of lawsuits, leaving the Perrones and other residents of the development 30 miles west of Manhattan sitting on property that has plummeted in value and could pose health hazards.

On a broader scale, the case raises questions about what restrictions should be placed on builders seeking to develop former farmland where pesticides were used.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise heard oral arguments in July on motions to dismiss the remaining lawsuits, which seek to determine who's responsible for cleanup costs. If the suits go forward, the case could go to trial this year."

David Porter reports for the Associated Press August 2, 2009.

Monday, August 3, 2009