State appeals court dismisses Monroe County Fair neighbors’ lawsuit

By on July 14, 2014

Members of the Monroe County Fair and Recreation Association Board say they are relieved a state appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of neighbors of Northampton Park.

The Fourth Department Appellate Division of state Supreme Court this month upheld a decision by a lower court to dismiss the lawsuit, which challenged the move of the Monroe County Fair in 2013 to the Northampton Park Festival Site in Ogden. The decision upholds the lower court’s decision that there was not enough evidence to support the claim by the neighbors’ group that they are harmed more directly than anyone else in the general public because of the move of the fair to Northampton.

The appellate court decision also called environmental injuries claimed by the Northampton neighbors “too speculative and conjectural.” The legal complaint was filed last year against both Monroe County and the Monroe County Fair and Recreation Association.

Monroe County Fair Board president Sharlene Reeves said, “We are relieved, we are moving ahead with the fair … we are looking forward to this year’s fair.”

The 2014 Monroe County Fair is scheduled for July 31 through August 3 at the Festival Site at Northampton Park.
Board member Sarah Colby said the lawsuit was based on misunderstanding.

“The original judge ruled appropriately,” Colby said, “I’m pleased the legal system worked. We are now planning this year’s fair and now we can focus on planning the fair and running the fair.”

Due to schedule demands, leaders of the Friends of Northampton group were unable to respond to a request for comment by the Suburban News in time for the newspaper’s deadline. They did indicate, however, that they are “currently occupied with the next phase of the process.”

On their website, the Friends of Northampton state a main concern over the move of the fair to the park is “whether 25-plus acres of publicly supported park land should be handed over to an insolvent, independent business entity for commercial purposes for up to 20 years carte blanche.”

The group also states the Northampton site is unsuitable for events such as the fair. “It’s a location that has poor-draining soil designated by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service as being unsuitable for shallow excavations (utilities) small buildings, steel construction material, playgrounds and even lawns/landscaping. The only thing the site is good for is as a nature preserve/park,” the website states.

Friends of Northampton has also expressed concerns regarding the legality of the process of selecting the Northampton site and of work that has been done there to accommodate the fair.

The attorney for the neighbors’ group was also unable to respond with comment before deadline.