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Judge sides with towns in Erie Canal clearing lawsuit

MONROE COUNTY, NY (WROC) - Town Supervisor Bill Smith says Pittsford, Perinton and Brighton won a lawsuit challenging a clearing project along the Erie Canal.

The Canal Corporation postponed the project after towns objected to the clearing -- only after crews had already cleared portions of the canal west of Rochester.

After meetings with towns, the Canal Corp agreed to only clear dead trees for the time being.

But Thursday, Smith says a judge ruled in favor of the lawsuit brought by the towns to stop the project. The towns had argued that the DEC misclassified the project.

Smith writes, "The Towns claimed that the Power Authority and Canal Corporation improperly classified their project to clear-cut trees on the Canal, thereby avoiding the full environmental review required by law. The Judge agreed."

Smith says an injunction continues to be in place, preventing further clearing. The state will need to perform a full environmental review before moving forward.

Canal Corporation issued the following statement on the decision:

“Our top priority has always been the safety and security of those who use the Erie Canal and those who live and work nearby. We are disappointed by the court’s decision and will review our options. The Canal Corporation hopes to still perform necessary maintenance on the embankment in time for the start of the 2018 navigation season in May.”

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