Published May 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

Environmental lawsuit against Duluth schools dropped

A lawsuit over the potential environmental impact of the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan has been dropped, said Harry Welty, a party involved with the case and a member of Let Duluth Vote.

A lawsuit over the potential environmental impact of the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan has been dropped, said Harry Welty, a party involved with the case and a member of Let Duluth Vote.

No one showed up for a hearing on the suit scheduled for court today, which probably led the presiding judge to dismiss it, Welty said.

“The judge looked around the empty room and I presume, since I wasn’t there, that he said ok that’s it for this one,” he said.

The case was filed against the city last May after the Duluth Planning Commission decided not to require the district to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet on the $293 million long-range facilities plan.

It took a turn recently when the Twin Cities attorney representing Petitioners for the Protection of Water and Wildlife alleged that he wasn’t getting adequately paid for his work, something Welty said is an unfair characterization of what happened.

“Grant Merrit was milking us for money, that is my own personal opinion,” Welty said. “After initially talking to this affable guy I saw lots of bills piling up and not a lot of work getting done.”

Merrit said Welty's comments are unfair.

“[Welty] is an irresponsible publicity seeker and he should check his facts before he does his usual grand standing,” Merrit said. “We spent considerable time on this case for which we were never paid.”

Let Duluth Vote is still tied up in a separate lawsuit with the district that takes issue with the contract between the district and consulting firm Johnson Controls.

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