The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against the Jupiter, Fla., property in October, arguing that golf course builders filled in wetlands that were meant to be protected. The club, in a motion to dismiss the case, countered that it had the state’s OK to change the property and that it already paid $140,000 to protect wetlands elsewhere as compensation.
A federal lawsuit is taking aim at Jack Nicklaus’ Jupiter, Fla., golf course, The Bear’s Club, for filling in wetlands to make more room for tees and fairways, the Broward County, Fla.-based Sun-Sentinel reported.
The U.S. Department of Justice in October filed a lawsuit arguing that golf course builders filled in wetlands near the 15th hole that were meant to be protected. The Bear’s Club, in a motion to dismiss the case, counters that it had the state’s OK to change the property and that it already paid $140,000 to protect wetlands elsewhere as compensation, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“These are two minor alterations to the golf course,” said Eugene Sterns, attorney for The Bear’s Club. “The federal government should have better things to do than fool around with this nonsense.”
Jack and Barbara Nicklaus founded The Bear’s Club golf club community in 1999. Construction of the golf club included filling in about 17 acres of wetlands that was approved by the federal government, according to the lawsuit.
But federal officials argue that course developers later filled in nearly 1 acre of additional wetlands without federal approval, which violates the Clean Water Act. According to court filings, that enabled moving a tee box and expanding the fairway near the 15th hole, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The federal government in 2010 learned about the additional filled-in land. The filing of the lawsuit comes as the statute of limitations was due to expire, Sterns said. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit argues that the land involved was under state jurisdiction and that “the appropriate State agency authorized the very work the (Army Corps of Engineers) alleges was unlawfully undertaken.”
Yet federal officials maintain that filling in the wetlands required the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers, which The Bear’s Club did not receive. In a February 2 court filing, the federal government argues that the filled-in land was supposed to remain “as a purely natural area,” the Sun-Sentinel reported
Sterns said it is unlikely that the golf course would be changed, even if the federal government wins the lawsuit. A fine and requiring the creation of more wetlands elsewhere to compensate for the damage are among the possible remedies if the judge sides with federal officials, the Sun-Sentinel reported.