Taubman Realty Group Ltd. Partnership v. Mineta

Decision Date03 May 2002
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. 3:02CV2.,CIV.A. 3:02CV2.
PartiesThe TAUBMAN REALTY GROUP LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, et al., Plaintiffs v. Norman Y. MINETA, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia

Karen T. McWilliams, Esquire, Verner, Lipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, Gordon S. Woodward, Jr., Esquire, Neil T. Proto, Esquire, Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.

Steven E. Gordon, Esquire, Richard Parker, Esquire, United States Attorney's Office, Alexandria, VA, for Mineta and Fed'l Highway.

Robert D. Perrow, Esquire, Williams, Mullen, Clark & Dobbins, PC, Richmond, VA, Karen A. Doner, Esquire, Williams, Mullen, Clark & Dobbins, PC, Washington, DC, for Henrico Co.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PAYNE, District Judge.

This action arises out of the decision by the County of Henrico, Virginia (the "County") to approve a private developer's preliminary plans to construct a regional shopping center in the County and near the intersection of Interstate Highways 64 ("I-64") and 295 ("I-295"). The Plaintiffs, the Taubman Realty Group, Limited Partnership ("Taubman") and TRG-Regency Square Associates, LLC ("TRG"), are competing shopping center developers. Taubman and TRG instituted this action for declaratory and injunctive relief against Norman Y. Mineta, the United States Secretary of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration (collectively the "Federal Defendants") and against the County.1 The claims against the Federal Defendants allege violations of both the Federal-Aid Highway Act ("FAHA")2 and its implementing regulations, and the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA")3 and its implementing regulations. The claim against the County alleges a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.4 The County has filed a Motion to Dismiss the action as to it under both Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), arguing that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction on account of the Plaintiffs' lack of standing, and Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), arguing that the plaintiffs have failed to state claims on which relief can be granted. The Federal Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss on the same grounds. Alternatively, the Federal Defendants have moved for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.5 For the reasons set forth below, Taubman and TRG lack standing to pursue their claims against the Federal Defendants, and they have failed to state a cognizable claim under the Supremacy Clause against the County. Accordingly, both of the motions to dismiss are granted and the action is dismissed without prejudice.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Taubman is a Delaware limited partnership with its principal place of business in Michigan. Taubman is the majority owner of TRG, which is a Virginia limited liability corporation and which owns Regency Square Mall ("Regency" or "the Regency mall"), a regional shopping center located in the County. Regency is located approximately five miles from the site on which the County has approved a private developer's plans to build another regional shopping center known as the Short Pump Town Center. Taubman also is building another large shopping center about five miles south of Regency. Both that new shopping center and Regency would be in direct competition with the Short Pump Town Center.

The Short Pump Town Center is to be constructed on a large tract of undeveloped land that fronts on U.S. Highway 250 (also known as "West Broad Street") and that is near the intersection of I-64 and I-295, a circumferential highway around the Richmond metropolitan area. When built, the Short Pump Town Center (including the mall and out parcels) will house approximately 1.4 million square feet of retail space. Regency and the proposed Short Pump Town Center are "within the same federal Air Quality Control Region, and are served by the same MPO [Metropolitan Planning Organization] under 23 U.S.C. § 134, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission."6 (Complaint ¶ 14). The First Amended Complaint (the "Amended Complaint") alleges that "Regency employs approximately 2,000 people (depending on the season) ... many of whom use I-64 and West Broad Street to travel to work." (Complaint, ¶ 15).7 It also is alleged that "approximately 8 million people a year patronize Regency Square Mall, many of whom reside in the vicinity of the proposed Short Pump mall or who otherwise require access to Regency via I-64 and West Broad Street." (Complaint, ¶ 15). Presumably, the 8 million figure includes customers who visit Regency on more than one occasion because there are not 8 million people in the Commonwealth of Virginia,8 much less in the Richmond metropolitan area. Moreover, because Richmond is located in the middle of the state, it is doubtful that out-of-state shoppers comprise a substantial percentage of Regency's customer base.

On December 15, 1998, and pursuant to Va.Code § 15.2-22409 and Chapter 24, section 24-106 of the Henrico County Code, the Henrico County Planning Commission (the "Commission") granted the developer's request for approval of a Plan of Development ("POD") for the Short Pump Town Center.10 (Complaint, ¶ 20). As originally conceived, the Short Pump Town Center was to consist of over 928,000 square feet (including two anchor stores) developed on 147 acres of undeveloped land in the western portion of the County. (Complaint, ¶ 20). However, the developer apparently chose not to proceed with the project as originally proposed, and, instead, on July 14, 2000, it submitted a petition to the Henrico County Board of Supervisors (the "Board") seeking the creation of a Community Development Authority ("CDA") for the purpose of financing (in part through the use of public funds) a much larger shopping center. On September 26, 2000, the Board approved that petition. (Complaint, ¶ 22). On October 24, 2000, the Board passed an ordinance authorizing the County to enter into several agreements with the developer; these agreements governed a procedure whereby the County would grant a $30 million subsidy to the developer for use in the Short Pump Town Center project.11 (Complaint, ¶ 23).

On January 11, 2001, the developer submitted to the Commission a request to revise the December 15 POD for the purpose of, among other things, expanding the size of the project by over forty percent, thereby contemplating that the Short Pump Town Center would consist of approximately 1,250,000 square feet (including four anchor stores) in the mall, as well as out parcels consisting of an additional approximately 200,000 square feet. (Complaint, ¶ 24).

Plaintiffs allege that, according to the developer's own predictions, "the Short Pump Town Center will generate approximately 37,000 to 44,000 new motor vehicle trips per day [and create] serious traffic congestion problems ... including the failure of every intersection on West Broad Street east of the proposed project, as well as key elements of the I-64/West Broad Street interchange."12 (Complaint, ¶¶ 25-26). Neither of the two traffic studies that were prepared for the developer recommended or suggested road improvements to alleviate these anticipated traffic problems. To the contrary, the first study concluded that the sort of improvements that would be necessary to allow even one of the relevant intersections to function at even "minimal levels of service ... are not thought to be economically practical at this time." The second study concluded that, despite the anticipated traffic problems, "the peak-hour conditions ... are considered tolerable for a major mixed-use area." (Complaint, ¶ 27). Plaintiffs allege that the Henrico County Department of Public Works ("DPW") also examined the anticipated traffic failures associated with construction and use of the Short Pump Town Center. DPW acknowledged that significant traffic failures would be expected but, nevertheless, "recommended no roadway improvements other than directly proximate to the site and related to the ingress and egress of vehicles from the shopping center." (Complaint, ¶¶ 28-29).

Indeed, on April 24, 2001, the Virginia Department of Transportation ("VDOT") formally notified the County that it could not recommend development of the Short Pump Town Center because of a "grave concern" about the anticipated traffic problems associated therewith. VDOT emphasized that additional traffic would be expected as a result of building and operating the project and that this traffic would result in the "failure of all signalized intersections on [West Broad Street] and [the] failure of the weave and merge maneuvers at the interchange on I-64." Despite VDOT's reaction, however, the Commission approved the revised POD on April 25, 2001. (Complaint, ¶¶ 33-34).

Moreover, the Amended Complaint alleges that the County "intended the traffic failures to force the construction of an additional interchange on I-64 at the proposed extension of Gayton Road to alleviate the traffic problems." (Complaint, ¶ 30). Gayton Road runs north-south and, at a point just southwest of the proposed site of the Short Pump Town Center, it intersects with West Broad Street (which is the major existing thoroughfare running east-west and just south of that proposed site). It is the plaintiffs' specific contention that construction and operation of the Short Pump Town Center will require an additional point of access to I-64, which runs east-west and just north of the proposed site of the Short Pump Town Center. They assert that the only viable means of accomplishing this would be to extend Gayton Road northward until it intersected with I-64 and to build a point of access at that intersection.13

Plaintiffs aver the following facts in support of this final argument: (1) DPW stated that such a new interchange would "greatly improve the traffic in the West Broad Street Corridor[;]" (2) in describing the non-revenue benefits associated with the Short...

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