WHITE PLAINS-The establishment of an “Enviro Court” by Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano could be in place by January 2001. The court would involve a permanent State Supreme Court judge and staff assigned to handle environmental disputes.

Spano adds that he and justice Francis Nicolai, the administrative judge for the Ninth Judicial District, have been working together for several months to establish a special court to hear environmental disputes. The “dedicated part” is similar to several created in recent years to handle matrimonial, commercial and domestic violence cases.

As envisioned by Spano and Nicolai, the court would not deal with local zoning issues, but would be expert in environmental law relating to environmental conservation, the State Environmental Quality Review Act and navigation law.

Spano says, “The key word here is expertise. We want the judge and his or her staff to be immersed in environmental law. This will both expedite cases and help ensure that justice is carried out.” Nicolai says that, “Dedicated parts have proved effective. Adding a part for environmental issues will enhance the quality of justice.” Spano and Nicolai say they will appoint a committee in the next several weeks to further define the appropriate cases that this court might handle. The goal is to have the court in operation by January.

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