February 9, 2016
Jupiter, FL - A lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice accuses Jack Nicklaus' and his Palm Beach County golf course The Bear's Club, of filling in the above amount of allotted wetlands to make more room for tees and fairways.
In October the DOJ filed the lawsuit and in it the Feds claim the course builders filled in a environmentally sensitive near what is now the 15th hole.
Lawyers for the club have filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the project had the State of Florida's approval to make changes on the property and had agreed to protect wetlands elsewhere on the property and pay $140,000 as compensation.
Attorneys for The Bear's Club claim the changes made during the construction of the course were minor and claim the suit has little, if any solid ground to stand on.
Founded by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, The Bear's Club originally opened up back in 1999 and was considered at that time one of Jack's better designs.
The 300-plus acre golf club is located north part of Palm Beach County and granted approval by the federal government to fill in roughly 17 acres of wetlands during the construction process.
However, according to the lawsuit federal officials argue that almost an acre of additional wetlands was filled in by the developers without approval by the federal government, which violates the Clean Water Act.
The area in question allowed for expansion of a fairway and the relocation of a tee box.
Apparently, it wasn't until 2010 that the federal government learned about the additional wetlands that was filled in, but failed to act on until now, with the statute of limitations due to expire.
According to the papers filed in the motion to dismiss the land involved was under state jurisdiction and the work in questioned was authorized by a Florida state agency.
For its part, federal officials argue any work involving wetlands requires the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers something The Bear's Club never sought, nor received. In its filing last week the U.S. Government maintains that the property filled-in land was supposed to remain within its natural state.
While the chances of returning the land in question back to its original state is slim, any ruling in favor of the government could force the developers to pay monetary damages and force the club to create additional wetland areas within the property.