December 28, 2014
Dear Fellow Landscape Architects,
Several years ago we began a fundraising and legal effort to defend our right as landscape architects to practice as Georgia law allows, in particular to seal stormwater design services in the state of Georgia. While the L.A. profession has long practiced stormwater design and management, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (MNGWPD), an appointed board which oversees the distribution of water and sewer services in the 16 county Atlanta Metro area, developed a model stormwater ordinance which excludes Landscape Architects from the stormwater management portions of site design projects.
This is an update of where our efforts have led us to date. First of all we wish to extend a huge “THANK YOU” to those who donated in the past. To date, between your donations and matching grants from ASLA National, we have raised some $40,000 however, we are now in critical need of funds to continue this effort as previous challenges in various cities and counties have depleted the GAASLA Chapter legal fund.
We are currently supporting a case in Henry County that has been appealed to the Georgia Superior Court. Unlike other challenges before, where other jurisdictions have ‘backed-off’ and chosen to allow LAs to practice by sealing stormwater design services, Henry County chose to uphold their adoption of the model stormwater ordinance and specifically the language which excludes Landscape Architects; this language is in conflict with the state law that defines our realm of practice. Therefore we have taken this legal challenge to a higher court. To date the MNGWPD and State Attorney General have rebuffed all attempts by our profession to reverse the language in the model ordinance. A higher court is our next best option.
The process has been expensive and time consuming, yet each of our previous successful challenges have served to strengthen our position. The jurisdictions that eventually elected to agree with us and allow landscape architects to seal the stormwater plans have allowed us to build a strong case in favor of changing the model ordinance language. Because Henry County elected to turn us down using the MNGWPD’s Model ordinance as their justification, this is exactly the case we were looking for to elevate the argument to a higher court.
Our attorneys are optimistic that we have a very good chance of success, but the financial resources we currently have available are not enough to cover the eventual cost of litigation of this kind. Today we are asking you to contribute to the GAASLA Legal Defense Fund. Any funds not used after this initial effort will be held in the Legal Defense Fund account and will only be utilized for license defense issues.
We have authorized the attorneys to make the appeal. Should the case be moved forward to the Georgia Supreme Court as expected, the estimated cost is upwards of $50,000. We currently have approximately $5,000 remaining in the legal defense fund.
Some of you may be saying to yourself “I am not involved in stormwater design, so why should I care about this?” We have had to defend our licensure in the state too many times already. Practitioners that have only been here 20 years or so likely don’t know all of the challenges that have been mounted before. If the law is weakened because we fail to defend this attack, then we run the risk of even more loss of the power of licensed landscape architects to practice in Georgia, across the profession.
You have more to lose than any amount you could donate toward this defense. Please do not let this attack on our right to practice stand on our watch. There are more than 600 licensed professional landscape architects (PLA) living and actively practicing in Georgia, if each of us donated just $100, we would easily raise more than $60,000 for the legal defense fund in very short order. Please donate whatever amount you are able, but know that just $100 could be worth more than you will ever know to your career as a Professional Landscape Architect in Georgia.
Please utilize the form below to submit you contribution online. You may also mail your contribution to the Chapter at P.O. Box 18622 Atlanta, GA 31126; please make checks payable to the “Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects”. In the “for” section of your check please write in “Legal Defense Fund”. Thank you for your contribution. If you have any questions, please contact any of the Georgia Chapter ASLA members listed below.
GAASLA Legal Defense Contacts:
Matthew Wilder, PLA, ASLA, President GAASLA
Robert F. Bullard, PLA, FASLA, GAASLA Advocacy Chair
tags: GAASLA, Georgia ASLA, Legal Defense