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N.J. suit puts farmland development under microscope

MONTVILLE, N.J. (AP)--Thomas Perrone's three girls were in grade school when the family learned their upscale development 30 miles west of Manhattan had been built on pesticide-contaminated soil from a former apple orchard.

As his oldest daughter prepares for college, the question of who knew about the contamination, when they knew it and what they were obliged to do about it has dragged on through a maze of lawsuits, leaving the Perrones and other residents of Bonnieview Lane sitting on property that has plummeted in value and could pose a health hazard.

On a broader scale, the case raises questions about what restrictions should be placed on builders seeking to develop former farmland where pesticides were used.

U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise heard oral arguments in July on motions to dismiss the remaining lawsuits. If they go forward, the case could go to trial later this year.

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