BURLINGTON, Vt. — A federal judge has ruled that Vermont’s largest city can dismantle a homeless encampment in the woods where three men have been staying while their case proceeds through court.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the men and Burlington’s homeless population saying the city is violating their rights by threatening to close down the encampment without finding alternative housing.

The lawsuit came after the city removed a homeless encampment in another area of the city.

City officials counter the encampment is in an environmentally sensitive area.

U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford said Friday that the men have other options.

He wrote that it’s clear the plaintiffs are “not being threatened with prosecution for being homeless” but “they are threatened with the consequences of remaining in a single location when there are options open to them,” ranging from seeking housing through social agencies to moving to another location on city property.

The case is not over. The decision means the city can remove the camp while the case proceeds. The city must respond to the ACLU complaint.