The Common Council meeting on Tuesday night lasted for more than two hours, and the final issue to be taken up during the long evening was the resolution, originally introduced in March, declaring the proposed sewer separation project a Type II Action.
In April, when it appeared that the Council would vote on the resolution, Council president Don Moore, responding to public concern, proposed that the vote be postponed until June 16 and the intervening time be used doing an environmental study. At the informal meeting of the Council on May 11, we learned the progress of that study. Moore requested a proposal from Saratoga Associates to do an environmental study, and after reviewing the information provided to him, Dan Shearer of Saratoga Associates replied, "I . . . share Delaware's opinion that this is a Type 2 action." At that meeting, too, the Council received a draft SEAF (Short Environmental Assessment Form) completed by Delaware Engineering.
After reviewing the draft SEAF, Gossips raised questions about some the answers given, and earlier this week, we shared the results Timothy O'Connor got when he used the Department of Environmental Conservation's EAF Mapper to complete the SEAF.
Given this discrepancy, on Tuesday night, the Common Council decided to complete the SEAF themselves, and as the clock edged toward 9 p.m., Moore read out the twenty questions that make up Part 1 of the Short Environmental Assessment Form, and the aldermen indicated their answers, No or Yes--a process that often required a show of hands to reach consensus. The aldermen's answers to the key questions about wetlands and natural resources were Yes, in agreement with the answers derived by using the DEC Mapper and in disagreement with the answers provided by Delaware Engineering.
It was after 9 o'clock when the aldermen had finished answering the twenty questions in Part 1 of the SEAF. When city attorney Carl Whitbeck advised them that they now had to go on Part 2 of the form, which requires deciding, in eleven different categories, between "No, or small impact may occur" and "Moderate to large impact may occur," the aldermen's resolve flagged. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) moved to table the process until their next meeting, presumably so that she and her colleagues could give some thought to the magnitude of the impact of the proposed action on natural resources and environmental resources, but in the end it was decided that the Council would "bring Delaware in to ask them why they answered the questions as they did."
According to John Mason's report in today's Register-Star, a return appearance by Delaware Engineering isn't likely, since DPW superintendent Rob Perry called the request "unacceptable." Mason's article, which stresses the time constraints for the project, is recommended reading: "Stormwater project put on hold, again." Also recommended is the testimony by the South Bay Task Force, a greatly abbreviated version of which O'Connor presented at Tuesday's Council meeting.
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