The problem, it seems, is that the aldermen are not focusing on the resolution before them, which simply asks them to declare or not declare the project a Type II action, requiring no environmental review or mitigation. Instead they are behaving as though their vote on the resolution will decide if the proposed sewer project will be done it all.
At last night's meeting, various aldermen bemoaned that they weren't engineers, that DPW superintendent Rob Perry wasn't there to explain things, that Perry wasn't an engineer, that information they were getting was "crowd sourced." Council president Don Moore, who professes to have devoted much time and effort to understanding the project, perpetuated what an audience member would later call a "false dichotomy" when he spoke of sanitary waste going directly into the river and told the Council, "I really believe that this project is a valuable project."
After a week of studying the project, the newly formed Conservation Advisory Council offered its recommendation to the Common Council, which concluded:
Relatively affordable and effective technology exists that could filter contaminants from stormwater before it is dumped into the North Bay, but the current separation plan does not incorporate this. We believe that classifying this project as an Unlisted Action rather than a Type II action could allow it to move forward while alternatives for treatment are evaluated and added to the plan. We therefore recommend that Council members vote "no" on the resolution.Last night, CAC member Michael O'Hara told the aldermen, "The question before the Council is relatively simple: Is [the proposed project] a Type II or isn't it?" He continued, "It would be a real stretch to say it will have no environmental impact," and advised that steps be taken to mitigate the impact. He urged the Council to consider the project an Unlisted Action rather than a Type II, stressing that "the real boundaries of your action" needed to be considered.
Moore's response to O'Hara betrayed his belief that in order to move forward the project must be classified a Type II and be exempt from any consideration of its environmental impact: "The other question I have is: What's the alternative?" O'Hara reiterated, "We did not recommend not doing the project."
CAC member Nick Zachos tried to emphasize what he called a false dichotomy. "If we had acknowledged that this is not a Type II," he told the Council, "this project could have been going by now."
Still the Common Council once again postponed voting on whether or not the project is a Type II action. Instead, they are going to have a special meeting on Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m., to take up the issue once again. Moore asked the aldermen to let him know "who they are looking to hear from." So far, the list includes DPW, DEC, and Delaware Engineering.
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