Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nestle files Special Exception application

You probably heard by now that Nestle filed its special exception application yesterday.  Good grief, even the Morning Call has ballyhooed the news release that Nestle issued.  It is mentioned that Nestle employs more than 475 people at its two facilities where your water will be shipped.  Whoop-dee-doo.  It doesn't mention that zero jobs will be created in Eldred Township in exchange for the natural resources being ravaged.  Or that there is an alleged payoff of $750,000 on the table.  Has anyone thought about what a reasonable payoff would be?  Try adding a zero to get to $7.5m if you want to be taken seriously.  Someone asked at the meeting last night if Nestle could be required to pay an extraction tax per gallon.  Now there is a fellow using his head.  The dingbats who point to $750,000 as being a "benefit" that Eldred Township might get out of this must be getting their slice of the pie to be cheerleaders.  There's enough to make all the insiders fat and happy, eh?  Nestle allegedly has pledged three AEDs to the fire department.  There is purportedly an "anonymous" donation of $10,000 that was made in January of 2015 to Eldred Township.  Was this from your rich uncle?  This isn't about money, so those waving around $0.75 million may not realize that it is laughable.  What price do you put on your ability to enjoy your property and town, roads, air and access to water?  And it isn't about jobs - it is about how to change land use legally, which was not done in this case.  Everyone has a right to use their land, but when you adopt zoning, you adopt the Municipalities Planning Code and the laws that pertain to it.  You can't decide that you have the right to drive 75 in a 35mph zone, and with zoning, land use can't be arbitrarily changed without planning review and public advertisement that informs of that land use change.  This is what those who say "why would you [or what right do you have to] deny this person from profiting from his property?" don't understand.  They are totally bypassing the law; when a supervisor does this it is truly frightening.  My understanding is that a CJERP representative similarly questioned a citizen concerned that procedures had not been followed when the water extraction amendment was drafted - which shows that this appointed planning representative either has no understanding or no respect for the law, and possibly feels no obligation to follow procedures dictated by the CJERP Intergovernmental Agreement.  Very frightening indeed.  What is going on in Monroe County?

Don't be concerned about Nestle's application - this is to be expected.  With hundreds of thousands invested, spending $10,000 to prepare for and argue a special exception is a drop in the bucket.  There are strategic legal questions as to possible actions by the town, Nestle, objectors and possible intervenors that arise which are above my pay grade and knowlege, but not to worried about at this time.  The filing of the special exception is independent of the appeal that has been filed.  The appeal while in process will not impede Nestle from proceeding, and that is a good thing.  They can't request a bond be posted to cover losses due to delay.  In the event the appeal is won, Nestle would lose any permit or hope of obtaining one, because the use would no longer be permitted on that parcel.  Please see the post on when to sue your town dated yesterday to learn more about how the special exception process fits in.  At the end of the day, the appeal is what to focus most on - but the special exception is not to be ignored.  I will post in a few days on the process and criteria that are examined in a special exception hearing.  It isn't known yet if any variances are required - which is another possible opportunity for challenge.

The strategy for Nestle in applying now is that they have recorded that their application beat the new supervisors initiating action to overturn the ordinance amendment - if such a vote were to occur on Jan 4.  I believe that overturning the ordinance would take at least 30 days in any event, so this is more of a psychological event than anything.

Objectors - stay the course - there is no reason to believe Nestle would cower in the corner while the appeal plays out.  This is a marathon, not a race.  You don't train to be a boxer to have potential opponents give you a bye.  You train to fight and win.  Keep the faith!

Here is the section of the Eldred Township Zoning Ordinance that covers the Special Exception process.   See article 1208.3.

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