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LCDA, CEPA remain at odds
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A dispute continues between the Liberty County Development Authority and the Coastal Estuary Protection Association over a proposed wastewater treatment center on the Laurel View River.

Recently, each group has accused the other of wrongdoing.

The environmental group said LCDA skipped an important legal step while LCDA accused CEPA’s president of having ulterior motives in his effort to stop the project.

Members of CEPA say the Liberty County Development Authority did not properly publicize a November public hearing to discuss the potential effects the proposed center could have on the environment. State law requires notice be provided 30 days prior to a public hearing.

The environmental group is asking the state Environmental Protection Division to deny the facility a permit for that reason. CEPA attorney Brice Ladson faxed the request "respectfully demanding" the permit be denied to the EPD on Friday.

But the LCDA claims it gave proper notice to the public in October, 2007, through advertisement in Liberty County’s legal organ, the Coastal Courier.

In addition, Director of Administration and Finance Carmen Cole said CEPA hasn’t presented all the facts - perhaps because it didn’t have them until Tuesday.

She said information LCDA sent to the EPD in March - and apparently used by CEPA to base its request to deny the permit - doesn’t show proper notice was given, but documents attached to a Dec. 17 letter show the notice was given.

Cole said she emailed Ladson copies of those documents on Tuesday.

But Ladson said he has yet to see the actual newspaper the advertisements were published in. He also said he has been told the advertisements were confusing.

He said the decision to continue pursuing the issue will be made after he sees a copy of the actual newspapers.

Meanwhile, the EPD has a public hearing slated for Jan. 27 in Midway to hear opinions on the facility’s permit, but Ladson said the hearing needs to be cancelled.

"This would entail the delay of the hastily called public hearing three weeks from now and would give people in Liberty and Bryan County who oppose this facility time to fully consult with experts in preparation for a public hearing," he said.

What’s more, CEPA President Allen Davis said the fact that only four people attended the November 2007 public hearing goes to show that the LCDA failed to advertise it properly.

"The rules are there for a reason," Davis said. "It is extremely important for a project of this type to have broad based public input on environmental issues because this project affects not only this specific area but the entire coast."

LCDA CEO Ron Tolley said CEPA’s claim is "totally erroneous" and is a delaying tactic aimed at holding up the project.

Meanwhile, CH2MHill’s Wayne Murphy, who the LCDA has contracted to engineer the proposed facility, has accused Davis of having ulterior motives in his effort to stop the project. He recently distributed copies of a proposal from Davis’s company, Coastal Assets Management, LLC, which appears to show Davis asking the LCDA to enter into a public/private partnership for a "Water and Wastewater Treatment Facility Plan."

"His statement was a total fabrication and a lie and he knows it," Davis said in an emial.

"If you read what I presented to the LCDA ....," Davis wrote, "I was simply proposing an option for the LCDA to consider based upon interest expressed at the time from four different qualified, well established private wastewater and water service providers that I contacted independently that expressed an interest in efficiently and cost effectively managing the construction and operation of the project going forward. At that point, I was not even aware of any environmental concerns but focused solely on the financial feasibility of the project."

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