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The hearing went well December 1, 2009

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in AEHI, approval process, Idaho Statesman, Payette County.
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The Nov. 19 meeting before the Payette Planning and Zoning Commission was very successful. Obviously, our proposal to build a nuclear plant there has created considerable interest and around 300 people packed the high school auditorium.

I am pleased to report that supportive testimony outnumbered opponents by 2 to 1. If you subtract out-of-county people with a strong anti-nuclear agenda, testimony was 3 to 1 in favor. People who spoke in favor included current and former county residents concerned about the lack of jobs and opportunity in the county. The 12-member commission was clearly attentive and asked probing follow-up questions.

One of the more interesting people to testify was Joe Weatherby, an Owyhee County resident who spoke in opposition. Mr. Weatherby described himself in his testimony as a former Owyhee Planning and Zoning Commissioner, but didn’t mention that he resigned from his post in March 2008. People in decision-making positions hold an important public trust and, in the interests of good public policy, should not express opinions outside of the process about an applicant or application before them. So we were shocked to read opinions by Weatherby, published in the Feb. 1, 2008 Idaho Press Tribune, Feb. 6, 2008 Owyhee Avalanche and Feb. 14, 2008, Idaho Statesman, in which he expressed strong opinions about our proposed power plant, then in-process in Owyhee County. Public statements like this from any sitting official, we believe, run counter to the public interest and we are thankful Weatherby no longer holds his position of authority on the Owyhee Planning and Zoning Commission.

Strangely, Owyhee Avalanche editor Jon Brown and other media expressed bafflement at Mr. Weatherby’s resignation, which suggests how poorly that newspaper understands the crucial need for public officials to not discuss pending applications. Also, it probably didn’t help that Weatherby posted his draft energy plan to the Owyhee County official Web site in the spring of 2007, even though Owyhee County didn’t approve it until December 2007.

The Payette Planning and Zoning Commission asked the tough questions of both supporters and opponents. They have conducted themselves professionally and we await their decision.

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