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3-2 split favors Heartland

Fri, May 2nd, 2003
Posted in Features

Council members Mike Gartner and Jerry Scheevel requested the special meeting of the Preston City Council held Tuesday, April 29. A large crowd again over-flowed into the entry way. Scheevel made a motion stating that, based on legal counsel's advice on the Heartland conditional use permit (CUP) application, the city council declares the motion made at the April 21, 2003 council meeting, with respect to Resolution number 03-04, passed and that the Heartland CUP is approved. Mike Gartner seconded the motion. Mayor Dave Pechulis preceded to read his position into the record. He explained why the resolution should not be approved and why he refuses to sign the CUP at this time. He characterized the technical information about the operation of the plant beyond the scope of their educations. Pechulis sees the sheer enormity of the plant's structures, and it's proposed 10,000 gallon diesel tank and 18,000 gallon propane tank, as hazards. He said that the nearly 100,000 tons of tires delivered to the plant are projected to give off 588.10 tons of pollutants per year through air emissions. The mayor's interpretation of the state's statutes and the local ordinances is that the 'more stringent rules apply, whether they are local ordinances or state statutes'. In his opinion a super majority of four votes are necessary to pass the resolution. Therefore, the April 21 vote on the resolution failed. Pechulis said that he gives little weight to the opinion of Mary Tietjen, the city's legal counsel on the Heartland matter. “Her opinion is just that, an opinion,” Pechulis said. "We will have to agree to disagree on the matter." Pechulis argued that the City should make a request for another 60 day extension, in part to consider new environmental information revealed in the MPCA process. He concluded by making it clear that Council member Mike Gartner has no authority to sign any documents as Mayor Pro Tempo while he, Pechulis, is capable of performing his duties. Tietjen, responding to the question of the Mayor's refusal to sign the resolution, stated, “Statutes do not require that Resolutions be signed by the Mayor.” She said that there is legal authority that the resolution need not be signed at all.“It is my opinion that the Mayor Pro Temp may sign the Resolution if the Mayor refuses to do so,” Tietjen said. Mike Gartner who admitted that he doesn't get excited very often made his own statement. "Tonight the city of Preston is done paying legal fees, we went through all the proper channels, screwed up, went back and did it the right way,” Gartner explained. “As far as I'm concerned we are done with this." Gartner went on to stress that the council has other issues to deal with and that the city has spent an enormous amount of money for a legal opinion. Gartner went on to say that there is better use for the city's money. “Just because the Heartland CUP is passed doesn't mean the plant will be built,” Gartner said, concluding that Heartland still has a lot of hurdles to cross before then. The motion to clarify the record that the April 21 vote on Resolution 03-04 passed and that the Heartland CUP is approved received a simple majority, with Scheevel, Gartner, and Council member Heath Mensink voting in favor of the permit and Mayor Pechulis and Council member Mike McGarvey against.

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