Environmental Advocacy | Fight the Proposed Newark Power Plant

Update on Newark Board of Adjustment Hearing

Decision to Permit Power Plant Upheld in Split Decision

On March 19, 2014, the City of Newark Board of Adjustment split its vote on two issues regarding the appeal of Newark Residents Against the Power Plant (NRAPP), several Newark residents and Delaware Audubon. Their split votes had the effect of upholding the city's decision to permit a gas-fired power plant at the former Chrysler site supporting the proposed Data Center.

More than 700 people attended the three-hour hearing, and the Board of Adjustment deliberated for more than an hour before announcing its decision.

The Board voted 3 to 1 that the on-site power plant would not impair the neighborhood. They split their votes on whether on-site power generation is customary in the industry, and also on the project's environmental impact on Newark's land-use plan. A fifth member of Board did not vote due to potential conflict of interest.

David Carter, conservation chair of Delaware Audubon, said that "despite the split vote of the board, the case was presented exceptionally well." He praised the superb legal work of Ken Kristl and Sherry Hoffman.

"Unfortunately," Mr. Carter said, "two board members did not seem to be able to comprehend the new data, with the Board chair repeatedly referencing the work of the original ‘consultants,’ obviously relying on the outdated information and ignoring much of the case presented last night."

He added that "one of the most disturbing developments was a DNREC affidavit that provided a clear indication of the biased role of DNREC supporting the project. This development raises questions as to the impartiality of DNREC as the permit reviewer."

Jen Wallace, chair of Newark Residents Against the Power Plant (NRAPP), said "while it may be easy to be discouraged by this news, we should not allow ourselves to spend much time on this disappointment. Instead we need to recognize that last night was the first step in an ongoing process, and it went better than we expected."

She said the NRAPP steering committee will be meeting to discuss potential actions, and consulting with their attorneys to prepare next steps.

There will be a community meeting, open to all who are opposed to the power plant, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, 420 Willa Road (Map), sponsored by the UUFN Social Justice Committee. "Please join us to learn to more about you can get involved with this fight as things progress," said Ms. Wallace. "Now, it's more important than ever for Newarkers to come together to stand up for our community."