The Lee Selectboard listens as member Bob Jones would make a motion to begin the process of rescinding the PCB dump agreement. Photograph: Jacob Robbins
LEE — Stark divisions ended up evident Tuesday night as the Lee Selectboard voted down a motion 2–1 that would have instructed the city to start out the approach of rescinding a municipal settlement with General Electric powered and the U.S. Environmental Safety Company.
The agreement would internet the city of Lee some $25 million whilst finding a dump housing PCB contaminants dredged from the Housatonic River at the previous Lane Construction quarry, now recognised as the Upland Disposal Facility.
Selectboard member Bob Jones made a movement that the board shift to employ two warrant article content, Content 10 and 16, handed at Lee’s town conference in October 2020. “We are the pilots, our constituents are our navigators: they established the class for us — we know exactly where we need to be going,” Jones claimed before earning the movement. “It’s time we did our employment.”
Report 10 incorporated an appropriation of $50,000 for a lawful defense fund for prices linked with withdrawing from the arrangement, which was negotiated by Lee and four other South County towns as aspect of the Rest of River Municipal Committee.
Article 16 instructed the selectboard to rescind its aid for the settlement and asks them to renegotiate the settlement to not include a dump site in Lee. Till now, the selectboard experienced not acted on both measure.
“All of us are baffled as to the obvious inaction of the then-selectboard,” Jones explained.
“We gave you the guidance, then you didn’t abide by those people recommendations. We truly feel it is not definitely reasonable to us,” reported Monica Ryan, a Lee city assembly consultant. “We’ve offered you the mandate … so why would you decide and pick?”
Several other representatives and citizens came to voice their frustrations and support Jones’ movement.
“I am right here to notify you that this offer is terrible,” explained Tim Grey, govt director of the Housatonic River Initiative (HRI), which is currently suing the EPA about the agency’s support of the arrangement.
“The river will continue to be contaminated and one matter I will do before I die is I’ll make positive that 50 many years from now most people will try to remember who left this river to be contaminated,” Gray reported.
Just after heated discussions within the selectboard and a extended period of public remark marked by shouting and anger, the motion failed with Selectman Sean Regnier and Chairwoman Patricia Carlino voting towards the motion, citing fears about the lawful ramifications for withdrawing from the offer.
“There’s no lawful precedent that has been pointed to there is no case legislation that I’m knowledgeable of that shows what would transpire,” Regnier claimed, registering his disapproval with the motion. “I don’t assume any courtroom would agree with Lee versus the EPA … it is a getting rid of battle.”
That led to outbursts from the viewers with one particular attendant shouting, “Come on Sean!” — as Regnier voiced his opposition to the motion. In 2020, Regnier defeated longtime incumbent and supporter of the PCB arrangement Thomas Wickham, vowing to rescind the settlement if elected.
Regnier has considering the fact that reneged on that pledge, in its place proposing an Oversight Committee that will observe the routines outlined in the agreement while also looking into technologies to address PCB contaminated soils.
All through his presentation, Jones made an enchantment to Regnier, asking him to comply with by on his word. “You ran last yr as an opponent of the dump,” Jones said. “I hope you’ll see this as an option to make great on what was expected.”
“This isn’t all undesirable,” Regnier explained, foremost to a lot more shouts and anger from the viewers.
Jones also created an enchantment to Carlino, imploring her to rethink her posture: “Changing one’s intellect can result in very constructive issues … I want to perform with the two of you to right this circumstance. To say that we really don’t like it, but have to dwell with it is not fantastic governance.”
“It was hardly ever my intention to hurt the town of Lee,” Carlino said. “My entire family is listed here, my grandchildren, my fantastic grandchildren … I know wherever we are proper now with the settlement agreement.”
There was some support on the board for working with the funds to employ a attorney to take a look at the ramifications of rescinding the deal, but because the warrant write-up was worded in specific terms directing the rescindment of the agreement, it eventually couldn’t muster the help it wanted.
“The movement dies,” Jones said in dismay after he was the lone member to vote for the motion. It’s not instantly crystal clear what the future methods are. Lee’s yearly town conference, scheduled for June 24, has numerous warrant content relating to the settlement agreement, all the end result of a citizen’s petition.
Posting 18 calls for a bylaw modification that would ban the storage of EPA-labeled dangerous and radioactive product, such as PCBs, in just the city. Write-up 21 phone calls for a referendum to be held that would ask residents if they support the selectboard rescinding their approval of the settlement.
Jones was however determined to struggle on. “I am upset,” he informed The Edge. “We know far more tonight than we did this early morning.”