Friday, November 4, 2005

Weather station permit for Sempra stands

Appellant plans appeal to District Court


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

The Jerome County Commission upheld a lower body's decision to grant a special-use permit for a controversial weather station, but the man who appealed the decision said he will take the fight to District Court.

"The decision of the Board of Commissioners was to deny the appeal of Planning and Zoning's issuance of the permit," said Veronica Lierman, commission chair. "It stands."

Despite efforts by Jerome County activist Lee Halper, commissioners upheld the decision that allows San Diego-based Sempra Generation to build a meteorological station in Jerome County.

The company, operating in Idaho as Idaho Valley, LLC, wants to build a $1.4 billion, 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant approximately nine miles northeast of Jerome. The company has to collect weather and air-quality data as part of the permit application for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

Halper expressed disappointment with the commission's ruling.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "The Jerome County commissioners are more afraid of being sued by Sempra than they are of being sued by me."

The commission initially remanded the issue back to the P&Z.

Following that action, attorneys for Sempra filed an objection and request for clarification document with Jerome County on Oct. 10.

The document, which is not a lawsuit, asked the commission to uphold the P&Z's June 6 decision, arguing among other points that Halper had no basis on which to file his appeal because he would not be adversely affected by a meteorological station.

"The next course of action will be a lawsuit," Halper said. "Obviously, the commission with their history of violating their ordinances and due process right of appellants are repeating the same mistakes. If they want to do due diligence ... they will ask all of the counties that will be affected (by a power plant), and that's most counties in the state, to join in a regional planning commission."




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