Last night we attended what has turned out to be the first session of the Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing on PATH's application for a special exception to build their monstrosity, or "death site" as one of the many citizens dubbed it.
Despite beginning at 1:00 p.m. and being allotted two hours to present their case, PATH still wasn't done at 11:30 p.m. last night. At least one additional session for this hearing will be scheduled to allow PATH to finish presenting their case, to allow the opposition groups to present their case, and to allow for general public comment.
The Board of Zoning Appeals did an outstanding job managing the process, even when presented with a crowd who was at times rebellious. This hearing is a legal process and courtroom behavior should prevail. As illogical as it certainly is, the BZA can only rule on the substation itself, and not other components of the PATH project. It is correct (in the abstract) that the substation could be approved and built under BZA authority without any lines ever connected to it. If you think that would actually happen though, don't. Just play along, folks! This decision has to be able to withstand future legal scrutiny because it will surely be challenged, no matter how the case is decided.
What was really fun about last night was that the public was allowed to cross-examine PATH's witnesses. We sat through Linda Erdreich (EMF health effects "expert"), James Silva (EMF engineer) and some other guy who was supposed to be an "expert" in noise effects from the substation (I can't remember his name). It was amusing to watch the witnesses continually pass the buck onto the next witness in line when they couldn't or didn't want to answer a question. Other amusements: Watching the witnesses struggle along once they were off their script. Not the most personable bunch you'd want to invite to your next dinner party! Watching them squirm over some of the excellent questions they were asked by the public. And then there is the opponent who is just plain funny -- this guy cracks me up every time. Last night his "death site" comment had me wiping my eyes trying to maintain some composure. The best part by far though was watching one of their witnesses commit perjury. :-) Ouchies!
When we get word of the date & time of the continuation of this hearing, we'll let you know. Until then, the decision in Frederick County is still up in the air.
Read the story in the Frederick News Post.