Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marginal tales

The last item of the FOIA, an email from the Corps to Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) is dated March 04, 2013, about two weeks after the revised mitigation plan was submitted. The unredacted portion of this email states:

“. . . I looked at the revised mitigation plan for the CTA last week. I also started working on the EA [Environmental Assessment]. I plan to continue work on the EA this week.”

That’s pretty straightforward. But there is an attachment which a little more interesting. Most likely it is mentioned in the redacted portion of the email. It is a document well-known to us - FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B - which deals with Hazardous Wildlife Attractants on or near Airports. This publication describes the procedures that airports MUST follow if any Federal funding is involved or if the passenger quota exceeds a certain number.

But thanks to the exemption to 14CFR Part 139 that was included in the 381 Agreement on the recommendation of Ronnie Moore, County Planning and Project Management Director, the proposed CTA can do whatever they want even if it violates these recommendations, potentially endangering those unlucky enough to live in the flight path.

The feature that has been the subject of on-going controversy is the 26 acre permanent elevation pond that the CTA will be creating about a 1000 ft from the runway. From citizen comments, the USACE was well aware of this man-made hazard. And from the October 25, 2011 meeting notes, we know that they were doing their best to convince the developer to eliminate this permanent water feature.

The question is . . why was this document sent to IES at this time? A closer look at the document offers some clues. In the margins, there are vertical marks highlighting passages relating to airport safety. Here’s an example.

Was the Corps making one last attempt to convince the developer to remove the pond? That’s what it looks like to us. We will only know for sure once a decision on the permit has been made. Then the documents that were redacted as being ‘pre-decisional’ should be made available to us. Until then we can only speculate exactly what was intended. If despite their best efforts, the pond becomes a reality, we can at least be thankful that the Corps did their very best to do the right thing for the people of Bastrop County.

As to the developer who would choose aesthetics over public safety . . . [redacted] . . .

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