Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Whine me up

The latest documents received from Bastrop County offer some rather interesting behind-the-scenes insight and reactions to the USACE’s handling of the permitting process. In his own words, Jim Carpenter predictably plays the victim and whines in frustration when things don’t go his way.

In a candid email to Greg Hill dated August 19, 2011, Jim Carpenter complains about the Corps’ delays, the very effective activist opposition and the City of Bastrop’s misrepresentation of their ETJ authority with regard to the proposed CTA.

Ronnie Moore, then Bastrop County Engineer, figures prominently in this little tirade as the person ready, willing and able to clarify the misunderstandings and move things along. This is not the first time that Mr. Moore has been presented as an apologist for the CTA project. He appears to have been the developer’s in-house ‘wingman’ on more than one occasion.

It was interesting to learn that at one time, the Corps was actually considering a public hearing - an idea which did not please the developer:

“In my personal 45-minute long telephone conversation with Stephen Brooks I was disturbed by his complaint to me about our team not providing his staff with suggested locations to conduct “the public hearing” on our Individual Permit application.

. . . I explained to him [Stephen Brooks] that the Corps was failing to understand the adverse impact of an unwarranted public hearing that would result in a media circus for activists that have been unable to stop this private development or to dissuade the unanimous support for this project by the Bastrop County Commissioners Court.”

Eventually, the Corps decided a hearing was not needed. Just how was that decision reached? We’d sure like to know what went down behind the scenes. We’ll keep digging . . .

Phrases like ‘unreasonable delay’, ‘unwarranted time delay’, ‘unnecessary delay’ etc. in this email also set the stage for the claim of force majeure, which was submitted to the County just prior to the June 30, 2012 deadline for commencement of the project on which the developer defaulted. Over a year later, the developer has failed to provide evidence to the Bastrop County County Commissioners Court to support the claim of force majeure.

Complaints of a perceived USACE delay surfaced again when the developer attempted to extend the FAA reservation of airspace which was due to expire on November 12, 2011. In an email to the FAA on November 10, 2011 he writes:

“The USACE permit has caused a year delay in this critically important economic development activity because they came back last year with a completely unexpected jurisdictional water finding on a manmade stockpond.”

Note that as of July 2013 no extension has been granted because the developer has failed to comply with the FAA’s request for more detailed information about the CTA project.

The issue of delay culminated in a letter from Mr. Carpenter to Stephen Brooks on April 12, 2012. Mr. Brooks’ response on April 19, 2012 thoroughly debunks the accusations made against the Corps with a detailed timeline of events.

Another document included in the latest ORR finally settles once and for all the issue of delay and who failed to start the USACE permitting process in a timely manner. Gottcha!
So just who is Greg Hill? Read on . . .

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