Thursday, May 02, 2013
As a throng gathered in the city hall lobby Tuesday afternoon, Eureka Springs City Council convened a special meeting regarding a resolution in opposition to proposed routes for Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) power lines near Eureka Springs.
Council waited while it was decided who, if anyone, wanted to speak, but eventually aldermen went ahead and assigned a number to the resolution and read it, which meant it passed.
Aldermen waited for a moment while it was being decided in the lobby who, if anyone, wanted to speak to council, but eventually the alderman went ahead and assigned a number to the resolution and read it, which meant it had passed.
Only then did two speakers from the crowd outside identify themselves. Roger Shepperd said he has been associated with Save the Ozarks, and he does not see a need from the high voltage line through the area. He claimed he had seen no indication for what SWEPCO intends to do with so much power. Berryville certainly does not need that much voltage. He said the project is not warranted and the end results will definitely impact tourism in this area.
At this point, alderman Terry McClung mentioned to Mayor Morris Pate he maybe should let the onlookers know council had already voted. Pate then announced council had voted to approve the resolution to great applause from the crowd.
Shepperd added, “A big thank you.”
Ed McDaniel had signed up to speak, so Pate gave him his chance. He came to the microphone with Karen Brittain, who said she owns property she dearly loves on the White River, and her prospects are there will be a power line running through her view of the river and a tower in her back yard. She told council her friend had been planning to move to the area and had already applied for a job at Eureka Springs Hospital, but when news of the impending power line arrived, the friend pulled her application and decided to move somewhere else.
“It’s more than losing the eagles and geese,” McDaniel observed. He noted the view will be ruined for everyone, and property values along the river will plummet once the towers go up. He also pointed out several residents in his area did not get letters from SWEPCO warning them of the thirty-day notice period.
The Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce held a meeting April 23 where the board had invited SWEPCO officials External Affairs Manager Jeff Milford and Principal Communications Consultant Peter Main in order to get a better understanding of SWEPCO’s intentions regarding the high transmission power line.
According to Chamber President and CEO, Mike Bishop, following meeting, the Chamber board crafted and approved a position statement in keeping with their by-laws and Mission Statement saying they stand in opposition to “anything that would have a negative impact on the economy of Eureka Springs and quality of life.”
“We promise to use our resources to keep our members and the community informed to the best of our ability. It is highly recommended that all business owners, individuals and/or property owners who think they might be affected get educated and involved immediately,” Bishop said. “Make your voice heard and your concerns known.”
According to the Chamber press release, there are four ways to participate in this process with the Arkansas Public Service Commission:
- A party can intervene within 30 days after the application. This would allow full participation in the process. A party must have an attorney to be the intervener. They will be able to testify and cross-examine and will be subject to questioning themselves. One must apply for this status with the Public Service Commission and it will be the Commission’s determination if Full Intervener status is granted.
- A party can have limited appearance status and must apply within 30 days of application. An attorney is not mandatory under this status, but us not forbidden. You will be able to voice your opinion and you will be subject to questioning by the Commission. One must apply for this status with the Public Service Commission and it will be the Commission’s determination if Limited Appearance status is granted.
- A party can write letters to the Public Service Commission, legislators, local public officials and any governmental organization.
- A party can appear at the public hearing and speak during public comments portion.
To contact the Arkansas Public Service Commission, mail the Arkansas Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 400, Little Rock AR 72203, or log onto www.apscservices.info/ publiccomment.asp.
Copies of the SWEPCO filing application with the Arkansas Public Service Commission, the SWEPCO Environmental Impact Study, and maps of the Proposed Transmission Line Routes are available at the Chamber Visitor Center. Contact information including the Arkansas Public Service Commission is also available. For more information contact the Chamber (479) 253-8737, or stop by.
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