The Atlantic City Council Wednesday evening, discussed at length the Poet ethanol transfer station being built near the downtown area. And, the Council passed, by a vote of 4-to 2, a motion calling for the writing of a resolution opposing the location of the transfer station, but not in opposition to the project itself. Councilman Shawn Shouse was not present at the meeting to vote on the matter.
Some members of the Council, including the Mayor, were upset with Poet, LLC.‘s plans to build an ethanol transfer station, near the heart of the downtown, just north of the Chamber of Commerce. Their concerns centered around safety issues, wear and tear on city streets, and the City’s legal liability in the event of an explosion, for having allowed such a facility to be built. Poet obtained the necessary federal permits to have ethanol, trucked from its production facility in Coon Rapids to Atlantic, where it would be unloaded onto rail tanker cars.
City Attorney Dave Wiederstein said the company was not required to seek local building permits because of federal interstate commerce laws, but he acknowledged it would have been nice if the company has notified the City of its intent. He said also, that a resolution opposing the location of the site, would not absolve the City from any legal liability in the event of an explosion.
Wiederstein said regardless of why the company failed to come to the City Council nearly a year ago, “It’s imperative that the City reach out to them in a cooperative spirit and nurse this relationship into something that will eventually lead into an ethanol plant being opened down here.” He said also, that the City’s legal options are limited. It could speak with an attorney who specializes in the type of litigation the City could pursue, but it would be throwing “Good money at bad for even just exploring” the matter in the courts, because federal law leaves very few legal loopholes.
Wiederstein mentioned that any resolution passed expressing the City’s disapproval of the location, should also include copies of the federal permits and applications Poet obtained, which he intends to seek from the company. He added however, Poet is not required to provide those documents to the City.