The Atlantic City Council voted 5-to-2 Wednesday evening, against passing a “Resolution of Objection” to the POET, LLC ethanol transfer, or trans-loading station, in the northern downtown area. Councilpersons Steve Livengood and Linda Hartkopf voted in favor of the Resolution, while Councilpersons Jimerson, Somers, Halder, Hayes and Shouse, voted against it.
The Resolution essentially objected to the location of the trans-loading station, but not the project itself. The concerns centered around the facility being located within 100-feet of the downtown fire district. The Resolution, which Livengood said would merely be for the record and “last longer” than a notation in the minutes, does not absolve the City from any legal action in the event of an explosion, a point Councilman Shawn Shouse said essentially renders the Resolution a moot point.
Shouse said he personally, thought the whole matter could have been handled better. He said POET had no legal responsibility to talk to the City Council before construction of the facility, which has since been completed, but he says “It would seem to have been prudent to do so.” Shouse said the Resolution, if approved, could be detrimental to the future of the City bringing in new business. He said people more familiar with business than himself, tell him this could be viewed as “Obstruction to business…being an unfriendly place to do business.”
Shouse said there is the potential for the City’s reputation to be harmed by passing the Resolution. Councilperson Kathy Somers said the Resolution does nothing to address and/or fix the safety concerns mentioned by the Mayor and others. Shouse agreed. He said the Resolution is “Retaliatory verbage,” against POET for not having informed the City of the company’s plans, and therefore there is no benefit to it. Some people were concerned that passing the Resolution would have caused POET to bring an ethanol plant to Atlantic, but Mayor Dave Jones said the company is not even considering the community in its future plans.
Councilman Livengood said while the Resolution has no legal teeth, it puts POET on notice that the City is “Watching them,” but Somers said it’s not the City’s job to “Watch them,” since they have the necessary permits from the Federal government.