The Tale about Hypocrisy

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Open Burning July 8, 2008

By: Pat Hunter

Commissioner Don Miller was the chief sponsor of the (click to view) Open Burning Ban Resolution. At the time, Mike Crosby complained and brought a jar of soot water that he had collected from the lake. Crosby resides in Tellico Village on lakefront property and he was placed on the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force and served as Vice Chairman. He is now the chairman of the group and he was placed on the task force at the recommendation of Commissioner Don Miller.

Open Burning and creating a county law to deal with this matter became a very serious issue when  Mike Crosby circulated some photos of a large scale burning by Rarity Pointe developer. Rarity Pointe is across from Tellico Village and open burning became an issue at the Village. The open burning from the Rarity Pointe development carried across to Tellico Village and settled on the lake.

Upon investigation, a Notice of Violation (NOV) citation was given by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).  Crosby and another air quality task force member worked on a presentation on open burning at the Feb 27, 2006 commission workshop. Long story short because of Tellico Village's influence, the Open Burning Ban was quickly passed into law.

On May 8, 2006, Commission passed a Resolution regulating Open Burning within the unincorporated area of Loudon County.

About 10 days after the Resolution was passed into law, open burning occurred on Irene Lane. Irene Lane is located right outside of Tellico Village, the site of one of Commissioner Don Miller's road projects. The road extension of Irene Lane is located off Ritchey Road, adjacent to Tellico Village. The smoke was very heavy.

Commissioner Don Miller made a pitch to commissioners to extend Irene Lane so the Tellico Village Community Church group could have another entrance and exit for services.

Miller was able to persuade Commission and state officials to obtain a State Grant expressly to widen and extend Irene Lane to the back end of the church property. As part of the road extension deal, the Church agreed to pay $30,000 and Loudon County's share was about $15,000. The original budget was a total $135,000. Ninety thousand ($90,000) was for the original amount of the TDOT Grant, which somehow grew from $90,000 to $205,000 (est.) but the Church and County's share stayed about the same amount.

According to public records, the stumps and clearings were to be removed and the project was supposed to adhere to applicable local and state requirements. But guess what, burning occurred on the construction site while the County looked the other way on the new the Open Burning regulations. Commissioner Miller argued that the project was "grandfathered in " and that regulations did not apply to his pet project. But upon further examination the paperwork showed otherwise. A complaint was also filed with TDEC. TDEC is also a member of the Loudon County Air Quality Task force and the state agency in charge of protecting the environment. TDEC investigated and couldn't find any burning at the site that violated state law!

At the June 17, 2008, Loudon County Regional Planning Commission meeting, click a request was made by a property owner to rezone 5.57 acres on Irene Lane, from A-1, Agriculture-Forestry District to C-2 General Commercial District. The rezoning request was easily approved and about 1 acre will be used for another of Commissioner Don Miller's district projects, a proposed 7,000 sq. ft. building for the click  $1Million Tellico Village Library. The Board of Zoning Appeals also approved a special exemption request, which was described as an "upscale storage facility."

During recent budget meetings, Commissioner Miller commented that he would be requesting support for the Tellico Village Library but he forgot to mention about the upcoming rezoning request.

There’s no question that Tellico Village has political, big money and special interest clout at its beckon call. The hypocrisy is that the Open Burning Ban seems to apply to the rest of the County while it looks like on two separate occasions Open Burning was allowed to take place off Irene Lane just feet outside of the Tellico Village boundary, adding to our community's air quality problems.

What's the excuse this time; more exceptions to the rule, and more credibility issues?

Loudon County is a non-attainment area, which means that our community exceeds federal guidelines on small particulate pollution, which is very unhealthy for adults, children and elderly with breathing problems and other cardiovascular problems.

It appears, that the rules apply to some such as the Rarity Pointe developer but not to all.

What about applying the rules to everyone including political cronies and VIPs?

What's the old saying about hypocrisy? "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"

 

NOTE: Click to read the Open Burning Ban Resolution, which was passed on May 8, 2006. The Ban was supposed to be modeled after Knox County's Open Burning regulations but after the Farm Bureau complained about certain wording from the original draft ban, the wording and substance of the ban was greatly diluted. All open burning by contractors and/or developers, should be reported to the Loudon County Building Inspector's Office.     

 

 

 

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07-09-08