Council must be prepared to defend decision on Tomlinson asphalt plant

One of this term of Greater Napanee council’s most anticipated votes is set to take place on April 5.

Barring any sort of unexpected deferral, that’s the day council members will vote on whether or not to approve R.W. Tomlinson’s application to operate a permanent asphalt plant at 8205 County Road 2. The results of that vote will be an interesting one for many reasons-not the least of which being it will likely mark the first time a member of council states their opinion on the matter for the official record.

After three public meetings on the matter-one hosted by Tomlinson, two hosted by the town, there have been a full assortment of opinions offered by residents who will undoubtedly be impacted if the application is approved. The residents who have spoken at these meetings have made it clear, they do not want the plant at that location. Not one member of the public has argued in favour of allowing the plant to operate at the top of a hill over looking the downtown and just a stone’s throw from the Napanee River.

Council’s silence has drawn the ire of residents eager to know how their elected members of council plan to vote.

Frustrating as that quietness can be for residents, it is wise for council to at least read the town staff’s report on the issue, which will be made available to them a couple of days before the meeting. Unpopular as the decision to not weigh in on the matter over the last 11 months may be, a councillor should at least gather all the information possible before making a decision. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy vote, but at the very least a councillor should be prepared to defend their vote based on facts, figures and research.

The results of this vote-which is almost certainly going to be a recorded vote-could very well play a large role in whether or not a member of councillor is re-elected should he or she choose to seek re-election. Any member of council who voices his or her support of the application will likely seek a tough road back to the horseshoe, but then again no one ever said being on council is supposed to be easy.

Ultimately the results of the April 5 are unlikely to settle the matter once and for all. The losing side is almost certain to appeal the matter at the provincial level. That’s where council’s decision could possibly come into play as the province may give added weight to the town’s decision. Declaring the town to be an unwilling host would have a bigger impact than simply voting no, if that were the route council chooses. There are also potential legal ramifications for denying the application. That’s why it’s in council’s interest to make sure they can stand by their vote-whatever that vote may be.

-Adam Prudhomme

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