Newark power plant critics take case to Del. Superior Court

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 (Rendering courtesy of The Data Centers, LLC)

(Rendering courtesy of The Data Centers, LLC)

The grassroots group Newark Residents Against the Power Plant is taking its fight against a proposed 279-megawatt combined heat and power plant to Delaware Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, NRAPP‘s attorney, Kenneth Kristl of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at Widener University School of Law, filed the petition on the group’s behalf. The action asks the Superior Court of Delaware to intervene in NRAPP’s case against recent actions by the Newark Board of Adjustment.

NRAPP spokeswoman Jen Wallace said the board made several key procedural errors in violation of the law when it upheld Newark’s zoning verification in March. That decision cleared the way for a natural gas-fired power plant on the University of Delaware’s STAR campus. The power plant would run a proposed data center, built by West Chester-based The Data Centers, LLC.

NRAPP’s concerns about the project include its close proximity to homes, schools and parks, environmental impacts of the CHP, increased air and noise pollution and lack of community involvement and overall transparency from the city and TDC.

“We’re asking the Superior court to overturn the zoning verification that the city of Newark issued earlier this year,” Wallace said.  

If the court does not reverse the decision, Wallace said NRAPP wants the court to send it back to the board for another hearing with instructions to find that the proposed CHP is not an accessory because of how much power it will generate, find that Newark’s planning director did not have the authority to impose zoning conditions on behalf of the city, reach a verdict on the health impacts of the CHP and apply the definition of neighborhood from Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary to the city code. 

During the March 19, 2014 hearing, the definition of neighborhood in Newark’s city code was ambiguous. NRAPP said the board erred when it ruled in the city’s favor despite the ambiguity.

“I think it’s safe to say that most residents in Newark don’t feel like they’ve had a fair shake,” Wallace said. “Bringing an end to this project would go, really, a long way in healing our city and the way residents feel about our city government right now.”

NRAPP pointed out recent obstacles TDC has faced, most notably a “damning report” compiled by environmental consulting firm Liberty Environmental regarding TDC’s air permit application with Delaware’s Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

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