"What? The lawyers won? Yes, of course they did, they usually do. As we've been reporting about the University of Delware's Newark Datacenter and proposed power plant (for more information on both how this controversy became a controversy click here, and how it ""resolved"" itself, click here), the town's residents (including students at the University), city officials and leaders were pretty evenly split. Some residents wanted The Data Centers (TDC - the company behind the proposed project click here for more on this topic) to build away, creating jobs and a ton of data storage space for the surrounding area - not just the University of Delaware, and others, frankly did not want the construction to start and a relatively environmentally unfriendly power plant sitting in an outcrop on a hill at the University.
So how much did it cost the city to shut down construction: over half a million dollars ($577,000 to be exact.) The town paid lawyers and consultants mainly to discredit the air quality standards of TDC, and lawyers succeeded.
The break-down of the costs looks like this:
The bulk of the money went to the law firm representing a grass-roots resident group who were very vocal in their disdain for TDC's project, so vehemently opposed to the project that the paid Max Walton, esq. and other attorneys at the law firm of Connolly Gallagher a nice fee of $509,324.
The rest of the money? Well, $53,959 went to the Dover firm of Prickett Jones & Elliott, counsel for the Newark Board of Adjustment in an appeal of a city ruling on the project's zoning, and $14,270 to Liberty Environmental Inc., retained by the city to evaluate The Data Centers LLC's air-quality permit application.
It seems to us: that the town simply didn't want the ""eyesore"" (as called by some locals) built on the prestigious grounds of the University of Delaware, so they went for the one loop-hole they saw: air quality.
The problem with using air-quality as the yardstick: it can be easily tweaked to make just about any place's air quality not ""up to code."" Case in point: we write from Colorado - ski country, USA, land of the active and of pristine mountain air - but we also write from the state where Marijuana is legal in certain areas - granted it's not legal at Red Rocks (our world-famous natural amphitheater with knock-your-socks off acoustics) and we were just there for a concert and the amount of Marijuana smoke in the air was literally gagging.
But, trust us, the city of Morrison (just outside Denver's city limits) are not going to revoke Red Rock's air-quality permit, because even though the air-quality was sorely lacking at concert time doesn't mean readings two days later will be bad.
So, using air-quality in our opinion is reaching or at least, very subjective.
And it's a loss for the University of Delaware and the surrounding area. The multi-millions of dollars in lost revenue for the University and new jobs went (an estimate 240 full-time workers) well over $577,000.
So what's the take away from the ""Delawars"" well now the town council and the resident-group has to answer for the half million dollars:
According to Councilman Stu Markham: ""There's definitely people in the city who aren't happy that we spent a half a million, but we had to follow the legal process'¦Residents asked us to see the whole picture and to look at everything - all the legal angles. Would I like to have the money back? Absolutely. Would I have liked to have a project that was well-vetted and ready to go? Absolutely. But you need to protect the city, that's what the residents expect us to do.""
Which makes us wonder: Councilman Markham: The Data Centers, LLC planned a project that would convert the old Chrysler assembly plant site to a 279-megawatt power plant, what are you going to do with old assembly plant now? And aren't you up for re-election in November? Yep you are.
Councilman Stu Markham is up for Re-Election in November
End note: TDC filed an appeal with the University of Delaware after the University backed out of a 75-year lease, so this is far from over; we are betting on more lawyer fees."