Emotions Run High as Commissioners Face Questions During Biomass Plant "Workshop"
Published January 10th, 2013
GAINESVILLE - It was a thorough examination of Gainesville's new biomass power plant on Wednesday; a plant that is pretty much a done deal, considering close to 75 percent of it is already constructed. Nevertheless, Gainesville city commissioners sat through a six-and-a-half hour long meeting held as part of a lawsuit settlement over the plant.
The meeting grew tense at times, as members of the group known as "Gainesville Citizens Care" made a presentation to the commission as part of that settlement. GCC accuses the city of Gainesville and its utility company of violating the state's open records laws when negotiating the biomass plant's contract.
Those accusations were denied by officials from Gainesville Regional Utilities, as well as the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, the company that is currently building the plant.
Given the contentious nature of the meeting, emotions ran high during two exchanges between elected officials. The first was between Alachua County Commissioner Susan Baird and Gainesville City Commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls. The second was between Mayor Craig Lowe and City Commissioner Todd Chase following a lengthy commentary.
No vote or decision came out of Wednesday's meeting. As part of the settlement, GCC agreed not to file any more suits. But when asked, one of the group's directors declined to comment on whether or not they plan to file any more lawsuits over the plant.
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