CIB stays neutral regarding PCS suit

Citing a desire to stay objective on the matter as a potential technical resource, the board of the Center for Inland Bays will not take a formal stand on Sussex County’s lawsuit against DNREC over buffers.

The lawsuit questions DNREC’s jurisdictional authority to promulgate a Pollution Control Strategy – specifically, the application of buffer regulations.

Dr. Bill McGowan read a statement at the CIB’s March board meeting, held Friday, March 13.

“The Board of Directors of the Center for the Inland Bays Inc. does not intend to take a position concerning Sussex County’s challenge concerning the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s authority to promulgate a buffer regulation. This matter involves pending litigation between Sussex County and DNREC, two members of the Board of Directors of the CIB.

“Any such statement would be inappropriate at this time, since the Center’s Board members, staff and/or committee members might be called to provide testimony, evidentiary information or other substantive materials for consideration in this case. Maintaining an objective position could enhance CIB’s status as a technical resource in any legal proceedings.”

The board voted unanimously to accept the statement, with both Sussex County Administrator David Baker and Dr. Sergio Huerta of the Center for Inland Bay’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (who is also a DNREC employee) abstaining.

Huerta emphasized that, with his abstention, he was acting as an elected representative of the STAC. He said the abstention did not reflect his status as a DNREC employee.

The board also decided on March 13 that they would wait to approve three pending Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) applications in order to revisit guidelines concerning membership. Last August, they developed priorities for CAC, including diversifying its membership so that industry, business and citizen stakeholders would all be represented.

An e-mail from CAC Chair Ron Wuslick (who was not present last Friday) was read at the meeting, stating that he thought the board’s decision to table the applications for CAC membership “was difficult to understand, considering their qualifications.” But he did mention that the CAC and the board would meet to discuss the issue.

Because of EPA guidelines, the CIB is required to develop criteria for CAC, and Executive Director Lewandowski was sure to say that the applications were “pending, not rejected.”

CIB Chair Richard W. Eakle echoed that in saying that the decision is “no reflection on their capabilities or qualifications, and the applicants can still participate in all CAC activities and meetings” while they have yet to be approved as voting members.

The CIB is taking this time to take a look at current CAC members to see where they stand concerning stakeholder diversity.