(Op-ed by Matt Marquardt)
You almost have to feel sorry for the Mason City Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA).
They have sat through two multi-hour meetings and have been bombarded with facts, figures, inconsistencies, truth distortions, some outright lies and changing stories regarding the proposed waste to energy plant that Creative Energy Systems (CES) wants to build here.
The board members are under a lot of pressure to make a decision.
Numerous citizens have spoke about the project, the vast majority against it, even submitting a petition with hundreds of signatures of people who feel the same way.
The board is being bombarded, some might even say influenced, from every direction. Even by elected officials.
For example, Nora Springs Mayor George Andersen expressed several concerns about the CES project at the November 1st ZBA meeting, specifically ash by-products and emissions, saying the project seemed “smokey.”
At last night’s meeting, Tony Nelson, a Clear Lake City Council member who happens to sit on the North Iowa Landfill Board (another “hurdle” for CES) urged the board to “take your time to make an educated decision” and then went on to say “this is a good thing to look at.”
Max Weaver spoke at-length at the November 1st ZBA meeting, and has publicly stated that he “wants no part” of CES nor their plant in Mason City.
When Weaver asked the board if he could speak at Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer, standing in the back of the room, face beat red, making hand gestures, emphatically mouthed the words “NO NO NO” to the board.
The board has heard from CES officials Joe Yavorski and Rod Flores at length. The two men have been before the board twice and been allowed to speak as long as they want.
Some of the board even heard from Flores and Yavorski at the Park Inn after the November 1st ZBA meeting. Yavorski and Flores were there playing pool, while at least three ZBA board members sat a few feet away at the bar having drinks.
Yavorski and Flores approached the bar to pay their tab, and walked right up behind two of the ZBA board members. At that moment, the third board member, George Jessen, got up and walked out of the room.
A short conversation then ensued, where words from Yavorski were uttered such as “not giving it a chance” and “it will work its way through the process” and “totally against it” as board member Paul Matthes uttered a couple of profanities.
That conversation lasted less than two minutes, yet it happened, and is another example of the board being subjected to influence to vote one way or another.
For the citizens of Mason City and North Iowa, let’s hope the board gets to the truth and makes the right decision.