Bull Run Observer: Board to back citizens on power line, after all

By Terri L. Erwin-Fitz – Observer staff
Late in March Elena Schlossberg, executive director of the Coalition to Protect Prince William County, said she received word that the Prince William Board of County Supervisors in closed session withdrew its intent to be a respondent in Dominion Power’s Haymarket Transmission line case.

Though both Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and Pete Candland, Gainesville District Supervisor, have testified personally in the SCC hearings held at Battlefield High School, Schlossberg sent a request to the board to “find a way to help your constituents in spite of your decision to leave your community in the unexpected position to figure out how to defend itself without your critical help in this SCC process.”

Schlossberg said that the reversal in the board’s commitment to the citizens was “completely unacceptable.” The board previously voted unanimously in August 2015 to be a respondent in the case.

Schlossberg said over 400 people sent in emails to the BOS and 13-14 people showed up at the Tuesday afternoon meeting which she called challenging due to the time of the meeting.

She described the gentleman from Heritage Hunt who, she paraphrased, eloquently told the board that if they could go back in time, the Board would surely ensure that a data center would not be allowed in the Haymarket location; however, since they are where they are, the Board should “vigorously” defend the citizens of the county.

Schlossberg pondered the reasoning for the reversal – admitting that as a respondent the Board would open itself up for “discovery.”

In response to the 5-2 vote, Candland sent an email indicating that he and Supervisor Jeanine Lawson stood resolutely as the supervisors who voted and who stood with the citizens of Prince William County.

He explained that the “County Attorney approached the Board in closed session, explaining perceived legal rationale for the Board to remove itself from the case.” He assured that he was “personally committed” to the cause.

On April 12, Schlossberg reported that at the afternoon meeting the board was convinced and voted 7-1 in a reversal to continue its commitment and respond as a body in the case. She said it went “very well.”  She did call an exchange between Candland and Woodbridge District Supervisor, Frank J. Principi, “bizarre” indicating Principi said that he would do “the right thing” and support the funds to bury the line, although Candland did not support a project in his district.

Principi said that he would vote to use county funds; whereas, Candland said he would not, as she recalled.

Schlossberg reported that Neabsco District Supervisor, John Jenkins, recused himself and eventually voted against being a respondent in the case.