We continue our timeline of activity for EU's application for wastewater certification on the Island.
On February 2nd the PSC posted the NOTICE OF PROPOSED AGENCY ACTION ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR TEMPORARY WAIVER OF RULE 25-30.033(1)(p) and (q), F.A.C., BY ENVIRONMENTAL UTILITIES, LLC. This document details the decision made at the Commission Conference on January 5th denying EU's Motion to Bifurcate and Temporary Rule Waiver. You can view the video of the Commission Conference at our Sewer/Utility Reporting page.
The informal Action Committee who had been working in opposition to EU's application was formally approved at the PIE Board meeting on February 8th. The members are Linda Cotherman (Chair), Theresa Blanco, Heather Stout and Meryl Schaffer. At the same meeting, the Board voted to approve the $10,000 expenditure to retain attorney Kelsky Law, with further expenditures not to exceed 10% of the original $10,000 retainer without board approval.
On February 4th, Little Gasparilla Island Property Owners Association (LGIPOA) officially became a Party of Record. This means that they are now active participants in the future Administrative Hearing for this application.
Charlotte County joined the PSC docket list of "Interested Persons" on February 12th. An "Interested Person" is someone (or an entity) that requests notification of any orders or decisions made by the PSC in this docket. The letter from the Office of the Charlotte County Attorney lists both Jean Stasio (Assistant County Attorney) and Craig Rudy (Charlotte County Utilities) as contacts. As of March 1, there are 121 interested persons in the docket.
On February 19th, the PSC granted EU's request for confidential classification of certain financial documents filed with their application. According to the Order that was posted, the information contained in EU's Application, for which confidentiality was requested, consisted of “personal financial and other information such as personal residence, personal vehicles owned, personal property owned, personal investment, personal indebtedness, etc.” The PSC determined that the information in question satisfied the criteria set forth in Florida state law for classification as proprietary confidential business information.
Kelsky Law quickly filed a Motion for Reconsideration on February 25th. It argues that "Environmental Utilities, LLC’s financial health is central to the determination of whether it can satisfy the requirements necessary to obtain a Certificate of Authorization" and requests that the Commission "reconsider its February 19, 2019 order and require the publication of the financial information the order protects."
There has been no response to the Motion posted to the docket at this time.
At the PIE. Annual Membership Meeting held on January 2nd, the P.I.E. Board was directed in a nearly unanimous motion to hire an attorney to fight the granting of the application by Environmental Utilities, Inc. to provide sewer service to the Island.
On January 11th the Board of Directors met and discussed the issue. Board member Theresa Blanco, an attorney from PA, had been investigating possible lawyers in Tampa to hire for representation to PSC. PIE member Jeff Provost mentioned contacting Susan F. Clark of Radey Law Firm, a former PSC Commissioner. She referred him to D. Bruce May at Holland & Knight.
PIE already had an informal Action Committee who had been working in opposition to EU's application for several weeks. Following the Board meeting, the committee met and determined that the best value and and quality lawyer to hire was Kelsky Law Firm in Plantation, FL. Kelsky Law is the same counsel representing the Cape Haze POA. Here are the reasons behind the decision:
Brad Kelsky is a referral from William Dahms, VP of the Cape Haze POA. He has been counsel for the "Friends of Cape Haze" for many years. The POA has used his services twice before on both infrastructure and Comprehensive Plan issues in opposition to Charlotte County. Both times they prevailed.
PIE Board member Theresa Blanco had a screening call with Mr. Kelsky – attorney to attorney – and was comfortable with our choice. The Board President then spoke with him and was satisfied with his willingness to work with our own committee for research purposes to keep costs down. Mr. Kelsky gets high grades from his peers for ethics.
The President signed an agreement with Kelsky Law on January 25th. Mr. Kelsky then filed a formal "Notice of Appearance" on Monday, February 1st. He is listed in the docket summary as representing Cape Haze POA and PIE.