No seats on ReVenture council for consultants

by Andrew Batten

A county advisory board declined to appoint three people who wanted seats on a council evaluating ReVenture Park because of their close financial ties with the park’s development company.

The county’s Waste Management Advisory Board voted down Monday, Oct. 4 three of the 12 applicants for the ReVenture Advisory Council because of their ties with Foresite Development, the Charlotte-based company that wants to build a biomass power plant at Belmeade Drive and Mt. Holly Road.

The ReVenture Advisory Council has been tasked with investigating Foresite Development’s plans to burn garbage to generate electricity in the biomass power plant. The council’s findings will aid the waste management board when it advises county commissioners on whether it should pay ReVenture to take Charlotte’s trash for the power plant.

The board appointed eight people for the council but voted down Edna Chirico, Richard Deming and William Archer.

Chirico, co-owner of Chirico Huber Properties, is a former county commissioner and is a consultant to Foresite “to coordinate key government and community relation initiatives,” according to the ReVenture website. Deming is a partner with Calor Energy, a sustainability and renewable resources consulting company that is also working with Foresite. Archer is a facility manager with Clariant Corporation, that owns the site where Foresite plans to build ReVenture.

Waste management board members were not only concerned with potential conflict of interests that could have arisen from Chirico, Deming or Archer’s participation on the board but also because their applications did not expressly disclose their relationship with either Foresite or ReVenture on their applications.

“I really thought my experience could help but I understand how they would want people who aren’t connected to the project,” Archer said.

Chirico said her work with Foresite is on a “very part time basis.”

“I had mentioned that to Ollie Frazier on the waste advisory board to disclose if he felt it needed to be disclosed,” Chirico said. “There wasn’t anything on the application that asked for any disclosures or such; I certainly would have put that if it was requested.”

Deming, with Calor Energy, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The waste management board also declined to appoint Bill Gupton, chairman of the Central Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, to the ReVenture Advisory Club because his group has voiced its opposition to the project.

But Gupton said his role on the council wouldn’t be a conflict of interest because the Sierra Club doesn’t have a financial interest in ReVenture and he would be willing to change his opinion if his concerns about the project were resolved.

“Our position is that, if there is additional information and data available, we will revaluate that position, and we would be prepared to change that position.”

The board, however, did approve Sierra Club member, Jennifer White.

Other appointees are:

Alice Battle, a former Mountain Island Marine Commissioner; Christopher Hardin, an environmental engineer; Elaine Powell, a Mountain Island resident; William Smith, a commercial property manager; John Daniels, a UNC Charlotte professor in civil engineering; and Rodney Conklin, a former member of the waste management board.

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