I went to the Branch Pond water level petition public hearing today and ended up spending most of the day there, and took a few pictures which I’ve uploaded to the Summer 2013 Album. I had not initially planned on staying too long but I had particularly wanted to hear Peter Newkirk of the Division of Environmental Assessment give his presentation and that turned out to be after lunch. He was there primarily to explain how he came up with the 1.7′ maximum annual fluctuation figure, and to defend it if necessary. No defense was necessary as nobody really questioned it. I was actually surprised there wasn’t more discussion about it. I finally left around 3 PM at which time the hearing was beginning to wind down.
I found the whole hearing interesting and I’m glad I went. It was particularly interesting to compare it with our own public hearing: this one started at 9 AM and was scheduled to run until 5 PM and be followed by a public comment period starting at 6 PM. Furthermore, all the testimony had been pre-filed, commented on, objected to, and ruled on DAYS BEFORE today’s hearing. Today was to allow the presentation of the testimony and evidence with opportunity for review and cross examination in real time. For comparison, our hearing started at 5 PM and ran for 5 1/2 hours and was over, and there were a number of people who didn’t get a chance to speak at all. I was even cut short in my testimony. Clearly, DEP learned a lot from the Clary Lake hearing process and have implemented improved procedures. Someone had to go first and I guess it might as well have been us paving the way.
Surprisingly, there were no representatives of the press there.
[UPDATE] OK, so there were representatives of the press there, Channel 13 News apparently sent a crew over likely late afternoon after I had left: