In an interim settlement of a specious lawsuit brought by TCI of NY, the Town of Ghent has agreed to give PCB (mis-) handler six months to find a new town to bedevil.
According to an attendee of yesterday’s hearing before judge Jonathan Nichols, TCI and Ghent have signed a “tolling agreement” which suspends the lawsuit. TCI had claimed in court filings that the Town’s attorney had a conflict of interest, and had asked Nichols to prevent Ghent from enforcing its Zoning code.
Assuming TCI finds a new home in one of three other towns they have approached, including Coeymans, the company will void its application to rebuild in Ghent, and the Town will hold TCI harmless for its actions. (Good riddance to bad rubbish?) The Albany Times-Union has previously reported that the company also has scoped out sites in Saratoga, Washington and Rensselaer counties.
The company also will pay $12,500 to cover Ghent’s expenses thus far related to the now-aborted reviews. If TCI has not found a new home by the start of 2014, it could in theory reinstate its legal objections, and resume its quixotic pursuit of fresh permits from Ghent, and would presumably have to contribute an additional retainer for that review. More likely, one suspects, is that the two parties would extend the tolling agreement for another 3-6 months to give TCI more time to skip town.
The most eyebrow-raising part of the agreement is an unusual clause demanded by TCI, which compels Ghent officials to “refrain” from any “involvement” or “interference” with the company’s efforts to find an alternate site in another place
This leaves a strong appearance that TCI is afraid that Town officials might be contacted by other municipalities to which the company has applied for asylum, and that the neighboring officials might hear details of their time in Ghent.
Considering that Ghent now seems eager to have this thorn in their side removed, it’s hard to imagine that it would do so. If anything, the clause seems as likely as anything to backfire. Just imagine someone from, say, the Coeymans Planning Board (which has already called TCI on the carpet) phones a Ghent official seeking advice. But Coeymans is told by Ghent told that it is under a gag order not to talk about TCI’s operations. Wouldn’t that set off as many alarm bells with the person calling as anything the official might tell them?
In any case, with TCI’s two 2012 fires extensively covered in the T-U, New York Times, YouTube, and various local news outlets, any potential new host doing even cursory research would probably stumble upon reports of the company’s past troubles. Wherever TCI lands, they are likely to face far more scrutiny and oversight than they have had to endure over the past three decades in Columbia County.