Reports and Commentary on 
DOE's January 30, 2001 Public Meeting 
about Oak Ridge Reservation Land Use
and News of Subsequent Events

AFORR's Post-Meeting Comments and Recommendations to Members -- Includes advice on writing letters to public officials.

Newspaper Stories, Letters, and Columns

Boeing's residential community gets boost -- News story on the meeting, by Frank Munger, Knoxville News Sentinel, January 31, 2001.  The reporter was unable to stay for the entire meeting, but he did stay long enough to report on comments made by citizens after a parade of Chamber of Commerce supporters with cookie-cutter speeches -- who had convinced DOE that they needed the first speaking slots -- finally relinquished the platform.

Dever OKs Boeing plan -- The Oak Ridger's news story on the meeting, January 31, 2001. 

Federal Manager at core as land-use debate heats up by Frank Munger -- Followup column in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on Monday, February 5, 2001. Describes the growing schism within DOE's Oak Ridge Operations Office over land issues.

Real Issue: Is DOE inclusive of its public? -- Opinion column by R. Cathey Daniels, The Oak Ridger, February 6, 2001

Urges DOE to support more land use discussions -- Letter to the editor by Al Brooks, The Oak Ridger, February 6, 2001 (last item on page)

Inside DOE: A management squabble at DOE's Oak Ridge operations continues. -- Frank Munger's Knoxville News Sentinel editorial column, Wednesday, February 7, 2001, provides more follow-up.

DOE adds fuel to Oak Ridge land-use controversy -- February 8, 2001 story by Frank Munger, Knoxville News-Sentinel. Describes DOE's preliminary announcement, then postponement of an announcement, regarding its plans for an EIS on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

ORR land study announcement set, then postponed -- Oak Ridger article, Thursday, February 8, 2001. Tells about DOE's "yes, no, maybe" announcements on an EIS for Oak Ridge Reservation land use.

Former Ridger objects to developing reservation -- Letter to editor by William Minser, The Oak Ridger, February 8, 2001. Criticizes the way the meeting was run, and endorses protection of the ORR as public land. (second item on page)

Dever says new duties not related to OR controversy - February 9, 2001 story by Frank Munger, Knoxville News-Sentinel. Reports the surprise news that DOE ORO Manager Leah Dever will be on temporary assignment at DOE headquarters for 90 days, and says that the assignment in Washington has nothing to do with the Oak Ridge land use controversy.

Dever takes temporary post in Washington - Oak Ridger article, Friday, February 9, 2001. Describes her assignment and quotes several people as saying that it has nothing to do with Dever's decision to have an environmental impact statement done on the entire Oak Ridge Reservation.

Land-use planning: The search for common ground by Paul Boyer - Guest column in The Oak Ridger, February 15, 2001. Oak Ridge's City Manager writes about the "self-sufficiency agreement" and its relationship to ORR land use, discusses the city's need for greater economic diversification, and calls for people to find "common ground" regarding "the future of Oak Ridge as a community."

David Reichle and Stanley Auerbach: Or the search for 'sensible' development? - Guest column in The Oak Ridger, February 15, 2001. Two former directors of ORNL environmental sciences research organizations commend Leah Dever for holding the January 30 meeting but express disappointment at how it was conducted and concern that "no one from [DOE or its] contractors spoke to the federal land needed to support the long-term DOE mission."

DOE Meeting Called a Hoax - Letter to the editor by Kenneth Warren, The Oak Ridger, February 26, 2001. Criticizes the way the January 30 meeting was conducted, and urges "let us take a hard look at the Oak Ridge Reservation's potential..."

Concerned about land-use planning - Letter to the editor by Robert Peelle, The Oak Ridger, March 1, 2001. Says "Now is the time to proceed with careful land-use planning for the reservation. . . . Management of land resources should now proceed to optimize the joint interests of the local public and the DOE (national public)."

Hearing afforded open discussion of Reservation land - Guest column in The Oak Ridger, April 4, 2001, by Chamber of Commerce President Parker Hardy. Makes a number of claims that AFORR disputes:

  • That DOE was not giving special treatment to business interests by letting them speak first at the January 30 meeting,
  • That the sale price of the Boeing floodplain strip was fair.
  • That the development on the Boeing property will reduce property taxes elsewhere in the City.
  • That an EIS process for Oak Ridge Reservation land use would be a bad thing because it would probably postpone transfer of the American Museum of Science and Energy to local management, jeopardize planned modernization of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus, and put the Spallation Neutron Source project on hold.
Our views on some of Hardy's allegations:
  • We believe that business interests were given inside information and special preference in the process for signing up to speak at the January 30 meeting. Most meeting registrants were told to sign in on any sign-in sheet (there was no indication of the order in which the sheets would be used to call speakers) and not all registrants were even told how to indicate that they wanted to speak. Speakers representing business interests were called before other members of the public and were invited to speak from the podium. Later speakers were asked to stand up and speak from the floor, wherever they were sitting.
  • We have not seen evidence of the "independent appraisal" that DOE claims supported the bargain-basement land sale price of $54 an acre, and investigations by the DOE inspector general and area news media indicate that there was no "independent" appraisal. Conservation interests routinely pay much more than that to buy up riparian land in order to protect it from development. We can't believe that the developer considers the land to be worthless -- otherwise, the sale of the upland property would not have been delayed awaiting the floodplain sale and the Chamber would not have campaigned so tirelessly for the release and sale of the floodplain. More on the Boeing floodplain sale.
  • We expect development of the Boeing property to increase property tax rates, as local taxpayers will be asked to bear the burden of the high cost of extending municipal infrastructure and services to a location that is several miles from the nearest existing residential area.
  • An EIS on Oak Ridge Reservation land use planning would not prevent DOE from moving forward with actions that are not related to Oak Ridge Reservation land use (such as the transfer of management responsibility for the museum), or that are independently justified and are covered by an EIS. Construction of the Spallation Neutron Source could continue, and modernization of Y-12 and ORNL could proceed as planned (on lands that are within developed areas).

Dever to return to OR in June - Article in The Oak Ridger, Wednesday, April 25, 2001. DOE spokesperson confirms that the Washington assignment of ORO manager Leah Dever is a temporary one, and that she will return in June 2001.

Reservation lands: Can we get past the polarization, mistrust? - Guest column in The Oak Ridger, Tuesday, May 15, 2001, by AFORR board members Dev Joslin, Ellen Smith, and Warren Webb. Presents AFORR's views on several current issues.

Science guy sits at DOE's Oak Ridge helm - The Knoxville News Sentinel, Wednesday, May 16, 2001. Columnist Frank Munger profiles DOE acting manager Ed Cumesty and reports that Cumesty "dodged a question" on whether DOE will conduct an environmental impact statement. Cumesty told Munger: "I can't tell you if there's a plan to do an EIS.... When she comes back, we will find a path forward on that. We're going to find a way to go forward to involve people. Now, whether it's an EIS or some other process, we are committed to getting everybody's voice in it and then moving on."

DOE Announces a Planning Process

DOE Announces New Process for Land Use Planning in Oak Ridge - Department of Energy press release, August 29, 2001. The statement says the planning process "will lead to the development of a comprehensive plan for land use that integrates the Department of Energy's missions with the economic and environmental goals of the community." Public involvement plans include "a series of town hall public forums, establishment of a special focus stakeholder working group, and distribution of data and draft planning documents to the public."

DOE plans land use 'roadmap' - The Oak Ridger, Wednesday, August 29, 2001 - News story about DOE's announcement of a comprehensive planning process for the Oak Ridge Reservation. Story focuses on the remarks made by U.S. Representative Zach Wamp during the formal announcement event.

DOE plans to form focus group to give input on land use - The Knoxville News Sentinel, Thursday, August 30, 2001 - Story on DOE's announcement of the planning process.

DOE group seeks to unite parties on land-use planning - The Oak Ridger, Thursday, August 30, 2001 - News story about the planning process, including membership of the focus group.

Oak Ridge Reservation 'roadmap': Let's start with agreeable areas - The Oak Ridger, Thursday, August 30, 2001 - Editorial about the prospects for the ORR planning process.

Will flight path of new land-use process stay on 'nice' course? - Knoxville News Sentinel, Monday, September 3, 2001 - In his weekly science and technology column, reporter Frank Munger muses on the prospects for the DOE planning process for the Oak Ridge Reservation, in view of the heated debate that has occurred between local businessmen and developers on the one hand and conservationists and environmental researchers on the other.

One tough act for Leah Dever - The Oak Ridger, Tuesday, September 4, 2001 - Personal column by R. Cathey Daniels discusses the possible results of DOE Oak Ridge Operations office manager Leah Dever's decision to "toss all the Goliaths of economic development and all the Davids of land preservation and conservation into one room" as members of the reservation planning focus group.

Schedule of Focus Group Meetings - First announced meeting is Friday, September 28, 2001.

Publicity before the January 30 meeting

DOE layoffs, land use are focus of upcoming meetings -- The Oak Ridger, January 29, 2001

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