First, the Union County zoning ordinance sets forth some minimum requirements for submitting an application for a Planned Development (PD). When you review Hyperion's application you will find that they have gone way beyond what is required in the ordinance.
The application is filled with information about the project and how it is the cleanest facility of its type in the country. Furthermore, Hyperion hosted three community open houses where anyone from the community could come and ask questions of the engineering team.
This is not required of Hyperion yet they knew the right thing to do was continue to educate the community and share the details of their plans after filing the PD application.
Second, a PD is not illegal. In fact, a PD is part of Union County's zoning ordinance and is encouraged for projects of this size. You can find details beginning on page 28 of the code.
It is important to note that this part of the zoning ordinance begins: "The provisions of this article are to be applied in instances where tracts of land of considerable size are developed, redeveloped or renewed as integrated and harmonious units, and where the overall design of such units is so outstanding as to warrant modification of the standards contained elsewhere in this ordinance."
If the Hyperion project doesn't fit this bill, then I do not know what does.
Surely, no one in this county or state for that matter ever thought we would have the opportunity to be host to this advanced energy facility. I would guess that is why refineries of this nature are not contemplated directly in the ordinance.
But the ordinance does provide the flexibility needed to allow for developments of this type. That is why we have the option for PD districts.
What the opposition isn't saying is that the PD comes with certain restrictive conditions that ensure developments like this are done the right way.
For instance, we should be proud of the fact that Hyperion has committed to having at least 60 percent of gross planned development area saved for open space at the Hyperion Energy Center. This is surely a sacrifice when considering applying for a PD or a heavy industrial zone.
We should be proud of the fact that instead of using the ordinance's Heavy Industrial setbacks as the opposition requests, Hyperion chose to grow those requirements to a minimum of 660 feet instead of the 25 feet required by the zoning ordinance. These are all signs of Hyperion's commitment to excellence at this facility.
I hope that the people of Union County and the Union County Planning and Zoning Commission see the benefits of this project. We must not turn away this historic opportunity for jobs and taxes. Hyperion is doing the right thing and thus far have lived up to all of their promises for wanting this to be the cleanest refinery in the country. Please vote yes on the PD application.