Franklin County Commission

A county commission hearing got heated Thursday when Franklin County Counselor Mark Vincent told a local woman that he does not care what she takes offense to.

The hearing, which took place at the county government center, concerned amendments to the zoning code that the county is looking at implementing.

Vincent made the statement to Patricia Schuba of Labadie as she spoke to the county commission about her concerns on the proposed zoning amendments.

Vincent and the commission said Schuba was discussing issues that were unrelated to the hearing, which concerned matters such as permits and building setbacks.

Vincent said Schuba always tries to bring everything back to a proposed coal ash landfill that she opposes. Schuba told Vincent that she took offense to his statement.

It was then that Vincent told her that he does not care what she takes offense to.

Schuba is the president of the Labadie Environmental Organization, which opposes the construction of a proposed coal ash landfill in Labadie and has filed legal action against the county.

Teresa Connelly of Franklin County also attended the public hearing. After the hearing she told The Missourian that Vincent was being pretty “obnoxious” in the way he addressed Schuba.

The Missourian spoke with First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker after the meeting about the exchange between Vincent and Schuba. Brinker told the newspaper that the county commissioners and the administrative personnel “obviously care” about what the public has to say. However, he said problems can arise when someone continually raises the same issues that have been asked and answered before. He said Schuba was bringing up the landfill matter at the public hearing to gain press attention for her cause.

She and the other citizens who spoke out at the public hearing just want to see the power plant shut down, Brinker said.

This would be an “economic disaster,” Brinker said, adding that many people depend on the power plant for jobs.

If the plant shut down, millions of dollars would leave the county, Brinker added. It is “ludicrous” that people would want to take those jobs away from the community, he added.

Schuba said that LEO does not want to shut the power plant down and that his saying that is just a scare tactic. LEO simply does not want to see the coal ash landfill built in a floodplain where groundwater could be contaminated, Schuba said.

During the public hearing Schuba said she wished the hearing on the zoning changes could have taken place in the evening instead of at 11 a.m. on a Thursday. If it would have been in the evening, more people could have attended because they would not have been at work, she said.

Schuba said she does not feel that the county’s process to change the zoning code has been open and transparent.

She said she and other citizens attended the hearing because they are passionate about zoning issues. She added that they were not there as a personal affront against anyone.

Villa Ridge resident Eric Reichert called the hearing a “sham,” and said commissioners can still make code changes without more public input.

Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer told Reichert to stick to the purpose of the hearing and state specific opposition to the proposed amendments.