"Hupfer and Fishers team also Zeros

Thanks to NUVO for its illuminating “Environmental Heroes and Zeros” feature (Cover, Nov. 1-8). It’s increasingly important to spotlight the “good, the bad and the ugly,” especially because our mainstream news outlets aren’t up to the task. With Indiana’s 48th place ranking in environmental quality, we should all be celebrating the success stories and publicly condemning the bad actors who shift their production costs to the backs of the public.

From reading David Hoppe’s critical column in the same issue about the Indiana DNR’s director, Kyle Hupfer, and his profits-driven business model for our state’s publicly-owned resources and facilities, it’s apparent that he should have been added to the Environmental Zeros list.

Hupfer has proven to be an enemy of our stream corridors. Late last year, he bypassed his own engineering and managerial staff in the Division of Water, which, over the past seven years, has three times denied the Centre Properties application to fill 15 acres of the White River floodway, and issued the developer a permit to fill.

Hupfer didn’t even have the civility to invite the river-fill opponents to participate in the discussions, or even notify them of the pending action. He just played the “might makes right” card, without adequate engineering support, and issued what amounts to a political permit to fill the floodway. Beyond his cynical disrespect for the interests of the citizens who’ve been battling this destructive project for nearly 10 years, his actions have greatly eroded the credibility of the DNR and the Daniels Administration in their claims as protectors of our environmental resources.

Another environmental Zero should be the Town of Fishers Development Department, which has thumbed its nose at the public access laws pertinent to the above-cited Center Properties development. Fishers is currently considering a rezoning petition to greatly intensify the proposed uses on the Centre Properties’ site, now perversely dubbed “Riverplace.” It was recently discovered that, despite many documents sent to Fishers officials by concerned citizens during the past nearly 10 years in an effort to educate and persuade the town to reject the floodway-filling plan, the public case file in the Fishers Development Department was totally devoid of any such materials. Fishers obviously seeks to minimize the critical information available to the media and the public about its environmentally-destructive plan to maximize assessed value. Such a cynical concealing of public records is an assault to the critically important doctrine of open government.

Clarke Kahlo

Hoosier Environmental Council

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