Relationship between Vallejo City Hall and VMT continues to sour

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor –  More:   View the Attorney General’s scathing 13-page letter.  For opponents’ perspective, see Fresh Air Vallejo.  For official project documents, see Vallejo’s City website.   – R.S.]

Vallejo City Council to get update on VMT/Orcem on Tuesday

By John Glidden, March 9, 2019 at 6:22 pm
The site of the Vallejo Marine Terminal/Orcem Americas project proposed for South Vallejo is shown. (Times-Herald file photo)

As the relationship between City Hall and VMT continues to sour, a short-handed Vallejo City Council will receive an update Tuesday regarding the decision by city officials to pause the release of a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the proposed South Vallejo project.

This week, city officials informed representatives with Vallejo Marine Terminal (VMT) and Orcem California, LLC, that due to VMT’s lack of responses to several questions posed by City Hall, which they say is needed, the document’s release date has been pushed back.

“The city needs to know with certainty who is responsible for the project, and any conditions of approval which might attach to the land use entitlement being sought,” staff wrote in the report to the council about City Hall’s decision to hold the FEIR. “The city is prepared to resume processing once VMT is in a position to operate and clarifies that it does want to pursue the appeal by furnishing the needed information, or, alternatively, it gives all of its interest to Orcem, or some other party in interest to continue processing the appeal.”

Vallejo has been attempting for months to have VMT’s new principals, William Gilmartin and Alan Varela, sign an assignment and assumption agreement confirming they have assumed all responsibilities of the business from the original VMT principal Blaise Fettig and former past project manager Matt Fettig.

“…it is unclear whether the purported principals have the authority to manage and bind VMT to agreements that are necessary to finish processing the EIR, or if they are prepared to assume the responsibilities left behind by the previous principals,” staff explained.

Gilmartin and Varela have yet to sign the document.

Meanwhile, the issue between VMT and the city hasn’t stopped Orcem from demanding the city release the FEIR for public review. In recent weeks, Orcem has paid for several print advertisements in the Times-Herald, challenging City Hall to release the document.

The most recent advertisement was printed on Wednesday — the same day as Vallejo’s State of the City event.

“Let’s put an end to the delays,” Orcem’s quarter-page ad reads. “Let the public see the FEIR. Let the City Council vote.”

The advertisement does not include any mention of VMT.

Staff additionally said VMT has stopped collaborating with City Hall by not executing needed agreements to update the Environmental Justice Analysis (EJA), hasn’t provided funding for their half of the EJA, and failed to provide answers to Vallejo’s data requests for the Barge Implementation Strategy and Fleet Management Plan.

Attorney Krista Kim, who represents Gilmartin and Varela, has communicated to the city that Varela and Gilmartin want to meet with city staff next week to “discuss a few important matters as those discussions are very relevant to how VMT would respond to your letter.”

The letter in question is a Feb. 25 piece of correspondence informing VMT of the city’s decision to stop the appeal process due to the lack of relevant information from VMT.

In Match 2017 the Vallejo Planning Commission rejected VMT/Orcem’s application to build a a deep-water terminal (VMT) and cement facility (Orcem) on the same 31 acres at 790 and 800 Derr St. next to the Mare Island Strait in South Vallejo.

The applicants subsequently appealed that decision to the City Council. In June of the same year, councilors directed staff to complete the FEIR so they could review the potential impacts the project might cause if built.

Those opposed to the project say it will pollute the surrounding area, while harming residents and wildlife. Orcem/VMT deny those allegations, saying the project is safe. They further argue  the project will provide jobs and tax revenue for the city.

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan confirmed that Vice Mayor Pippin Dew-Costa, along with councilmembers Rozzana Verder-Aliga, and Hakeem Brown are attending a conference in Washington, DC and will not be at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The Vallejo City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.