The saga involving the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) appears to have come to a conclusion (see prior post). ERAC had limited all administrative hearings to 1-hour in response to deadlines imposed by the Ohio General Assembly. Today, a Franklin County Common Pleas Court issued an judgment entry today ordering ERAC to:
- Vacate all one hour hearings;
- Require full and fair hearings (de novo); and
- Declaring the Legislative imposed deadlines as non-binding
While we may now return to the status quo as it relates to the hearing process on environmental appeals, the fallout is not over.
First, ERAC will now have to go through the process of re-scheduling hearings in hundreds of pending appeals. The result may be a longer time frame for decisions than what would have occurred had the General Assembly never tried to impose deadlines.
Second, Legislation is still possible. The deadlines were imposed for a reason and business groups may try to re-craft deadlines in a more constructive manner. The Court found the deadlines non-binding because no ramification was imposed on ERAC if it missed the deadline. Some may see that as a road map to creating effective deadlines.
My hope is that all of this will bring about positive change in terms of increased funding for ERAC. Most see that as the real answer. Now we just have to find the money, which may be no easy task.