Instead of addressing the IUB's reasons for denying Clean Line's two previous attempts to bifurcate its proceedings (here and here), Clean Line gives the same old lame excuses for why it needs to do this. Nothing has changed.
In its February 2015 Order Denying Motion to Consider Eminent Domain Issue in a Separate Hearing, the IUB found that the benefits of bifurcation flowed primarily to Clean Line, while the detriments flowed to affected landowners. The IUB also determined that bifurcation posed due process concerns and was confusing to affected landowners. The IUB found Clean Line's claim that "many" landowners have expressed a preference for bifurcation baseless.
Now, Clean Line argues that an unknown number of landowners have expressed a preference to wait until after a Board decision on the franchises to sign easement agreements. This means that if all issues are addressed in a single hearing, Clean Line will have to prepare more Exhibit E applications than it will under the two-hearing process. For this reason, Clean Line argues, administrative efficiency would be advanced by the two-hearing approach. Clean Line does not offer any indication of the number of such landowners, other than “many.”
It appears Clean Line could have provided the number of these landowners without violating the confidentiality of the individual negotiations. In the absence of a substantiated number, it is difficult to accept that this group represents a significant part of the overall number of easements Clean Line needs to acquire.
In all, this argument for increased administrative efficiency is speculative at best, and outweighed by the inefficiencies associated with having two hearings to decide issues that are normally decided in a single hearing.
Further, a number landowners wish to have clarity on the Board’s decision about the Project in general before negotiating a parcel-specific easement.
This is all you got, Clean Line? My, my, my, aren't you desperate?