Christmas in January for St. Davids Golf Club . . . Thank you Supervisors Lamina, Olson, Kampf & Richter

The community’s outrage over Monday night Board of Supervisors decision to return $25,000 escrow money to St. Davids Golf Club continues . . . Tredyffrin resident Dariel Jamieson provides the following Letter to the Editor in today’s Main Line Suburban Life.

Supervisors’ gift to country club

To the Editor:

What happened at Monday’s Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors meeting gives new meaning to the term “country-club Republicans.” In a stealth move that set a new standard for chutzpah, four members of the Board of Supervisors – Kampf, Lamina, Olson and Richter – voted to return $25,000 in escrow funds to St. Davids Country Club. There had been no public notice, the item was not on the agenda, and Mr. Olson, who made the motion, admitted the township had received no formal request from St. Davids to return the escrow funds.

After all the hoopla associated with St. Davids’ 18-month breach of contract, Monday night’s decision by four supervisors effectively absolves the golf club of its obligation to build a sidewalk along its property on Upper Gulph Road – an agreement reached with the Planning Commission in 2005 as part of an approval to expand its clubhouse.

But this is not about sidewalks. It is about the supervisors’ total lack of transparency, the appearance of impropriety, the complete disregard for the Planning Commission’s decisions, and the setting of bad precedent.

It became obvious during public comment that some members of the community had advance notice of the topic – some referring to typed notes as they spoke. That advance notice begs the question of why the item was not on the agenda. One supervisor said after the meeting that she “had been phoning people the whole latter half of the week.” People who clearly had not been made aware of the topic were residents of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood and members of the Sidewalks, Trails and Paths Committee.

I was also told after the meeting that the supervisors had asked for legal advice before the meeting and a representative of the township solicitor had assured them they were within their rights to take such a vote. Clearly there was time to get a legal opinion but no time to add the topic to the agenda. The stealth move was also scheduled on the same night as the Board of Education budget meeting, which was expected to have a “standing room only” crowd since it was covering the possibility of a significant tax increase.

Supervisor Michelle Kichline tried to initiate discussion opposing the motion but was silenced by Chairman Bob Lamina, who had announced that he would hear comments from the public before board members could speak. Ms. Kichline moved to table the motion in favor of St. Davids until serious legal and procedural questions could be answered but Mr. Lamina did not allow her motion to come to a vote.

Planning Commission Chair Bob Whelan stepped forward to rebut Mr. Olson’s claim that all immediate neighbors were opposed to the sidewalks and questioned why the board would want to completely negate the decision made by the Planning Commission. Later in the meeting Mr. Lamina suggested Tredyffrin should re-examine the role of the Planning Commission because the “Board of Supervisors are the ones elected directly by the voters and hence the ones accountable.”

One has to wonder why these four board members thought it was imperative to slip through a sweet deal for St. Davids. When the Board of Supervisors is willing to cut funding to the fire companies, libraries, public works and services to seniors, why was such effort expended to effectively make a gift to a country club?

Dariel Jamieson, Tredyffrin

Questions Continue Regarding the St. Davids Golf Club Decision by Supervisors Lamina, Kampf, Olson & Richter

In discussion of the gray area surrounding the St. Davids decision by the Board of Supervisors (Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter), several residents inquired about our township solicitor, and how does his judgment weigh in on the legalities of this decision.  Tom Hogan of Lamb McErlane PC, (township’s contracted law firm) was absent on Monday night (due to knee surgery, not vacation as earlier suggested).  Another attorney from his firm attended the meeting in his absence. 

Tredyffrin has a contractual agreement with Lamb McErlane but I was not clear on the duties of the township solicitor. In review of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors website, I was able to locate the township solicitor’s job description (which I have included below). On one hand, in Section 1101 it is clear that the ‘township solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board of supervisors’ but then on the other hand, in Section 1102, it states that the township solicitor is to have control of all legal matters. Section 1103 does state ‘The township solicitor shall furnish the board of supervisors, upon request, with an opinion in writing upon any question of law.’  Do you suppose that Supervisor DiBuonaventuro, Kichline or Donohue could individually ask for a written opinion from Mr. Hogan? 

 If we consider the St. Davids Golf Club decision, is it possible for the township solicitor to serve at the pleasure of the board of supervisors if those same supervisors may (or may not) act in a legal manner?  A township solicitor may advise the board of supervisors on legal matters but the supervisors have the right to make the final decision for the township (apparently, even if the decision is questionable).  So as far as the St. Davids decision is concerned,  the township solicitor is responsible only to the supervisors. Further, I am not clear what counsel was given to the supervisors in Executive Session on the St. Davids GC escrow matter, prior to the supervisors meeting.  In the end, I guess it does not matter, the supervisors remain the final word.   Bottom line, if we want this latest Board of Supervisor decision to be challenged . . . it is not the job of the township solicitor. 

I am not satisfied with the St. Davids Golf Club decision on many levels but I need help as to where we go from here . . . just think that if this decision is allowed to stand, what will be next?  The Board of Supervisors meeting which was scheduled for Monday, February 1 has now been changed to Monday, February 8.  Coincidentally (?), the February 8 is the  important TE School District Finance Committee Meeting (2010-11 budget discussion).  Remember what happened this week . . . many residents attended the TESD meeting and not the Supervisor Meeting (because if you reviewed the BOS agenda, there was no mention of St. Davids Golf Club) and we saw what happened!  One can only wonder  what the ‘Block of 4’ (Lamina, Kampf, Olson, Richter) have  planned for the February 8 meeting of the Board of Supervisors (that won’t appear on the agenda) .


Section 1101. Township Solicitor.–The board of supervisors may appoint and determine the compensation of a township solicitor. The township solicitor shall be licensed to practice law in this Commonwealth and may be one person or a law firm, partnership, association or professional corporation. The township solicitor serves at the pleasure of the board of supervisors.

Section 1102. Solicitor to Have Control of Legal Matters-The township solicitor shall direct and control the legal matters of the township, and no official or official body of the township, except as otherwise provided under law, shall employ an additional attorney without the assent or ratification of the board of supervisors.

Section 1103. Duties of Solicitor.–The township solicitor, when directed or requested so to do, shall prepare or approve any bonds, obligations, contracts, leases, conveyances, ordinances and assurances to which the township may be a party. The township solicitor shall commence and prosecute all actions brought by the township for or on account of any of the estates, rights, trusts, privileges, claims or demands, as well as defend the township or any township officer against all actions or suits brought against the township or township officer in which any of the estates, rights, privileges, trusts, ordinances or accounts of the township may be brought in question before any court in this Commonwealth and do every professional act incident to the office which the township solicitor may be authorized or required to do by the board of supervisors or by any resolution. The township solicitor shall furnish the board of supervisors, upon request, with an opinion in writing upon any question of law.