Supervisor Lamina’s Outrageous Defense of His St. Davids Golf Club Decision

As if the decision of Supervisors Lamina, Olson, Kampf and Richter at Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisor meeting to return the escrow to St. Davids Golf Club was not outrageous on its own terms, we are now subjected to Chair Lamina’s defense of his actions in the Main Line Suburban Life newspaper.  This Bloc of 4 is determined to rule (that’s right rule, not govern) at any cost to the community.  As the outcry gets louder and louder from the community, please read how Chair Lamina plays the ‘spin doctor’ on this situation. 

As a caveat to this story, it did not escape me that next to Lamina’s explanation of his St. Davids actions, was Warren Kampf’s announcement of his State House 157 run.  Let’s all remember that the Bloc of 4 is not just Lamina, Olson and Richter, but attorney Warren Kampf was that 4th supervisor vote that allowed the motion to pass.  Guess the ‘deal-making’ and the ‘law-stretching’ techniques learned locally may help in the campaign!

Lamina Defends Board Decision on St. Davids Club

By Blair Meadowcroft

A motion passed at the Jan. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting had many Tredyffrin Township residents both upset and confused. Although not on the agenda, the topic of the St. Davids Golf Club, an issue that has been thoroughly discussed for years, was brought up under the “New Matters from Board Members” section of the meeting.

After hearing discussion from board members and residents on both sides of the issue, the board voted 4-3 in favor of releasing $25,000 from an escrow account to the St. Davids Golf Club. The St. Davids Golf Club became a topic of importance many years ago when, as part of a development- approval process, the club agreed to construct and pay for a public sidewalk along its perimeter. Since then, however, the club continues to be without the promised sidewalks. Additionally, according to Tredyffrin Township’s Budget Advisory Working Group’s final report, the golf club offered a cash donation of $50,000, in lieu of the requirement to install the sidewalks, but the offer was declined.

The motion, which was introduced by Vice Chairman Paul Olson and passed by the board, left residents feeling unsettled and feeling that the golf club had been absolved of its obligations. Additionally residents expressed fear that passing this motion sets a precedent that will allow other developers the same sort of relief, and that this motion undermines past discussions against giving the golf club a way out.

In response, however, Chairman Bob Lamina explained that the golf club did not receive a “financial gift” from the township, and that “the only action taken related to relieving St. Davids was from an escrow in the form of a letter of credit they had previously established with a local bank to complete the sidewalk.” According to Lamina, the action taken by the board is not costing the township or the taxpayers anything, and that no money is changing hands in any way.

In addition, Lamina explained that his reasoning for why the motion was passed was due to the unnecessary nature of the project in the first place. “The Board of Supervisors agreed with the majority of the citizens of our community that sidewalks are not desired by its residents in that area of the township,” said Lamina. “This is a matter of policy and whether we should hold taxpayers, be they resident or business, on the line for a sidewalk that made no common sense, in an area where they were never intended and would require clear-cutting of trees and add new impervious surface. The only way we could affect this unnecessary sidewalk was to take the action we did. This is not about St. Davids; this motion would have been offered if it were a barbershop, a hoagie shop or ‘John Q. Citizen.’”

He went on to explain that the sidewalks in question did not relate to public safety, and that “given these challenging economic times, we should only be expending resources from our taxpayers for sidewalks” that will keep the public safe.

While the motion may have been made and passed at any board meeting, residents were left questioning whether or not the timing was purposeful. Attendance at the Board of Supervisors meeting was expectedly low given that there was a planned Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board meeting at the same time. “Under our current rules, any supervisor is free to offer any motion he chooses at any time,” said Lamina. “It is not unusual at all for board members to offer unpublished motions during discussions at our meetings and I believe it’s reasonable and appropriate for our board to have this flexibility where needed in its proceedings. In my nearly 12 years of experience on the board, I can’t recall an instance where the township ever consulted with another municipality or the school district on when we schedule our meetings.”

Additionally, while the topic was not on the agenda, Lamina added that he did not feel this was a surprise to anyone involved in the St. Davids issue. “This issue has been before the Planning Commission in many public meetings over the last three years,” said Lamina. “Members of our own board tried to broker a compromise for months after the applicant failed in several attempts to convince the Planning Commission that this made no sense and was very costly. Since the board has delegated authority for land development to the Planning Commission, our vote on the escrow was the only vehicle available for the board to effect a change to plans in that area of our community and that the majority of the residents in that area clearly did not want.”

The following are comments from the readers from mainlinemedianews.com which follow this article online.  The people that commented are all thinking similarly to myself; I have yet to find anyone (of course, other than the ‘4’ supervisors and the few hand-chosen people which Olson called to attend the Supervisor meeting).  Please read the comments and I would encourage you to add your own.

Comments

Panhandler wrote on Feb 3, 2010 12:59 PM:

” Elitism and racism is alive and well in Tredyffrin. They kiss the behind of the golf club, while they allow Mt. Pleasant to deteriorate and be taken over by students and shady developers.Lamina should be laminated and put at the back of a deep dark shelf to gather dust. He’s a jerk ”

Moderate Girl wrote on Feb 3, 2010 1:14 PM:

” Blair, Good for you Panhandler!

The issue is about an escrow deposit (not a letter of credit)on record with the township, and the precedent it will set if monies are returned prior to completion of a plan. It is not about sidewalks. What Lamina is saying is a bunch of hogwash!

It will also cost the taxpayers money in the end. When sidewalks/paths are installed in that area, the cost will far above what it was a couple of years ago or even today. Thus the taxpayers will be faced with a tax increase. I guess the Band of 4 are too stupid to see it. ”

Christine E. Johnson wrote on Feb 3, 2010 1:26 PM:

” I just had the opportunity to view the BOS Meeting on youtube and I’m appalled. I was one of those TRUSTING citizens who had to rely on the posted agenda because they don’t have cable. Obviously, due to the bad precedent this motion establishes, it’s not just about money or a sidewalk, BUT… I would like to point out that none of the residents of Mt. Pleasant who reside along Upper Gulph Road were asked to participate in Mr. Olson’s sidewalk “survey”.

Also, he kept repeating that Upper Gulph Road is dangerous. Um, Yeah. That’s why every time I see a kid from my neighborhood who is walking to or from the Tredyffrin Library, I pull over to give them a ride. Kids should not be walking on this road. It is not safe.

And, as Panhandler indicates, we have more and more students from Villanova and Cabrini College residing in Mt. Pleasant. And they are walking along Upper Gulph. Just ask the group who got cited for underage drinking along Upper Gulph a couple of months back.

Anyway, so now does this mean that any developer who has an agreement with the Planning Commission does not have to abide by the agreement? Plans be damned, we’ll do whatever we want and get our money back? Is development going to be allowed to run rampant and without proper supervision in Tredyffrin? ”

TT Republican wrote on Feb 3, 2010 2:14 PM:

” Mr. Lamina would be wise to read his own Township’s code prior to making statements on public record. Specifically, Mr. Lamina, please refer to Section 181-34(G) which plainly lays out the requirements for releasing an applicant from a performance guarantee. Where is the request in writing from St. David’s? Where is the evidence this was referred to the township engineer? Where is the written report from the engineer back to the board? Where is the recommended amount to be released made by the township?

The argument that the Board can do whatever it wants simply by making a motion flies in the face of any notion of a democratic government and transparency. ”

Malvern Independent wrote on Feb 3, 2010 11:04 PM:

” TT Republican:

Your points are right on! This whole affair has been a blot on the integrity of Tredyffrin since Olson and gang got involved. It’s a total disgrace and I hope that these people trying to abscond with our government get the legal retribution they deserve. ”

Sadder but wiser wrote on Feb 3, 2010 11:41 PM:

 ” I encourage readers to watch the videos on this matter to really understand these comments and their purpose by Mr. Lamina. The words bluster and swagger come to mind. WHO CARES if it was money or a letter of credit? His claim that no money changed hands is even more evidence of how insufficient his explanation is. IF there was no cash to return, WHAT WAS THE HURRY? Mr. Lamina is more than aware of the continuing discussions about taking this community into the 21st century — and accepting that municipalities can and do expect land development planning to take place for times far into the future. The 3 supervisors who voted against the motion that night very clearly stated that their objections were procedural — that the sidewalks were secondary to the issue. Mr. Olson made a motion because “he believes what people tell him” and Mr. Lamina explained that the motion was fine, Mr. Kampf rubber stamped his buddy’s deal to help a golf club with sidewalks, and Mrs. Richter didn’t do anything but apparently what she was told. SInce Mr. Olson was her largest contributor during her recent campaign for supervisor, I guess she owed him. She certainly didn’t feel like she owed the community any time to deal with this motion…Mrs. Kichline moved to table and Mr. Lamina did not even acknowledge the motion. Proving that Robert’s Rules of Order in Tredyffrin are Bob Lamina’s personal preferences for control. ”

Roger, wrote on Community Matters on February 3rd, 2010 at 3:26 pm 

Pattye,

I find two quotes from Mr. Lamina very interesting. First, he opined that:

“Under our current rules, any supervisor is free to offer any motion he chooses at any time,” said Lamina. “It is not unusual at all for board members to offer unpublished motions during discussions at our meetings and I believe it’s reasonable and appropriate for our board to have this flexibility where needed in its proceedings. In my nearly 12 years of experience on the board, I can’t recall an instance where the township ever consulted with another municipality or the school district on when we schedule our meetings.”

Is he really trying to argue that there is no limitation on the power of a supervisor? That’s what it seems like to me. Specifically, he is arguing that the power to make a motion trumps any legislative or judicial limit on that authority. Under this logic, a supervisor could make any motion under the moon, get three other votes, and have four people take a township hostage. Wait, that sounds familiar….

Second, he makes the statement that

“Since the board has delegated authority for land development to the Planning Commission, our vote on the escrow was the only vehicle available for the board to effect a change to plans in that area of our community and that the majority of the residents in that area clearly did not want.”

So in one breathe, Mr. Lamina states that the board has delegated this authority to the Planning Commission and then states that the Board had to take action to return the escrow money. Which is it, Mr. Lamina, does the Board have this authority or the Planning Commission?

This is a real problem – really this is a micro problem which Tredyffrin residents must understand exemplifies a huge problem facing our township today. The problem being unchecked power in the hands of four.

The way I see it, Mr. Lamina just gave Mr. Peterson a gift to use on Monday

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15 Responses

  1. Sidewalks aren’t desired by a majority of residents in this part of the community!? I can’t possibly imagine a more biased, self-serving, elitist comment!

    For the record, though it was a slightly different section of the road, I was hit by a car on my bike on Upper Gulph in September. Walking or Biking along the 40 MPH section is tremendously dangerous and sidewalks are a necessity, the integrity of Tredyffrin’s democracy notwithstanding.

  2. In addition to those comments, I am still scratching my head at Supervisor Olson’s logic. He states that the road is dangerous, therefore we should NOT have sidewalks? Shouldn’t a more logical thought be that the road is dangerous, we SHOULD have sidewalks to protect the residents of Tredyffrin Township. I followed a school bus down Upper Gulph the other day and students are dropped off in this area and have to walk along the side of the road. This is unacceptable.

    I look forward to the meeting on Monday.

  3. Outrageous and yet not surprising. Mr. Lamina’s cocky defense of one of this Board’s first votes is already part of a pattern that unfortunately, this township will be victim to for almost two years…..

    That the Gang of Four doesn’t feel any obligation to be honest, open and responsive to the whole community is already obvious. They’re on record as disregarding the rules whenever the rules don’t suit them, lying and misrepresenting the facts as covers for their actions, and labeling every citizen who writes a letter or steps up to speak at Board meetings by their political affiliation. Message: you’re either with us or against us, and any opposition should expect to be derided and marginalized.

    But Mr Lamina’s dismissal of the comments and concerns of his own Republican colleagues and constituents shows how arrogant and drunk he is with his tiny portion of power –

    – Power over a township of 30,000 people at a time when good judgment and fiduciary responsibility have never been more essential to the future direction Tredyffrin takes.

    I think we need our own” Tea Party” movement here – an uprising of people of all political persuasions who are fed up and won’t take it any more.

  4. Anybody interested in getting organized?

    How to Organize a Tea Party Protest

    Step 1
    Focus on your purpose: Focus on the principal reason you are planning this event. If your focus is on controlling spending and preserving the Constitution then don’t get sidetracked with other issues such as abortion, etc. Believe in what you are doing.

    Step 2
    Call to Action: Make your Tea Party mean something. Draft a letter or petition stating your objectives for all attendee’s to sign. Send this onto Congress and the President. Show Washington that your event is not just gathering people, it has a reason with a purpose and people are being mobilized behind the purpose.

    Step 3
    Advertise: Local conservative radio and television stations are your best avenue as they will be more sympathetic to your event. Try to get interviews during the local news hour. Set up a website, or at the very least an email address where people can contact you. Make up flyers and hand them out at the mall or other busy places. Post printable flyers on your website for others to distribute. Organizing a calling tree (everyone calls 5 people, they call 5 people, etc). Use any avenue you can to get the word out! Invite all media to attend your event personally. Make personal calls to all stations and newspapers and explain your objective.

    Step 4
    Location: Check with your local city planners and police department on permits needed for any location you might chose. Plan to have your event someplace that will have impact within your city.

    Step 5
    Music: Arrange to have patriotic music playing throughout the event. Ask a local radio station to volunteer equipment as a sponsor of the event. Invite musical groups or singers to present patriotic songs.

    Step 6
    Speakers: Ask mainstream, reputable citizens within your community to speak. Avoid politicians. You want this event to be recognized as a “citizen movement”. Doctors, educators, or respected businessmen that believe in your movement will lend impact to your tea party.

    Step 7
    Posters: It’s important that your attendee’s have posters that are focused on your cause. Clear legible posters are the best. Keep them simple and to the point. Photographers love to photograph clever posters. Encourage red, white, and blue!

    Step 8
    During Your Tea Party: Keep the mood upbeat and positive. Avoid confrontations with people who disagree. You are presenting an ideal and you want to foster patriotism, common sense, and unity. Wave flags to encourage patriotism.

    Step 9
    Be Prepared: This tea party will be a heavy work load. Share it with others. Set up a committee to handle the various needs such as location, music, speakers, advertising, etc. Many hands make light work. YOU ARE STARTING A MOVEMENT, so be prepared for future events!

    Step 10
    Thank You: Make sure you thank your attendee’s, sponsors, and the media for their help. Write a letter to the editor expressing your gratitude to those that participated for an event well done!

    http://www.ehow.com/how_4893108_organize-tax-day-tea-party.html

  5. Pattye,

    Tredyffrin’s Tea Party would have to send their complaints to the BOS and not Washington? Most of the organized tea parties are fighting the status quo in Washington.

    Several posts ago, someone mentioned recall petitions. I wonder how many would sign an e-mail recall petition on the gang of 4 just to let them know the temperature of the residents? I wonder if the Gang of 4 would “get the message” or would they be as obtuse as they usually are.

  6. The joke’s on the voters in November who thought they were electing officials to represent them and not their own politically-driven agendas. Bob allows the motion to come to the BOS despite it not being on the agenda. Paul “heard from some people” that St. David’s would like to have their escrow released, but nothing is in writing. Meeting protocol is rearranged to have public comments first. A motion to table is ignored. LOKR all vote to pass the motion, without meeting the township’s own criteria on when to release escrow funds. A new era in Tredyffrin government is upon us, and I’m still waiting for the punchline. Time to check the real estate listings in Easttown.

  7. Is there someone reading here who could research the process by which the community could recall a supervisor? I’m not sure it’s a fair action, but it sure would be fun to threaten it…
    By the way– using Mr. Olson’s Sidewalk to Nowhere — and now reading the letter in today’s paper about the Green Trails from STAP — perhaps we should all ask the bigger question — why was the Tredyffrin Library built in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE???? It sounds to me like the sidewalk plan for the future is to go from KofP Rd. to Old Eagle….so if the St. Davids sidewalk is to no where, and the obvious destination is the Tredyffrin park/library….QED.

  8. Some more Comments posted online for the Lamina defense article:

    Angry Tredyffrin Resident wrote on Feb 4, 2010 9:54 AM:

    ” I cannot believe the actions of Lamina, Kampf, Olson and Richter over the St. Davids issue. This people think that they get to rule the people, I am disgusted and angry about Tredyffrins government.
    For more talk on the subject, go to Community Matters blog. Pattye Benson has written about St. Davids and the Tredyffrin supervisors decision and includes news articles from this paper. http://www.pattyebenson.org

    Sidewalk to Nowhere wrote on Feb 4, 2010 12:03 PM:

    ” Sounds to me like this would have been a sidewalk to nowhere — the library is not even close to St. Davids – no one is walking from that area down to the library. There is an agreement in place that would require the club to contribute to the sidewalk if one is built – and I think the club would be held accountable if a sidewalk is ever built in that area – if the time frame is years away this seems to be a logical decision ”

    Lifetime resident wrote on Feb 4, 2010 12:17 PM:

    ” SIDEWALK to NOWHERE because the township hasn’t built them anyplace yet…people WOULD walk on a sidewalk down Upper Gulph — read the letter to the editor in this issue about the longterm Green Plan for the township comprehensive plan. And it wasn’t “money” — it was a secured letter of credit — which gave the township enforcement to building the sidewalk someday. Returning it took away their enforcement and basically waived the private golf club’s obligation to comply with the deal they agreed to in 2005 when they needed the township to let them redevelop their site. There is no longer an agreement in place to require the private club to do anything…the only agreement now is that there may someday be a sidewalk but there is no secured participation on the part of the private golf club. Let’s pretend this is not about 1950 — but instead ab out 2020…

    Otherwise — please apply your logic to why we bothered to build a library in Tredyffrin — there are plenty of libraries in this area…who needs another one in the middle of nowhere…? “

  9. I think the Tredyffrin Tea Party is an idea worth investigating. It’s obvious some action needs to be taken or we’re just sitting around blowing hot air. The problems (LOKR) aren’t going to fix themselves. We need to get organized and it’s not just people with one particular political affiliation that are feeling disrespected or betrayed.

    Perhaps a nonpartisan Committee of Seventeen
    (based on the number of voting precincts in Tredyffrin)
    could put together an official platform. We need to reestablish trust in our local government.

  10. I will not stand for maligning that library! It was a good one for young Karl. Very convenient for my mother’s work commute. I read all my Greek myths for the first time there, even though I lived north of Malvern.

    So keep me in mind if your Committee of Seventeen needs a person to represent the Library, even though I live in Phoenixville ;-)

  11. Another comment from the paper re Lamina’s defense article:

    Bamboozled wrote on Feb 4, 2010 5:59 PM:

    ” The citizens of Tredyffrin have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. There is so much action or should I say inaction that it is scary that worse has not happened.
    The Board allows the words of a few residents run how the Township is run (“the squeaky wheel”).
    With the recent staffing cuts, you may see things that are visible getting done, but you will never notice the things that are not getting done until it is too late! “

  12. I voted Democratic in November. I am willing to help fix this, but those who blindly pulled, or were told to blindly pull, straight Republican should take a few minutes to do some soul searching. We (Dems) will help you fix this, but we did not cause it.

    Then, maybe WE can stop wasting time barking at each other and work together to put the sparkle back on this township. It’s a bit smudged right now. I just hope that we sort this out before we get a statewide or nationwide reputation for BOS games and businesses choose not to come here.

    Recall sounds good. If it’s possible. Start with E.J.

  13. I’m with John Petersen. We need to get organized. I’ll step up for E-5.

    If anyone wants to know which precinct they’re in, you can view the map at http://www.tredyffrin.org/pdf/general/VOTING%20MAP.pdf (I’m new to this so I had to double-check to make sure I got it right!)

    A recall of the St. David’s Golf Club Decision would be a start BUT doesn’t the problem extend beyond this one particular issue?

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