Attorney Offers Legal Opinion on February 22 Board of Supervisors Vote

A follower of Community Matters, a local attorney (most likely a municipal attorney) has offered his legal opinion on various township topics, including St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk issue.  Overnight I received his legal opinion on the February 22 vote by the Board of Supervisors to reverse their earlier vote and decision to set up a sidewalk and trails review subcommittee (Board of Supervisors 2/22/10 Meeting . . . St. Davids Golf Club Motion.)  As indicated in the post of St. Davids Golf Club Decision Reversed but, . . . Was There Full Disclosure, Transparency, Deal-Making? the supervisors vote of February 22 created much dialogue from the community.  Understanding the supervisors decision from a legal perspective is important; I ask you to reflect on the following:

JudgeNJury, March 3, 2010 at 12:36 AM Said:

Other matters kept me from focusing on the February 22 vote before, but now that I have looked at it (and at the risk of beating a dead horse), I wanted to add my two cents. In short, it seems to me that the BOS once again failed to follow appropriate procedures when it passed the second part of the February 22 motion.

Pennsylvania’s Municipalities Planning Code (“MPC”) authorizes townships to establish planning commissions. Tredyffrin Township did so, and Section 43-6 of the Township Code specifically states that the Planning Commission “shall have all other powers and duties provided by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.” (http://www.ecode360.com/?custId=TR1485).

Section 303(a) of the MPC states that:

“Whenever the governing body, pursuant to the procedures provided in section 302, has adopted a comprehensive plan or any part thereof, any subsequent proposed action of the governing body, its departments, agencies and appointed authorities shall be submitted to the planning agency for its recommendations when the proposed action relates to . . . the location, opening, vacation, extension, widening, narrowing or enlargement of any street, public ground, pierhead or watercourse.” (http://mpc.landuselawinpa.com/MPCode.pdf).

Section 107(a) of the MPC contains the following definitions:

1) “Governing body” includes “the board of supervisors in townships of the second class.” Tredyffrin Township is a township of the second class, and it has adopted a comprehensive plan (http://www.tredyffrin.org/departments/community/comprehensive.aspx).

2) “Planning agency” includes planning commissions.

3) “Public ground” includes “parks, playgrounds, trails, paths and other recreational areas and other public areas.” Under this definition, it seems clear that sidewalks qualify as a “public ground.”

The second half of the February 22 motion did two things: it (1) “form[ed] a Subcommittee . . . to begin a process to reexamine where the community wants and needs sidewalks;” and (2) relieved St. David’s from its obligation “to build the path, until the new policies are adopted or the Township has put in place designs and funding for sidewalks or paths that would connect to the proposed St. David’s pathway.” It seems to me, then, that the motion was a “proposed action of the governing body [the BOS]” that “relates to . . . the location [and] opening . . . of any . . . public ground.”

Therefore, the BOS was required to submit the motion “to the Planning Commission for its recommendations” before it could vote on the motion. The Planning Commission then would have had 45 days to make a recommendation. See MPC Section 303(b). As far as I know, the BOS did not submit its proposal to the Planning Commission before it voted on it.

As a practical matter, compliance with these procedures probably would not have made much difference. The BOS could have submitted the proposal to the Planning Commission for a recommendation and then, regardless of what the Planning Commission recommended, voted to approve the motion. That reality does not, however, change the fact that the BOS appears to have ignored procedures once again.

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33 Responses

  1. <<
    As a practical matter, compliance with these procedures probably would not have made much difference. The BOS could have submitted the proposal to the Planning Commission for a recommendation and then, regardless of what the Planning Commission recommended, voted to approve the motion. That reality does not, however, change the fact that the BOS appears to have ignored procedures once again.
    <<

    At the end of the day, I think this controls. This group, particularly Kampf, Lamina and Olson simply make it up as they go along. Imperial hubris of the worst kind.

    There is however, more to this.

    First, it turns out that 6 of 7 supervisors endorsed Kampf for his 157th. bid. The lone holdout was JD.

    That's right… Supervisors Kichline and Donahue chose to endorse Kampf – in spite of the St. David's decision. This tells you that Kichline's legal concerns were mere political theater. When it came to crunch time, both Kichline and Donahue folded up like a lawn chair. No dobut, they must feel that some sort of debt is owed to Kampf for their 2009 victory. Or perhaps it is a debt owed to he GOP and Kampf is the beneficiary of that debt.

    Then…there is the endorsement of Kampf by CT, Mike Broadhurst (chair and vice char respectively) and the three area chairs (Ed Sweeney, Bruce Parkinson and Gio D'Amato). In addition, supervisors Kichline and Richter in their dual capacity as supervisors and committee people have endorsed Kampf. The oddity of course is that the committee as a whole only recommended Kampf. Kampf DID NOT get an endorsement. But somehow, Kampf has decided to again, "make up his own rules." This is what consummate political insiders do.

    Effectively, the TTRC rendered the results of the convention moot. What they are really saying is that the voters don't count.

    By the way, no surprise where Parkinson would be on the matter. Mr. Double-Bubble is hoping to get a tax credit for his country club dues.

    The irony is that the word Kampf is the German word for struggle. Democracy, justice and fair play have to struggle to survive in this township. It is not entirely clear whether democracy will survive the struggle.

    Getting back to the supervisors, when it really counts, you cannot trust either Donahue or Kichline to do the right thing. Their decision to endorse Kampf is logicially and morally inconsistent with the positions they took re: St. Davids.

    I am counting the days to when I move from this place.

    A team of monkeys could do a better job than these idiots.

    If Kampf does make it out of the primary, I look forward to Drucker kicking the crap out of Kampf.

    • John, did Warren not invite you to his 10 year old birthday party and you have carried a grudge against him ever since? It seems a little bizarre to me that you are calling into question a lot of people’s character because they happen to prefer Warren over Ken. I personally prefer Warren myself as he, in my mind, is the better candidate to run against “slip and fall” Paul. This is not a year for democrats nationally and all politics is local. I would like you to get on board with Warrens campaign and perhaps even do a meet and greet for him so he can get to know some of your neighbors. What do you think? Before you answer, sleep on it. By the way, you owe me lunch at Carangis! Pay up, pal!

  2. John,
    I don’t understand. A few weeks ago, when the Chester County Republican Party had its convention I thought that Warren Kampf did not receive the endorsement. He and Ken Buckwalter were both ‘recommended’ but neither received sufficent votes for an endorsement. So why is it that Tredyffrin’s REP committee people and supervisors are endorsing Warren over Ken. Shouldn’t they be equal between the 2 candidates in their support? Or at least I would think that these people should not publically state that they are supporting Warren. Seems to me that there is a real splintering in the local REP committee vs. the county REP committee. Maybe I’m just missing something in this discussion?

    • Yep…seems at odds with the county. I think you need to ask the people committee named: Sweeney, Parkinson, D’Amato, Kichline, Alexander, Richter and Broadhurst.

      Based on Kampf’s assertions – these people are bucking the county GOP and are endorsing one candidate over the other – in spite of the results of the convention,.

      Is it possible that Kampf is stretching things a bit??? Not only is it possible, it is entirely likely. According to the rules, none of these committee people can actually endorse one candidate over the other. On the other hand, they can work harder for one than the other. Certainly, the Phoenixville folks will work harder for Buckwalter and the Tredyffrin folks are likely to work a bit harder for Kampf. But to endorse… that is taking things a bit too far.

      But…taking things too far is what Kampf does.

  3. Thank you JudgeNJury for your legal explanation. It continues to amaze me how these supervisors just seem to make up the rules. This time they made up the rules about the St. Davids vote and only when the public jumped up and down did they apologize. Again, it took more outrage from the residents and they reversed the vote. But they couldn’t just do the vote reverse, they had to add the business of the subcommittee that no one understood. I say that we all better keep our eyes open going forward . . . !

  4. Thanks Judge N Jury — very helpful It does seem that Tredyffrin is a bit of a fiefdom.
    But as others have said previous — why does EVERYTHING seem to be a new opportunity to bash Kampf. And here you are making a huge non-sequitur John — that Don and Kich endorsed Kampf. Perhaps in evaluating the candidates, they prefer Kampf to Buckwalter. They work with kampf. Their only view of him is not the St. Davids vote — and just because some speak up for Buckwalter does not mean he does not have his own issues. Neither Donahue or Kickline owe anyone an explanation of their preferences in an election. I am personally offended that JP is so determined to wipe WK off the face of the earth. Don’t vote for him — don’t work for him — continue to bash him. BUT to attempt to link this decision to character on the parts of Donahue and Kickline is over-reaching. Let’s not have Community Matters turn into a blog to bash. Isn’t that what your blog was about? Why not take your irritation back there and go at it.

  5. I was thinking about why the BOS wants to do away with the planning commission and came across this article. I thought that it might be a trend among municipalities, but I couldn’t locate any other examples… West Grove did pass an ordinance to abolish their PC in December.

    Without a PC ,we will make the development process easier, faster. Without a PC, we will trust developers to follow rules with little supervision. Will the BOS, the twp engineer and the codes officer protect us from being permanently scarred by rapid and irresponsible development?

    Be glad West Grove is streamlining
    Published: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    By Avon Grove Sun Editor Chris Barber

    According to the legal advertisement published in last week’s Avon Grove Sun, as well as our interview with Borough Manager Sharon Nesbitt, West Grove council has proposed abolishing its planning commission.

    We applaud the move, because, for once, somebody’s working to streamline over-bloated government.

    The first impression, though, is that something radical is going on. Are they going to stop planning? Will West Grove stop moving ahead?

    No, they aren’t. And no it won’t.

    The planning commission is established to go over plans for subdivisions and land development. Since West Grove is built out about as far as it can go, the council agreed that the commission is extraneous.

    Furthermore, according to Ms. Nesbitt, in recent months there has been only one plan to consider, and the commission has met only one or two times in the past year because it had little or nothing to do.

    With the resources of the borough engineer, the zoning officer and the council as a whole available, it was obvious that the work could be handled quite efficiently. And with earnest and dedicated members on the council, it’s quite likely they will aim for higher goals.

    It was interesting to read one of the reactions the Chester County Commissioners had to the letter informing them of the borough’s intention: “While we regret the discontinuance of any planning agency……”

    Sure. They love commissions, committees, boards and advisors.

    But isn’t this what many people are complaining about — too much government and bloated bureaucracy?

    We’ll stop short of calling it genius, but we have to say that the council’s plan to shut down a commission that has little or nothing to do is an instance of good, common sense. And other municipalities — large and small — including the federal government, might take a cue from little West Grove.

    In the borough’s case, the members of the planning commission work on a volunteer basis. In bigger towns and cities, many of these jobs are paid. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

    Obviously, no one who is getting paid to work for yet another “visioning” organization wants the trough to dry up. But the truth is that quite a bit of creative planning and effective governing can be down with a scaled down staff.

    Not surprisingly, common citizens of their own accord can often plan their own futures and follow the rules they’re given.

    Too often we have seen plans and approvals for really good projects drag out in time and money because they have to go through this or that approval by another level of government. And yet, their constituents may be unconsciously asking for it.

    When residents continually ask to be given services that they are too lazy or uncreative to provide for themselves, their representatives will bloat up their staffs and fill up the meeting rooms to satisfy the public appetite.

    We could all take a lesson in streamlining from West Grove. Their agenda may not reach the level of courageous, but it certainly is a step in the direction of good, clear thinking.

    • maybe doing away with the planning commission makes sense for Tredyffrin, but if it is to be done, it should not be by cou de etat (sp). Get it on the agenda. I am all for getting rid of bloated government, but in our case, where trust has become a factor, do you want to consolidate more power in the hands of less people?

      Warren, you’re my man!

      • So one hand, you are concerened about govt concentration, but on the other hand, Warren is your man…. Warren is one of the block of 4……..

        In the span of three sentences, you managed to contradict yourself .

  6. John P —

    Isn’t it at all a little possible you are really stretching your indictment of Kampf regarding this
    “endorsement” by the committee members/BoS members.

    It sounds like the locals are “endorsing” Kampf’s candidacy as in “we support.”

    This is very different from the “endorsement process” of the RCCC.

    Plus, why don’t you take all the Phoenixville people to taks for supporting their local guy? He’s had some pretty bad stuff in his record…including releasing confidential boro information anonymously and then being forced to own up to it.

    I don’t mind — in fact I like — some of your analysis. This, however, is a little over the top even for you John.
    Stop using semantics for your political games.

  7. Nice to see the Warren supporters coming out. Maybe he will launch his website before May.

  8. I agree that the web pag is becoming too mean. Pattye I thought this was a fair web page, about the community. bob and paul and warren is a part of our community, no matter how you feel about them. Every tredyffrin person is and you should treat everyone with respect. If you cannot treat everyone in this community with respect, in light of your feelings to them, then you should change the name of your web page. I like reading, but I thought you were a sweet person. and I dont like how you have been treating people you decide you dont like. what has bob or paul or warren ever done to you. also, I would like to hear more about the other guy, (buck?), the one against warren, as to why you are going to vote for him. you seem to like him and I would like to take your advice and vote for him too but can you tell me what it is about him that you think he would make a good congress man. I guess you must know him for a long time. thank you I share your thoughts with my friends here at arbordeau we like hearing what you have to say. also I would like to hear what you think of the computers at lower marion and what you think of the new wayne senior center I wish we had a senior center here. God Bless you.

  9. Pattye – Pls keep doing exactly what you have been doing – providing an open forum for exchange of ideas and information. Anyone who doesn’t like the content, commentary, or criticism is free to leave.

    I personally appreciate your effort and dedication toward a more transparent and representative local government.

    • Thank you Malvern Republican.

      I just left the following comment on another post, but will repeat it here.

      Just so there is no confusion — Community Matters is my blog, and I make the decision on its content; I am not directed by any individuals or political party. I decide what to write based on what is of interest to me or on subjects that I believe are important to our community.

      I support good government, not party politics. If I have concerns about our elected officials, it is not based on their party affiliation; my problems and/or oncerns are based on the specific issue. To me it makes no difference what their party affiliation is . . . only that there is ‘good government’ in Tredyffrin.

      In most cases, I do not know the people who decide to leave their comments . . . so, I don’t know whether they are REP or DEM and frankly, I don’t care. To me, engaging the community in conversation on important issues is why Community Matters exist.

      I encourage an open dialogue and applaud people who take the time to leave comments. We can all learn from a thoughtful exchange of information.

      • Pattye: I have read your blog a few times and appreciate the time you take to delve into topics of interest in Tredyffrin. However, for you to say that “party affiliation” does not matter to you is a little disingenuous. I remember that you ran as a Democrat candidate for the Tredyffrin BOS in 11/09 and lost to the Republican candidates. You seem to spend most of your time blogging about our current BOS who are all Republicans. I do remember one time when you blogged about something Paul Drucker, our Democrat 157th State House Rep. did and I remember the blog having a positive tone. Has Mr. Drucker done anything else while in office that is worthy of writing about? I think what he does has a profound effect on Tredyffrin “community matters” and would like to hear more about him. Does our Democrat State Senator Dinnimann ever do anything of interest to our community, either positive or negative? I have never seen him mentioned in your blog. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I have seen you write about the T/E School Board but never have seen you call out the individuals on the school board like you do with the BOS. If you have, again, I stand corrected.
        Also, I just have to say that allowing people on your blog who resort to namecalling and ad hominem attacks (see John Petersen’s comments above) will not lead to open and meaningful dialogue.
        Again, I do think you are creating a space for those interested in our community to discuss major issues. But, I would rather see more information on the actions of all our elected officials on your blog to get a truer picture of what’s going on in our community.

        • Community Matters was not intended to be a political blog. I decide what to write about based on what is important to me, or issues that I think may be of value to the community. Good government is important to me, not the political party affiliation of those who serve. Yes, I am very much aware that I ran as a Democrat in the last BOS election and yes, you are right I lost to a Republican. Also, please know that my best friend for 20 years is Judy DiFilippo. And that Paul Drucker and I are good friends, and that Andy Dinniman supported me and appeared on my campaign literature and also that I am a fan of Ken Buckwalter. I do not decide my friendships or my associations based on political party affiliation, but rather on the character of the individual.

          It is inaccurate to suggest that I spend most of my talking about the BOS; discussions have included guns in Valley Forge National Historical Park, cell phone usage by teenagers, Mt. Pleasant zoning and college student issues, Paoli Business and Professional Association, school board budget, Teachers pension, Lower Merion laptops, historic preservation, Paoli Transit project, O’Neill Property – Citizens Bank $8 billion lawsuit, fire funding, and many more topices. For the record, any discussion of BOS has to do with an issue — BAWG report, St. Davids, Mt. Pleasant.As a reference I just checked, I have made 260 posts and had 65,000 visitors in 3-1/2 months. I hope that the 65,000 people have visited Community Matters for more reason than the BOS.

          I daily spend 3-4 hours on Community Matters . . . and what am I getting out of it? I hoped to share my thoughts and ideas and encourage others to discuss and debate various topics. I have given up much time for this project much to the chagrin of my husband, family and friends. I never claimed to be an expert nor can I expect to please everyone with the choices I have made . . . I just hoped to make a difference in this community in my own way.

          Thank you for your comments. I am sorry if Community Matters has not provided the kind of information that you are looking for.

          Pattye Benson

          • My husband and I follow your blog daily Pattye, and want to thank you. We do not receive the local newspaper and you provide a way for us to stay up on what is going on in Tredyffrin. We know that you must spend a alot of time writing Community Matters. We have been followers since you started and I don’t think we have missed a day. We like that you skip around on various topics and we find that we talk about the topics with our neighbors. Don’t you question it — you are making a difference!!!!

          • No matter how you cut it, this is a hatchet blog, where the likes of Mr Petersen lurk and like a true bully, exudes cowardice with his threats and admonitions and desire to have Drucker “kick the crap out of him” (kampf) Seems like someone has kicked the crap out of Petersen and his vitriol is a symptom of his weakness. He is not a gentlman. He choses to call a spade a spade, learned from his momma. His communication skills are atrocious and any valuable information he may have is lost in his anger and style.
            He belongs in Radnor. This blog is used as a tool to slam Republicans, yes those very folks who somehow were elected by our community. In the mean time, I have not had any questions that I asked answered. Such as does olsen belong to SDGC? Why would the BOS be so dumb as to pass a motion as they did? Mr Petersen, please don’t answer. I am beginning to think you are not a bully, but a punk. Guys like you end up with a heart attack, or in the old days, with their teeth broken.By the way, I have never met any of these supervisors and they wouldn’t know me from Adam. Pattye, I am glad you are friends with Judy. Tell her we miss her on the board. As a member of the community I will continue to watch and learn. Democrats, stay angry and dumb. It is easy to be the apple in the teacher’s eye when others are throwing spit balls. Later

            • I believe that Paul Olson is not a member of St. Davids Golf Club. As for why the BOS passed the motion, I think that question can only be answered by the 6 supervisors who voted in favor of the motion. An answer from anyone else would only be speculation. For the record, I do not appreciate you referring to Community Matters as ‘a hatchet blog’.

              Thank you for your comments.

              Pattye Benson

        • “[A]llowing people on your blog who resort to namecalling and ad hominem attacks (see John Petersen’s comments above) will not lead to open and meaningful dialogue.”

          This is unfair to Pattye. A sure-fire way for Pattye to kill any chance of an open an meaningful dialogue would be for her to start censoring comments. If readers thought that Pattye might censor their comments because she either disagreed with the content or did not like the way the commenter expressed his or her ideas, they would stop taking the time to submit them and the discussion section of the blog would die.

        • I have to reject your ad hominem assertion. Indeed, I may use colorful language at times – but I do support my point. This is a tactic that Kampf tried at the 2/8 meeting. In other words, if you cannot refute my assertion, instead of tackling the issue, you instead label it as “naming calling”.

          I make an assertion and I provide a basis for that assertion. In other words, I make an argument.

          I have provided an accurate picture of what the block of 4 has done. I had the basis of a lawsuit, and ultimately, the block of 4 yielded (although not as far as I wanted). That should tell you a lot…. Only somebody who argues in facts could have made that happen. Again, you may not like my approach. However, that does not vitiate my argument and the validity thereof.

          Tell you what…if you want to find something out, why don’t you ask Mr. Kampf about his meeting with the disgraced former vice-chair/chair of the PA Turnpike Commission Tim Carson……. Ask Kampf what the purpose and nature of the meeting was. As you may know – there are several areas in our community that have been adversely affected by the turnpike. And – there are some folks that could have lost their homes.

          If you really want to get at the heart of the matter – start going down THAT road…. Some may label that has ad hominem. I think it is just being factual…

          Let us know what you find out…

  10. thanks, and for the record I should have said that this “thread” has become a hatchet thread”. I appreciate you having a forum where at least the intent is to exchange ideas and provide a forum for us to learn.

  11. Pattye can’t comment because she ran for the Board and lost? What if she lost to a Democrat? Unless I missed something Pattye has never been involved with the local Dems. or Repubs.

    As far as the ‘community’ elected the board, understand that voter turnout was in the 28-34% range. That is hardly representative of the community. I am embarrassed as a resident that more people don’t participate in our township affairs. Maybe there should be a blog post to exchange ideas on how to increase voter turnout and educate the voters. I believe this blog is helping with that.

    I agree we need to respect each other, but if Chet thinks we should kick John Petersens teeth in, Warren and Robert would be right in line with him. Better yet, let’s take this hostility out in the voting booth.

    • Thank you Shawn. Educating voters and increasing voter turnout should be encouraged!

    • ummm… the TTDems website has pattye listed as a candidate and she ran as a democrat. if that is not involvement, i dont know what is.
      http://www.ttdems.com/news/archive.php

      of course she can comment all she wants, but lets not pretend that she is impartial and does not have a bias.

      one positive thing about this blog is that it exposes john petersen for what he is, a one-trick pony with no other intentions then to end kampf’s political career.

      • Freddy,
        Here is an example of me taking time to post your comment when I question what it is bringing to the conversation. I could simply choose not to post it or to edit it, but that would be creating censorship that I am trying to avoid on Community Matters.

        But to respond to your comment. Yes, I ran as a Democrat in the last BOS election and yes, I lost to a Republican. For 30 years I was a registered Independent who changed their party affiliation to Democrat to vote in the previous primary. I have never held a position within a political party, have not served as a committee person for any political party, nor do I adhere to strict political views of one party vs. another. To run in the BOS race, I choose to be a Democrat . . . and was ‘involved’ for the 9 months in a political campaign. That remains my full extend of involvement in a political party. Period. Do I have bias on certain issues, yes I do. But my bias is not based on a specific political party, it’s based on the specific issue.

        • You may have won if you were Republican.

          back to basics:
          What is the history of the agreement to have SDGC build sidewalks and what was the motivation to abrogate the deal they struck couple years ago to do so. Is this complicated? I mean besides asking Paul Olsen, does anyone have any reason why the BOS would go against the Planning Commission, and do so in such a way as to break with protocol? Please, no character assasinations, just some good commentary about what happened.

          PS I am starting to think that Warren kampf may be pretty successful and good if someone continually rants about knocking him off his perch.

          Any answers? Thanks, Chet

          • I was wondering why the BOS would go against the PC as well. Did you read my above post about West Grove borough? I’m sure our BOS wants the best for Tredyffrin, but I’m not sure how “redefining the role of the PC” supports this. Perhaps we can ask them at the next meeting.

  12. I didn’t say we should kick Petersen’s teeth in… just that would be the way to handle a bully as a youth… think he will eventually blow his own gasket . Street justice. Heard that before! Now I sound like reverand Al..

    Too bad on the low turnout. You win and lose with the voters that turn out. I am sure. Sour grapes my man.

  13. Thanks for clarifying Chet. The low turnout issue has been an on-going problem. I would not call it sour grapes, rather a sad statement of where we stand as a community with citizen involvement.

  14. Voter turnout is important in all elections. The percentage of voters in each party is also important. If you were to ask people what proportion of voters in Tredyffrin are registered Republican you would most likely be told about 75% or higher. That is very far off the mark. Republicans represent less than half of the voters yet the Republicans hold 100% of the Supervisor positions.

    What does that mean for how we are governed? Who do the BOS need to keep happy: the TRC or the voters? Who is making sure that the BOS complies with the Sunshine Act? Why was the January 25th St David’s motion regarding their escrow discussed during executive session, as state by Michele Kichline? Perhaps the BOS needs a refresher on the Act.

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