Board of Supervisor Meeting – Monday, December 21

Here is the agenda for the Board of Supervisor Meeting for Monday, December 21, 7:30 PM.  The final budget will be approved at this last meeting of the year. Will the fire companies see their 5% cut reinstated?  Will the ePetition make a difference in the decision-making process? (Over 460 people have signed it, is your name on the list?)  Will the audience hear any follow-up to the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk issue . . what is the status on the subcommittee which was formed? 

Based on the last 2 Board of Supervisor meetings, I am forecasting another episode of action packed, reality must-watch TV for Monday night!

Immediately following the Board of Supervisor Meeting, there will be a Public Hearing to:

  • Amend the Pension Ordinance to change the employee contribution
  • Increase the Sewer Utility Rate for the year 2010 to $250/EDU

Must See TV — Watch a Rebroadcast of December 7 Board of Supervisor Meeting

I have had a number of people ask me about Monday night’s Board of Supervisor Meeting.  I am one of those people who rarely re-reads books or is interested in watching reruns of TV shows.  However, . . . in the case of the Board Meeting, I think I might change my mind.  A couple of days later and people are still talking about it — certainly one to be remembered for a long time.  Although I tried to capture the essence of the evening, I have told friends that they really need to watch it.  I went online and found the rebroadcast schedule.  Assuming that it is correct, below are the days and times for the Supervisor Meeting.  And if you were at the meeting, so much was going on at once, it was hard to take it all in so you might want to re-watch it.  I encourage everyone to see it before the next Board Meeting on Monday, December 21.

T-SPAN (Supervisors’ Meeting)

Air-Times:

  • Sunday, 1:30 PM
  • Monday, 7:30 PM
  • Tuesday, 7:30 AM
  • Tuesday, 1:30 PM
  • Friday, 7:30 PM
  • Saturday, 7:30 AM

Board of Supervisor Meeting – Reality Must-See TV!

Sitting in the audience tonight and watching the Board of Supervisor Meeting unfold — was more exciting than watching any reality TV show!  There were so many dynamics going on, it’s hard to know where to start.  Everything was routine and relatively calm until we got to the ‘New Matters’ section of the agenda.  Then what happened was nothing short of amazing, remarkable, combative, antagonistic . . . just about any adjective you want to use!

First off, a remarkable moment occurred when Supervisor Judy DiFilippo decided to do what’s right as I had called for in an earlier blog posting.  In regards to the alleged $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club which appeared in the BAWG report, I had asked the Board of Supervisors and the Chairman of the BAWG Committee a series of questions at the November 30 meeting.  This offer (in lieu of sidewalk construction) had mysteriously appeared in the newly released BAWG report as a suggested available revenue resource. No one seemed willing to offer any answers to my questions — neither Tom Colman, chair of the BAWG committee or members of the Board of Supervisors.  Tonight, Ms. DiFilippo started at the top of my list and proceeded to answer each question as follows:

  • Where did the $50K St. Davids Golf Club offer come from?  Ms. DiFilippo indicated that Supervisor Paul Olson suggested the $50K offer to the Board of Supervisors as payment from St. Davids Golf Club in lieu of  the construction of the sidewalks.
  • Was this a written offer from St. Davids Golf Club Board of Directors and was it made directly to the BAWG committee?  No written offer, only verbally discussed by Supervisor Olson.
  • Was the Township Solicitor, Township Manager and members of the Board of Supervisors advised of the St. Davids Golf Club offer (prior to BAWG’s publication of its report)? Both the Township Manager and Township Solicitor were aware of the inclusion of the St. Davids Golf Club $50K offer prior to the release of the BAWG report. Prior to its release, both asked that Tom Colman remove it from the report.
  • If this is a written offer, what are the conditions and timeline for its acceptance?  Who has the authority to accept the offer?  No written offer
  • Was this offer and the details discussed with the Planning Commission or Sidewalks, Trail & Paths (STAP) Committee prior to appearing in the BAWG report?  This $50K St. Davids Golf Club offer was not discussed with the Planning Commission or STAP Committee, prior to inclusion in the BAWG report.
  • Are any of the members of the BAWG committee also members of St. Davids Golf Club?  Rob Betts, is both a member of St. Davids Golf Club and also served as a member of the BAWG committee.
  • Are any of the members of the Board of Supervisor also members of St. Davids Golf Club?  Supervisor John Shimrak is a member of St. Davids Golf Club.

Supervisor DiFilippo further explained that the newly formed subcommittee was meeting this week to discuss the St. Davids Golf Club situation as well as other incomplete Planning Commission land development projects.  The meeting will include members of the Planning Commission with Ms. DiFilippo and members of staff to work toward satisfactory completion of all outstanding incomplete projects and also develop a strategy going foward with future land development situations. 

On a personal note, it is not often when you have the opportunity to witness firsthand the extent of an individual’s honesty and integrity.  After 20 years of serving on the Board of Supervisors, it would have been far easier for Ms. DiFilippo to simply keep quiet about what she knew about the situation, leave the questions unanswered and just close the chapter on the St. Davids issue.  But instead of following the example of others, Ms. DiFilippo set herself apart in true leadership style, and did indeed, do what’s right!  And we thank her!

It’s late and I think that the amazing, combative and antagonistic elements of tonight’s Board of Supervisor meeting (and my comments) will need to be tomorrow’s installment.

Our Fire Companies — No Reinstatement of Their Budget Cut!

Tonight’s Board of Supervisor meeting tested my faith in our local government.  The audience witnessed our supervisors heap accolades on our firefighters, praise their saving of a handicapped, wheel-chair bound resident in Chesterbrook on Thanksgiving Day, and then watched as the firehouse representatives groveled to have their 5% Tredyffrin Township 2010 budget cut reinstituted.  How is it possible that in one meeting, our supervisors can extol the virtues of our volunteer firefighters and their life-risking efforts and at the same time (some of the supervisors) can vote to take away township support?  And yes, the supervisors can vote to leave the annual fireworks in the budget (I think that budget line item was $20K).  I am all about the 4th of July and fireworks, but does this seem an equitable trade?

Let’s remember tonight’s meeting when some of these individuals take to the campaign trail and speak of their emergency services support. 

As for the BAWG report and the St. Davids Golf Club’s $50K cash offer — I think I better sleep on it before I write how I feel about that part of tonight’s experience.  I have to remind myself that I will take the higher road and not follow the example of other’s bad manners.

The Plot Thickens . . .

I continue to focus on the mystery $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club which appears in the recently released BAWG report.  Details and bio information concerning one of the BAWG members has surfaced which could begin to answer some of my questions.  John Petersen speaks directly to this subject in his recent posting on Tredyffrin Township Political Notebook.  

I understand that the budget suggestions made by the BAWG committee to the Board of Supervisors are just that suggestions.  However, by making the BAWG report public on the township website, its contents are then available as public record (and public scrutiny).  If the mission of the BAWG was to look at all available revenue resources, than one might assume that the $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club is an available revenue resource.  But in my way of thinking, the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk offer is not an available revenue resource.  The Planning Commission’s decision to include the sidewalk requirement was part of the contractual agreement between the township and St. Davids Golf Club for their building project.  Although previous attempts were made by St. Davids representatives for ‘relief’ of this land development requirement, as of now the requirement for the sidewalks still stands. This is not negotiable and therefore can not be represented by the BAWG report as an ‘available revenue resource’. 

Countdown to Board of Supervisor Meeting. . . Looking for Answers

Full Disclosure Request

Where are you going to be Monday night at 7:30 PM?  I suggest that you either attend Tredyffrin Twp’s  Board of Supervisors meeting or tune in from home.

There are questions swirling in regards to the recently released BAWG report and the suggestion of a $50K offer from St. Davids Golf Club in regards to the sidewalk construction.  St. Davids Golf Club has been in default since July 2008 to build the sidewalks and now mysteriously this $50K offer from the country club appears in the BAWG report. Since BAWG released its report, I have been trying to get the following questions answered, but to date I have come up short. 

  • Where did the $50K St. Davids Golf Club offer come from?
  • Was this a written offer from St. Davids Golf Club Board of Directors and was it made directly to the BAWG committee?
  • Was the Township Solicitor, Township Manager and members of the Board of Supervisors advised of the St. Davids Golf Club offer (prior to BAWG’s publication of its report)?
  • If this is a written offer, what are the conditions and timeline for its acceptance?  Who has the authority to accept the offer?
  • Was this offer and the details discussed with the Planning Commission or Sidewalks, Trail & Paths (STAP) Committee prior to appearing in the BAWG report?
  • Are any of the members of the BAWG committee also members of St. Davids Golf Club?
  • Are any of the members of the Board of Supervisor also members of St. Davids Golf Club?

Prior to Monday night’s Board of Supervisor meeting (and BAWG presentation), I suggest that you review the timeline (and Planning Commission minutes) that I put together for an earlier blog entry.  Click here for St. Davids Golf Club Sidewalks – Is it to Nowhere? 

It is my understanding the Tom Colman, Chairman of the BAWG committee will make a public presentation on the report and here’s hoping that there will be time for the public’s questions and answers.  This is one taxpayer with questions, and so far . . . no answers.

St. Davids Golf Club Sidewalks . . . Is it to Nowhere?

It seems that the discussion of St. Davids Golf Club sidewalks has stirred some ‘old wounds’.  Not understanding why the BAWG report contained an offer of $50,000 from St. Davids Golf Club re the installation of sidewalks, I did some background research.  Based on meeting minutes from the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission, I think I have been able to piece together a timeline for the St. Davids project.  It is important to understand the history of the project to see where we are. 

St. Davids Golf Club Timeline:

  • 11/04: St. Davids GC presents Planning Commission with sketch plan for their proposed new country club addition.  Following the initial meeting, the Planning Commission discusses the the land development plan at many meetings and on-site visits.
  • 8/05: Sidewalks, Trails & Path Board (STAP) established by Board of Supervisors to review sideswalks, trails, etc.
  • 8/05: Planning Commission approves the final plan for St. Davids project with 8 conditions (including sidewalks).  $25,000 was put in to escrow for the sidewalks. STAP would review the sidewalk requirement for the St. Davids project and offer their opinion on materials, size, etc, understanding that the Planning Commission had the final decision.
  • 7/06: STAP makes recommendation re sidewalks at St. Davids –  4-ft wide asphalt path.  (As a concession to St. Davids GC, using asphalt would not require curbing and stormwater management.  The cost of construction would be far less using asphalt.)
  • 7/06: Planning Commission accepts STAP’s recommendation and St. Davids GC is given  2-year construction timeline, which by my calculations expired in  7/08.
  • 10/08: St. Davids GC comes to Planning Commission and requests reconsideration of ordinance and plan requirements for the sidewalks previously approved in their 2004 application to rebuild the clubhouse.  Request denied.

The October 16, 2008 meeting minutes of the Planning Commission are extremely useful to this discussion, here is the link.  There was much discussion at this particular meeting from representatives of St. Daivds, Planning Commissioners, neighbors, etc.  The final vote was 6-2 against St. Davids GC request.

Now 13-months goes by with no further discussion between St. Davids GC and the Planning Commission.  Fastforward and we now have an offer (?) in the BAWG report of $50,000 from St. Davids Golf Club in lieu of building sidewalks?  Am I missing something?  First off, where did the $50,000 number come from?  Was this offer made directly to the BAWG committee; was the offer in writing?  I found no reference to this offer anywhere in the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisor meeting minutes. 

Aside from not understanding why this sidewalk issue found its way in to the BAWG report, I am troubled by the precedent that can be set by this kind of situation.  What does this say to the authority of the Planning Commission?  What about future developers working in the township — everyone will want to work in Tredyffrin because each time a land development requirement comes up that they think is ‘too expensive’ and don’t want to do they can just offer the precedent set by St. Davids Golf Club (should the sidewalks decision somehow be changed). 

Another question – it appears to me that St. Davids Golf Club has been in default since 7/08 to build the sidewalk.  The Planning Commission approved the country club’s project with certain requirements, including the construction of sideswalks.  Does St. Davids just get a ‘pass’ . . . and why is the country club not expected to be in compliance as any other developer or contractor?  Why should the rules be different for the country club?  Again, am I missing something? 

I know that I stated that I didn’t want my blog to be political but rather community  based, however I’m guessing that there is some behind the scene politics involved with St. Davids and the $50,000 showing up in the BAWG report.   Wonder how the Planning Commissioners are feeling about this item in the report, particularly the 6 members who voted against St. David’s request over a year ago?  I would hope that the Board of Supervisors supports the decision made by the Planning Commission.

Is this indeed going to be the ‘sidewalk to nowhere’ because St. Davids Golf Club doesn’t have to build it? 

St. Davids Sidewalk Required or Not?

Whatever happened to the sidewalks that St. Davids Golf Club was required to install with their land development project? Tredyffrin’s Planning Commission told St. Davids that they must install the sidewalks as initially required with the land development plans.  I believe that the Township is still holding escrow money not be released until the sidewalks are installed.  Wonder how many years ago the St. Davids plan passed?  Today I read in the BAWG report that instead of installing the sidewalks there is the suggestion that we accept $50,000 from St. Davids and waive the requirement.  It is one thing to make suggestions about revenue sources and future budgets, but are we now allowing the BAWG to change past township decisions?  Why the offer of $50,000 – is that St. Davids cost for the sidewalks?  Does this decision not impact the Planning Commission’s ability to have their decisions upheld?  If the Board of Supervisors agree to this BAWG suggestion, what does that say about future Planning Commission decisions?