Thursday, April 29, 2010

The meter is running...(Part II)

Back in March I posted about our lawyer-happy Board of Supervisors (BOS) and how they are practically singlehandedly keeping the legal profession afloat in our area.

One reference I gave as a shining example of frivolous litigation and needlessly wasting your tax dollars was Chairman Rick Brown & Co.'s directing their solicitor for the BOS, Mike Sheridan, to enter the Township's appearance into and intervene, against any reasonable likelihood of success, in a neighboring resident's appeal of a December 2009 LP Zoning Hearing Board ruling. That ruling pertained to a property on Pawlings Road in Audubon that did not go the way the neighbor would have liked, despite the decision being painstakingly researched and deliberated by the ZHB after months of hearings, exhibits and testimony.

The Township's appearance in the case was authorized by the BOS despite the neighboring resident, having already spent a hefty amount of his own cash on the original zoning challenge over six months, deciding to appeal the ruling (and fund it) on his own. He apparently had the resources and the will to keep the meter running without the Township needing to get involved. 

Or did he? From what I've heard and observed, this particular resident was quite helpful in getting the vote out for Rick's handchosen candidates for supervisor last Fall, resulting in a change in control of the BOS. I'm not saying this resident was promised anything or even expected anything in return, but the appearance of some kind of deal is troubling to me. Usually, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck... 

As I mentioned previously, the Township wasn't aggrieved. A longtime problem property was vastly improved, and there was ample evidence that the Township had screwed up along the way, giving the landowner/applicant incorrect information that he relied upon. So, it would seem counterintuitive that the Township would want to fight a decision that they were arguably at fault in causing.

Anyway...intervene in the appeal the BOS did. And earlier this week, the matter was scheduled for argument in front of Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge DelRicci. Mike Sheridan was present, representing the Township. The Township's motion to transcribe the oral argument was denied. Their argument to supplement the record with additional testimony and take depositions of people who already testified on the original zoning record was also denied.

Additionally, the original applicant/landowner's motion to quash the BOS's appeal and deny the right to intervene (which the ZHB also had to join to defend its decision) was denied in part and granted in part. The bottom line is that the BOS  may not have a separate appeal and they cannot intervene to oppose the decision of the ZHB.

The only way Chairman Rick and the BOS can intervene in the case at all would be to support its own ZHB's decision as rendered which, of course, he wouldn't want to do, because you can't appease a special interest by telling them what they don't want to hear or supporting something a special interest is against.

Hopefully, this is as far as this waste of tax dollars will go  - unless, of course, the BOS continues to exhibit substantial arrogance and continues to fight the judge's ruling.

It would be comical if it weren't for the fact that all the briefing and motions and oral arguments and court appearances just cost our taxpayers a nice chunk of change (to the tune of several thousand dollars, I'm sure) that could have been used for other things. Something tells me, though, that Rick - the same guy who tried to question and delay paying  the ZHB attorney's legal bills a few months back - will probably rubber stamp Mike Sheridan's bills for this wild goose chase without discussion.


Anonymous said...

Lower Providence finally has real leadership who try to represent the interests of the people of LP. The previous board rubber-stamped any big-business request that promised a slight increase in tax revenue.

Anonymous said...

Read the april 1St BOS meeting minutes. The neighbor makes a remark to suppotr your hunch about Rick Brown!!!!

Anonymous said...

Janice you are spot on! The current board is serving only those that want to serve themselves. My point is this, those in the Collegeville , Eagleville, and Trooper could careless about one little garage on Pawlings Rd. We are dumping thousands of tax dollars (in a very tight economy) to fight someone that has upset the neighbors of supervisor Eckman and was friends of Mr. Chairman of the Board o' Supers! LET THEM PAY FOR THEIR FIGHT!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just found out this morning that the Board of Supervisors appealed Judge DelRicci decision on the Pawlings Rd property. The Board of Super Dopes actually think they have a real case against the property owner!!!!! I can't imagine the amount of tax payers money they spent fighting their own people. Someone has to put an end to there madness