Concord First appeals to Pa Supreme Court

Concord First has filed an appeal of two lower court decisions with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The citizens’ group wants the high court to overturn decisions denying a question being placed on the November ballot that would ask Concord Township voters whether or not they want the township to become a township of the first class.

Concord First’s Colette Brown said she realizes the court may decline to hear the case, but that the appeal is worth the effort.

“We understand that [state] Supreme Court grants only a very small percentage of petitions for allowance of appeals, but we feel an obligation to the almost 1,000 voters who signed petitions to do our very best and pursue all of legal options to allow their voices to be heard,” she said in an e-mail exchange.

In July, Concord First gathered more than the required number of signatures to get the question on the ballot. It needed 583, or five percent of the number of registered voters. However, township supervisors and the Delaware County Board of Elections challenged the petition.

Common Pleas Court Judge James Proud ruled against placing the question on the ballot, saying the question should have been on the 2013 ballot since, under his interpretation of the law, such a question had to be on the first municipal election after the 2010 census.

To qualify as a township of the first class, a township must have a minimum of 300 resident per square mile. Concord Township has more than 1,200 people per square mile, according to the last census.

Concord First appealed to Commonwealth Court, but that court upheld Proud’s decision.

The appeal to the state Supreme Court was filed Oct. 6. It is not known yet when, or even if, the court will hear the appeal.

Brown said the people she spoke with at the Supreme Court could not give a definitive timeframe. However, she expects an answer within a week or two, she said.

She also said Concord First would continue its efforts regardless of what the state Supreme Court does.

“If the court declines our petition for the allowance of the appeal, Concord First will work to continue to heighten awareness of the supervisors' records on high density rezoning, loss of open space, tax implications and other issues that are of importance to Concord residents,” Brown said. “We need to rally residents to come out to meetings in force and continue to put pressure on township officials to do what they were elected to do, make decisions that are in the best interest of the residents.”

Concord Township Supervisors voted, also in July, to have their own question placed on the ballot, asking voters whether or not there should be a study commission formed to examine the possibility of changing the form of the township’s government. Supervisors’ Chairman Dominic Pileggi said at the time that the board’s action was in response to the Concord First petition.

Voters would also be asked who should be on the commission, if it’s approved.

That action by the board is not viewed well by Dan Levin, a member of Concord First and former Democratic Party candidate for supervisor.

“It is still an awful reflection on the Concord supervisors that they would fight an initiative from the voters they are supposed to represent. Their “study commission” is a smoke screen and a waste of taxpayer money. If they had any scruples, the supervisors would simply call for a vote on becoming a first class township, and trust the voters to decide on our township’s future. Then they might earn and deserve the positions they handed themselves simply by having an overwhelming party-affiliation majority, and control of the apparatus driven by loyalty to powerful interests.”

Pileggi previously said that he thinks it’s a better move to have a commission study the possibility before changing township government, than to simply change without any understanding of what that would mean.

He also said that whether or not the township classification changes, he would favor supervisors being elected by ward instead of all five being elected at large. He said a study commission could recommend such a change.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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