Audience cheers for and against supervisors

The same people who cheered when their fellow residents were critical of Concord Township supervisors, applauded the supervisors when they denied a reverse subdivision for Concord Ventures.

However, after the meeting, one resident said the board’s denial was a “pathetic” performance taken only for the sake of re-election.

Attorney Marc Kaplan, representing Concord Ventures, requested the reverse subdivision to consolidate several parcels of Woodlawn Trustees property along Route 202 of which Concord Ventures is the equitable owner.

Under questioning by solicitor Hugh Donaghue and a resident, however, it was revealed that while no formal plans currently exist to develop the 60 acres in question, the idea behind the reverse subdivision is for future development.

Most of the audience cheered and applauded when the supervisors voted to deny the request.

However, Concord resident Rufus Miley said in an email the morning after the Aug. 4 meeting, “Last night's performance by four members of the Concord Township Board of Supervisors — excluding Dominic Pileggi — was pathetic. Marc Kaplan will likely devote the morning to preparing an appeal to the decision to deny the Concord Ventures LP lot consolidation because a portion of one lot may be unbuildable. Even worse is the fact that this action was taken solely to try and win re-election in November. Clearly, O'Donoghue and Ryan are running scared.”

Pileggi abstained from the vote, saying any objections should come later, after a formal plan is under consideration.

The “Ryan” that Miley referred to is Gail Ryan, who was appointed to the board this past spring following the resignation of Dominic Cappelli. She and Kevin O’Donoghue are running for re-election this November.

The cheers for the decision came at the end of the meeting after a long public comment period during which residents were cheering for people who were critical of supervisors’ past decisions.

That door was opened by Miley, who commended members of the citizens’ group Concord First for their persistence in appealing court decisions that kept their ballot question from the voters last November. The state Supreme Court remanded the case to the Court of Common Pleas in July.

The question the citizens group wanted on the ballot would have asked voters if they want the township to change from township of the second class to township of the first class. (Those are state classifications based on population density. Because of Concord’s growth, it would qualify for the change.)

Approximately 10 people spoke, some more than once. Among them was resident and former candidate for supervisor Dan Levin who, as anticipated, called for the resignation of supervisors Pileggi and O’Donoghue and the solicitor Donaghue.

Levin, who is not an attorney, wrote Concord First’s successful appeal to the Supreme Court. In calling for the resignation, Levin alleged conflict of interest on the part of the supervisors and solicitor.

When asked after the meeting to comment on Levin’s request for his resignation, Pileggi said, “I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere.”

(Levin’s call for the resignation was no surprise. He went public with his intent here. For more on the state Supreme Court ruling, go here. )

During comments from Levin, Anne Mueller, Colette Brown and others, audience members cheered whenever they called Pileggi and O’Donaghue to task for challenging Concord First’s petition.

The comment period went long because supervisors engaged in back and forth dialogues.

In one such dialogue, Mueller wanted to know why O’Donoghue said in a published report that the Government Study Commission — which came into being by a referendum requested by the supervisors, not the one Concord First sought — considered a change to township of the first class, when that wasn’t the case.

(Study Commission solicitor Michael Maddren said in May that while the commission was approved by referendum, it was formed under the state’s Home Rule and Optional Plans Law, which doesn’t allow for a change to township of the first class.)

O’Donoghue justified his comment by saying to Mueller that he believes all forms of government should be considered.

But Mueller countered by saying supervisors have taken aggressive measures to prevent residents from voting on whether to change to a township of the first class.

“A number of you took action as board members to block that from coming up on the ballot last year,” Mueller said. “So I’m very confused why you all would not like to see due process carried out in the interest and wishes of the residents that live here in the township.”

That comment and others she made each brought a round of applause.

Comments from Brown and Dan Foster, a former and current candidate for supervisor, also received rounds of applause.

Much of the dialogue between other commenters and the solicitor or several supervisors were rehashes of the ongoing disagreements regarding the supervisors’ challenge to Concord First’s petition, the creation of the Government Study Commission, and the filing of a brief in the name of the study commission members before the commission was formally empaneled, before the commissioners were sworn in and without their knowledge.

One resident from Fox Hill Farm, whose name was not discernable, did commend the supervisors for doing “great service” by creating a township people can be proud of.

That, too, brought a round of applause.

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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