Concord preparing recusal response

Concord Township solicitor Hugh Donaghue said a response to an attorney's request that council recuse itself from a land development hearing should be finalized sometime next week. Donaghue made the comment during the Feb. 6 Township Council meeting.

Attorney Marc Kaplin petitioned on Jan. 29 that council recuse itself from hearing the application of Concord Ventures proposal to build 29 townhouses in six buildings and 166 apartment units in three five-story buildings on 49 acres of a 64-acre property west of Route 202 at Watkin Avenue near the Delaware state line.

Kaplin said at the time that Donaghue, Council President Dominic Pileggi, township engineer Nate Cline and former Township Manager Brenda Lamanna engaged in ex parte communication with Marc Jonas, an attorney representing objectors to the plan and that council has a "predisposition and bias" against his client's application. "It violated due process."

Township Planning Commission members voted earlier in the month to recommend council not approve the plan.

Kaplin asked that an independent hearing officer replace council in the matter.

Donaghue said the response would be available to the public once it's filed with the township. He wouldn't speculate on what Kaplin would do if the request for recusal were denied.

Concord had a 20-day window to respond to Kaplin's petition from the time he made it on Jan. 29. Council had already decided to continue the hearing to Feb. 27.

Kaplin cited in his petition there were 10 instances of ex parte communication with Jonas through emails and phone calls and that he (Kaplin) only learned of the occurrences when his client was sent invoices for the time township consultants and professionals spent reviewing the plan.

According to Kaplin, one of the instances was a 2.5-hour conference call between Pileggi, Lamanna, Donaghue and Jonas on July 5. Pileggi said he was not involved in any such conference call and Donaghue said there was no such call at all.

Jonas said Kaplin's claims are "factually inaccurate and nothing more than a stunt."

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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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