The 9/17 meeting was notable primarily for its brevity, which clocked in at a mere 40 minutes: a record for this Board in spite of the many starts and stops to educate them on matters that were either procedural or otherwise included in their packet.
Bumper Sticker Philosopher
As usual, Pearson starts out the meeting with his typical ego indulgence, reading a little tale which contains all the profundity one can usually glean from a bumper sticker or a meme on the internet. Believe it or not, even though they have nothing whatsoever to do with the business of the Township, these banal stories are actually reflected into the official minutes of the meeting. At least Pearson’s time wasting is on the record for all posterity.
I usually refrain from commenting on the actual content of these hackneyed little vignettes, but I found this particular bit of dime-store philosophy a little offensive. It’s entitled “Find Happiness,” and it’s about a bunch of meeting attendees who are asked to find their names on a bunch of balloons; needless to say, they cannot find their correct balloons until they all work together.
The lesson of this story, according to Pearson:
And this is the purpose of human life: the pursuit of happiness.
So Pearson, from the lofty heights of his folding chair at the Oaks Firehouse, is not only pontificating about what the purpose of human life is, but is stating that the sole purpose of human life is mere hedonism.
This empty philosophy may explain a great deal about Pearson’s own life. But it also aptly demonstrates why winning an election does not qualify him preach life advice to the rest of us in the form of vapid little morality tales. Another version of the story ends on a somewhat less nihilistic tone:
And this is one of the purposes of human life…
Learn to put a smile on someone’s face, and you will also smile in due season.
I like this one better. I doubt Pearson can tell the difference between the two.
The Board tables resolution number 2018-66. Pearson does not explain what this resolution is, but a perusal of the minutes and the attached Board packet reveals that it is a resolution for a Budget Amendment to fix the Ashenfelter Road Bridge. Recall Pearson complained about spending money on this project at the June 18 meeting. The Resolution itself contains no dollar amount, but the proposal from the Township’s Engineer, Gilmore and Associates, includes a quote for $119,850 and a proposal from CKS Engineering services for $85,500. These quotes are for engineering alone and do not include construction.
It is unclear why this resolution was tabled.
Remedial Municipal Governance
The five lot development plan for 239 Grace Street is back before the Board. The plan is going to the Zoning Hearing Board to file for special exception relief for steep slopes on the property and a variance for the width of the driveway to the cul-de-sac on one of the lots.
Once again, it seems the Board is caught not doing their homework. Pearson is confused and asks whether they need to come before the Board for this relief first. Bresnan steps in to the rescue, explaining that the only reason the developer is before the Board this evening is for the Board to determine whether they want to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose the application.
It’s actually painful watching the Board blunder through this agenda item, as it seems no routine matter before this Board is TOO routine for Pearson and Calci to feel any reluctance whatsoever to just stop the proceedings and ask for a re-education of the process.
I would remind readers that this is John Pearson’s third term in office, and that his longtime fiancée, Gail Latch, is on the Zoning Hearing Board. One would presume, at a minimum, that he would have the basics of the process down. Pearson is clearly caught off guard as to what his responsibilities here actually are. Perhaps in an effort to look more engaged than he actually is, he starts fumbling through some half-baked questions about rain gardens and drainage, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the relief the applicant is requesting.
Higgins’ questions, again, are relevant to the matter before them and again, I commend her for at least doing her homework before sitting down at the dais.
Calci, in an effort at damage control, blames the whole thing on Barker, who is not there, stating that it was Barker who wanted to see these applications come before the Board.
This is true; however, this procedure was only implemented because of the lack of Staff meetings, the discontinuation of which created a hole in staff communications with the Board. The Board had previously reviewed these matters during Staff meetings and the tension here seems to be to keep the regular board meetings to a reasonable length of time while still keeping the Board informed of pertinent matters. Barker’s request on this was wholly reasonable; that the Board should know about matters going before the ZHB in case the Board decides that the Township wants to oppose it.
Recall also that the Board sent the Solicitor to oppose such a zoning application last year for the Cellco Tower. Upon taking office earlier this year, Pearson quickly reversed the previous Board on this matter, preferring instead to let the ZHB “do their thing,” a policy of which Bresnan reminds them before the end of this segment.
It should be noted that the Board is provided with a bi-weekly Manager’s newsletter, presumably highlighting and explaining these issues. If perhaps the Board didn’t need to take regular time-outs for Township Supervisor 101, maybe the meeting length could be more reasonable. In other words: Do your homework.
And lest we forget, Pearson is still presumably conducting his Secret Monday Morning Meetings (with one other Board member) when he gets briefed on all of the issues before the Board. Perhaps if it’s not a matter he can easily politicize, it just never really gets on his radar.
Intersections of Ignorance
The Board approved the Act 209 Land Use Assumptions report as recommended at an earlier public hearing. The next steps in implementing the ACT 209 plan are traffic study, then cost estimates of improvements then approval of impact fees, all of which need to be completed by July 2, 2019.
Lack of homework again evident: Calci, whose husband was appointed to the Act 209 committee that produced the report, betrays a lack of fundamental understanding of how the ACT 209 program will work, as far as which road improvements will be funded by monies received for this program. Pearson asks the same question only a few minutes later and Higgins asks if bridges can be included. Once again, the Board takes a time out to have the Township Consultant –and Vagnozzi–provide a lesson to Calci and Pearson on public time.
I understand that all three Democrats attended the public hearing on the report that took place immediately prior to this Board meeting, where they all had the opportunity to ask these questions as well.
Not to mention that this can all be covered at the secret Monday Morning Meetings.
Hello darkness, my old friend…..
Pearson read into the record the following letter from Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company:
Black Rock Volunteer Fire Company understands the concerns of the local residents related to the fire company’s house siren. After the September 4 Supervisor’s meeting, officers of the fire company spoke with members of the community to assure them that the issue is being addressed and they understood the concern with sleep deprivation. The fire company has investigated expanding the use of voice and digital pagers, but there are areas where our members work that the signal does not penetrate. Example: Concrete buildings, facilities with electronic shieldings.
Effective Sunday, September 16, the house siren was turned off, with the caveat that if the fire fighter response is negatively impacted due to a lack of a siren, the fire company will re-evaluate the decision to turn off the siren. The residents need to understand that the fire fighters also suffer from sleep deprivation caused by the emergency calls to which they must respond during the evening hours. The fire company is working with the Township to provide 24-hour in station staffing that will eliminate the need for the house siren. Currently, there is in-station staffing from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday [Note: This in-station staffing is provided by the Township’s paid staff] and this will expand to 6am to 6pm in January, 7 days a week [Note: This expansion of hours is also proposed to be the Township’s paid staff per the 4/4 meeting]. The fire company also has a live-in program from 10 pm to 6 am at its Mont Clare station. Additional volunteers are being recruited to staff the Oaks station from 10 pm to 6 am. The fire company has mentioned to various residents that they could use assistance with various technologies, finance, and general building maintenance, but unfortunately, the response has been limited at best. If you have an hour a week to support the fire company, please contact them and volunteer your time. Thank you.
Other Board Business
- The Board awarded a bid to BRB Contractors for 464 East Linfield Trappe Road demolition project.
- The Board authorized advertisement of bids for the Second Avenue sanitary sewer pump station force main replacement project. Pearson notes that it is good for the Township that we only have two pump stations.
- The Board approved a Utility Relocation Reimbursement Agreement with PennDOT for the Second Avenue culvert replacement project force main relocation. PennDOT is reimbursing the Township 100% for this project.
- The Board set November 5, 2018 for a Public Hearing to consider a Conditional Use Hearing for the Residences at Providence Town Center. These are the apartments that are proposed behind Wegman’s/Providence Town Center.
- The Board concurs that the traffic light at Egypt Road and route 29 should be made permanent and agrees to pursue a Green Light Go grant to pay for that.
- Township Planner Geoff Grace would like to have a meeting for a Comprehensive Plan subcommittee on September 24.
Joint Meeting with Trappe Borough Council
Unmentioned at the end of this meeting, or on the Township’s Facebook page, or on the Township’s “News” section of the Township website, is the September 20 joint meeting with Trappe Borough Council. This meeting took place at Trappe Borough Hall. An agenda was posted to the Township’s website on September 19.
This meeting will be the subject of a separate post.