Friday, January 29, 2016

Eldred Township Planning Commission, Solicitors, Residents Left Totally Out Of Discussion and Review of Water Extraction Amendment

By statute, when an ordinance amendment is proposed in Eldred Township, it begins with the Township Board of Supervisors.  The Board has a solicitor  They authorize the planning commission, which has a solicitor, to review it and make recommendations, and also send it to the county planning commission, and also to CJERP (which has a solicitor) and the CJERP townships for review.  Ultimately, they vote to advertise an amendment, and then 30 days later can meet to finally approve it.

If the amendment does not involve a regional use, the Board has exclusive purview to vote on the amendment, taking into consideration the input of the advisory planning bodies.

Concerning the updates to the CJER zoning and SALDO ordinances in 2014 to make them consistent and create regional uses, the overwhelming evidence in minutes and CJER transcripts is that the changes were advertised to the public by the Monroe County Planning Commission, CJER and its solicitor, and certain Eldred Township supervisors as "minor".

Previously, in June of 2013 Christine Meinhart-Fritz of CJER appeared at the Eldred Township Planning Commission meeting, and it was agreed that a single attorney would review the zoning changes across the five townships (including Polk, which did not join until later to form CJERP):

Moving forward to the fateful week of March 24-28, 2014, correspondence from Eldred Supervisor Sharon Solt and Eldred BOS Solicitor Kaspszyk in response to questions from Eldred Supervisor Clausen reflects that CJER Solicitor James Fareri was in fact the solicitor to review all amendments across CJER, and furthermore, Eldred Township Solictors Kaspszyk and Lyons (Planning Commission) were not asked to review ordinance amendments in Edlred Township.

Note the snark in Ms. Solt's reply, in response to Supervisor Mary Anne Clausen's questions (which aren't shown but were valid).  She is basically saying "we've got this covered, shut your trap."  The list of characters that Ms. Solt lists all show up in the March and May 2014 CJER transcripts saying things that aren't reflective of the consequences of what was voted on May 1, 2014.  Sharon, Christine, Chuck, Matt and Carson (and CJER Solicitor Fareri) were on top, and everyone else was on the bottom.  One wonders if Ms.Solt left her personal agenda at home on March 27 and May 1, 2014.

This would be a good time to point out that Matt Neeb was incredulous in speaking with me on December 10, 2015, exclaiming "most of the residents who appeared in March and May were Eldred Township residents!".  Appointed CJER representatives from the townships are people trying to do the right thing, or at a minimum donating their valuable time.  But the paid professionals are there to ensure the right thing happens.  If the professionals don't expose shortcomings, how can residents ask the right questions?

Eldred Township residents and planners did not have a clue of what questions to ask in March to May 2014, because they were kept in the dark by the people who supposedly had everything under control  Eldred's solicitors, like others, believed everything was taken care of.  The bottom line is, the process of authorizing and reviewing the Eldred Township water extraction amendment appears to have been totally bastardized from start to finish.  The Monroe County Planning Commission, CJER, CJER's Solicitor and its Planning Consultant were the primary parties responsible for making sure the amendment was properly vetted.  Back in Eldred Township, planners and residents had no chance to be involved in the process - because the Wimmer Letter/curative amendment was not made public prior to adoption of the amendment.

It turns out that one single solicitor was left to review all the amendments to the ordinances in 2014.  The one sentence amendment of the water extraction amendment, changing two words, is not in the format required by the MPC or CJER's Intergovernmental Agreement, and could not have been approved.  So the question is, was the Wimmer Letter, containing the landowner curative amendment, submitted to Mr. Fareri for review?  If so, who submitted it to him, and where it the outcome of his review?  The CJER minutes from 2014 are totally silent.  I have submitted a Right to Know Request to find out the answers to these questions.

As an aside, there is no evidence that the Eldred BOS authorized either the water extraction amendment Carson Helfrich crafted, or advertising it for May 1.  (he said in the March 2014 meeting "if you authorize that," but there was no vote for either). (emphasis added)  You just could not make this up.  Hence the name of this blog: "illegaleldredtwplanduse"

Quote of Planning Consultant Carson Helfrich at March 27, 2014 CJER meeting

Update 1/30 9 pm: I was informed yesterday that in 2015 an Eldred Township supervisor maintained for months that at the March 27, 2014 CJER meeting, advertising the additional amendments including water extraction for May 1, 2014 was voted on by Eldred supervisors.  After checking to verify her claim, she acknowledged that in fact there is no record they they did.


  1. Thank you for all the work involved in collecting & reviewing these documents and records. We as residents are out of our element and I personally feel offended that my town was not spreading the word. How can taking hundreds of thousands of gallons a day from our ground not have an impact? And how can dozens of big trucks a day transporting the water not have an impact? We were not kept in the loop - if we were this would never have almost happened. I am still very confused, but can smell something rotten. Again thank you to those standing up and spreading information (notice the difference - folks making decisions for us without sharing info with us versus the folks now, making no decisions but certainly spreading accurate, produced & documented evidence....again, thank you

    1. You are welcome. I agree - this stinks to high heaven, like a pile of the rotten carcasses of dead skunks. I believe "skunk" is a perfect term.