Saturday, January 30, 2016

Landowner's Attorney Executes Freshman Maneuver to Have Intervention in Varsity Game Approved, and Gets Stuffed

Yesterday something anomalous occurred in the legal appeal by citizens against Eldred Township and its Board of Supervisors, in the matter of the ordinance change that added water extraction as a use in the Commercial district without the knowledge of everyone in Eldred Township except possibly three residents.  Landowner Ricky Gower is hoping to take advantage of this challenged change, and has an agreement to lease his land to Nestle/Deer Park for the extraction of 200,000 gallons of water per day, transported by truck.

To understand what happened yesterday, first it is necessary to examine the substantive docket entries through Wednesday, January 27th:
  • 12/17/2015 - Filing of appeal
  • 01/04/2016 - Petition by Landowner Ricky Gower to intervene
  • 01/19/2016 - Petition by about 45 Citizens to intervene, aligned with Appellant
  • 01/21/2016 - Amended petition by about 120 Citizens to intervene, aligned with Appellant
  • 01/27/2016 - Answer by Citizens to Landowner's Petition to Intervene
In the Landowner's Petition to Intervene, he filed a draft Order for a Rule that would allow him to intervene. Judge Zulick approved this Order, and set the return date for January 27, 2016 at 4:30pm:

In the January 19 petition by Citizens, counsel acknowledged but did not challenge the Landowner's Petition to Intervene.

In the January 21 amended petition by Citizens, counsel did challenge the Landowner's Petition to Intervene.

The January 27 filing by Citizens at 3:44 pm is an "ANSWER TO PETITION TO INTERVENE" - it is as plain as it could be.  It is CAPITALIZED, underlined and in bold face:

OK, this all seems normal.  Appellants answered the Landowner's Petition to Intervene by the deadline.  The Appellants' Answer was found in the Prothonotary at 2 pm on January 28, so it was scanned and available to the public by at least that time.  What is not normal, is that the Landowner's law firm filed a Motion an hour and a half later at 3:34 pm, requesting that the Rule quoted above be made "Absolute", because there had been no response by the deadline of January 27 specified in the Order.  If approved, the effect of this Motion would be for the Landowner to be allowed as an Intervenor, as if there had been no challenge:

Sources indicate that by 11 am yesterday morning (January 29) this Motion was withdrawn from the docket, after the law firm was put on notice that an Answer had been filed.

In the Reply to the Petition to Intervene filed on January 27, the Citizens raised a New Matter, so the clock has started for Petitioner Gower to reply, and the Petition by Gower to Intervene is still pending.

Preparing and filing legal documents is expensive.  The law firm of Newman, Williams, Mishkin, Corveleyn, Wolfe and Fareri is located 300 feet from the Court House, which houses the Prothonotary's Office.  The procedure is to walk into the Prothonotary's Office in person, hand deliver Petitions and Motions, and have your filing stamped and scanned.  In that office, there are several public access terminals.  This Motion to Make Absolute was found by browsing a public terminal a half hour after it was filed.  It reflects incompetence or willful ignorance that:
  1. Someone from the Landowner's law firm did not check and see that an Answer had been filed by the deadline, prior to preparing the Motion that states there was no Answer filed.
  2. The person who hand delivered the Motion 24 hours later did not check the public terminal prior to submitting the Motion to the Prothonotary.
I have written elsewhere that there is a possible conflict of interest for the Landowner's law firm, because they also represent Eldred Township by virtue of James Fareri being the CJERP Solicitor (he was reappointed on January 28), and he was also the Solicitor for CJER at the time the challenged amendment was passed.  At this point, some long overdue house cleaning at Eldred Township has resulted in the Landowner and Eldred Township having conflicting interests in the outcome of the Appeal.

Recently it was discovered that Mr. Fareri was the solicitor solely responsible for reviewing ordinance amendments for CJER townships in 2014 - which reflects that CJERP indeed has difficult answers to provide, and thus far they aren't saying diddly squat.  In September 2015, Eldred Township members appeared before CJERP to ask questions about the water extraction amendment, and were told by Chairman Chuck Gould "this isn't the right place to ask your questions.  Go back to your township and ask your questions there."  I understand Mr. Gould was asked to read the Wimmer Letter following the meeting, and had no comment.  CJERP is either intentionally avoiding culpability, or clueless.

An Eldred Township resident reports that he learned several useful sayings that he has been able to apply to the experiences in his life.  One of them is: You just could not make this shit up.  This saying is a bit off color, but perfectly describes this entire episode.  You just could not make this shit up.


  1. it's really nice and meanful. it's really cool blog. Linking is very useful have really helped lots of people who visit blog and provide them usefull information. divorce attorney charleston sc

    1. Thank you for the compliment - you are the first one to say they appreciates the links. The blog doesn't look sexy - it wasn't supposed to - it's the content that counts. A lawyer would realize that.