Monday, February 22, 2016

Explanation for Why Water Extraction Amendment was not Submitted to the Eldred Board of Supervisors, as Required by Statute

In an earlier post, it was explained how an amendment should be proposed, reviewed, and adopted, according to applicable statutes.  It was then shown the actual process that the water extraction amendment took, which deviated in many ways, not the least of which the Eldred Township Supervisors did not receive it from the landowner and did not vote to authorize it being drafted for review - the very first step.

Here are diagrams that depict each process:

Note how our friend the Amendment does an "end around" and makes his way all the way to Carson Helfrich, the Planning Consultant, totally bypassing the Supervisors.  Why did this happen?  Is it as simple as this was the quickest way to obtain the desired result?  Perhaps - after all, that result was achieved with no muss and no fuss, with no one the wiser for a year.

Perhaps there is a critical reason that the amendment was not brought to the Supervisors - it couldn't be without risk of being stopped out of the gate. At the December 2015 Supervisors meeting this reporter heard a citizen address Supervisor Gannon-Pettit, and allege that she had been in a close relationship with the landowner in question for "years", and she did not deny this but replied "do you think that is why I am here?"  In speaking with other residents, the relationship is accepted as fact.

There are standards for conflict of interest for members of a supervisory body that can require them to abstain from a vote, when considering a motion which would result in a close relative achieving a pecuniary gain.  Clearly the landowner stands to reap financial benefits from adding this third principal use to a property that already hosts two.  Whether or not the actual nature of the assumed relationship reaches the standard of a conflict of interest is not known, but by circumventing the Board, this issue never had to be addressed.  If Ms. Gannon-Pettit had to recuse herself, the motion to authorize the amendment could have resulted in a 1 to 1 vote and faiiled.  As it is, she did in fact vote to adopt it, once all the other obstacles had been eliminated.  You just could not make this up.

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