Saturday, May 21, 2016

Precipitous drop in median Kunkletown home sales price in last quarter

While verifying that the Kunkletown Pub is still for sale, it was noticed that there is a home sales price trends chart below the listing.  It shows about a 33% drop in median sales price in Kunkletown in the most recent quarter.  This is only one data point, and may reflect seasonal influence.  One resident reported that in November of 2015 their Kunkletown home was judged by a loan company to have dropped significantly in value due to "a local condition."  The chart is presented without further research, but it may reflect a drop due to the knowledge beginning in the spring of 2015 that Nestle is targeting a site in the village of Kunkletown.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this chart may reflect reality - the introduction of continuous 40-ton truck traffic from 6am to 11pm 7 days a week to the village is not going to make properties more attractive.  Kunkletown indeed is dealing with a local condition for the moment.

The CJER and (former) Eldred politicians responsible for standing by and letting this happen and have not lifted a finger since to admit, apologize or correct their actions  (Sharon Solt, Gretchen Gannon Pettit, Jack Rader, Chuck Gould, Howard Beers) should be totally embarrassed.  Eldred Supervisor Clausen was new in 2014, and didn't come up to speed fast enough to detect this travesty in progress, though the record reflects she attempted to make sure amendments were reviewed and passed properly.  She clearly didn't discover quickly enough the playbook of her fellow supervisors.  In addition county planning commission staff members Chrisitne Meinhart Fritz and Eric Koopman bear very significant responsibility, as well as two township solicitors (Mike Kaspszyk and Dan Lyons) and the CJER regional planning solicitor James Fareri.  Last but not least, so-called "professional" planner Carson Helfrich, who bears the most responsibility of all.  This is the cast of characters on which landowners should lay the blame for inviting Nestle to plant an industrial operation in a commercial district, and in the process threatening to decimate the character, charm and value of the village.  Job, done.  So poorly that it escapes civil verbal evaluation.  We'll let Bucky do the talking:

Bucky and his wife sucked it up - but you don't have to, ey?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sharon Solt, former Secretary, Treasurer and CJER Secretary states she has no clue who authored the water extraction amendment to Eldred ordinance

On June 30, 2015, Sharon Solt responded to a Right to Know request in which the requester asked for the identity of the author of the water extraction amendment.  As Right to Know Officer it is Solt's obligation to find out if a record exists.

Let's pause and consider what the Municipalities Planning Code dictates the procedure shall be.  First, the supervisors send an amendment  to their planning commission.  To do this, they must hold a public hearing, after discussion someone makes a motion which is seconded, and then a vote is taken.  Then the BOS Secretary will send the amendment to the planning commission.  Since the BOS Secretary is present when an amendment is authorized (voted on), they would know who authored it.

Now let's review what actually happened.  First, the landowner's attorney sent an amendment directly to planning consultant Helfich, who forwarded what he received to the county planning commission(!).  Helfrich went ahead and drafted it for possible consideration.  This was discussed at the March 2014 CJER meeting, at which all the Eldred supervisors were present.  Helfrich said he could move forward if it were authorized, but it was not.  Helfrich sent the draft to Sharon Solt as Eldred Township Secretary, and she forwarded to the Eldred Township Planning Commission.  At their April 2, 2014 meeting the supervisors had an opportunity to announce to the public the proposed amendment and vote to authorize it.  As you can guess, that did not happen.  The first critical step was completely ignored - a step that Sharon Solt as Secretary was responsible for seeing took place (as well as former Solicitor Kaspszyk).

Sharon Solt should have known full well how the water extraction amendment came into being, because at the March 27, 2014 CJER meeting when it was first discussed, she was present and Helfrich said at that meeting that a landowner's attorney had contacted him and he had gone ahead and drafted the amendment.  The landowner was also present at this meeting.  How could an amendment possibly come into being in a township, without the knowledge of the Board of Supervisors Secretary and a member of the Board?  You just could not make this up.  It stinks worse than a brothel two hours after the fishing fleet comes in - no offense to fishermen.

See the magic at the bottom of the response letter to the request.  It basically says "I don't have a darned clue who authored an amendment in my town while I was supervisor, board secretary and regional planning CJER secretary, and I have no way of finding out."

Note:  The citizen who received this response did not accept it as complete.  Under pressure to deliver the information, Ms. Solt produced the damning Wimmer Letter.

 Recall in the April 28, 2016 Pocono Record article that Carson Helfrich said he doesn't remember speaking with landowner attorney James Wimmer.  But on March 21, 2014 Mr. Wimmer wrote in the letter containing the amendment to Helfrich that the two had spoken the day prior:
Helfrich, of Community Planning and Management, said he never felt Wimmer placed any pressure upon him to change the ordinance.  "It was just a written request.  I don't even remember speaking to the gentleman." he said, referring to Wimmer. (emphasis added)
Mr. Helfrich doesn't recall speaking with Mr. Wimmer in Apr 28, 2016 Pocono Record article

Yet Mr. Wimmer says the two spoke the day before said letter was received by Mr. Helfrich

At the March 27, 2014 CJER meeting these key actors were patting themselves on the back and stroking their collective egos.  The verbal praise was so intimate that various forms of latex must have been used to prevent passage of a disease.  Now they are advanced Alzheimer's patients.  You would be better served using a rock for a brain if nonsense like this dribbled out of your mouth.

  • Could it be that Ms. Solt didn't want to inform the requester that the landowner's attorney authored the amendment?
  • If Mr. Helfrich didn't feel pressured to change the ordinance on receipt of Wimmer's letter, why did he go ahead and do it, as well as forward it to the Monroe County Planning Commission?
  • Do these people really think the citizens are that stupid?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cross examination of first Nestle witness reveals weaknesses in Nestle application

Last night, civil engineer Ed Davis was cross examined for about 2 hours by Eldred Township counsel Mark Freed, of Curtin Heefner.  This followed Nestle being allowed for the second time to submit numerous changes to its Site Plan - changes received by the township only a few days before - and continued direct examination of Mr. Davis.  Some objectors received the latest update only upon arrival at the hearing - but were very thankful that Ms. Velopolcek brought copies to hand out to them.  Thanks, Ann.

Mr. Davis suddenly didn't appear to know much is a very brief summary of the cross examination.  Not about roads on the site, not about the Eldred Township Comprehensive Plan, not about existing operations on the Gower property.  For the person responsible for zoning, the site plan, and operations, his responses were underwhelming to be kind.  He suggested that Nestle Solicitor Weston, Gower counsel Mr.Wolfe, and landowner Gower could answer some questions that he could not.  There is no mechanism to do that while a witness is on cross examination.

There is insufficient time this evening to post a proper summary of what happened at the hearing, but one will be posted this weekend.  If you attend the citizen's meeting tomorrow evening at the Community Center, a short summary will be presented at that time, as well as status of the zoning hearing board review and the court appeal.

Community meeting Friday evening - don't be square ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hood River County Oregon has DEFEATED Nestle's plan to take over the town of Cascade Locks

The poll results in Hood River County are in, and it appears that voters have voted by an overwhelming 2 to 1 margin to pass a law banning large water extraction/bottling operations.  The town of Cascade Locks has been a target of Nestle for six years.  It is believed that passage of this measure will bring Nestle's plans to an end.

Poll results will be updated later, but it appears that all precincts have reported, and half of registered voters voted.  It is measure 14-55, on the last page of the results.  So much for the tone-deaf politicians that decreed that this would be good for residents.  The people have spoken.  Boo the heck yah!

Looks like Nestle's PR machine was a tad bit off on this one.  From Nestle's site describing the proposed project: "Nestle Waters is working closely with Cascade Locks to ensure our proposed project meets our shared environmental and economic goals."  The goals of the community and Nestle turned out to be mutually exclusive, as they are in Eldred Township.  Nestle wagged 50 jobs in front of citizens in depressed Cascade Locks, and the voters said loudly "keep your paws off our water."  In Eldred Township, there are zero (0) jobs promised.  All Nestle has to offer Eldred is a one time payment that amounts to up to (not exceeding) $82.19 per day over the 25 year initial lease.  Yes, $82.19 * 365 * 25 = $750,000.  This is .04 cents per gallon (4 hundredths of one cent).  How does it feel to be targeted as a prostitute, but being paid worse for your services and goods than in a third world country?

Note: the term of Nestle's lease is not shown in the document that Nestle posted on its website for this project, but it is shown in the document on file at the county clerk's office.  There's some transparency for you!

Fourth Zoning Hearing Board hearing is first opportunity to hear cross examination of important Nestle witness

Nestle plans to put on four known witnesses, and forewarned in the first hearing that they will put others on as well.  The four known witnesses are:
  • Civil engnieer - Site Plan and zoning issues
  • Hydrogeologist - Hydrology and geology of the site
  • Traffic engineer - Traffic and truck route issues
  • Sound engineer - Sound measurements and analysis
Thus far, Ed Davis, civil engineer, has testified on direct examination - during the 2nd and 3rd hearings. Wednesday night, cross examination is scheduled to begin at the beginning of the hearing.  First, the Zoning Hearing Board members will ask questions.  Then attorneys for the township and concerned citizens with will cross, followed by citizens.

Those who have attended the hearings thus far have heard from Mr. Davis all about how Nestle satisfies the zoning requirements of the ordinance.  Of course an Applicant will argue this - this is a requirement to obtain a special exception permit.  It went a bit too far, however, and township attorney Freed successfully objected to Mr. Davis and Nestle Attorney Weston stating conclusive interpretations of the zoning ordinance.  The Zoning Hearing Board's has sole responsibility to do this in this setting.

Readers are likely aware that the township engineer has issued reports that found significant deficiencies in Nestle's application., including the site plan.  Wednesday evening is when Mr. Davis will first be questioned by objectors as to these deficiencies.

The two most important Nestle witnesses will be Mr. Davis and hydrogeologist Lou Vettorio.  Sound and traffic are not going to determine the outcome of this application.  Therefore, Wednesday evening's cross examination is critical to the outcome of the hearing process.  The hearing is 7pm at the Kunkletown Fire Hall.

Rumor is additional news outlets have taken notice of this matter, and a prominent one will attend Wednesday evening's hearing.  Let's continue to put rear ends in the seats in a show of community unity.  Water is one of our most precious resources.

You have to be in it to win it