As if the decision of Supervisors Lamina, Olson, Kampf and Richter at Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisor meeting to return the escrow to St. Davids Golf Club was not outrageous on its own terms, we are now subjected to Chair Lamina’s defense of his actions in the Main Line Suburban Life newspaper. This Bloc of 4 is determined to rule (that’s right rule, not govern) at any cost to the community. As the outcry gets louder and louder from the community, please read how Chair Lamina plays the ‘spin doctor’ on this situation.
As a caveat to this story, it did not escape me that next to Lamina’s explanation of his St. Davids actions, was Warren Kampf’s announcement of his State House 157 run. Let’s all remember that the Bloc of 4 is not just Lamina, Olson and Richter, but attorney Warren Kampf was that 4th supervisor vote that allowed the motion to pass. Guess the ‘deal-making’ and the ‘law-stretching’ techniques learned locally may help in the campaign!
Lamina Defends Board Decision on St. Davids Club
By Blair Meadowcroft
A motion passed at the Jan. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting had many Tredyffrin Township residents both upset and confused. Although not on the agenda, the topic of the St. Davids Golf Club, an issue that has been thoroughly discussed for years, was brought up under the “New Matters from Board Members” section of the meeting.
After hearing discussion from board members and residents on both sides of the issue, the board voted 4-3 in favor of releasing $25,000 from an escrow account to the St. Davids Golf Club. The St. Davids Golf Club became a topic of importance many years ago when, as part of a development- approval process, the club agreed to construct and pay for a public sidewalk along its perimeter. Since then, however, the club continues to be without the promised sidewalks. Additionally, according to Tredyffrin Township’s Budget Advisory Working Group’s final report, the golf club offered a cash donation of $50,000, in lieu of the requirement to install the sidewalks, but the offer was declined.
The motion, which was introduced by Vice Chairman Paul Olson and passed by the board, left residents feeling unsettled and feeling that the golf club had been absolved of its obligations. Additionally residents expressed fear that passing this motion sets a precedent that will allow other developers the same sort of relief, and that this motion undermines past discussions against giving the golf club a way out.
In response, however, Chairman Bob Lamina explained that the golf club did not receive a “financial gift” from the township, and that “the only action taken related to relieving St. Davids was from an escrow in the form of a letter of credit they had previously established with a local bank to complete the sidewalk.” According to Lamina, the action taken by the board is not costing the township or the taxpayers anything, and that no money is changing hands in any way.
In addition, Lamina explained that his reasoning for why the motion was passed was due to the unnecessary nature of the project in the first place. “The Board of Supervisors agreed with the majority of the citizens of our community that sidewalks are not desired by its residents in that area of the township,” said Lamina. “This is a matter of policy and whether we should hold taxpayers, be they resident or business, on the line for a sidewalk that made no common sense, in an area where they were never intended and would require clear-cutting of trees and add new impervious surface. The only way we could affect this unnecessary sidewalk was to take the action we did. This is not about St. Davids; this motion would have been offered if it were a barbershop, a hoagie shop or ‘John Q. Citizen.’”
He went on to explain that the sidewalks in question did not relate to public safety, and that “given these challenging economic times, we should only be expending resources from our taxpayers for sidewalks” that will keep the public safe.
While the motion may have been made and passed at any board meeting, residents were left questioning whether or not the timing was purposeful. Attendance at the Board of Supervisors meeting was expectedly low given that there was a planned Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board meeting at the same time. “Under our current rules, any supervisor is free to offer any motion he chooses at any time,” said Lamina. “It is not unusual at all for board members to offer unpublished motions during discussions at our meetings and I believe it’s reasonable and appropriate for our board to have this flexibility where needed in its proceedings. In my nearly 12 years of experience on the board, I can’t recall an instance where the township ever consulted with another municipality or the school district on when we schedule our meetings.”
Additionally, while the topic was not on the agenda, Lamina added that he did not feel this was a surprise to anyone involved in the St. Davids issue. “This issue has been before the Planning Commission in many public meetings over the last three years,” said Lamina. “Members of our own board tried to broker a compromise for months after the applicant failed in several attempts to convince the Planning Commission that this made no sense and was very costly. Since the board has delegated authority for land development to the Planning Commission, our vote on the escrow was the only vehicle available for the board to effect a change to plans in that area of our community and that the majority of the residents in that area clearly did not want.”
The following are comments from the readers from mainlinemedianews.com which follow this article online. The people that commented are all thinking similarly to myself; I have yet to find anyone (of course, other than the ‘4’ supervisors and the few hand-chosen people which Olson called to attend the Supervisor meeting). Please read the comments and I would encourage you to add your own.
Panhandler wrote on Feb 3, 2010 12:59 PM:
” Elitism and racism is alive and well in Tredyffrin. They kiss the behind of the golf club, while they allow Mt. Pleasant to deteriorate and be taken over by students and shady developers.Lamina should be laminated and put at the back of a deep dark shelf to gather dust. He’s a jerk ”
Moderate Girl wrote on Feb 3, 2010 1:14 PM:
” Blair, Good for you Panhandler!
The issue is about an escrow deposit (not a letter of credit)on record with the township, and the precedent it will set if monies are returned prior to completion of a plan. It is not about sidewalks. What Lamina is saying is a bunch of hogwash!
It will also cost the taxpayers money in the end. When sidewalks/paths are installed in that area, the cost will far above what it was a couple of years ago or even today. Thus the taxpayers will be faced with a tax increase. I guess the Band of 4 are too stupid to see it. ”
Christine E. Johnson wrote on Feb 3, 2010 1:26 PM:
” I just had the opportunity to view the BOS Meeting on youtube and I’m appalled. I was one of those TRUSTING citizens who had to rely on the posted agenda because they don’t have cable. Obviously, due to the bad precedent this motion establishes, it’s not just about money or a sidewalk, BUT… I would like to point out that none of the residents of Mt. Pleasant who reside along Upper Gulph Road were asked to participate in Mr. Olson’s sidewalk “survey”.
Also, he kept repeating that Upper Gulph Road is dangerous. Um, Yeah. That’s why every time I see a kid from my neighborhood who is walking to or from the Tredyffrin Library, I pull over to give them a ride. Kids should not be walking on this road. It is not safe.
And, as Panhandler indicates, we have more and more students from Villanova and Cabrini College residing in Mt. Pleasant. And they are walking along Upper Gulph. Just ask the group who got cited for underage drinking along Upper Gulph a couple of months back.
Anyway, so now does this mean that any developer who has an agreement with the Planning Commission does not have to abide by the agreement? Plans be damned, we’ll do whatever we want and get our money back? Is development going to be allowed to run rampant and without proper supervision in Tredyffrin? ”
TT Republican wrote on Feb 3, 2010 2:14 PM:
” Mr. Lamina would be wise to read his own Township’s code prior to making statements on public record. Specifically, Mr. Lamina, please refer to Section 181-34(G) which plainly lays out the requirements for releasing an applicant from a performance guarantee. Where is the request in writing from St. David’s? Where is the evidence this was referred to the township engineer? Where is the written report from the engineer back to the board? Where is the recommended amount to be released made by the township?
The argument that the Board can do whatever it wants simply by making a motion flies in the face of any notion of a democratic government and transparency. ”
Malvern Independent wrote on Feb 3, 2010 11:04 PM:
” TT Republican:
Your points are right on! This whole affair has been a blot on the integrity of Tredyffrin since Olson and gang got involved. It’s a total disgrace and I hope that these people trying to abscond with our government get the legal retribution they deserve. ”
Sadder but wiser wrote on Feb 3, 2010 11:41 PM:
” I encourage readers to watch the videos on this matter to really understand these comments and their purpose by Mr. Lamina. The words bluster and swagger come to mind. WHO CARES if it was money or a letter of credit? His claim that no money changed hands is even more evidence of how insufficient his explanation is. IF there was no cash to return, WHAT WAS THE HURRY? Mr. Lamina is more than aware of the continuing discussions about taking this community into the 21st century — and accepting that municipalities can and do expect land development planning to take place for times far into the future. The 3 supervisors who voted against the motion that night very clearly stated that their objections were procedural — that the sidewalks were secondary to the issue. Mr. Olson made a motion because “he believes what people tell him” and Mr. Lamina explained that the motion was fine, Mr. Kampf rubber stamped his buddy’s deal to help a golf club with sidewalks, and Mrs. Richter didn’t do anything but apparently what she was told. SInce Mr. Olson was her largest contributor during her recent campaign for supervisor, I guess she owed him. She certainly didn’t feel like she owed the community any time to deal with this motion…Mrs. Kichline moved to table and Mr. Lamina did not even acknowledge the motion. Proving that Robert’s Rules of Order in Tredyffrin are Bob Lamina’s personal preferences for control. ”
Roger, wrote on Community Matters on February 3rd, 2010 at 3:26 pm
I find two quotes from Mr. Lamina very interesting. First, he opined that:
“Under our current rules, any supervisor is free to offer any motion he chooses at any time,” said Lamina. “It is not unusual at all for board members to offer unpublished motions during discussions at our meetings and I believe it’s reasonable and appropriate for our board to have this flexibility where needed in its proceedings. In my nearly 12 years of experience on the board, I can’t recall an instance where the township ever consulted with another municipality or the school district on when we schedule our meetings.”
Is he really trying to argue that there is no limitation on the power of a supervisor? That’s what it seems like to me. Specifically, he is arguing that the power to make a motion trumps any legislative or judicial limit on that authority. Under this logic, a supervisor could make any motion under the moon, get three other votes, and have four people take a township hostage. Wait, that sounds familiar….
Second, he makes the statement that
“Since the board has delegated authority for land development to the Planning Commission, our vote on the escrow was the only vehicle available for the board to effect a change to plans in that area of our community and that the majority of the residents in that area clearly did not want.”
So in one breathe, Mr. Lamina states that the board has delegated this authority to the Planning Commission and then states that the Board had to take action to return the escrow money. Which is it, Mr. Lamina, does the Board have this authority or the Planning Commission?
This is a real problem – really this is a micro problem which Tredyffrin residents must understand exemplifies a huge problem facing our township today. The problem being unchecked power in the hands of four.
The way I see it, Mr. Lamina just gave Mr. Peterson a gift to use on Monday