Following tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting was a scheduled public hearing to discuss land development authority. The Board of Supervisors were holding this initial public hearing to consider an ordinance amendment to change final land development authority from the Planning Commission to the Board of Supervisors. As the public hearing began, chair of the supervisors, Bob Lamina excused himself to leave for the airport. With Lamina’s departure, vice chair Paul Olson became ‘acting’ chair in his absence. Lamina’s last words as he departed were that he anticipated that this was an initial public meeting and the discussion would continue in the fall.
Lamina reminded the audience that a final decision on land development authority would not take place until after the review and approval of the township sidewalk ordinance. (Some have suggested that the timing of this land development authority ordinance change is directly related to the St. Davids Golf Club sidewalk decision by the Planning Commission).
Township Manager Mimi Gleason offered a background of why the land development authority was given to the Planning Commission some twenty-five years ago. Interesting to note that Tredyffrin Township is the only municipality where land development rests with the Planning Commission versus the Board of Supervisors.
Prior to tonight’s public hearing, Supervisors Kichline, Heaberg and Richter met with supervisors from Upper Merion and Easttown Townships to discuss how they handle their planning authority process. Kichline reported that these other municipality supervisors suggested that there was not ‘right or wrong’ way to handle land development authority.
Audience members were invited to comment on the proposed land development authority change. Trip Lukens, vice chair of the Planning Commission offered remarks from last week’s Planning Commission meeting. At their meeting, planning commissioners had decided rather than create an ordinance change; they would wait until the outcome of tonight’s public hearing. Other residents in attendance offered their opinion. One after another, they all said the same thing in a variety of ways . . . “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. Former supervisor Judy DiFilippo also spoke in favor of leaving the land development authority with the Planning Commission. In other words, all those in attendance who spoke, completely supported the Planning Commission retaining final land development authority.
After audience members had all spoken in favor of leaving the land development authority process ‘as is’ with the Planning Commission, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro declared that he did not understand ‘why’ the Board of Supervisors was having this discussion and that as a supervisor ‘he’ was not interested in taking back land development authority. DiBuonaventuro said that there were many other important issues facing the township that needed his attention and that Planning Commission should retain this authority.
After much discussion on the topic from each supervisor, Supervisor Kichline made a motion to end the public hearing on the planning authority ordinance change; Supervisor Donahue seconded the motion. Left in charge of the public hearing by Chairman Lamina and probably realizing that he was losing the battle for further discussion, Supervisor Olson suggested the supervisors just wait on this vote and have further discussion. Supervisor Richter agreed with Olson but the other supervisors were committed to forcing a vote to end the public hearing.
With a roll call vote, Supervisors Kichline, Heaberg, DiBuonaventuro and Donahue voted to leave the land development authority with the Planning Commission and Olson and Richter voted against the motion. This vote removed any further discussion on the topic.
I believe that Bob Lamina was the driving force behind this ordinance change to place final land development authority back in the hands of the Board of Supervisors . . . and he left for the airport thinking that this public hearing tonight was nothing more than an ‘initial’ meeting with further discussion to come. He could never have expected this outcome!
Sometimes life surprises you and the right thing happens . . . tonight was one of those occasions! The Planning Commission retains final land development authority and a round of applause goes to supervisors Kichline, Heaberg, DiBuonaventuro and Donahue for ‘doing the right thing’! And the planning commissioners should feel good with their overwhelming vote of confidence from the residents!