Sunday, January 23, 2005

What's It All About Alfie?

I read in the local papers (and on the FAC website and blog) that Strausser Enterprises has requested a Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission regarding a zoning change for 25 residential acres near his golf course and the Segal & Morel Riverview Estates developments. I don't really know what a Public Hearing means. For example:

  1. Is it really a public AIRING?
  2. Can re-zoning be voted on at that hearing?
  3. Can re-zoning be voted on at the meeting right after the hearing?
  4. Don't zoning changes have to go before the Zoning Hearing Board?
  5. Does the public have an opportunity to question or add opinions?
  6. What is the time frame of everything involved in the process?

It seems like time is of the essence. Can anyone help me to understand what's really happening?


out of townshipper said...

Hi Rebel, as an outsider please allow me to address some of your concerns. First it seems to me that the Township read the request at a regular meeting which was covered extensively in the 2 local papers, twice by the Morning Call. I also heard it on 99.9 The Hawk. Secondly, the "normal channels" according to the Municipal Planning Code which governs re-zoning request requires this exact process. The Zoning Hearing Board is not in the loop because they are a quasi-judicial board that only hears requests for variances from the code.
I attend a lot of different county and municipal meetings and one thing is certain, there is more citizen participation in Forks Township than the vast majority of municipalitues in this 2 county area.

Progress is the Future said...

"eroding quality of life?" Come on, things aren't that bad.

As to the Zoning hearing board: It doesn't call for subjection. The process is what it is, and as Out of Townshipper supplied: The zoning hearing board hears variance requests, not changes to the zoning itself.

It's not about being "wisest or most appropriate." It's about the municipal planning code, and the law. Government need to stick to the process at hand instead of bending to a handful of residents.

Progress is the Future said...

Where is your proof? You never have proof, just allegations.

Rebel With A Cause said...

10/18/04 and 10/19/04 the Board of Supervisors conducted budget meetings. The legal notice appeared on 10/19/04. This violated the Sunshine Law as 24 hour notice was not given and citizens who may have been interested in attending and offering input were prevented from doing so.

Just one example Progress and "proof" for you to ponder.

P.S. Wanna talk about the joint meeting of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors scheduled for 10/26/04 being cancelled with no notice other than a note on the door?

Dean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rebel With A Cause said...

Dean, legal notices are posted in the newspaper at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled meeting. As for cancellation of the joint meeting, I will have to research the legal answer to that, but in the interim I would say, or better yet ask this. It was pretty nasty weather that night. Why wasn't the cancellation announced on the radio stations and WFMZ as were other cancellations?

Progress is the Future said...

You have got to be reasonable. The good faith efforts were made to make official public notice. It is not the fault if there is a minor publication error on the part of a newspaper, and it would be foolish to cancel a meeting because of it. It is not a violation of Sunshine if reasonable, good faith efforts were made to present public notice. That is the case here.

As to the cancellation, although not perfect, a note on the door will have to do sometimes in real life. If you waste time researching legal ramifications of this, then you are truly on a self-serving vendetta that has no merit.

However, I do think that there could be a calendar on the township website where all meetings can be listed; it would be to the benefit of everyone, and allow for collision detection when scheduling meetings.

Rebel With A Cause said...

So the public's right of participation is circumvented because either the newspaper and/or the township did not advertise these two particular meetings (just two examples!) properly and we should allow our rights to be waived as otherwise we are considered “foolish?” Umm, somehow I don’t think that YOU are being very “reasonable” Progress, especially as these two meetings took place at 4:30pm on a weekday when most people are working and could not easily attend, or perhaps that was the intention.

There is no vendetta in play here Progress as it relates to research other than to say people expect and deserve good ethics, accountability and proper conduct from their elected and appointed officials.

As for last minute (e.g. same day) cancellations, I cannot understand the resistance to have these announced on our local radio stations and WFMZ TV as it costs the township nothing to do so.

Progress is the Future said...

Attendance of the public at business meetings of the government isn't so much as right, as it is a courtesy.

The public can't vote, they can only observe. So if they aren't there, the same end result will be yielded.

In fairness, it is good for the system for people to watch, so they can report on the findings and choose to run for office or vote a different way.

The meetings were announced and part of public minutes, at a public meeting. Nobody looks in the paper for stupid little 2 line meeting announcments anyway. They can call the twp office.

Rebel With A Cause said...

Gee with attitudes like this is there any question as to why people do not attend meetings, get involved or feel hopeless.

Thank goodness no one asked you to craft the original Sunshine Law!