Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stoffa's Open Space Advocates

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOn Thursday, Northampton County Council finally adopted John Stoffa's open space program. It's a modest yet realistic proposal that raises taxes a half mill to provide a steady revenue stream for farmland preservation, county and municipal parks and environmentally sensitive land.

Forty open space proponents packed council chambers. Twenty spoke. Nature Boy, a regular commenter, has asked me to identify these people. They've actually been disparaged by another blogger, who is incredibly a Democratic committeeman. "Meetings are filled with people with their own agenda, speaking their talking points, and spreading their 'facts.' " He even states that "open space advocates are an interest group."

So let me introduce you to the "special interest" group spreading these biased "facts." My spelling is phonetic so some names may not be right. I apologize for any misspelled names.

Susan Lear of Bushkill argued that Stoffa's open space plan is a "critical part" of a local effort in which she is involved. Her sentiments were echoed by Mike Toping and Bill Mineo.

Bill Sweeney from the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources indicated the state was prepared to match county contributions in a big way. Sherri Yasavedo, also with the state's DCNR, claimed the state has already committed to a $1.5 million match this year and has agreed to more contributions over the next three years.

Sandra Yerger and Tom Maxfield are Lower Saucon Township Supervisors who spoke of their own referendum for open space, which passed with 66% of the vote. "The land is either going to go away or become more expensive. " Jason Smith, a Bushkill Township supervisor, echoed those sentiments.

Robert Doerr, a Williams Township supervisor, pointed out that Williams Township, through its tax increase, has already raised $3 million for open space. He declared Stoffa's plan the best one proposed. He was joined by Jerry Steele, the chair of Williams Township preservation board, who warned we are "being circled by corporate developers."

On behalf of both the Lehigh Valley League of Women Voters and Green Valley Coalition, Joyce Mosey characterized Stoffa's plan as "excellent." That's how Roger Hudak feels, too. He chairs Bethlehem's South Side Task Force.

Landowner John Horth was there to talk about the historical value of his proprty. Sherri Darr from Washington Township was also on hand to voice her support. Her special interest is that of concerned citizen. Dixie White, a county employee, supports Stoffa's plan, too. And Ann Gerin of our local wildlands conservancy was the final special interest council heard.

These special interests, if you want to call them that, consist mostly of municipal officials elected by the people to represent their views. In my view that's a pretty powerful special interest, and I'm glad they were on hand to enlighten council.

21 comments:

r.moshki said...

To John Stoffa

Thanxx John Stoffa, for the open space.

Mike M. is retiring in Jan./07--last day Jan. 19.
You might want to check w/ TCH.

for the animals,

RLF

r.moshki said...

To John Stoffa

Thanxx John Stoffa, for the open space.

Mike M. is retiring in Jan./07--last day Jan. 19.
You might want to check w/ TCH.

for the animals,

RLF0D

for the animals,

RLF

nature boy said...

Thanks for the attendance update, Bernie. Nice job summing up everybody's presentation perspectives, too.

Sherry Acevedo is actually an employee of the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor & State Heritage Park. Its that State Heritage Park connection that ties the D&L Hertiage Corridor closely with DCNR. The D&L administers some of DCNR's funding programs, i.e., PA Heritage Parks Program, etc. & funds, at least in part, Sherry's job.

The D&L Corridor was established by an Act of Congress back in the late '80s to preserve & showcase the history & heritage (natural & cultural) of the five-county D&L Corridor region that includes Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton & Bucks.

I believe that the legislation that created the D&L has since "sunset," & that the D&L Corridor recently has become (or is in the process of becoming) a private nonprofit entity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nature Boy, Thanks for the suggestion. The "special interest" I heard Thursday night most prominently was the people of Northampton County through their elected representatives.

Anonymous said...

To respond to "Nature Boy," The D&L Corridor was created in 1988 through legislation sponsored by U.S. Congreemen Peter Kostmayer (D) of Bucks County and Don Ritter (R) of Northampton, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties.

The legislation called for the creation of 10 landings in the 5 counties referred to by Nature Boy.

The only landing created legitimately was in Jim Thorpe through a resolution adopted by the five-member Carbon County Commission.

The only other landing created was the illegitimate Two Rivers Landing in Easton boot-legged by the city, Hugh Moore Park Inc., the Binney & Smith Crayola Factory and Store, the Alpha Building rip-off of owner Bill Roberts of Harrisburg, and Bixler Jewelers.

When I began brings this fraud to the public's attention on my Saturday-morning WEEX-AM radio broadcast, I was summarily fired after only two broadcast through political pressure brought to bear of my show's producer, Tom Bush of Phillipsburg.

Anonymous said...

The D&L's first executive director died under circumstances that to me seemed clouded, and the influence of the D&L Commission's treasurer and Hugh Moore Park Inc. executive director J. Steven Humphrey became increasingly evident.

He eventually parlayed that influence into the position of City of Easton business administrator and Easton Parking Authority co-chair under Easton Mayor Philip Mitman.

Humphrey is a driving force with the authority's other co-chair, Lou "Mr. Easton" Ferrano of the Arcadia Properties Riverwiew project on Larry Holmes Drive.

Anonymous said...

A landing was supposed to have been built in Bethlehem, on the banks of Monocacy Creek behind the the Hotel Bethlehem, where MusikFest is staged.

But it never materialized, and it never became an issue again until BethWorks was discovered by the Las Vegas gambling mafia and Las Vegas Casino owners Sheldon Adelson and Carl Icahn.

Anonymous said...

After considerable thought, I am asking Northampton County Executive John Stoffa to veto county council's recently adopted so-called "Open Space" ordiance financed by a five-mil property-tax increase.

The 90/10 zoning ordinance proposed by the citizens of Lower Mount Bethal Township and under consideration by the township's board of supervisors is the superior plan.

This proposal is on the supervisory board's agemda for January 30, 2006.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I recenlty read that the US population just hit 3 hundred billion in the fall. The population of New York City is estimated at 8.2 million. The flow of illegal immigrants is not being stopped. I again ask you where is everyone going to live?

I certainly am not agaisnt the enviroment. I just don't happen to want to have to pay to preserve someone elses property when I struggle to pay my own bills. Also, in my part of the township there is nowhere for open space. It will all be in the other side of the township, where most of the township's Enviromental Advisory Comittee happen to live.

Mrs. Yerger works for Hertitage Conservancy in Doylestown. Her family owns a historic farm, they preserved their own property with their own resources or so I have been told. Why can't other people do this as well?

If you really believe that open space isn't a political, then you are not familair with LST politics. As long as development is Not In My Back Yard, it is ok. And trees ARE more important than some residents. In fact, some residents are more important than others. Why do you think that the township is facing a federal lawsuit? The Heller-Segura dispute was a neighbor dispute gone wrong when the township came out on the side of the Heller's.

Mr. Maxfield, who not only is a township council member, but an EAC member and a member of the planning commission teaches at Beth Catholic. He recently asked that the townhsip send a letter to a developer on behalf of a township resident who was having trouble with a developer. The police where involved and it was a private propety issue involving the right away. But when my family appraoched the township about all the problems we are having, we were told to get a lawyer. Talk about a double standard. I recenlty asked Mr. Maxfield to help us in the same way, he refuses to respond to my request.

Most of the people on the EAC have property in a the East side of township that has not been developed. And it is their goal to keep it that way. The undeveloped land around their propeties should not be developed in their opinion.

The development being constructed behind me created a new through- fare from one development to another and would have allowed for more traffic on Old Mill Rd where LST counil Presdient Glenn Kern lives. He made sure that a gate was put up between the two developments. That way no one can cut through the development and down Mr. Kern's road, which is a dead end road to begin with. There is a defunct historic bridge on that road that he township got from the county when it was in jeopardy of being torn down. I was told about some ordinance that allowed for this gate, I still can't find it. Yet down the street, there was a road put in a development that created the same type of throughfare, but no one put a gate up there? There is so much more traffic on my road, I feel like I live on 412. I don't get it, they are all public roads so everyone shold be able to use them. Mr. Kern told me 25 of his neighbors were for this, but no one showed up at the council meeting to voice their opinon. What is more amazing is that Mr. Kern told me that he has the right to represnt his part of the township. I thought it was his duty to represnt the whole tonwship and do what is best for all township residents. He didn't even know that the road that he wanted to put the gate one had been alterd and that traffic would have to cut down two other roads to get to the road where it mets with the other development.

There is nothing about open space that isn't a special interst to someone. Even developers appreciate the open space movement. Becasue of it, they are able to get more money for their developments because houses and land are more valuable in area where develpoemnt is limited.

Didn't NC just purchase swamp land somewhere? I don't know anything about the property but not everyone agreed that it was a wise purchase. How are we going to decide what land and resources should be saved? And why do we need to create more parks? We should just leave the open space open and natural instead of developing it into a park?

As long as someone has money, and life in the,there will be development, and alot of it will be in questionable areas and places that some oppose. Look at how developers want to build on or next to the hsitoric battelfields in Gettysburg. There are even peolpe who want to develop within Yellowstone National Park.Look at how Toll is holding up the construction of a new national cemetary for our veterens becuase they can't get their way to develop the rest of the property next to it.

I hate to see the developement that is going on. And I know first hand the problems that they create not only for the community but for indivdual residents. In my experience the townhsip is on the side of the developers despite wanting open space. They have had numerous oppurtunities to cite the developer for code violation, but didn't. We were told that most of our problems are private property issues, esecially the uncorrected water run-off that the tonwhsip knew about when they approved the development and the damages to our property from the developer. The developer violated a a section of the nuisance ordinance by leaving a trench open for months next to our property without any type of safety netting up and the township did nothing to correct the problem.

Alot of people who vote for open space think it is a cure-all and will stop further development, but it is not. The vote in LST for open space was 60%-40% as I know it. Not that impressive. In Springfield Township Bucks County it was 70%-30%.

Ever since the first immigrants stole the land from the Native Americans, it is believed that everyone has the right to the dream of owning land and a house. It is an ideal that you will never stop because it is viewed a a right and the way of life in America. The movement of open space will never stop that. And as the cities get more crowded and unsafe and the suburubs more developed, people will push further into nature to get away and that is one of the biggest reasons why there is sprawl.

I think that having to pay for open space not only in the township but in the county as well is too much of a burden for the average taxpayer when they are still waiting for much promised property tax relief and school tax relief.

Anonymous said...

By careful consideration, I mean discussions with those whose judgment I respect like John Todaro as recently as yesterday when his home and wife Rosina's to pick up two fresh rabbits she had gotten me to cook for the holidays.

I happen to agree with Councilman Charles Dertinger that Executive John Stoffa may have tricked him about the funding mechanism for open space.

Ironically, I can help but notice that Dertinger, whose mutual detestation of his council colleague Ron Angle, is fast becoming like him the butt of unfair criticism.

I don't trust Stoffa, in large part because of his despicable handlings of the Anna Mae Kessler miscarriage of justice and because of his rabid support, when he was a member of the Northampton Area School Board before his election as county executive of Act 71, "legalized" gambling, and Act 72, the legislation promising purported property-tax relief, but in fact making moola for the Las Vegas gambling mafia.

Anonymous said...

The commentor from LST mentioned the Native Americans.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and District 15 U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on which Rendell's wife Margorie sits are going to pay a political price for the injustice they did the Delaware-Lenni Lenape Native-American Tribe.

So is Thomas "Tad" Decker, Rendell's hand-picked chair of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg.

Rendell held in his hands the executive power to restore to the tribe the 315 acres in Forks Township that William Penn's son Thomas stole from it in the notorious Walking Purchase scandal of 1737.

Tad Decker, as the tribe's attorney before his appointment to PGCB by Rendell, could have provided the same relief.

But Decker betrayed the tribe, in the manner of convicted felon Attorney "Casino" Jack Abramoff, who specialized in ripping off Native Americans.

The Third Circuit could have upheld the Delaware-Lenni Lenape claim, but instead upheld the federal district court decision out of Allentown that denied the tribe's claim.

As for Dent, he didn't have to sponsor federal legislation that would deny Native Americans the right to acquire land off their reservations.

Citizens of Dent's district, the "the Dent 9," were arrested in Bethlehem, proposed site of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, for attempting to meet with the Congressman regarding the Iraqi War.

On December 11, 8 Pennsylvnia citizens protesting Act 71, "legalized" gambling, and demanding a moratorium on casino-site selection, were arrested in Harriiburg at the PGCB meeting accepting final arguments from casino license applicants.

Pennsylvania, where our Republic was born, has degenerated into a totalitarian state.

When Benjamin Franklin emerge from Constitution Hall and the signing of the Constitution, a woman in the waiting crowd cried out anxiously, "Mr. Franklin, do we have a republid?"

"Yes, Madam," he replied, "If you can keep it."

Tragically, we haven't kept it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 4:19, Well, Billy, Todaro said the exact opposite of what you imply on the radio today. But you must follow your own drummer.

Anonymous said...

Billy ---- Stoffa's plan calls for a 1/2 mill tax - not 5 mill.

Anonymous said...

Billy...

you wrote..

"I happen to agree with Councilman Charles Dertinger that Executive John Stoffa may have tricked him about the funding mechanism for open space."

Tricked? Stoffa said during his campaign that he was going to seek a 1/2 mil tax to pay for open space. That's what came up at Council and that's what passed.

So where's the trick? Dertinger's attempt to circumvent the Home Rule Charter? Are you saying that a county executive should ENDORSE the violation of the Home Rule Charter?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:09, looks like the UMBT Board of Supers missed that there January 30, 2006 agenda meeting by nearly a year!

Anonymous said...

for good or bad, I do step to a different beat of the drum. I for damn sure never jumped on the bandwagon for casino/racino gambling, sucked in by the seductions of Las Vegas and Atlantic City gambling Mafiosi.

Also, I fear that we're going to do to Charles Dertinger what we've done to Ron Angle: Discredit him to ensure that he'll never run again for the 15th Congressional District seat so that Charlie Dent can remain ensconsed in power.

I respect Charlie (I started to write "Charlie D," but then realized that Dent is also a "Charlie D" Dertinger for having the balls to challenge Dent.

You know, Bernie, certainly as well as I do, that incumbency is a huge source of our country's politics.

Also, I certainly prefer a .5-mil tax over the floating of another bond, but I also pledged to oppose any increase in taxes.

Furthermore, Stoffa's tax, by his own admission, does not guarantee a steady revenue stream and again lets the developers off Scot free, requiring from them no sacrifices such as impact fees.

Thank you for your blog and the free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness forum it provides for uninhibited political commentary.

It has invaluable heuristic value because it is already in its short existence providing fodder for the grist mill of political discussion and debate for an indeterminate future.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Billy, I know that you get caught up in your writing and don't pay attention to little things like identity and that your comments are often anonymous. If you just click on "other" and pick Billy, people will recognize you instantly and won't mix you up w/ other anonymous posts. Now I can spot you a mile away because of your very elegant style of writing, people can get mixed up. So please do me a favor and try to sign as Billy.

As far as the compliment goes, that's very high praise from you. Although I often criticize you, I really admire your writing and your passion, as you very well know.

As far as discrediting Dertinger is concerned, we can't do that to him. He can only do that to himself. The fact is that he tried to pull a fast one and it blew up in his face. As someone who is fiscally conservative, I'm sure you're well aware that Section 704 of the Home Rule Charter prohibits a council from playing around with estimates of revenue, including cash reserves. In fact, no HRC county permits that. But for some reason, Dertinger did not know that. As a councilman, he can be expected to know the provisions of the HRC as they relate to a budget he is considering. Yet he did not. What is worse, he whined to Stoffa, "Why didn't you tell me?" Stoffa's simple response? "You should know." And he should. Now Dertinger is comparing Stoffa to the Bush administration.

Billy, look at Dertinger's committee attendance. 4 out of 22 committee meetings? That's another illustration of how he discredits himself.

I wish you could see this for yourself and that your health permitted you to be more active. I'm certainly happy to see that you're writing again, even if it drives me nuts.

Just weeks ago, Dertinger blew up at Angle after a council meeting and nearly started pounding him. Of course, Ron provoked him, but Dertinger was cursing and was really close to losing it. I think that's another situation in which Dertinger discredited himself, although some people wish he had taken just one shot.

I do agree that incumbency is a big problem in our politics. But I would not replace an incumbent simply because he is an incumbent. And if I were inclined to replace an incument, it would not be with Dertinger. Not anymore. He's come to earn the "faithless politician" tag provided by The Morning Call.

LVDem said...

LST, where is everybody going to live? I live in Allentown where there are vacant apartments and homes in good condition that could use a family. Why do we have to build on open space to reach the same goal? B/c people want bigger lawns? Then make them pay true market costs for transportation and education (the two biggest costs to new development). There are plenty of places to live in the Lehigh Valley that don't involve breaking ground in a what used to be a wooded area. You can also build houses that are closer together, instead of on 2 acre lots.

Believe me, if home construction was to stop in the LV, we could find a place for many new residents in safe, attractive and desirable locations.

nature boy said...

Anon 12:37, etc. (Billy?):

The D&L Management Action Plan calls for lots of stuff & most all of it contingent on partnership collaboration & funding. There are no dollars promised for anything in the plan...including corridor landings.

To my knowledge, the Two Rivers Landing at Easton is as "legitimate" as the one in Jim Thorpe. The gov & nongov folks in Bethlehem & Allentown should have been working together toward creating landings in those cities for years now.

As for the death of the D&L's first director (a guy named Jerry, but I forget his last name), I understand he died of a heart attack in his sleep. He was only in his 40s & he died unexpectedly & suddenly, so it was very tragic. Not sure where you wanna go with claiming the circumstances of his death seemed "clouded." The guy died in his sleep in bed next to his wife leaving behind a young family. Tragic...yeah. Clouded...you some kinda conspiracy theorist or something? The D&L's tied to the US Dept. of the Interior & the PA DCNR...not the CIA.

LVDem said...

the Dept Int and DCNR are strange agencies to navigate (not as bad as PennDot though). The worst they can do to a person is kill you with paperwork. Doesn't sound like a heart related death to me.

If the poster was Billy, it all makes sense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nature Boy & LVDem, The incomparable Billy Givens is the poster in question. His writing is not to be taken literally, but should always be appreciated for its wonderful imagery and style. He's a grizzled veteran of many battles, some of them physical, with government officials. Who talks a pair of bolt cutters to open a closed street? Billy. Who gets in a shoving match at a WaWa with Easton's then Mayor Goldsmith? Billy. Who coined the phrases "Excess Times" and "Morning Call Girl"? Billy. He thumbs his noses at one and all, a Prometheus unbound.