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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Williams Supervisors Poised to Kill Glovas Grant

The Glovas mansion
Because the meeting went on for so long and I have to get up early for an appointment, I'll keep this brief. In June, Northampton County Council voted 6-3 to table a $319,970 handout to wealth management specialist and real estate flipper Michael Glovas in exchange for a "conservation easement" on the 72 acres surrounding his palatial estate at 590 Browns Drive in Williams Township. This has prompted Williams Township Supervisors to take a second look at the project. Last night, they voted to send land preservation projects to the Planning Commission before deciding on plans themselves. Chair George Washburn called this approach "one more set of eyes." But they will wait another month before deciding whether to rescind the Glovas grant. Washburn explained he has been presented with "conflicting information."

L to R: Vince Foglia, George Washburn, Ray Abert
Land preservation advocates like Bill Mineo made their pitches. Mineo actually went so far as to argue that whether land is ultimately developable is something they don't even consider in deciding whether a property should be preserved.

Perhaps they should.

Vince Foglia is arguing that the Township failed to follow its own procedures by previously voting to preserve this tract, even though it is not set aside for preservation in the comprehensive plan. This assertion was disputed by some conservation advocates.

One person who failed to attend the meeting is the person seeking $319,970. "I'm very disappointed that Mr. Glovas is not here himself to advocate for the project," observed Washburn.

At the heart of this controversy is a problem created by the preservationists' own appraisal. According to this report,

* The potential for development is nonexistent. This is because most of the property is considered too full of granite and gneiss boulders. If you go down just 60 inches, you hit a lithic bedrock. Anyone who wanted to develop here would need lots of dynamite.
* The foundation of any home would need to be seven feet below the surface. Because of the rocky terrain, that would be cost prohibitive.
* The potential for basements on 56.9 acres of this property is "very limited" with 8-55% slopes that are "very bouldery."
* The ability to construct sand mounds for septic on this "very bouldery" 56.9 acres is "very limited."
* The same 56.9 acres would be lousy for farming as well.

Land Preservation Board Chair Bob Schmidt attempted to counter that last night by pointing to one part of the appraisal claiming that 84% of the land could be developed. But at what cost?

Ray Abert is the sole Supervisor who supports the grant. He told his colleagues that he walked the property and, in his view, it can be developed.

Washburn countered that any property can be developed, but questioned whether this project is economically feasible.

"This is a bad preservation project," argued Foglia. "We have a duty to correct our mistake."


Anonymous said...

Did you take down the RCAP entry?

Bernie O'Hare said...

No. It is there. I do not take down posts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bernie.
I'll go check for it.

Vince Foglia said...


I thought there was a very interesting moment last night when Jeff Marshall, President of heritage Conservancy, reacted after I read this from Act 153, "The Department of [Forests and Waters] Conservation and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture shall not acquire any interest in real property under the provisions of this act, unless said real property has been designated for open space uses in a resource, recreation, or land use plan submitted to and approved by the State Planning Board. which requires preservation must be on both the municipal plan and the a PA approved."

When I asked for his help finding the State Planning Board "approved" plan, he indicated that he can't find that either. As a expert and participant in the statewide conservation organizations, his reaction was a shock at first. However, on reflection, I should not be surprised, because the more I dig into this scam, the more I see that there are abuses and disregard for law. The laws are there per the PA Constitution. Some folks simply don't understand that transfer of wealth should be justified and controlled by law.

I'm grateful that a few Northampton County Council members are using common sense on the Glovas matter. Previous mistakes don't justify continuing the abuses.

The implementation of preservations by the salaried "industry" preserving their jobs must get attention. Mr. Marshall makes over $108,000 per year plus benefits. Any wonder why he came out last nigh for free? Preservation is like kissing babies for politicians. Who can be against it? Well, maybe taxpayers.

Thanks for all you've done to get the word out.

Vince Foglia

Peter J.Cochran said...

Thank you Mr Foglia,I had posted this as a free money account with this website . I have maintained that public money means public domain ,hunting ,fishing camping or just hanging out . Might, 'GROVER" have the Penn Pump People show up on his weekend as public land for recreation , na-- he have them sent away because they would block the view.