|Breslin told Penn Farms' Anthony Orefice|
that TOA Plan is"done deal" months before
Planning Commission Review
Green Pond Marsh is the home of 182 different bird species. They first caught the attention of businessman and environmentalist Jeff Acopian many years ago. He was driving in the area and noticed what he thought were numerous ribbons of white plastic. As he got closer, he realized they were actually snow geese, and they took off and surrounded his car briefly in a sea of white. "I've never seen anything like it," said a man whose interest in the environment has taken him as far away as Kenya. He and Jack Glagola, a planner and architect who lives next to the marsh, co-founded Save Green Pond after becoming aware of plans to develop the site. Their group boasts about 200 members, including 38 township residents. The entire area around Green Pond Marsh has been Audubon-designated as an "Important Bird Area."
|Brooke Kuronya passed out watercolors|
of birds documented at Green Pond Marsh
at previous meeting..
Reacting to concerns raised at numerous meetings, TOA has reduced the density of the development while increasing the amount of open space as well as buffering the wetlands area. The number of homes went down from the original 261 to 229. Open space has been increased from 22 to 29 acres, with 18 of those acres as true open space, independent of any storm water management. Buffering of at least 50' will surround the wetlands. The closest any home will be to the wetlands in 309.'
In November, the Planning Commission recommended "tentative" approval of the plan, although the Commissioners have the final say. In accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code, they must first conduct a public hearing and make specific findings leading to the general conclusion that tentative approval is "in the public interest." Even then, no plan may be recorded and no building permits may be issued until final approval is granted.
|Bird watchers at Green Pond Marsh|
Eight affected parties were identified. These include Jack Glagola and Jeff Acopian, the co-founders of Save Green Pond, as well as Save Green Pond itself
|Randi Jordan testified that Breslin laughed at|
watercolor drawings of "fake birds."
The Elliotts called three witnesses to support the claim of bias. Two of these included Anthony Orefice, Property Manager at Penn Farms Condominiums, and Board President Bill Walczak, Penn Farms Board President. They had were opposed to the use of their detention basin to handle some of the stormwaters from the TOA,and had written to Planning Director Nathan Jones about it on August 16, 2016. Not long after that, Orefice got a call from Breslin, who identified himself as the president of the Board of Commissioners. Breslin told Orefice that the TOA plan was a "done deal," even though it did not even have a Planning Commission recommendation at that stage. He also offered to accept a dedication of the detention basin, and said the Township was "financially strapped."
|Green Pond Promo Appears on|
Breslin's Township Observer webpage
In addition to Jordan's testimony, the Township Observer website appears to include an ad for Green Pond Country Club and banquet Facility and the brochure contains this notation: "In the News, Green Pond Country Club to Expand, p. 5."
Breslin was absent and therefore it is unknown whether he has received a financial consideration from Green Pond Country Club for what appears to be promotion of that business on his website. Under the state Ethics Act, elected officials must recuse themselves from matters in which they have a pecuniary interest.
Broughal indicated he would make no ruling on the disqualification motion without first affording the absent Breslin an opportunity to respond to these concerns.
In three hours, no substantive testimony was heard. Laura Eberle, P.E., did qualify as an expert for TOA,and when testimony resumes in a week, she's on deck.