About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, March 06, 2017

Bethlehem Tp To Vote Tonight on Independent Hearing Officer

Mr. Bean is available
According to the proposed agenda, Bethlehem Township Commissioners will vote tonight on an independent hearing officer for the controversial Traditions of America – Green Pond tentative plan approval process. If approved, this person will conduct the public hearings, make the findings of fact and conclusions of law and render the final decision. In addition to Commissioners, Green Pond must also agree to this process, which was proposed by Solicitor Jim Broughal on Wednesday.

A motion to disqualify Pat Breslin has already been been filed, and Broughal is concerned that similar motions could be filed against Malissa Davis, Tom Nolan and Mike Hudak. Basically, an independent hearing officer recuses them all. But are they abdicating their responsibility as the people's elected representatives?

Former Comm'r Jerry Batcha thinks so. He's not running for office and has immense respect for the Commissioners and the attorneys involved. Here's what he has to say:
"[T]he BOC as the governing body sets policy through its budget and Ordinances. What more can be the ultimate policy decision making than the development of your community that will have decades long impact on its character, quality, and tax base? That was one of the reasons I got involved in the past. Get all the professional input you need, but to me it is an abdication of their elected duty to give such decision making power to an outsider---and a singular voice at that. The interests of 23,000 plus citizens willingly handed over-- not by vote, but by abdication-- to a sole outsider who has no vested interest in what happens to OUR community after 'their' decision?? Why bother having an elected BOC at all then? .. I guess I could end with sardonic humor, however, and suggest that if the voters want to give their voice away to an outsider there 'may' or 'may not' be precedent."
I'm torn on the question myself. Without doubt, Commissioners will be abdicating their roles if they vote for a hearing officer. But I would still listen to Broughal. He is the Township Solicitor and has come up with a brilliant solution that removes any question of bias while minimizing the costs of litigation. Yes, a hearing officer costs money, but not nearly so much as litigation that could drag on for a decade or more. Though Commissioners are abdicating their role, it is only in this matter.


Anonymous said...

Disgraceful board all around and I make a motion that they all resign immediately!

Anonymous said...

Who need$ birds?