Newtown News of Interest
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July 13, 2023 7:55 AM!

Developer Moves To Disqualify #NewtownPA Supervisor John Mack From Zoning Challenge Hearing

Developer Moves To Disqualify #NewtownPA Supervisor John Mack From Zoning Challenge Hearing | Newtown News of Interest |

A developer seeking to build a multistory, 245-unit apartment building on Lower Silver Lake Road is asking the board of supervisors to disqualify vice chairman John Mack from hearing its validity challenge of the township's ordinance.


KRE Upper Macungie Associates LP is challenging the substantive validity of the township's ordinance arguing that the ordinance does not include a multi-family, mid-rise apartment use, which it is planning on Lower Silver Lake Road.


In addition to laying out their arguments [challenging Newtown’s zoning], the lawyers submitted preliminary challenges to the supervisors, including one seeking to disqualify supervisor John Mack from hearing the challenge.


[KRE] has also filed a preliminary motion to disqualify supervisor Mack from hearing the challenge arguing that his blogs and Facebook postings have shown his bias against the filing.


Attorney Joseph Bagley submitted a preliminary motion to exclude statements in the developer's validity challenge made by members of the planning commission and by Mack.


Bagley also cited the second-class township code, which says a member of the board "shall not be disqualified from voting on any issue solely because a member has previously expressed an opinion in either an official or unofficial capacity."


Citing blogs and Facebook comments by Mack, KRE attorney Joseph Blackburn argued that Mack has shown his bias against the project and "has no intention of applying the law" and should be "disqualified" from hearing the challenge.


[Here's the "evidence" Mr. Blackburn submitted:


"The burden of proof in the case is KRE's," he argued. "They have the burden to show that the ordinance as applied excludes a certain use. In this case, they allege apartments. This is not based on any statements by any supervisors or any planning commission members. We base it on the ordinance as written on the land that it applies to and on certain expert testimony."


The board of supervisors will be meeting with its legal counsel sometime over the summer to review the developer's request and Bagley's preliminary motion. It will announce its decision when the hearing continues on Monday, September 18.


johnmacknewtown's insight:


One item that  Mr. Blackburn failed to mention is this blog post: "Newtown Residents Are Very Concerned About Overdevelopment"


This is not the first time that a developer tried to muzzle a supervisor, including me. At the 8-Aug-2018Arcadia Green PRD Hearing: Mr. John VanLuvanee, Esq., applicant’s counsel, requested that several Supervisors [including me] be recused due to bias, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, cited section 603 of the PA Second Class Township Code, which states: “A member of the board shall not be disqualified from voting on any issue before the board solely because the member had previously expressed an opinion on the issue in either an official or unofficial capacity.”] A motion to recuse the Board members was denied.


I also believe VanLuvanee tried the same trick in relation to the Provco/Wawa hearings. That also failed.


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