Third time was not charming

Zoning Board Hearing – July 27, 2020

Editor’s Note: Democracy is not a spectator sport. You have to participate and, for the last 6 years, I have done just that, attending meetings that are, for the most part, boring. I have never been denied access to a township meeting or an agenda… until tonight.

I arrived at the municipal building at 6:30PM and was informed the public wasn’t allowed in. Only people named in the Citizen’s Group appeal and no more than 25 people in the room. If I wanted to see what was going on, I would have to watch it on the internet. Not an ideal option since, in the past, the audio for these virtual meetings has been terrible. It was worse tonight. Some people sounded like the teacher in the Peanut’s Christmas Special. It was even hard to tell who was speaking.

While I understand the COVID-19 pandemic makes these kinds of virtual platforms necessary, apparently the only announcement about this change was on the Township’s webpage. It wasn’t posted on the door and I couldn’t find it on the township’s Facebook page. (The last post there announced the cancellation of the July Supervisor’s meeting). Something that wasn’t available on the township website – the agenda for tonight’s meeting.  I’d love to tell you who sat on the Board, but the township withheld that information from anyone not physically in attendance.

The Meeting – this was the 3rd meeting for this appeal

From what I could  interpret through the beepy/squeaky audio, tonight’s meeting had something to do with jurisdiction. After an argument about letters and who they were sent to and when, Gary Asteak claimed that the Citizen’s Group didn’t have the right to appeal now.

Jason Mohap from Gun Club Road, spoke, citing the minutes from supervisor and zoning board meetings, pointed out that he had repeatedly asked for clarification about Project Tadmoor (warehouse or trucking center) but could never get a definitive answer which made it impossible for the Citizen’s Group to plan a response.

“I don’t have to like the answers I get,” Mohap said, “but I need to get an answer.”

He stated that the Citizen’s Groups has been requesting to meet with Gary Asteak for over 18 months. He cited the minutes to prove he had requested a meeting on at least 5 different occasions.

An argument about the definition of “report” and “determination” followed.

A witness, Michael Tobert (sp?) a Gun Club Road resident, came into the room. He was on the witness list but had been made to sit outside in 96F weather for an hour-and-a-half. The Zoning Board asked him to comment on the jurisdictional question which, since he hadn’t been present for the argument, he was unable to do. He did state that, in his opinion, the board was manipulating the rules and questioned their ethics.

The Zoning Board then went into Executive Session.  When they came out, they dismissed the appeal.

Becky Bartlett covers these meetings because citizens have a right to know what their government is doing – at least that’s always been the goal. This time I covered a colossal failure.

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