Key Issues

There are several key issues that Tom has been discussing over the years. You can learn more about them here.

Sunoco Pipeline Project

Since 2014, West Goshen residents have been learning about and fighting against this project. Tom helped spearhead this endeavor, along with many other residents, by helping to create 3cCoalition, Inc. An organization dedicated to educating the public about the development of Fracking and the need for new transmission lines through Chester County. He has spent the last 3 years going to community events, speaking to small groups, hosting information seminars, and knocking on doors all with the sole intent of educating the public on their rights. This was done at great personal expanse to Tom, but he would happily do it again.

Now there is a more troubling event occurring regarding the Sunoco Pipeline with regards to the local township ordinance Tom, and many others, helped to get passed in September 2014. The township has the ability, through Executive powers, to uphold the ordinance which does not allow for these Highly Volatile Liquids (HVLs) to be place in R3 Residential zones within the township. The code defines a setback requirement from occupied structures based on the federal PIR (Potential Impact Radius) guidelines. The township has refused to engage in enforcing the ordinance on behalf of the 20,000+ residents of West Goshen Township, and are allowing myself and others from the township to pay to petition the court to uphold the law of West Goshen Township. The MPC allows for reimbursement to the municipality for this endeavor, not the residents!

Why is this not happening? Because, as Tom have been saying for the last 2 years, the poorly designed settlement agreement with Sunoco prevents the township from acting in the best interests of its citizens. At a recent board meeting on March 8th 2017, Tom asked if the settlement prevents them from acting to enforce the ordinance. The response was that it was discussed in Executive session and the board would not talk about attorney privileged information.

Settlement ties their hands and binds their tongues. It was a mistake by the West Goshen Township board in 2015 (members included, Ray Halvorsen, Phil Corvo, Ted Murphy, Pat McIlvaine, and Edward Meakim, Jr.) to sign away the power given to them by the PA State Constitution, Municipal Planning Code, and the 2nd Class Township Code, to a private “for-profit” corporation. 

Due to the extensive nature of this information, it would not be prudent to list all the concerns here. If you would like to know more, please contact Tom. He would be happy answer questions or to come to a group meeting with you and your neighbors to talk about this and other key points. You may also check the media link to see articles written on the subject.


1st Amendment Rights

It is commonplace for local municipalities to enact rules for their board meetings. Many have some very strict rules; while others are more relaxed in nature. During the 2016 meeting cycle, it was determined by West Goshen that they would consider setting guidelines and begin to video tape their meetings. Something that I have requested for years. Over the summer of 2016 they mentioned several times that they were working on this to take place. In September 2016, the township revealed their plans to ask and require people to acknowledge if they were recording the public hearing to then be included in the meeting minutes with name and address information. One reason was because the board felt they had the right to know who was holding them accountable.

“Referring to East Goshen having issues with recordings being disruptive and that these are very reasonable rules. I think that the board has the right to know who is videotaping them. There have been instances where people have videotaped or audio recorded things without the board knowing that they were being recorded and used them in other context. I think it’s fair for the public officials to know who is taping them and recording them and I think that this is what it’s intended to do.

There were people who audio recorded things and then took them and used them in other forums without really, and we recognize you don’t need our consent, but it would be nice if we knew it was being audio and video recorded.”  West Goshen Township Solicitor Sept. 2016

I stood firm against this and told them this was an unreasonable requirement because the 2nd Class Code nor the Municipal Planning Code (MPC) allows for them to know.

In October 2016, I went before the board and told them they cannot know who is holding them accountable due to a US Supreme Court case that upholds the rights of citizens under the 1st Amendment to anonymity.

Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled more than 50 years ago today that the First Amendment protects a right to anonymous speech.
Talley v. California is notable for its exposition on anonymous speech. While looking at the historical applications of anonymous speech, the court points to two uses in particular that influenced their decision.

1. Fear of Retaliation – Speaking anonymously protects those that criticize oppressive practices from the oppressors.
2. Encourage Open Discourse – Once protected, anonymous speech encourages the open discussion in matters of public importance.

Talley is often cited for the proposition that identification requirements burden speech.

Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005)

The question in this case is what burden must a public official satisfy before he can strip an anonymous speaker of the constitutionally protected right to anonymity. Many of the suits brought by public officials and public figures were for the purposes of unmasking, harassing and ultimately silencing legitimate criticism of their behavior.

It is the right of all citizens to petition their government without fear of punishment or reprisals!


Traffic Problems

West Goshen Township is a growing, vibrant, and sometimes messy place with regards to getting around. The last twenty years has seen an explosion of growth for homes sales, new construction, and business growth. These developments are key to growth and sustainability for the economics of the township. But this growth is not without its pitfalls.

For years, residents have been stating their concerns with the increase traffic problems for our township. The Boot Road & Rt. 202 area is of great concern to residents and businesses alike. The explosion in corporate growth has created a zone that is becoming more difficult to traverse. The township has tried to change the traffic patterns by suggesting a restripping project which may help to speed up travel time for out-of-area workers. But would have a negative impact on the residents who live in this area. The home values are considerably less, compared to comparable homes on adjoining streets. Tom has stood up on many occasions to speak for the residents in this zone. But he has also expressed concerns for other areas impacted by difficult traffic patterns.

The West Chester University (Rosedale Avenue) region has always had problems with traffic. And now there is a desire to add more private housing for university students in that area. At a recent township meeting, two developers, Mr. Lou Colagreco, representing GMH, a private developer who builds apartment buildings are seeking Board direction as to whether the Board would entertain amending the Township Code to allow multi-family housing in the Industrial-zoned District.  Mr. Jim Kirby of GMH stated that they were in discussions with Fame Fire Company about possibly moving Fame to another location so that Fame could expand their building and then GMH would build a 150-apartment, multi-family, student housing building on the Fame site would result in approximately 294 beds.

And a second multi-family student housing presentation was made on behalf of BET, Bruce E. Toll by attorney Joe Riper. Mr. Riper stated that his client was in discussions with the owner of 205 Carter Drive to purchase the property, as the building is adjacent to the existing “The Edge” apartment building on Rosedale Avenue. Mr. Michael Markmann of BET stated that BET owns “The Edge” and would improve 205 Carter Drive to build a multi-family student housing building with 253 beds and 230 parking spaces.

Many residents and commuters have expressed concerns with traffic in the region. We need to develop common sense ways of looking into these concerns for the residents. And we need to help local businesses as well. But one should not overrule the other, just merely learn to work together. Unless there are real safety concerns, in which case safety should always come first.

West Goshen Township has been actively keeping information from residents. Sounds like a strong statement, however it has merit. Over the last several years Tom has inquired about many different issues facing our community. He has asked hard questions. Yet the information he sought was kept from him and others.


Transparency

I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS TYPE OF BEHAVIOR TO CONTINUE!!!

Transparency in government is crucial for citizens to know where their money is going. West Goshen RTK requests sometimes don’t reveal much. In this case, they decided to cover up everything! You have the right to know where your tax dollars are going. And who is spending them. These are just 3 samples of a lack of transparency that needs to stop.

A resident asked for the end of year bank statements for Township accounts. What they got was a covered over batch of documents that redacted everything except the dollar amounts. The reason that was given “TO PREVENT FRAUD”. Yes, the RTK Law is designed to prevent fraud…but in the opposite direction. Its purpose is to prevent fraud by the government…NOT THE GOVERNED!

 


Senior Care Advocacy

While campaigning over the last few weeks, there has been one glaring problem that seems to be a redundant theme throughout West Goshen Township, the need for support and advocacy for our senior population. No matter what neighborhood I walked through, there were people of all ages who had a loved one needing guidance and support.

According to AARP, “The implications of these census figures create ripple-effects throughout the fabric of America. Community planners and local governments will need to understand and plan for changes in family structures, city infrastructures, communication methods, volunteerism, transportation, health, and ethnic/linguistic needs.” (AARP.org)

I think it would be prudent of the Township to arrange a series of seminars using their outreach ability with community partners, who have knowledge and expertise in these fields of senior care, to help answer questions for residents. They would also be done for families of seniors, or soon to be, so that they are not faced with so much uncertainty during a time when our focus needs to be on our loved ones. Not traversing the difficult and confusing realm of geriatric care.