Tag Archives: Zoning Hearing Board

Scratching the Surface of Willistown Politics (and washing my hands afterwards)

by Chris Smith, Malvern Patch, 11/8/12

…More recently, I learned of the passing of a longtime member of Willistown’s Zoning Hearing Board and that another member had at about the same time moved outside of Willistown. The Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) is comprised of three members and an alternate so this left the ZHB with just one member and an alternate. With my desire to serve my community and my background in real estate law and real estate, I felt compelled to offer my services and applied to fill one of the vacant ZHB positions. I could find no information on Willistown’s website about the vacancies or application procedures so I sent a letter on July 27, 2012, to the Township Manager, submitting my name for consideration. I enclosed my resume with the letter. A week later, when I hadn’t been contacted about my letter, I sent an e-mail to the Township Manager asking if he’d received it. He replied that he had and had given it to the Supervisors. I’ve attached all of these correspondences to this blog.

I have received no further communications from the Supervisors, Township Manager or anyone affiliated with the township. I didn’t even receive a “thank-you” for applying for this volunteer position. I received no instructions as to the process for appointing new members to the ZHB. They didn’t even have the courtesy to tell me that they would be nominating and voting on new members to fill the vacancies during their regular Board of Supervisors meeting on August 20, 2012, more than three weeks after they’d received my letter applying for one of the vacancies. In fact, the agenda they posted on the Willistown Township website for that meeting merely stated as one of the agenda items “Appointments to Boards and Commissions.” Typical of the communications shortcomings of our township governance and the underhanded manner in which some business is conducted, the agenda gave no details as to which boards and commissions would have appointments made to them that night. As it turned out, only the ZHB vacancies were filled on August 20th according to the posted minutes on the Willistown Township website. And that alternate position? Either hasn’t been filled or no longer exists according the the website. It’s not much, but I’d take it.

Very important decisions are made by the ZHB and yet, no public notice was made of the vacancies and it appears most of Willistown’s 11,000+ residents had no idea the vacancies even existed. Shouldn’t we make sure those that sit on our ZHB are the best qualified to make zoning decisions for us? As I see it, I’m not the only Willistown taxpayer that has been treated discourteously by our Supervisors. By not conducting a proper search within our township for qualified persons to sit on the ZHB we have all been treated discourteously and, worse, undemocratically. I wasn’t even asked to interview for one of the positions so I’ve a very strong hunch that the treatment I received is attributable to my political affiliation. It’s one thing to be given a fair shot and fail, but there’s no justification for completely ignoring the legitimate offer to volunteer of a tax paying resident of our township. Leave the ugly politics in Washington and keep it out of Willistown. We’re all better off if civility is exercised.

I’ll now make my last point about this unfortunate experience. The two men who were appointed to fill the vacancies on the ZHB are Republican Committee Persons in Willistown. The already sitting member on the ZHB, another man, is a Republican Committee Person in Willistown. All three current members, therefore, of the ZHB are Republican Committee Persons. It would seem that the path to a seat on the ZHB is through membership on Willistown’s Republican Committee, which Norm McQueen happens to chair. Are you smelling an oligarchy? There’s a very strong odor of oligarchy now and, frankly, I’d rather be locked inside of a Radnor Hunt horse stall on a hot July day that hasn’t been cleaned in a week than see what is happening to the governance of our township. Apparently, Republicans not interested in a Committee seat, Democrats and Independents need not apply for important township volunteer positions, that is, if you even are aware of the vacancies. Governing powerin Willistown is being concentrated and controlled by a very small group of people. This cannot be good.

read the whole post at Malvern Patch