Supervisors delay action on rezoning requests

December 06, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Action on several commercial and residential rezoning requests and a development plan were tabled Monday night on a motion by a Washington Township Supervisor who accused two of his colleagues of accepting campaign contributions from local developers.

Supervisor Chris Firme charged Supervisors Art Cordell and Richard Mohn Jr. with accepting campaign funds from R. Lee Royer, owner of R. Lee Royer & Associates, a local surveying firm involved with many development projects that have come before the supervisors for approval. Firme alleged the two also received campaign funds from two local developers.

Cordell and Mohn did not immediately respond to Firme's accusations. They still had not responded by 9:30 p.m., two hours into the meeting.


Firme asked Township Solicitor John Lisko to order the supervisors to postpone public hearings on two rezoning requests and a preliminary plan for a 54-unit housing development until January when two newly elected supervisors, John Gorman and Carroll Sturm, are sworn in. Gorman and Sturm beat Cordell and Mohn in the May Republican primary.

"It's a big-time conflict," Firme said of projects involving Royer. He also asked that Lisko look into previous plans involving Royer that the supervisors have approved "for ethical conflicts."

Monday's agenda included public hearings, followed by action on requests by David and Barbara Layman to rezone a tract abutting Rouzerville Commons on the new Washington Township Boulevard from residential to commercial and WAM enterprises to rezone part of the Pifer Farm from agricultural to single-family residential for a 135-unit development. The Pifer farms abuts the former Diller Farm, which WAM owns and plans to build a large commercial and residential development.

Royer presented the Laymans' rezoning request to the supervisors Monday night, but said he had no interest in it, that he was only speaking for the owners. "This has no benefit to me," he said.

Lisko said any decision by Cordell and Mohn to recuse themselves was strictly a decision on their part. "It's a personal decision. They have to decide if they're in conflict. It's nothing I can force them to do."

He said he would research Firme's request to see if any ethical rules have been violated. "I won't render an opinion until I've checked," he said.

The board, on Lisko's advice, agreed to hold the hearings and hear testimony with possible action at a Dec. 19 meeting unless Lisko postpones it until January.

About 25 people attended Monday's meeting and Firme's conflict charges drew a barrage of comments, including one from Pat O'Connor, who demanded that Cordell and Mohn resign immediately.

"If you had any decency, you'd get up and resign right now," she said.

Pat Heefner, who with O'Connor are citizen activists at supervisor meetings, said the integrity of the board "has been lost." She accused Cordell and Mohn of trading their integrity.

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