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Tempers flare at Antrim Twp. meeting

May 13, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Antrim Township Supervisor Sam Miller said Tuesday that he felt he and the public have been kept in the dark on key township matters, alleging that the board is not being open.

"With all due respect, we talk about transparency, but there is none," he said.

The heated debate among board members sparked during an agenda item seeking authorization for a board or staff member to complete grant applications without prior board approval.

During discussion, Miller asked why he was kept in the dark on a grant application for a $1.2 million matching grant road for the Century Property on U.S. 11 that was completed over the weekend.

Supervisor Fred Young III said he received word of the grant through the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., a few days before its May 1 deadline and quickly contacted supervisors for permission to proceed.

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Having "consensus" from board members James Byers and Rick Baer, Young said he completed the application but did not submit it because Solicitor John Lisko said he needed board approval.

Miller said he had a message from Young about the grant but that he questioned why ultimately Young prepared the application and not the board's recently hired administrator, Brad Graham.

"How in good consciousness can you apply for grants when you are their friends?" he asked Young.

Young said he completed the application because he could do it for free, as opposed to Graham who would do it on his paid time.

Graham said to the Herald-Mail previously that his position includes applying for grants.

Miller said the grant application was an example of the lack of communication among the board.

Bringing up the Antrim Commons Business Park, Miller said he has been kept in the dark on the progress with Atapco, the park's developer.

The board granted the plan conditional final approval for phase one of the project earlier in the meeting.

Board Chairman Curtis Myers said to Miller that if he had attended a meeting with Atapco last week he would not feel out of the loop.

But Byers said the meeting was limited to two supervisors by the sunshine law and while he and Miller would have both like to be there, they could not have been without violating the law.

The problem, Byers said, is that whoever attends those meetings does not later communicate what is discussed with the rest of the board.

"The point is that even after the fact, there is no communication," Byers said.

"I have been asking for updates on Atapco," Miller said.

The board approved the Atapco plan without discussion on Tuesday, prompting Miller to call it "a done deal."

Myers asked Miller what type of communication would he like. Miller said he wants to see the board talk in open session.

"I'd like to see this board discussing and talking about everything as a board," he said.

Lisko said the only way the board can talk as a full board is in open or executive session.

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