Vote on hydrogeologist is tabled
The Eldred Township supervisors were unable to agree on the hiring of a hydrogeologist at Wednesday's meeting. According to Supervisor Mary Anne Clausen, the township is considering hiring an expert to review the data provided by Nestle and to make recommendations to the township boards regarding permits and prohibitions.
Clausen, had received resumes and quotes from Christopher Taylor of Hanover Engineering and Phillip Getty, an environmental hydrogeologist. Only Clausen had spoken with the bidders before the meeting.
Clausen made a motion to hire Getty based on his having more experience as an expert witness.
"I want to table this item," Chairwoman Gretchen Gannon Pettit said. "I have only just received these resumes and think we need more time to interview them."
Both Pettit and Supervisor Sharon Solt agreed to speak with the engineers this week.
Public hearing request denied
Planning commission member Robert Boileau made a request for the supervisors to consider holding a public meeting for the purpose of considering a reversal of the change to the definition of "water extraction" as amended in May 2014.
"I would like to make a motion that we schedule a public meeting to discuss this matter," Clausen said in response to Boileau's request.
Clausen did not get a second on her motion.
"Everyone had a month to review and digest the changes," Solt said.
"We as a planning board are not questioning the procedure at this time," Boileau said. "What I am saying, in light of the proposed extraction by Nestle, is we made a mistake. We are unanimously requesting that the board of supervisors take another look and see it you made a mistake as well."
Pettit wasn't any more inclined than Solt to second Clausen's motion for a public hearing.
"I have said it before and I will say it again," Pettit said, "if someone owns property and pays property taxes for 10 years and they can make money on that property, and no one can prove to me that there will be a detriment to others, I am not going to reverse the ordinance."
Some residents still have concerns with how the change in the definition came about.
"I just find it fishy that the exact words suggested by attorney Wimmer in his email are the same words, verbatim, used in new definition in the ordinance," resident Vernon Barlieb said. "And there is a question of conflict of interest here as well. One of the supervisors' husband works for Nestle and the other's boyfriend owns the property where the wells are."
Township solicitor Michael Kaspszyk said the decision to hold a public meeting on the matter or to consider reversing the ordinance is entirely at the discretion of the supervisors and that if the residents believe that the change was not procedurally correct, they have the right to file in the court of common pleas.
Neither Solt nor Pettit seconded Clausen's motion for a public meeting and the motion died.