LOWER MAKEFIELD >> Suzanne Blundi will lead the board of supervisors into 2021 after being elected chair during the board’s annual reorganization meeting on January 4.
Blundi, a trial attorney and former City of New York Health and Hospitals Corporation deputy counsel, takes over the chairmanship from Dr. Fred Weiss who led the board in 2020.
Under Weiss’s leadership, the supervisors voted to sell its sewer system and to approve an overlay district in the township’s Office Research Zone that will open the door to Prickett Preserve at Edgewood, a mixed use development anchored by Wegman’s on Stony Hill Road.
Voting for Blundi at the reorganization meeting were Supervisors Fred Weiss, Dan Grenier, James McCartney and Blundi. Supervisor John Lewis voted against the appointment.
Prior to the vote Lewis had asked Blundi whether she favored moving public comment back to the beginning of the meeting as was done traditionally. When Weiss took over as chairman, he moved public comment to the end of the meeting.
“I think it is something that we, as a board, should discuss and make a decision on,” responded Blundi. “There are pros and cons to both sides, but clearly there is some concern by residents and we have to address them.”
Following the vote, Blundi thanked the board for elevating her to the chairmanship.
“It is my honor to be the chair of the board of supervisors for 2021. And I look forward to working with all of you on some of the many issues that are before us on what I call ‘the agenda of the township,’” she said.
That agenda includes: insuring that the township remains a great place to live; that the township has adequate fire protection and safety measures in place; and that the supervisors address the pending sale of the sewer system and what to do with the proceeds to protect the residents of Lower Makefield.
The agenda, said Blundi, also includes finding a way to work within the budget to pave additional roads; working on improving the Air B&B Ordinance and tightening it up; and creating an ad hoc committee to address the many township buildings that are in various states of repair and to develop a plan to address the assets.
In other action, the board elected James McCartney as the board’s vice chairman, John Lewis as secretary and Fred Weiss as treasurer.
The votes were unanimous for McCartney and Lewis. Supervisors Lewis and Grenier voted against the Weiss appointment.
In other appointments, the board named planning commissioner Adrian Costello as its vacancy board chairman for 2021.
The appointment followed three failed motions made by John Lewis who first nominated Karen Vander Laan and then Zachary Rubin and finally Renee Donaghy.
In other action, the newly-reorganized board reappointed Safe Engineering as its traffic engineer and Maillie LLP as township auditor.
The supervisors also appointed Hill Wallack LLP as solicitor on an interim basis while the township investigates concerns raised by supervisor Dan Grenier over what he said is the lack of disclosure of a campaign contribution made to the Keep LMT Blue PAC in June 2019.
As part of the township’s RFP process, professional serving the township are required to disclose their political contributions.
“We have set a clear precedence related to compliance. Hill Wallack is clearly out of compliance,” said Grenier, noting that they did disclose other contributions to township supervisors and other related PACs in the county and locally.
“Based on that and some other comments I’ve heard about performance from staff and other supervisors, I don’t believe we can continue with Hill Wallack as solicitor and we need to temporarily appoint our conflict firm, Curtin and Heffner as our solicitor,” said Grenier.
Supervisor Fred Weiss said the RFP that was presented to the firm when they took the position did not include that clause. “I can’t hold someone to disclosure when no disclosure was asked of them,” he said.
Township solicitor Dave Truelove added that the firm has complied with all requirements. “We’re talking now a year and a half ago and nothing has been said in the ensuing 18 months so this is news to me,” he said.
The supervisors decided to appoint the firm on an interim basis until the disclosure issue can be reviewed and discussed further.
Supervisor John Lewis recused himself from the vote, citing “an ongoing issue that has not been resolved with the solicitor’s office.”
In other business, the supervisors unanimously appointed member James McCartney as the township’s representative to this year’s Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors Conference.