LOWER MAKEFIELD >> After handing over his leadership gavel at the last board of supervisors meeting, chairman Fred Weiss was back at the helm on Wednesday night, July 15.
Weiss, who was accused of violating residency requirements, has been cleared by the Bucks County District Attorney's office, which found “insufficient evidence” to support the claim and that Weiss is “properly domiciled in Pennsylvania and is a resident of Pennsylvania for the purpose of holding an office.”
The accusations came to light just prior to the board of supervisors July 1 meeting where board members were scheduled to vote on a motion to sell the township’s sewer system.
At the start of the meeting, Weiss temporarily handed the leadership of the five member board over to vice chairman Dan Grenier pending the outcome of the investigation into his legal residency.
Weiss’s residency was called into question by resident Jeffery Hall Gale who filed an injunction to delay a vote on the sale of the township’s sewer system. As part of the injunction, he raised issue with Weiss’s residency, arguing that Weiss did not have proper residency to be an elected official.
In addition, a separate request was made to the Bucks County District Attorney's office by resident Peter LaChance asking the DA to investigate. LaChance has been an outspoken opponent of the sewer sale.
Weiss sold his Yardley Road home earlier this year and moved to a townhouse in Lower Makefield. He and his wife also purchased a house in Florida leading to questions regarding his residency.
At the outset of the July 15 meeting, Township Solicitor David Truelove announced the results of the DA's investigation and said the decision was based on evidence collected by the DA’s office, including an interview with Weiss, conversations with real estate professionals, driver’s license and vehicle information from PennDOT and Florida and information from Hall Gale.
“The information included change of address forms for Dr. Weiss moving from Yardley Road to Kathy Drive “indicating a desire and an attempt to live in Pennsylvania. Records also revealed that driver's license addresses were also changed to Kathy Drive.
“Also, Dr. Weiss and his wife have executed a 13 month lease, which for many is about as long a lease as you can enter into with landlords and other entities that provide places for rent,” said Truelove. “And according to the District Attorney’s office, the investigation revealed credible and consistent evidence that supports the conclusion that Dr. Weiss is domiciled in Lower Makefield Township.”
Truelove also noted that having a second home in Florida is no different than having a home at the shore or in the mountains.
Truelove said “to adopt the approach that many promoted, people who own vacation homes may have their voting rights scrutinized depending upon the analysis that some would promote that we have to review for Dr. Weiss’s residency.
“Facts are a difficult thing, but in this day and age especially should be considered and investigated before making assertions that are personal attacks on integrity and disrupt the governing process,” said Truelove.
Truelove said Dr. Weiss and his wife “have maintained all indicia of Pennsylvania residence - vehicle motor registration, physician contacts, Pennsylvania residence for tax purposes, banking accounts, wills and estate plans.”
Truelove also addressed statements in the public regarding Weiss’s trips to Florida. “Out of the 183 days he spent 57 days out of the area in Florida,” he said. “Compare that schedule to those who go to the New Jersey shore every weekend or to the Poconos.”
Truelove said after a clear and concise investigation by the DA’s office “the matter should be put to bed. And I would hope going forward that the issue is.”
Weiss expressed appreciation to everyone who spent time on the investigation. “They know who they are. I really appreciate the effort and the result,” he said.