The Clarion County, Richland Township Supervisors

By LeRoy Best

Dear Editor:
The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires all public agencies to take all official actions and conduct all deliberations that lead to official actions at public meetings. The Sunshine Act also requires that public notice be given prior to all public meetings. Public notice includes placement of a legal notice in a newspaper of general circulation and posting a notice at the township office or meeting place.
Earlier this year while reviewing all documents related to a proposed 232-AC strip-mine, residents of Richland Township discovered an agreement, from January 2015, between Richland Township and Amerikohl Aggregates, Inc. that would impact Jones Road and Church Road. At a regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the supervisors on Tuesday, March 8, 2017 a petition with 49-signatures was presented to the supervisors and to the township solicitor requesting that the “agreement” be dissolved. At that meeting, the supervisors voted 3-0 to have the township solicitor seek dissolution of the “agreement”. In response to this on May 26, 2017, Amerikohl filed a civil complaint against Richland Township. Residents have recently obtained documents confirming that on June 27, 2017 the township supervisors reversed their position voting 3-0 to accept a Settlement Agreement with Amerikohl which reinstated and re-executed the original Agreement and Letters of Consent.
The June 27, 2017 meeting which produced the Settlement Agreement was not a regularly scheduled township meeting. Public notice for this meeting consisted of posting a notice at the Emlenton Post Office and on the bulletin board at the township building. Legal notice for this meeting was not published in a newspaper of general circulation.
The documents related to the 2015 agreement carry January 15, 2015 and January 23, 2015 on different pages. Richland Township Supervisors Meeting minutes show that the supervisors met on January 5, 2015 and then on February 10, 2015. There is no record of a meeting on January 15, 2015 or January 23, 2015. This agreement surely falls within the definition of an official action and the Sunshine Act requires official actions (as well as the deliberations leading to official actions) be conducted at public meetings.
The residents of Richland Township have been “sold out” twice and both times under questionable circumstances. On Tuesday, November 7, 2017 the folks in Richland Township had an opportunity to replace the Township Supervisors Chairman. 77% of those who voted were not interested in any change. As residents of Richland Township, our vote was a clear indication that we support supervisors who have repeatedly operated way out near the ragged edge of what the law requires. We must like what we have had ….. we voted to have more of the same.
Leroy Best
Richland Twp.

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