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Brookview suit possible against Mt. Joy supervisors

Gettysburg Times| Jim Hale |April 25, 2022
PennsylvaniaZoning/PlanningPhotovoltaic Solar

“We’ve got your back” residents told Mount Joy Township supervisors, who face the possibility of being sued over alleged potential bias against the proposed Brookview industrial-scale solar project. Resident Steve Yerger used the phrase Thursday during the public comment portion of a regular meeting. He was echoing a comment by resident Tom Newhart, who also charged that any effort to influence officials “through threats, intimidation, and bullying” would be “beyond the pale.”


“We’ve got your back” residents told Mount Joy Township supervisors, who face the possibility of being sued over alleged potential bias against the proposed Brookview industrial-scale solar project.

Resident Steve Yerger used the phrase Thursday during the public comment portion of a regular meeting.

He was echoing a comment by resident Tom Newhart, who also charged that any effort to influence officials “through threats, intimidation, and bullying” would be “beyond the pale.”

The supervisors planned to discuss threatened litigation during a non-public executive session after the meeting, as permitted by the state Sunshine Act, Chair Bernie Mazer said. They discussed the same topic in executive session April 13 after a public hearing on a portion of the project, according to Thursday’s agenda.

The supervisors’ attorney, Susan Smith, said she is in communication with an attorney appointed by the township’s insurer.

Brookview attorney Paul Minnich Thursday voiced “concerns for us in terms of being treated fairly.” He also stressed the possibility of the ... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

     

“We’ve got your back” residents told Mount Joy Township supervisors, who face the possibility of being sued over alleged potential bias against the proposed Brookview industrial-scale solar project.

Resident Steve Yerger used the phrase Thursday during the public comment portion of a regular meeting.

He was echoing a comment by resident Tom Newhart, who also charged that any effort to influence officials “through threats, intimidation, and bullying” would be “beyond the pale.”

The supervisors planned to discuss threatened litigation during a non-public executive session after the meeting, as permitted by the state Sunshine Act, Chair Bernie Mazer said. They discussed the same topic in executive session April 13 after a public hearing on a portion of the project, according to Thursday’s agenda.

The supervisors’ attorney, Susan Smith, said she is in communication with an attorney appointed by the township’s insurer.

Brookview attorney Paul Minnich Thursday voiced “concerns for us in terms of being treated fairly.” He also stressed the possibility of the township and individual supervisors being ordered to pay punitive damages under a federal law.

During the April 13 hearing, Minnich said having “actively opposed” or “spoken out against” a project could be a reason for supervisors to recuse themselves from voting on a matter.

Also during the April 13 hearing, attorney Walter Tilley, who represents landowners with solar leases including former supervisor David Updyke, expressed similar concerns and handed copies of a “notice of claims” to the supervisors.

Two supervisors elected last November, Christine Demas and Todd McCauslin, were among Brookview opponents represented by attorney Nathan Wolf. Both withdrew as parties after being elected, Wolf said Friday.

In Yerger’s comments Thursday, he also quoted section 603 of the state’s second-class township code: “A member of the board shall not be disqualified from voting on any issue before the board solely because the member has previously expressed an opinion on the issue in either an official or unofficial capacity.”

The Brookview proposal would place hundreds of thousands of electricity-generating solar panels on hundreds of acres of farmland. Proponents have argued they have a right to develop their land. Opponents have expressed concerns ranging from storm runoff to glare.

The April 13 hearing focused on the portion of the proposal in the Agricultural Conservation zone, where no conditional use approval is required for Brookview under the township rules in effect when the plan was filed.

Related case in court

The rest of the Brookview proposal is in the township’s Baltimore Pike Corridor zone, where a conditional use approval would be required.

After months of quasi-judicial proceedings, the previous board of supervisors split 2-2 last June, with Updyke abstaining. The tie constituted a denial, which Brookview appealed in court.

Adams County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Michael George on Friday heard oral arguments and questioned attorneys about their previously submitted written arguments, Wolf said. The proceedings lasted about 90 minutes, he said.

Wolf said attorneys taking part were himself, Smith, Tilley, and Jeremy Frey. The latter, with Minnich, represents Brookview’s Florida-based parent company, NextEra Energy Resources.

George is to issue findings of fact and a decision, Wolf said.

Content truncated due to possible copyright. Use source link for full article.


Source:https://www.gettysburgtimes.c…

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