Durham solicitor to draw up code of conduct
KATHRYN FINEGAN CLARK
The hostility and acrimony that have hovered like dark clouds over Durham Township supervisors’ meetings for the past year may soon come to an end.
The board of supervisors at the April meeting authorized Peter Nelson, the township solicitor, to draw up a meeting code of conduct.
Supervisor Chairman Bartley E. Millett said he believes a written policy is needed as a direct result of “issues at past meetings.” In response to a question from a resident, he said the code will apply to supervisors, township employees and the public. No mention of the code of conduct appeared on the meeting agenda.
Passions have run high since PennEast announced a proposal to route a natural gas pipeline through the township, and meetings have been packed with protesters. Several of the pipeline opponents have been loud and often obnoxious in their criticism, often based on rumor, and have addressed the officials in an insulting manner.
The supervisors also have not always exhibited sterling behavior when confronted. That general atmosphere continued even after the number of protesters attending meetings dwindled to a handful.
In addition, Supervisor Kathleen Gentner, who was not present at the April meeting, has been openly and bitterly at odds with Millett as well as several township employees. Millett said she was absent because she was “on a trip.”
Nelson said the written policy will set standards for behavior as well as establish access to township buildings and documents. He said when the policy is adopted it should resolve “issues at past meetings.” He added, “Most of the other townships have these rules in place.”
Millett said, “This is starting the process. We’ll see if this helps the situation.”
Louis Bucci, chairman of the board of auditors, presented the auditors annual report and said the auditors had found “the financial condition of the township remains sound.” He said the auditors offered six recommendations on bookkeeping details and offered praise for Supervisor Richard Johnson, who is board treasurer and for Joseph Kulick, former township manager, who prepared the budget.
Bucci said, “The supervisors keep their eyes on every penny. Johnson told him other townships had often questioned, ‘How do you do it?’ and Johnson responded, “It’s simple. If you don’t have it, you don’t spend it.”
The supervisors reported they conducted the annual road inspection tour April 6. Taking the tour were Millett, Gentner, Public Works Director Andrew Volak Sr. and Dani McClanahan, township administrator. They reported the roads in “very decent shape” after a mild winter with only two weeks of low temperatures.
The township will now advertise bids for roadwork to be completed this summer.
The supervisors appointed James Pavlica, a former member of the planning commission, to fill a vacancy on the zoning hearing board.
Both the planning commission and the environmental advisory council have reviewed the draft ordinance regulating the placement of a compressor station along the proposed pipeline. Nelson, who had prepared the draft ordinance, discussed the suggested changes. Millett said the supervisors expect to adopt a first draft at the May meeting.
The township’s Large Item Clean-Up Day is scheduled for April 29 from 8 a.m. until noon at the township yard. The event is open only to township residents and they will be limited to three trips.
Up to four rimless tires will be accepted and a $20 charge will be imposed for items containing freon. No loose debris or regular recycling items will be accepted but televisions and other electronics will be.
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