The Board of Commissioners have placed high value on controlling the transparency and civic engagement of residents. It is important to the Commissioners that the residents of Upper Gwynedd Township don’t receive complete and accurate information about various Township issues, news, and events. We, in turn, are dedicated to dispel rumors by addressing incorrect information posted on social media by Township and non-Township affiliated websites.
UPPER GWYNEDD TOWNSHIP REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE
Public statement on the Waste Water Meeting 4/19/2022
The Upper Gwynedd Waste Water diversion project as we know is now completed. 100% of Upper Gwynedd waste water is now being treated at the Upper Gwynedd Township owned and operated advanced treatment plant located on Township Line Road.
It is important for all Upper Gwynedd township residents and business owners to recognize and acknowledge the role of previous Republican Board of Commissioners and Staff members who conceived, negotiated, planned and designed the project to separate the waste water relationship between Upper Gwynedd and Towamencin Townships beginning in 2014. This project resulted in the approximate 5 mile diversion of the entire flow from the western half of Upper Gwynedd to its expanded plant located on Township Line Rd.
The project to end the agreement with Upper Gwynedd Township and Towamencin Township required several years of very intense technical and financial study, permitting, negotiation, design and planning. All of this was completed by the previous all Republican Board of Commissioners and the professional staff. In fact, current Commissioners Liz McNaney and Denise Hull were critical of this project when they campaigning for election in 2017.
As we read the story in the April 14th edition of the Reporter about the current controversies in Towamencin Township regarding their potential sale of what remains an antiquated plant to a private for profit making concern, we here in Upper Gwynedd Township should remember to thank former Commissioners, Ken Kroberger, Tom Duffy, Clare Edelmayer, Steve Sands and Jim Santi for their vision, creativity and commitment to the long term best interest of Upper Gwynedd Township, its residents, businesses and institutions (including the North Penn School District.)
Re: Upper Gwynedd Township Board of Commission consider the acquisition of the Martin Tract located at Allentown Road and South Broad St.
This press release is issued by the Upper Gwynedd Township Republican Committee (UGTRC). The Committee’s intent is to provide the residents and tax payers of the Township with factual information about this issue and to provide the voters and taxpayers an alternate view from the position held by the current ALL Democrat Board. The UGTRC believe that simple common sense should be considered on this issue and towards all other issues related to the management and operation of the Township.
The residents of Upper Gwynedd currently enjoy an existing inventory of 830 acres of mixed use open space. This inventory was created through the vision and hard work performed by the previous Republican controlled Township Boards. Previous Boards carefully included ALL of the salient factors in the deliberations to preserve open space. Political gain was never considered. Over the years very few acres were preserved via an expenditure of tax dollars. The current Board proposes to spend millions of tax dollars to acquire the 33-acre Martin property. WHY ?
The current Board wants Township tax payers to believe that their proposed purchase was a product of their recently approved (August 2021) 2040 UGT Comprehensive Plan. Township Minutes from 2017 reveal that this acquisition was really hatched by Commissioners Liz McNaney and Denise Hull when they were manufacturing issues for their 2017 campaign for Township Commissioner. In 2017 the previous Republican controlled Board of Commissioners explained to both then candidates McNaney and Hull that there was limited interest on the part of the Township in acquiring any part of the Martin property due to its market value. The law requires that fair market value determines what the Township would have to pay the owners to acquire the site. This expense, along with the current and future tax revenue producing potential of the property and other priorities made the acquisition unjustified. The position held by the previous Board of Commissioners yielded the construction of 26 high end tax yielding homes that were recently built on the portion of the Martin Tract located on the north side of Allentown Road. The position of the prior Board of Commissioners was formed and held in the context of a simple cost benefit assessment and was not driven by a means to gain political favor.
Yes, this site was included in the Township’s 2004 Open Space Plan. Research reveals that all existing substantial tracts were required to be listed in the Plan that was mandated by the Montgomery County Open Space Initiative. Every community in Montgomery County was required to prepare a plan. It would be a factual statement to say that through Republican leadership and careful planning, Upper Gwynedd Township was a model for wise open space preservation decades before any member of the current ALL Democrat Board was elected and before Montgomery County created their Open Space Initiative.
At the September 21, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting the current Democrat Board came dangerously close to wasting nearly $ 3.0 million of your tax dollars to acquire this site through a process called Eminent Domain (Condemnation). If it were not for the objections of the owner and questions asked by
Upper Gwynedd Republicans and others who were in attendance the action would have been approved by our current Board. Fortunately for the tax payers of the Township there was a Commissioner absent and the measure failed on a 2-2 tie vote. Prior to the vote it was revealed by the owner that he had previously expressed a willingness to donate a portion of his tract to the Township as part of a negotiated land development plan. The current Board found themselves in an extremely embarrassing situation. Apparently acquiring a portion of this property at NO COST was NOT good enough for the current Board of Commissioners. The current Board was fully prepared to condemn the entire tract at an appraised value of $ 2.9 million to satisfy a poorly thought out 2017 political promise made by Commissioners McNaney and Hull.
In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article (1-16-22) Commissioner Liz McNaney distorted the facts to advance the current Board’s agenda. In that article Commissioner McNaney stated that the Township owned “211 acres of municipal park space”. Her statement completely ignores the active open space owned by other agencies like the Wissahickon Valley Watershed (Green Ribbon Trail) and the expansive 240 acre Natural Lands Trust property (which includes a network of nature trails) located off Swedesford Road. McNaney further understates the recreation space available to residents in this neighborhood by ignoring Lansdale’s expansive Whites Rd. Park which is located within 750 feet of the Martin tract. Perhaps Commissioner McNaney does not know that the Whites Rd. Park is physically located in Upper Gwynedd Township. The previous Republican Board worked hard with both the Wissahickon Valley Watershed and the Natural Lands Trust organizations to advance the cause of open space protection and recreation, at ZERO cost to the Township tax payers. Prior elected Boards applied an efficient systems approach towards its Parks and Open Space strategy.
The public should also be aware of the fact that under eminent domain law the Martin family has a right to contest the fair market value offer made by the Township. Through taking the matter to a Jury of View proceeding the acquisition cost to the Township can increase substantially above the currently held $ 2.9 million value. These costs do not include what the Township will spend developing and permanently maintaining the site in accordance with their unjustified vision.
Lastly, despite continued requests made by Upper Gwynedd Republicans, the current Board and its staff have yet to produce or make public an economic impact study that would estimate the real estate tax revenue that will be permanently lost to the Township, County and the School District. Such a study will reveal the millions of dollars that will be lost once the Township takes ownership in perpetuity. Any clear minded individual realizes that this loss is increased exponentially when you factor in the value of the property after it being developed in a reasonable manner with community and neighborhood input. Upper Gwynedd Republicans would include public neighborhood input as to how this tract might be privately developed in the future.
Upper Gwynedd Republicans propose a common sense view of this entire issue. The existing 830 ACRE inventory of mixed use open space disbursed throughout the Township represents an outstanding accomplishment for the residents, environment and for wildlife. The existing inventory is 7X the recommended inventory prescribed by several agencies including the Commonwealth of Pa. We simply do not believe that there is any justification for this acquisition. This belief is further substantiated when considering the use of the Township’s power of eminent domain and the associated expenditure of millions of precious tax dollars. The UGTRC believes that the use of the governmental power of eminent domain (condemnation) should be used exclusively for land acquisitions involving necessity not for the fulfillment of a frivolous political campaign promise.