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Borough Council Approves Final Plan Without Public Comment

Despite the questions, the vote went forward and the approval was unanimous.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday evening, Borough Council approved final plans for the new Borough Hall.

I questioned several Council members on the whether it was proper to do so without any public review or comment period. There was no notice in the newspaper that this vote was happening on Tuesday, nor was there any publication or plan review made available to my knowledge. When questioned by two Council members if the "notice" was simply the Agenda being posted on the Borough web site, Borough Manager Jean Krack said he was unsure if the Agenda was posted before 5 p.m. on Friday. Despite these questions, the vote went forward and the approval was unanimous.

Public review and comment is not required, but given the state of our economy and the many questions regarding the budget and bond, it would have been the prudent and transparent way to approve this plan.

It seems to me that Borough residents need to be included more directly in a decision that spends millions and is still very controversial within the Borough. Why not print the plans in The Phoenix and ask the public for review and comment?

Given the fact that Council spent several hours reviewing comments on a change to the Fire and Safety ordinance, it strikes me as particularly odd that this plan to approve plans for the new Borough Hall is moving forward so quickly.

(Although on the issue of the fire and safety ordinance, many thanks to Council President Rich Kirkner, who insisted the discussion regarding whether to accept changes to the Fire and Safety ordinance be continued for further discussion. This could mean the difference between our Borough losing or keeping the Dive and Rescue team that has been part of the Borough for decades.)

A special meeting will be held on Tuesday May 29, the day after the Memorial Day holiday, when many people are still away. Its purpose will be to consider the change to the fire and safety ordinance regarding the Dive and Rescue Team, as well as the bids for the new Borough Hall. It will seek to approve and award the winning bid.

I urge all Borough residents to contact their Council representative(s), members of Zoning, Planning & Economic Development Committees, the Mayor and Borough Manger and ask for specifics, to review the plans, and have a public review of all bids before Council votes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

imwatchingyou May 11, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Great article Lisa. I'm surprised that you would want this vetted so thoroughly in public since you admire our Democratic Council so much. One question you could have asked is the vote count? Was it unanimous?
David Curran May 11, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Pay attention watching , and read first sentence again- slowly.
imwatchingyou May 11, 2012 at 06:18 PM
You finally got me. Good one.
imwatchingyou May 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
2 in the afternoon and your still not working. GREAT!
David Curran May 11, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I work for myself fool, and have for awhile
Ike May 11, 2012 at 06:51 PM
BOO,,BOO AND BOOAGAIN This council is going down , way down,, this will end up being one of the worst council in the history of Phoenixville. Its like they want to easy anything past the public as on the down low as theycan AND WHO GREAT THOUGHT WAS THESE TRASH CANS??? HOW MUCH DID THEY COST THE BORO ANYWAY. IS IT JUST SO THEY CAN CUT OUT ONE JOB? THAT AINT RIGHT EITHER. SURE NEW WAY FOR TRASH WOULD BE GOOD , IF THEY THOUGHT IT OUT, AND GAVE US MORE TIME , OR LET US KNOW ABOUT IT . THESE CANS MAKE THE BORO LOOK ,,well for a better word trashy????? Well, looks like we were l dupe again.
Realist May 11, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Ike, The new toters were purchased with a Grant years back and finally made it to our doorsteps. They didn't cost the taxpayers except to deliver them. So you can't blame the new current Council members.
Michael Hill May 11, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Michael Hill 5:32 pm on Friday, May 11, 2012 Lisa, The plan for the Borough Hall has been going on for months. There was a meeting last year open to the public to view the plans and make comments, around five people showed up. They also discussed the plans at April's Borough Council extensively. Even though I don't like the mix of styles of the proposed Borough Hall you can not say the public hasn't had a chance to voice their opinions. You just have to go to the meetings, Finance, Council, Planing, etc. They have to keep this moving if they want to stay on Budget. Although I can't agree with all the choices, I can commend them on trying to stay on track to be fiscally responsible.
karlub May 11, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Also, in the most recent elections there were a couple candidates who expressed some skepticism about the wisdom of building a new Borough Hall. They did not win, though. Mostly because they were Republicans, and it takes a little extra special sauce for a Republican to win a Council race here in the 'Ville, especially in the Middle Ward. So the people of Phoenixville had a chance to slow this down. They declined. So they're gonna' get it.
Mr. Ed May 12, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Where's Richard Brewer when you need him?
LocalGirl May 14, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Lisa, thanks for the article. As for the Dive Rescue Team, it will exist and continue to serve the tri-county area and beyond REGARDLESS of what happens with the ordinance. The Team has served sinced 1952 and will continue to do whatever it needs to do to provide uninterupted service. Ironically, the day after the council meeting, the Dive Rescue Team responded to a pond search in Exton, rolled 3 staffed vehicles during the day, and from that scene was dispatched to assist in Berks County for a recovery (young man jumped off a bridge and unfortunately did not know how to swim.) A fourth vehicle with even more manpower responded to that scene. As the ordinance is worded now, while the Team would be covered for Worker's Comp insurance for calls within the Boro limits, calls outside the Boro may or may not be covered. Or our responses could be curtailed at the discretion of the Boro Manager or the Fire Chief. Be advised that calls in Phoenixville that fall on the Montco side of the river are NOT considered Boro calls...so the drownings and near drownings in the last decade at the dam in Phoenixville were all Montco calls.

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