There is controversy surrounding the Lower Southampton Township Zoning Department. Around 30 people attending the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday evening to discuss the matter.
A Keystone Municipal Services report found “irregularities” and other inconsistencies in record keeping, leading to a tense conversation.
Keystone Municipal Services President Richard O’Brien read the report to those in attendance and gave his perspective. He voiced the main issue of irregularities was of certain documents being filed separately from their property files, with the recommendation of all relevant paperwork being held together.
The report also stated the failure to check permits resulted in tax payers losing $37,000 in government revenue.
Township Manager John McMenamin attended the meeting and noted that while some people were angry about the situation, their passion may come from a state of misinformation.
“There were some pointed question and I think there were some people who were angry,” McMenamin said. “However, the stories that have been written are very inaccurate. They don’t tell the whole story unfortunately.”
McMenamin also refuted claims the township is not taking action. While the Board of Supervisors opted not to immediately open another investigation in the zoning issues, he said something of that importance needs further evaluation.
“The Board said ‘Let’s look at costs, let’s look at how much we have to do rather than cap on something at that meeting,'” McMenamin clarified. “We’ll let our zoning officer go back, look at how much work would be involved, and how many things have to be looked at. Then we would discuss that at a future meeting.”
The zoning department is making changes based on the report and doing housekeeping.
“There are a lot of small things, and some of the criticism in the report was how we file things away,” McMenamin said. “Not everything was in one spot, we’re making corrections where we can on that. ”
McMenamin also says a report stating the taxpayers lost $37,000 is misleading.
“It was an estimate of what the developer or land owner would have had to pay, but almost all of the $37,000 would have gone to the professionals: the solicitors, the engineers, the inspectors,” McMenamin claimed. “It wouldn’t have gone to the taxpayers as was kinda slanted to make it seem that way.”
The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for August 8th.