Saturday, September 23, 2017

Vic Singer presents legal objections to Chestnut Hill "Preserve"

STOP Campaign mulls Vic Singers allegations over the Traffic Impact Studies and approval of the Chestnut Hill "Preserve"

Clearly, in our previous post and in the CLNCC's newsletter, Vic Singer presents the case for why building permits should NOT be issued for the Chestnut Hill "Preserve". However, as we all know, just having the best paid lawyer(s) can skew the law's interpretation, and decide the outcome in any case.

It's impossible to know what the future holds. Given what appears an airtight case here, and the building permits are indeed issued, it would require finding a skilled attorney (pro-bono, obviously) to present a legal challenge and file an injunction. If someone does step up, it could drag on for years. STOP advocates have already made 3 attempts at finding an attorney pro-actively, and none would touch it given the level of work involved. In fact, one was so intimidated, he literally "got out of Dodge".

As far as STOP is concerned, the campaign for saving the land as the last chance for a regional park in Ogletown is over. The campaign was honorably run, protecting the Sisters and our Legislators from the abusive comments, attacking them, which we would delete from this page. Every objection to the project that we published was researched, and fact-based. And in the end, although the price was almost the same, the Felician Sisters willingly sold to the developers over a few stipulations (supposedly the fault of Exec.Meyer's weak and insincere negotiations) in a sale agreement with NCC and the State. And once the deal is signed, there's no turning back. So, our job is done, simply because outside of the objections that Mr. Singer now presents, we are powerless.

As working class citizens with FT jobs and other pursuits in the areas of environment and sustainability, we have committed every last drop of energy to the effort. The bucket ran empty as our elected leaders failed us miserably. Despite numerous attempts, local civic groups and most key environmental orgs (Audubon Society, Sierra Club, DE Wildlands, among others contacted over numerous times via e-mails/phone calls) ignored our pleas to endorse the campaign. They expect now that we're going to step back, and quietly accept this project in its entirety. There is no real guarantee either that more could be built in the future, in the remaining open space; inland wetlands protections are very weak in DE, and again, are subject to interpretation of law.

It has never been more clear just how disenfranchised the Ogletown-S. Newark region is. We will watch helplessly as what Bond Bill money was secured for the Orphanage Property is likely re-routed to the Newark Country Club, or a Councilwoman Lisa Diller-supported bridge and pathway over the White Clay Creek. Or any number of other such (much needed, yes) projects in areas and regions where constituency matters. Councilwoman Diller's inaction showed Ogletown just what she thinks of us.

We wish Mr Singer all the best in his effort, and can only hope that it helps to delay the development of the land. If indeed County laws were broken, and County Council delivered an illegal approval to the project, perhaps NCC will have another opportunity at purchase. But there have been several already, and now faced with $10M needed to repair a County sewer line, the odds just sunk that much further. And the fact remains that County Executive Matthew Meyer was not a strong enough advocate for this park, ever, and time after time found reasons to prevent it from happening. That, plus the fact the very developer threatening the Orphanage Property, Joseph Setting, was serving as Chair of Mr. Meyer's Parks Transition Team. We will never understand how this obvious conflict of interest was tolerated, because in his position, he had significant influence over where and how parkland was prioritized.

You can also read Vic's article in the CLNCC's newsletter, starting on the 3rd page.

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