The Mount Penn Borough Council and the Lower Alsace Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday night to authorize the merger of the two communities into the Municipality of Antietam Valley.
The residents of both communities will now have the opportunity to vote for the merger in the upcoming General Election on November 4, 2014.
Monday nights meeting was the culmination of more than four months of discussions and ten public meetings to discuss the provisions of the home rule charter that will outline the organization of the new government if citizens vote to move forward with the merger this fall.
Both elected bodies voted separately to approve a Joint Agreement to Consolidate the Borough and the Township and determined that the matter would be placed on the official ballot later this year.
The question to the public on the ballot will be as follows:
“Shall the Borough of Mount Penn and the Township of Lower Alsace consolidate and become the Municipality of Antietam Valley effective January 1, 2016 in accordance with the Joint Agreement between the Borough of Mount Penn and the Township of Lower Alsace?”
Before the issue went to final vote, officials allowed one final chance for citizen input.
Mike Frankhaus of Mount Penn expressed his concerns with the short time frame in which the charter was created and with the lack of participation by other residents.
“It’s a non-presidential election year, apathy is high already. On both sides it could be a bad thing if people don’t show up [to vote]. It seems to me that people either think this is not important and that it may already be decided whether they vote or not, or they are just apathetic about the whole thing,” Frankhaus said.
He continued, “I think the two communities have been doing pretty well for the last 110 years the way they are,” and suggested the committee delay its decision until the next presidential election year to ensure people come out to vote and to allow time for the idea to “permeate the community.”
Conversely, Sean Moretti of Lower Alsace Township expressed his deep support for the merger and applauded the committee for taking the initiative to merge the two communities.
“I’ve always seen it as one community already. I think the technicality of doing this is a good idea.”
It is clear the residents of the two communities have differing opinions on the merger, and it will be up to them to make the final decision in November.
If the merger passes, the two communities will begin the transition to the new government.
If the merger does not pass it cannot be brought up for reconsideration for a minimum of five years.