At the start of the discussion, Harris attempted to get Koplin, the township manager, to recuse herself from any future planning commission actions on the quarry.
He distributed emails and other documents to the planning commission that he maintained show Koplin, as township manager, has been involved in the “day-to-day litigation” regarding Geryville Materials’ quarry applications.
Harris said he doesn’t fault the township manager for participating in litigation between Geryville and the township. But he argued members of the planning commission are required to be fair and impartial.
“You can’t be participating in the litigation opposing the quarry and at the same time be fair and impartial regarding decisions concerning the quarry,” argued Harris.
“This isn’t just about what’s happening tonight regarding the preliminary plan,” he said. “The importance of this is going forward. It has to do with the continued review of the final plan.”
Township solicitor Cappuccio said he did not believe Koplin had to recuse herself.
Backenstoe asked Koplin if she thought being the township manager had made her biased and unable to be fair and impartial reviewing Geryville’s land development plan.
“Absolutely not,” she replied. “We are entitled as residents to serve on various commissions and boards.”
In addition to being a township employee she said: “I’m also a resident, a taxpayer, a landowner. I am entitled under the Municipalities Planning Code to be appointed and sit on the board. I am just as capable of reviewing their application as any other member.”
One resident weighs in
The only resident to speak on the issue was Jean Schoch, who asked if any members of the planning commission belong to the Lower Milford Residents Association, which opposes the quarry and is represented by a lawyer.
If any planning commission members are members of the association, Schoch said, they also should recuse themselves from reviewing the plans.
None of the planners at the meeting admitted to being members of that association.
Gadek said Schoch was only “making a suggestion; an expression of concern.”
After the meeting, Schoch said she believes at least two planning commission members are members of the anti-quarry group.
Not a hearing
Although it was not a hearing, Geryville had a court stenographer at the planning commission meeting.
Planning commission secretary Ann Frey asked Harris if the township would be getting a copy of the transcript.
Replied the lawyer: “If you pay for it, we’ll be happy to see that you get a copy.”
Later, when Cappuccio, the township solicitor, spoke up to take issue with something Harris was saying about Koplin, the Geryville lawyer snapped: “One person speaks at a time, Mr. Cappuccio. I have the floor.”