The Pennsbury Village project is again causing friction and finger pointing in that township.MaryAnna Ralph said current Supervisors' Chairman Wendell Fenton should have paid a consulting fee from February 2007 himself rather than having the township foot the $1,900 bill for something he wanted done and without first discussing the matter with other supervisors.
That bill, she said, involved Fenton's hiring of a consultant to critique a memo Ralph sent to the town-ty for the village project. ship solicitor about information she sentstate Department of Cultural, Natural Resources regarding the use of township proper-Ralph - the former board chairman who chose not to seek reelection last year - said there was deliberate impropriety in Fenton's action, saying the bill was submitted for payment without Fenton telling Ralph and fellow supervisor Karen Wood about it. She said he submitted the bill to Township Manager Kathy Howley who listed the bill as a legal fee.
She brought the subject up during last week's board of supervisors' meeting an said later she had only learned about the situation the previous week during a hearing on a writ of prohibition.
That action was brought by Pennsbury Village Associates who seek to have Fenton and supervisor Charles Scottoline recuse themselves from voting on village matters. It is one of many suits involving the township, residents and Pennsbury Village Associates.
Though Ralph said Fenton's actions were improper and deliberate, she said she and Wood deserve some of the blame themselves for not questioning the bills submitted. She said they saw "legal fees" and left it at that.
She said she was spurred to bring the matter up to Fenton's attention at last week's meeting after he said that all three current supervisors needed to be on board to pay a consulting bill regarding the township's Web site.
Fenton said in a telephone interview that there was no attempt to mislead.
He said he contacted the consultant, Wes Horner of Cahill Associates to review Ralph's memo. Horner in turn sent a bill to Howley who listed it for payment.
"This is a tempest in a teapot," Fenton said.
According to Howley, bills are submitted to her for payment, but the township accountant places them within various categories. A supervisor then reviews the list before it goes to the board for payment during the meeting.
She said Fenton would have been the supervisor checking the list that month because it was his task that year, but there are no initials on the bill list. However, she added, all three supervisors signed off on the bills list at the meeting.
Howley said this particular bill was listed as legal services under the broader category of planning and zoning, rather than listed as professional and planning services.
"Right church, wrong pew," Howley said.
The village project would bring together residential and commercial use in a single development along Route 1. It has been mired in controversy for years, opposed by some for density issues and the use of township property.
Several legal actions remain pending, including contentions that stipulation agreements were breached