Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Crossings" Court Appeal in Murky Waters

It would be ironic if the court appeal to overturn the approval of The Crossings at Conestoga Creek was successful while the apparently far more egregious improprieties committed by the High Group and indirectly 'Boss' Dale High pertaining to the Convention Center project went unpunished.

If developers and officials did not informally discuss possible major requests before gearing up for formal applications and public announcements, both the applicants and the municipalities would waste much time and money. Informal exploration isn't usually a matter of obtaining promises; it is to learn whether the concept is "dead on arrival" and thus not worthy of pursuit.

The appeal contends in part that explorations of possible federal grants were undertaken by the Manheim Township Commissioners prior to the re-zoning application, thus claiming bias in favor of the High Real Estate Group project.

In part, the suit cites as evidence a letter from Commissioner Carol Simpson to U. S. Rep. Joseph Pitts prior to the rezoning with reference to "We are working in close partnership with High Real Estate Group to advance the project." Is Simpson at fault for using "partnership" in its current devalued meaning of cooperating with a legitimate request, or is she evidencing an inappropriate alliance that pre-ordained subsequent approval?

It appears that the very likelihood of the re-zoning hinged upon obtaining federal funds for reconfiguring the interchange at the Harrisburg Pike and Rt. 30 at Park City West. Both the Township and High would be well served with the information. One could even argue that it was the commissioners' fiduciary responsibility to look into the possibility of a federal grant.

NewsLanc has no way of yet knowing the nature and extent of possible misconduct and thus will not pre-judge this matter. However, the irony for 'Boss' Dale High is his firm's excesses may have been relatively minor when it came to the "Crossings" project, and yet the approval may be reversed. On the other hand, their actions pertaining to the convention center project were egregious in so many ways that the project should have been rejected by School Board, City, County, State and the Authority, and an investigation undertaken by the then-District Attorney Donald Totaro of whether Penn Square Partners knowingly made false statements to government officials.

As they say, "What goes around comes around."