After several months of delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, East Allen Township will tentatively resume its public curative amendment hearings with Rock Lehigh Valley on November 19. This decision comes after Rockefeller’s counsel sent a letter to the township demanding a continuance.
“We may be in a position that we have to move forward,” said Joseph Piperato, township solicitor, during the township’s public meeting on October 22. Despite the ongoing pandemic, refusing could result in more legal disputes. The developers gave the township until December 18 to resume the hearing.
Piperato added that municipalities are exempt from the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, but most townships are leading by example and still requiring masks, following social distancing, and restricting capacity.
Supervisor Mark Schwartz said he is in favor of social distancing, but would not be in favor of supervisors or those testifying wearing masks.
“My position is I am not wearing a mask or visor,” he said. “If [Rockefeller] wants to have a meeting, they are going to have a meeting on our terms…which is we are not going to be wearing masks at the table so people can hear us.”
Mask requirements are left up to the venue hosting the meeting.
Township manager Brent Green said that the meeting could go on at the Allen Township Fire Company, but capacity is limited to no more than 75 individuals. Past hearings have seen well over 100 township residents attend.
“I do not want to restrict one resident in any way,” said Supervisor Chris Cruz. “[Especially] in a preceding like this that is costing us what it is costing us.”
Green suggested turning to technology to help the hearing go on.
“We will limit the capacity as best we can,” he said. “From there we will try to use technology…and try to do something so that people can sit outside or sit in their vehicles [and listen].”
Those listening would not be able to speak during public comments, but Green said they would ensure written comments are allowed.
For supervisors, it was clear there would be no other option. They asked Piperato to respond to Rockefeller’s request and then tentatively agreed to a new hearing date of November 19 at the Allen Township Fire Company. Capacity will be limited to 75 individuals, including supervisors, and attempts to livestream the hearing through FM transmitters will be made. More information will be available on the township’s website closer to the hearing.