2019-2020 Timeline of Issues Leading to Legal Action
I. Preliminary plans for timbering – outside of the public view
Please review White Township Supervisors' meeting minutes in order to understand how the public was prevented from being informed about the proposed management activities in White's Woods Nature Center.
December 13, 2018: Millstone submits a report proposing a Township land management plan:
Objective #1: “Sustainable Objective Timber Harvest”
February 2019: “A total timber volume and value report (based on current market value) for the standing timber in White’s Woods was submitted to the Supervisors.”
Proposal: removal of WWNC canopy –a shelterwood harvest--and the harvesting of half the timber volume.
NOTE: These two documents seem to drive the Township’s White’s Woods timbering plan.
May 2019: Millstone management met with DCNR forester Chris Fatzinger to discuss the plan. DCNR did NOT approve the plan. The township forester walked WW with a DCNR Bureau of Forestry forester.
May 15, 2019: Remarks by forester Lawyer in Township meeting during the “public comment” period- therefore, this presentation was not identified distinctly on the Agenda.
II. Four WT Supervisors Meetings held to Discuss White’s Woods: All held in Executive Session (closed to the public)*
June 12, 2019: WT Supervisors Meeting, Executive Session – “Milt Lady requested an executive session
at 9:47 p.m. for a legal and real estate matters. The session was closed at 10:11 p.m.*
Motion approved: Contract to be created for Millstone Land Management, LLC for a woodlot management for all White Township owned properties.
Sept. 11, 2019: WT Supervisors Meeting, Executive Session: “Milt Lady requests an executive session at 8:00 p.m. The session was closed at 9:06 p.m.”
Michael Delaney reported that the session was regarding a consulting agreement with Millstone Land Management, LLC for management of invasive species and timber on all White Township owned properties. Consultant would review properties and prepare bid specifications. The company will use DCNR to assist with rules and regulations.”
Millstone hired as a consultant by WTS (contract for two years; start date 10/1/19)
Feb 12, 2020: White Township Supervisors Meeting: Executive Session. “The board entered into
executive session at 2:33 p.m. The session was closed at 3:07 p.m
Motion approved to proceed with the preliminary development of a cell tower on White’s Woods property.
March 11, 2020: White Township Supervisors Meeting: Executive Session. “Milt Lady requested an executive session at 2:00 p.m. The session was closed at 2:28 p.m..
Contract awarded to Millstone Land Management, LLC for woodlot management on a 50-acre tract in White’s Woods from.
According to the PENNSYLVANIA LEGISLATOR’S MUNICIPAL DESKBOOK, Executive Session is permitted to (1) discuss employee matters; (2) collective bargaining or labor negotiations; (3) consider the purchase or lease of property; (4) meet with an attorney regarding litigation; (5) discuss business protected by law (e.g. ongoing investigations); or to (6) discuss matters of academic standing or admission.
III. Racing to the Cut
April 7 or 8, 2020: Millstone begins marking trees for harvesting.
April 8, 2020: Andy Davis spots trees marked, emailed Milt to ask why.
April 10, 2020: WT releases a Press Release. First paragraph (scanned PR available)-
“White Township is faced with a serious invasive and non-desirable plant issue…. “
April 17, 2020: In response to an Open Records Request, FWW receives 10-part Millstone “plan”
Included in this “plan”:
White Townships Parks Project Preliminary Assessment (dated 12/13/18)
White’s Woods Timber Valuation (dated 2/13/19)
Millstone Land Management Consultant Agreement (Sept 11, 2020)
Contract Agreement –Exhibit B -- marked “approved” (3/25/20)
White Township Sustainable Forest Overview (dated 4/16/20)
April 22, 2020: Bid description (Due date- April 22, 2020)
“The White’s Woods property contains 228.9 acres of land (parcel 42-010-117.00) of which 40 acres (within Tract #1 being 50 acres total) are to be treated by removing invasive plant species, to create accessibility for recreational use, improve forest health and aesthetics. Bidders are required to mulch, mow, grind and cut all invasive plants marked by White Township’s Consultant-Millstone Land management LLC foresters.”
THE ONLY PLANTS MARKED BY MILLSTONE ARE TREES. MANY BIG – THE CANOPY (SHELTERWOOD HARVEST?). AS OF 5/2/2020. That is, it seems that the focus of the plan is to cut trees.
April 22, 2020: Bid from Millstone received -- $20,000.
April 22, 2020: Contract awarded to Millstone (for April 22, 2020 bid).
Supporting Documents and Information:
Relevant White Township meeting minutes.
Understanding the PA Sunshine Law
Widener's Citizen's Guide to the Sunshine Act
PA Information on Sunshine Act
Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services blog on the Sunshine Act