Whitemarsh Denies Right-to-Know Request Involving Addition of Townhouses as Conditional Use in VC-4 Zoning District

Last week, MoreThanTheCurve.om submitted a right-to-know request to Whitemarsh Township. As we previously reported, after the Planning Commission recommended a text amendment to the Board of Supervisors that involved minor changes to the township’s zoning code, Zoning Officer Charlie Guttenplan was instructed by the Board of Supervisors to include an additional change. This change added over 10 conditional uses (including townhouses) to the VC-4 zoning district.

The altered text amendment was then voted on by the Board of Supervisors without the review of the Planning Commission. Guttenplan sought out Township Solicitor Sean Kilkenny to provide legal counsel on whether a new review by the Planning Commission’s was necessary due to the changes. According to what Guttenplan stated publicly at a recent Planning Commission meeting. Kilkenny advised that it was not.

The Planning Commission meeting we mention in the above paragraph involved a sketch plan for 58 townhouses proposed in the VC-4 zoning district. The link in the first paragraph provides a review of that meeting.

The right-to-know we submitted sought Kilkenny’s opinion that review by the Planning Commission was not necessary.

The letter we received today from Kilkenny’s law firm on behalf of Whitemarsh Township states:

The Township is denying the Request on the basis that it seeks records protected by the attorney-client privilege, pursuant to section 305(a)(2) of the Right-to-Know Law (65 P.S. § 67.305)(See also Gillard v. AIG Ins. Co., 15 A.3d 44, 59 (Pa. 2011)(holding “in Pennsylvania, the attorney-client privilege operates in a two-way fashion to protect confidential client-to-attorney or attorney-to-client communications made for the purpose of obtaining or providing professional legal advice.”).

MoreThanTheCurve.com also asked the Board of Supervisors a few questions about this issue. They were ignored.

In the case of the right-to-know, the Whitemarsh Board of Supervisors can choose to waiver its attorney-client privilege. Do you think they should do so? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Whitemarsh Township. MoreThanTheCurve.com added text bubbles and text.