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Emergency Stay Seeks to Shut down Middle School
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2017-11-22

            A new effort to halt construction of the Upper Perkiomen Middle School is underway, and at least one newly elected school board member hopes the effort succeeds.

            An emergency stay, filed Nov. 14 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court by attorney Ethan O'Shea, challenges the validity of the preliminary and final land development plan approvals granted by Upper Hanover supervisors allowing the construction of the school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The filing requests a delay in both applications until Dec. 11.

            The Upper Gwynedd lawyer said he acted on behalf Montgomery Avenue residents William Chrisman, Len Matthews and David Pico, not any of the school board members who oppose the new middle school. The three residents attempted unsuccessfully to intervene in a previous conditional use appeal between the school board and the township.

            According to O'Shea, the grounds for a stay, set forth in previous appeals, renders the township approvals invalid. 

            "We believe those grounds are meritorious in their merits," he said late last week.

            The lawyer also cited the outcome of the Nov. 7 General Election. In his filing, O'Shea argues that since the recent election of three new members will give those opposing the middle school project a majority on the board, the judge should approve the stay in order to prevent "the senseless waste of thousands of taxpayer dollars pending the imminent vote to halt the project."

            A hearing, before Senior Judge Emanuel A. Bertin, has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 22 in Norristown.

            Melanie Cunningham, one of three newly elected school board members and a vocal critic of the school, expressed hope that the injunction would succeed. According to Cunningham, she and the four other current and future school board members who oppose the project – including Steve Cunningham, Raeann Hofkin, James Glackin and Kerry Drake – are not connected to the filing.

            During last week's Upper Hanover Township's Board of Supervisors public meeting, Melanie Cunningham asked officials to support the stay. The supervisors chose to neither support nor oppose the injunction, according to Solicitor Joe Bresnan.

            Hofkin, in a Nov. 16 email to the Town and Country, wrote: "I don't know that I'm at liberty to say anything more than we (the new board members, Dr. Drake, and myself) are doing everything we can to stop the district from wasting any more money prior to the new board being seated."

            Melanie Cunningham said that she and Hofkin have volunteered to testify on behalf of the residents on Nov. 22. 


 

 

 

 

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