ABC 27 investigates conflict of interest in controversial construction project

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Should an elected leader be allowed to vote for a new office for her husband?

It happened in Dauphin County.

An ABC 27 investigation started when people who live in Lower Paxton Township reached out about construction just off Locust Lane. Neighbors say they found out about the project when they woke up to heavy machinery operation in their backyards.

“We’re having a difficult time getting information, getting any kinds of responses that would address our concerns,” said Karen Hare, who lives near the construction.

ABC 27 went through this year’s Lower Paxton Township meeting minutes. There were several discussions about other projects for which supervisors called for public hearings and local input, at one point saying, “It’s good to get everyone involved.”

But not everyone was involved in the decision to construct a new district judge’s office. The board meeting minutes show no calls for local input, no traffic or community studies without even a mention of how the work might affect neighbors.

Neighbors say they want to know what made this project different from others.

ABC 27 discovered the new office is for Magisterial District Judge Joseph Lindsey. His wife is Lower Paxton Township Supervisor Robin Lindsey.

The meeting minutes show she voted for the project.

Pennsylvania’s township supervisors handbook specifically states supervisors “must abstain from voting” in conflicts of interest. They must also state the conflict publicly.

According to meeting minutes, that didn’t happen.

ABC 27 sent an email to Lindsey and left her a message at her Lower Paxton Township office. She did not respond.

There’s more. Meeting minutes show the property sold to the county for just over $148,000 based on “mutually agreed appraisal.”

ABC 27 pulled up that appraisal. It says the land is worth more – a range of $190,000 to $220,000. Neighbors say that’s a pretty good deal for land going to their supervisor’s husband’s new office.

The appraisal also lists the property as “commercial,” even though zoning maps show it’s R-1, or residential.

ABC 27 called Dauphin County. A spokesperson said the county solicitors stand by the report, even though Lower Paxton Township supervisors have said the land is residential.

In the meantime, neighbors say they’re just trying to work with the township.

“They’ve been fighting us the whole time,” Hare said. “So, as a logical person, I have to wonder. Something doesn’t sound right.”

ABC 27 also obtained an email showing supervisors received concerns about the property’s zoning before the November 2 board meeting at which they said they were surprised by neighborhood complaints.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download ABC 27 News for iPhone here or ABC 27 News for Android here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s