Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trip to Arkansas

Well you never know where a municipal law practice may take you. I spent last Monday flying to Arkansas on a chartered jet. The purpose of the trip was to view a housing complex for gas drilling rig workers that Nomac Drilling wishes to build/install in Athens Township. The company flew the Board of Supervisors, the Zoning Officer, several Planning Commission members, engineers and the company's attorney and myself to a Searcy, Arkansas. Nomac has a similar facility there. We were able to tour the facility and several other sites as well as speak to some of their local government officials. A very beneficial trip.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Right to Know Applies to Volunteer Fire Companies

On April 3 of this year the Office of Open Records made a final determination on an appeal under the Right To Know Law. The matter was captioned as Scott Pierce v. Morris Township and Morris Township Volunteer Fire Company In the case, Pierce requested five different types of documents. The Township Solicitor responded that the documents requested were not in possession of the Township. An identical request was submitted by Pierce to the Fire Company. Again, the Solicitor responded to the request and this time stated that the Fire Company was not an agency under the act and, therefore, did not have to respond to the request.

An appeal was taken to the Office of Open Records in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Right to Know Law. The Office held that the fire company was an agency under the terms of the act and therefore, was required to produce the requested records.

This is an important ruling for all volunteer fire companies in Pennsylvania. They must be sure to comply with the provisions of the statute such as appointing an Open Records Officer, setting fees for copies, etc. I've started to work with several area fire companies on their compliance issues.