Residents Call for Resignation of Moon Officials
Questions linger about the residency of Supervisor Tim McLaughlin and Manager Jeanne Creese. Residents also want the board to block a new group home on Greenlea Drive.
When Greenlea Drive resident Greg Thompson approached the podium at last night's Moon Board of Supervisors meeting, he said he had a proposition for township Manager Jeanne Creese.
"I have a house for you," he said. "Move right next door to me. At 162 Greenlea Drive."
Thompson was among more than a dozen Moon residents who spoke at the contentious meeting, which ended with the board taking a vote to terminate Creese from her position. The vote did not pass.
Residents jammed the township meeting room and criticized the board over a variety of issues during the three-hour meeting. Some called for Creese to resign from her position because she does not live in the township. Some questioned why Supervisor Tim McLaughlin has not stepped down from the board after relocating to Charlotte, NC. And many came to the meeting requesting that the board stop a group home for the mentally ill from opening at 162 Greenlea Drive.
The board held an executive session after adjourning the meeting.
Group home opposed
Residents from the neighborhood again asked the board to prevent a group home for the mentally ill from opening on Greenlea Drive.
In October, the Homestead-based Transitional Services Inc. purchased a single-family house on the street to use as a group home for people with mental illnesses. Sharon Alberts, CEO of the organization, said the home would open in the next several months.
Neighbors have expressed concern that the home’s residents would pose a safety risk to children on the street. One man brought a photograph of Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old Arizona man charged with shooting 12 people, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in January.
He told the board the photograph was meant to demonstrate what can happen when a mentally ill person forgets to take medication.
Residents requested that an occupancy permit issued to Transitional Services be revoked. But township Solicitor Blaine Lucas said the matter was out of the board’s hands.
He said the township zoning hearing board would hear an appeal regarding the permit at its March 10 meeting.
“The township received an application and was obligated to act on that based on the considerations of the federal Fair Housing Act,” Lucas said. “Any property owner also has legal rights. There is a process in place.”
McLaughlin said he hoped the township would investigate Transitional Services and its use of the home.
"Where do these people go after the home?" McLaughlin said of the house's future residents. "A maximum-security prison probably with guards."
Alberts said no one with a known criminal background would be accepted into the home.
Supervisor's residency questioned
Moon resident Carole Masri asked McLaughlin, a US Airways employee who was transferred to North Carolina several months ago, “why he’s holding his seat hostage.”
“We need a resident who is here daily,” she said. “Since he’s going to be giving up his seat in December, why does he stay? Does he have a purpose? I have no idea.”
McLaughlin, whose home at 111 Snell Drive is listed for sale through Prudential Real Estate, said he has no plans to resign from the board. He said he has not decided if he will seek re-election after his term expires in December.
"I will not be resigning from the position because of nights like this,” McLaughlin said, referring to the packed meeting room. He indicated that US Airways may shift his job back to the Pittsburgh area in the coming months.
“If my home sells, I still have a brother and sister-in-law who live in Moon,” he said. “I’ll look to establishing residency at their home.”
Lucas said the board does not have the power to remove McLaughlin from his position based on his residency status.
"The board has no authority to act in that regard," he said.
Creese retains position
Supervisor Frank Sinatra called for the board to terminate Creese from her position as manager. McLaughlin and Sinatra voted in favor of removing her, while Supervisors Jim Vitale, Marv Eicher and Andrew Gribben voted to retain her.
Creese, who was appointed to her position in March 2009, lives in Rochester, Beaver County. She said she has been unable to sell her home and that she was not told she needed to move into the township at the time she was appointed.
She said ongoing personnel issues in the township have prevented her from speaking on-the-record about her residency status.
"I can't sit here and hear that I've failed to do something that is not in my control," she said. "If I'm going to be dismissed it will not be performance-based."