Resident accuses board member of conflict over White Clay Point

posted Thu, Jan 26, 2012

By Wm. Shawn Weigel

The Kennett Paper

December 20, 2011

An allegation of conflicted interest sparked a brief but intense exchange between a supervisor and resident at Monday night’s business meeting in New Garden.

At that meeting, supervisors voted 3-2 to grant the Pennsylvania Real Estate Trust’s request for a waiver made last month allowing them to use a condominium designation on their proposed project,

Supervisors Betty Gordon and Warren Reynolds cast the two dissenting votes, citing that their stance has not changed since the last vote in October.

Before the vote, however, resident Dan Linderman questioned board member Barclay Hoopes on an arrangement between his son’s business and the White Clay Point property.

Linderman said that Hoopes Brothers, LLC., a farming and landscaping company owned by Hoopes’ son, maintains a field on the 187-acre parcel, planting and harvesting crops and hay.

Linderman then asked Barclay Hoopes to recuse himself from voting on any further issues concerning PREIT and the White Clay Point project.

Hoopes said that he long ago revealed the nature of that agreement, one which he said has stood for over a decade as part of a similar arrangement with previous owners the Pia family.

Hoopes also said that both township manager Dan Fox and solicitor Neil Land informed him that there was no conflict of interest.

“I have never, with this board of supervisors in any discussion about PREIT, not let them know that my sons have been farming that land,” Hoopes said. “It is no surprise to this board.”

Hoopes noted that his family is likely the largest farming institution in the township and that he has no financial interest in Hoopes Brothers, LLC.

“There’s no kickbacks,” he said.

Land said that he was well aware of the arrangement and that he felt there was no conflict whatsoever, although he added that the decision to recuse himself rests entirely with Hoopes.

Although Linderman maintained that it wasn’t a personal attack against Hoopes, Hoopes said he took it as such.

“I’m not deceiving anybody, there’s no deception on my part. I’ve been through it, I’ve been through it, I’ve been through it,” Hoopes said.

Board chairman Bob Perrotti stood behind Hoopes’ decision not to recuse himself.

“No member of this board would ever question your integrity, Barclay,” Perrotti said.

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