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Is another lawsuit brewing in Northampton County Council?

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 05 2014 10:17:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2014 10:59:01 AM CDT

Bryan Cope, the Open Space coordinator, addresses Northampton County Council Thursday night.

EASTON, Pa. -

Two Northampton County Council members Thursday night criticized county Executive John Brown for not nominating candidates to fill two cabinet positions – the county sheriff and the director of finance.

As Brown enters his sixth month in office and with the positions held by acting sheriff Christopher Ziegler, the former deputy chief sheriff, who replaced Sheriff Randall Miller after he was fired by Brown, and acting finance director Doran Hamann, Councilman Ken Kraft asked “how many can be left acting before being filled?"

“Acting positions can’t stay active forever,” Kraft said.

Councilman Lamont McClure Jr. said he did not believe there was a time limit but he said he believed the county’s Home Rule Charter was being violated.

McClure said he believed the matter may wind up in court.

Randall sued the county and Brown after he was fired.

“I think we are looking at another court case,” McClure said. As he has said in previous clashes with the county executive’s prerogatives, McClure said council “may need a judicial determination.”

Brown did not respond to the criticisms.

After considerable discussion council agreed to spend $423,290 to preserve more than 200 acres of land for two land preservation projects in Williams Township and one in Lower Saucon Township.

The largest chunk of land, 148-acres, is a former golf course on Lower Saucon Road that the county agreed to kick in $300,000 toward a $1.5 million project that would convert the property into walking trails for bird watching.

Putting the property into the land preservation program would prevent it from possibly be developed into a 50-house subdivision.

Councilman Hayden Phillips said he was against the idea, saying, “We don’t have the money. We shouldn’t be spending it.”

Councilman Lamont McClure rejected Phillips’ claim that council was simply running up the deficit.

“There’s no deficit spending,” McClure countered.

The other projects included a 57-acre tract called the Koch property on Raubsville Road, Williams Township, that the county agreed to spend $92,887 on, and the Morrow property, some 18 acres on Hexenkopf Road, Williams Township, that the county granted $30,463.

Councilman Scott Parsons said the projects would benefit the community.

“We are helping residents of Northampton County achieve what they want, what they’re looking to do,” he said.