Changes in Saint Joseph University's planned baseball field, near Latches Lane, were presented to the Lower Merion Zoning Board Tuesday evening. Modifications include limiting the use of speaker systems and expanding a landscape buffer along Latches Lane. School officials saying they're doing all they can to work with neighbors.
"We've tried to be very accommodating and our proposal at the last hearing was to respond to some of the concerns," said John Smithson of Saint Joseph's University.
Also represented, the Merion Community Coalition, a group of neighbors joined together. They too, say they want to work with the University, but worry the plans will disrupt the fabric of their neighborhood.
"It's not our intention to stop them from playing or using their facilities it's just a matter of trying to minimize the impact of their plans on our peaceful, quite community," said Betsy Goldmuntz.
But our coverage of the event was disrupted, when we were told by the chairman of the zoning board that while a reporter could stay, our cameras would not be allowed to stay to record testimony.
"It's a public hearing but we don't do that. We don't want people to do that. It causes a zoo. We don't want it to become a zoo," said Zoning Board Chairman Kenneth Aaron, Esq.
But according to the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act a person attending a public meeting has the right to use recording devices to record all of the proceedings.
"This is enough of a spectacle we don't' want to make it more of a spectacle," said Aaron.
The township website and signs posted around the property provided public notice as required prior to the meeting but still demanded that we turn our cameras off.
"If you put that on me again I'm going to ask police to come and take you away," said Aaron.
They did call police, who asked us to remove our camera from the meeting, which we did peacefully.
As for the baseball field, the zoning board hopes to have a decision by their October meeting.