Fireworks erupted at Tuesday night’s Falls Township Board of Supervisors meeting. Former Chief Code Enforcement Officer Tom Bennett confronted the supervisors about the circumstances of his “forced” resignation.
Bennett began by referencing a story WBCB published Monday, which alleged illicit behavior within Falls Township.
“Somewhere in there, Mr. Harvie said that Tom resigned because he had been wanting to move to South Carolina for a while. And you’re right, some day I do want to move to South Carolina. In a couple years.”
Supervisor Chairman, and candidate for county commissioner, Bob Harvie told WBCB about Tom’s desire to move out of the township after a meeting in late August. But at the time, Harvie downplayed any possible friction.
“If you want to know the truth, Tom Bennett resigned because he was being forced to sign a certificate of occupancy for a home that had substantial violations,” Bennett asserted. “And all of you guys were aware of this.”
During Bennett’s first public appearance in more than two months, he supported WBCB’s reports. He claimed he was suspended for two and a half days without pay at the orders of Township Solicitor Lauren Gallagher.
“That’s nonsense Tom,” Supervisor Jeffry Dence retorted. “That’s not what I told you to do.”
“It was easier than firing you. He did us a favor,” Dence later added. “I wouldn’t have let you have two days off, I would have fired you. That was my suggestion.”
The supervisors turned to Township Solicitor Michael Clarke, who told Bennett he was “wrong on the law.” Clarke asserted a home owner was entitled to certain permits, then later attacked Bennett’s credibility as a “disgruntled employee.”
“That’s not true. There were substantial violations on this property,” Bennett said. “A substantial violation is a violation that can jeopardize somebody’s life or health or safety. There was a swimming pool with no gate, no fence. I have pictures of this. There was no CO detector in the house, there were numerous substantial electrical problems.”
Bennett has two decades of experience in land development. He worked as building inspector at Bristol Township from 1999 to 2003 and Building Plans Examiner & Inspector in Buckingham Township for the following four years. Bennett has held a similar role in Falls Township since 2006, until his departure this year.
“I didn’t plan on leaving. I left because I was being forced to do things that I should have never been forced to do,” Bennet said. “To this day, that fence is still in violation. I walk by that house everyday with my dog.”
Supervisor Jeff Boraski responded to Bennett, saying he understood Bennett’s safety concerns.
“When you say none of us cared, I spoke to you,” Boraski said. ” I don’t think it’s fair. I did talk to you.”
“You called and said you were only one of five,” Bennett said. Boraski agreed.
“Then Harvie says that I left because I was moving to South Carolina. That’s not true. I left because I was forced out. You all know it, everyone of you up there knows it.”
Harvie declined to comment both during public comment and after the meeting.
A full video of the entire confrontation is available on the Falls Township website or on Youtube. The explosive confrontation begins 15 minutes into the meeting.