Attorney Robert Brant, left, and township Manager Ed Wagner, as they sat Thursday night at the west end of the Board of Commissioners’ conference room table
SANATOGA PA – Robert Brant, the Trappe PA-based lawyer who represented Lower Pottsgrove as its township solicitor during the past two years and who for many years earlier served as solicitor for its Zoning Hearing Board, abruptly resigned Thursday night (Dec. 17, 2015), citing unspecified differences with Manager Ed Wagner as the reason for his departure.
Wagner, after the meeting, said he was “taken by surprise” by Brant’s announcement but declined any further comment. If their employers – the five members of the Board of Commissioners – were also surprised, it didn’t show on their faces. All were stoic when the news came, and it appeared as though they were forewarned of the attorney’s decision.
Brant also refused further comment.
The delivery of Brant’s message to commissioners took less than 90 seconds, and began with his request to board President Bruce Foltz for a moment to speak on “a matter of personal privilege.” Foltz nodded his assent, and Brant began explaining he has worked for the township in a variety of capacities since 1988.
“But I cannot continue in the future,” he said, and added he had “decided to resign effective immediately.” Brant said he encountered “difficulties in working with the manager,” and would end his term as solicitor with the end of the board’s meeting. He said he had enjoyed his time in the township with the greeting of “many smiling, friendly faces,” and expressed hope he would see them again.
A momentary, awkward silence followed, then Foltz thanked Brant for his comment, and the attorney began packing up papers and files into a large briefcase on the floor.
Board Vice President Stephen Klotz, as the meeting wound down, thanked Brant for his services to the township and his professionalism. “We appreciate everything you’ve done,” Klotz said.
Outside on the parking lot of the Buchert Road municipal building, people with ties to the township who claimed to be familiar with its internal politics later said they knew commissioners were “aware of tension” between Brant and Wagner in earlier months. “This is kind of shocking,” one said. “I don’t think they knew it would come to this.”
Brant is considered a regional expert in legal matters dealing with real estate, land use, zoning, and commercial and residential development. Over the years he has served as solicitor or special legal counsel to several municipalities, municipal authorities, and zoning hearing boards. He also has represented developers of real estate projects across the area.
He is equally known for a wry sense of humor, and a preference to avoid neckties whenever possible in favor of open-collar shirts.
The solicitor’s job many not be vacant for long.
Just as Thursday’s board meeting marked the close-out of 2015, its Jan. 4 (2016; Monday) meeting will launch 2016 with an anticipated raft of approvals for commissioners’ committee and special assignments, the distribution of meeting schedules for the entire year, and official appointments of outside vendors, contractors and service providers. Brant’s successor could make his or her appearance then.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Dec. 17 meeting):