Robinson to hold public interviews of candidates for legal counsel

Will select firm from a dozen that responded

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Robinson commissioners plan to hold public interviews as part of the selection process for new legal counsel.

A dozen law firms will be interviewed over three evenings, starting at 6 p.m. today, Monday and Feb. 25 in the township meeting room, 1000 Church Hill Road. The public may attend but will not be permitted to comment.

Township manager Aaron Bibro said Feb. 4 that Robinson was not obliged to send out a request for proposals or hold interviews but decided to do both "in the name of transparency."

The township received 12 responses from law firms in three counties, he said. A new solicitor could be hired in March, he said.

Commissioners last month terminated law firm Goldberg, Kamin & Garvin LLP of Pittsburgh as their general counsel and named John Butya as interim solicitor. Mr. Butya does not plan to apply for the permanent position.

Last week, the board voted 3-2 to hire attorney Anthony Giglio, a partner with Andrews & Price LLC of Forest Hills, as special legal counsel for $150 an hour. He was appointed to handle matters involving the Mall at Robinson's tax increment financing, or TIF, district and the proposed Stafford Park (formerly Coventry Park) residential development.

Mr. Giglio specializes in general real estate law and real estate tax litigation, according the firm's website.

Voting in favor were Vice Chairman Jesse Forquer, Bobbie Cegelski and Earl Mapel. Voting against were Chairman Samuel Abatta and Ronald Shiwarski.

Mr. Forquer, the finance chairman, said Mr. Giglio is skilled with land contracts. He said the lawyer already has provided legal support for settling the mall tax dispute and is a good choice to help end years of expensive court cases over Stafford Park.

Mr. Abatta -- the only commissioner who had voted against terminating Goldberg, Kamin & Garvin in January -- said one or two commissioners had made plans to hire special counsel for Stafford Park.

"Why was the entire board not notified about this?" he asked.

Mr. Abatta said the township already has spent about $200,000 to litigate Stafford Park and shouldn't spend more.

Later in the meeting, Mr. Abatta made a motion to repeal the township's prior denial of a Stafford Park plan and to execute a revised plan.

Mr. Forquer protested, saying that a board member has been subpoenaed regarding Stafford Park and that the township cannot stop litigation that is in progress.

The motion failed, with Mr. Abatta and Mr. Shiwarski voting in favor and the other three commissioners voting against.

Mr. Butya, the interim solicitor, said two Stafford Park litigation matters are scheduled for a court hearing on Wednesday.

Also last week, commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a tax appeal settlement with the Mall at Robinson owner and developer, Montour School District and Allegheny County that increases the mall's assessed value from about $76 million to $108 million, starting this year, and retroactively increases it from $93.5 million to $100 million for the years 2010 to 2012.

The agreement ensures the school district and township will receive enough property tax revenue from the mall to pay off certain publicly financed bonds that had initially helped develop infrastructure at the mall site.

neigh_west

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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