Martic Residents Move to Enact Home Rule

by Ashley Mellinger - Martic Township 

Monday March 10, 2015, local residents of Martic Township joined together for a town hall meeting organized by the non profit community activist group Martic SOUL (Save Our Unspoiled Land). Martic SOUL has been actively educating and raising awareness throughout the community in efforts to stop the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, that is slated to run through Lancaster County.

The purpose of the town hall meeting was to educate community members about the next initiative and step in the process. Meeting facilitators Mark and Malinda Clatterbuck presented information regarding the proposed pipeline, Martic Township’s status and Home Rule.

In October 2014, Martic Township Supervisors announced their opposition against the construction of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project. Following this announcement, residents in Martic as well as Conestoga Townships, requested that the Supervisors pass an ordinance for a “Community Bill of Rights”. This “Community Bill of Rights” proposed the ban of construction of natural gas pipelines within the respective townships and the rights to local governance, sustainable energy, clean air, clean water among other things. The proposed ordinance was shot down, in both townships.

It was at this point and time that members of Martic Soul began searching for the next step to further protect their community from industrialization. The active research for the pipeline and with the help of the Community Environmental Defence Fund (CELDF), Martic SOUL began advertising for Home Rule. To many community members, the term Home Rule is foreign and is not heard of frequently - or ever.

Home Rule, in a nutshell, authorizes the right of counties and municipalities to adopt home rule charters and exercise home rule powers in order to recognize local governments to increase effectiveness, efficiency, responsiveness and public participation. Home rule charters are subject to restrictions that would be found in federal and state constitutions.

Among many of discussions last night, the procedure for the adoption of a home rule charter was discussed. During the May primary election, Martic Township residents will have the choice to vote for seven candidates to serve on the Government Study Commission. Those that serve on the Government Study Commission are responsible and have the duty to conduct an in-depth study of the existing form of municipal government (Second Class Township Status) and exploring alternative methods for the township.

Seven candidates who have been actively involved in the no-pipeline movement over the past year are running to serve on the Government Study Commission. However, let it be known that there are other residents - sponsored by political parties rather than the community - running for the Government Study Commission in opposition to Home Rule.

The candidates running in support of Home Rule have expressed direct interests in keeping the municipal personnel, such as the five existing roles of Supervisors, intact. They plan to write the original requested “Community Bill of Rights”, also known as a Community Rights Based Ordinance, into the Home Rule Charter. It will be beneficial for public input and complete transparency during the study commission phase. Final adoption of a home rule charter comes only through the approval of a majority voting, which would take place in November 2015.

Residents of Martic Township are encouraged to participate in the May primary election. Regardless of political affiliation, please note that even residents who are registered Independent can vote for the question of Home Rule on the ballot and also are able to vote for the candidates running for the Government Study Commission.

It is important to remember that home rule would broaden the legislative process in Martic Township; through initiative, referendum and recall. It would encourage greater participation, locally, within our government process and prevents outside corporations from dictating what happens within our backyards and township lines. It is important to remember that home rule would not increase taxes, nor would it change state of federally funding for the township. Home rule would not change the township services, nor would it change the township personnel.

Township residents are reminded that your opinion and your voice matters - Martic Matters.