Fifteen people have been appointed to serve on the solid waste committee that will study issues including bulk trash pickup in Slippery Rock, a topic that's been a point of contention between residents and landlords and council for months.

But Tuesday's council meeting didn't end without some debate over how the fact-finding committee members should proceed with their meetings, what their official duties are, and if their sessions can be open to the public.

Resident Chuck Brochetti suggested that borough solicitor Neva Stanger encourage the committee to open its meetings to the public in accordance with the state's Sunshine Act.

No one on council ever said for certain those meetings would be closed to the public, Stanger said.

"Does that mean then that they're open?" Brochetti asked.

Stanger, who researched the open meetings law and believes committees aren't subject to the Sunshine Act, said she feels it would be up to the committee to decide whether they want to invite the public to their meetings.

"The committee is going to determine how it's going to function," she said.

Council still needs to specify the committee's responsibilities, Brochetti said.

"I'm not satisfied with your answer," he told Stanger.

Stanger's legal opinion about the Sunshine Act conflicts with what the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association told Allied News in July, when Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel, said committee meetings cannot be closed to the public.

They are still rendering advice on a particular issue; therefore, the public can attend those meetings, Melewsky said.

Council agreed to create the committee after fielding complaints about changing the spring bulk trash pickup date from May to March, saying the group will study a number of garbage and recycling issues and report its findings to council.

Eighteen people submitted their names to be considered, which is not very many volunteers, but they should be thanked, said Christy Tichy, council vice president.

"I think there should be more residents than anybody else," she said of the committee makeup, which council decided should have 15.

Council approved these committee appointments after nominations were held:

■ Council representative: Christy Tichy.

■ Residents: John Snyder, Molly Breakiron, Mac Porter, Regina Greenwald, Barry Harlow and Bob McComas.

■ Landlords: Tom Cooper, Frank Monteleone and Joe Caparosa.

■ Business owners: Brad Smith and Matt Kovacik.

■ Slippery Rock University administrator: Rita Abent.

■ SRU student: To be determined after the fall semester starts.

■ Slippery Rock Development representative: Tom McPherson.

Council's next move is to work on identifying the main issues for the committee's consideration, Stanger said.

On a separate note, the fall bulk trash pickup is Sept. 20, Tichy said.

During the public comment period at the end of the meeting, resident Dennis McGlone said he felt like he spent the evening "gagging" on issues like the Sunshine Act, which causes tension, and felt the bulk trash matter is a simple problem that could be resolved by a having someone call Tri-County Industries to ask if the date can be changed without affecting the contract.

"Has anyone thought of just calling?" he asked, several people in the crowded room quietly cheering.

Resident Susan Stephenson confronted council, asking why she was not nominated to be appointed to the committee even though she was certain she was one of the first candidates to submit her name.

"I'm personally not real pleased," she said, with council President Dave Miller saying it was not first-come, first-served, nor a matter of one candidate being more worthy than another.

Council members Itzi Meztli, who was against the bulk pickup date change, Bob Bowser and Ron Steele were absent from Tuesday's meeting.

Published Aug. 10, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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