Council Acquiesces to Mayor and Terminates Zoning Officer
Less than two months after unanimously reappointing him as Borough Zoning Officer, Borough Council fired Zoning Officer Dennis Noonan without notice. In a non-agenda action, the borough mayor asked council to terminate Noonan effective immediately. The mayor and council president Claudette Williams, who also pushed for the move, refused to give any reason. Noonan, attending the meeting in his official capacity, waived confidentiality and asked for a public statement of the alleged cause. The mayor declined, saying only “conflict of interest”, without elaboration. The mayor refused to tell Noonan what he did to merit termination. Noonan said he had no idea why the mayor took this action. The council had met in executive session for about 45 minutes prior to the meeting. The mayor appeared to be reading from prepared notes. Council followed the mayor’s instructions, with only Council Member Francis O’Boyle objecting. The mayor ordered police to escort Noonan from the building. O’Boyle told the council removing Noonan could mean “chaos” in the Borough. Noonan, originally appointed unanimously almost two years to the day prior to council’s action, is widely regarded in the county as an expert in planning and economic development. He also has a long history of service to the borough. Noonan served on the Mount Pocono Municipal Authority beginning in 1999. Appointed to fill an open seat on council in 2000, Noonan was then the first independent ever elected to council in 2001. During his time on council, he designed and purchased the first “Slow Down in Our Town” banners, convinced PennDOT to allow, and the council to purchase, the pedestrian signs and to paint crosswalks for the first time on main street. He successfully lobbied PennDot to create the parking spaces on both sides of the main street as a traffic calming measure “so people weren't drag racing each other up and down the hill,” he said at the time. Noonan was also behind the reduction of the speed limit on main street from 45 to 30, having been able to convince PennDot to lower it. He has also served on the borough’s the Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board. “Dennis Noonan has had a longer and deeper connection to Mount Pocono, with more substantive contributions to this town, than anyone sitting on council today, other than Fran O’Boyle,” said former council member Matt Hensel. “To say that he has a conflict of interest with this Borough, and to refuse to cite a single instance, is absurd and shameful. He and Lori love this town and have always been dedicated to it’s well being.” Noonan is a member of the board of the Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation, where he serves as the PMEDC’s Economic Development Specialist. Borough residents have given Noonan high marks for his handling of zoning and code enforcement issues over the two years of his service. Noonan is credited with substantially increased community awareness of permit requirements and increased the application fees and fines collected by the borough. Following the meeting, O’Boyle was heard telling residents that the surprise move by the mayor and council president was part of an ongoing effort to undermine and push his wife, Borough Secretary Lori Noonan, out of the position she has held for three decades. O’Boyle told one resident that council hoped the move would get her to quit. The Noonans have retained noted Monroe County trial attorney Brett Riegel. In an email statement, Riegel told The Boro*, “We have concerns that recent actions against each of the Noonans” may have been in violation of applicable labor laws.