Alfred Lubrano at the Philly Inquirer reports:
A Delaware County woman who voluntarily distributes free food to children from her driveway has run afoul of officials in Chester Township who say her efforts violate zoning ordinances.
If Angela Prattis, 41, a married mother of three and the youth director of her church, does not come up with $1,000 to pay for a zoning hearing within the next year, she’ll be barred from feeding young people next summer, officials have said.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Prattis, a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services, which supplies lunch and snacks five days a week. The food is paid for by the state, whose representatives have inspected and approved Prattis’ operation, according to an archdiocesan official.
This summer, Prattis has been feeding 60 children from the area in front of the two-story brick house that she and her husband own.
“It’s not like I’m selling the food,” added Prattis, a massage therapist and stay-at-home mother who also has a foster child and runs a neighborhood basketball program.
Prattis said that initially, township officials told her they would fine her $600 a day this summer unless she stopped distributing lunches and snacks to needy children. But newspapers and TV stations heard about it, and the township withdrew the fines, Prattis said Tuesday.
Township Councilman William Kennard, who Prattis said was a vocal opponent of her effort, did not return phone calls for comment.
Township Manager William Piserik said Tuesday that the township had not fined Prattis and would allow her to continue distributing food until her program’s scheduled end Aug. 24.
“No one is condemning her for feeding children that need the lunch program,” Piserik said. “But we advised her she’s violating an ordinance and was told she’d have to apply for a variance, which costs $1,000 to pay for the zoning hearing.
“I’m assuming she’ll sit down and discuss it with the Township Council and the solicitor. Nobody’s against the program, but folks don’t want the program set up in the lady’s front driveway.”
Piserik said “we got a complaint” about the program, but would not elaborate.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Here is the “Support Angela Prattis lunch program” group on Facebook.