Putney Is Elected To Fill Cunningham's Seat

Posted: August 14, 1988

Robert E. Putney Jr., of Hilltop Road, was sworn in Thursday night to the seat vacated last month by Abington Township Commissioner Albert J. Cunningham.

The commissioners voted, 11-0, to appoint Putney to the Ward 7 seat. Commissioner Bud Hannings abstained, saying he was not familiar with Putney's credentials. Commissioners Jeffery B. Albert and Edwin S. Eichert 3d were absent.

Cunningham announced his resignation last month, saying he no longer had time for the job.

Putney, 55, a textile manufacturing consultant, has been active in local Republican politics, serving 10 years on the Abington Republican Committee and three years as a judge of elections. He also once served as chairman of the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Putney said he was surprised by the appointment.

"I just found out last night about midnight," he said. State Rep. Jon D. Fox (R., Montgomery) telephoned him late Wednesday to ask if he would accept the position, he said.

After appointing Putney, the commissioners unanimously elected Randy Aiken as the board's vice president, a position vacated by Cunningham. Aiken, 42, a commissioner since 1980, was a member of the board faction that ousted the township's police chief in 1985 and the township manager last year.

In other business Thursday, residents of the Crestmont section of the town opposed the placement in their neighborhood of 19 houses subsidized by the federal Housing and Urban Development Community Development Bloc Grant Program. A number of residents asked commissioners to have the modular houses removed from their neighborhood. The first three homes are expected to be ready for occupants this fall.

"This is a meager ghetto that is still a ghetto," said Marietta Tanner, a member of the Crestmont Committee of Concern. "Who decided to put all these homes in our little community?"

Homeowners said they were worried that the low-income housing would affect their property values.

Tanner called the homes "ill-conceived and unsightly." She complained that the houses' foundations have cracked, buckled or become waterlogged and that the houses are located on narrow lots.

Aiken said he didn't think the township could tear up the homes and start over. "And legally we have no right to deny those homes to anyone," he added.

"These modular homes are not salvageable," Tanner told the board. "How can you permit (the Abington Housing Development Authority) to go ahead with a lottery for them on Aug. 18?"

Township manager Douglas S. Reeder said 47 township residents have

qualified for HUD homes, which will be awarded by lottery.

Hannings asked the board to postpone the lottery until the commissioners could meet with the authority, HUD representatives, Crestmont residents and candidates for the housing. Hannings' motion was voted down, 8-4, with Putney abstaining.

"I think it smells," Hannings said of the situation. "We knew from the get-go that this was screwed up."

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