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Redistricting plans affect legislative district in Haverford, Lower Merion

The Dec. 12 vote on final redistricting plans split Haverford Township, and split Lower Merion among four districts.

The congressional effects of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission's Monday, Dec. 12 vote on final redistricting plans has been widely reported online, but the decision affects more than national politics.

The commission's decision has had local ripples for the Main Line, specifically in terms of the House of Representative legislative districts Lower Merion and Haverford townships.

According to the 2011 final plan, the 166th legislative district, which belongs to Rep. Greg Vitali (D), no longer encompasses all of Haverford Township. Despite protests from residents, the Haverford board of commissioners and Vitali himself over the splitting of Haverford, the township's Wards 1 and 9 has been given to Rep. Nicholas Micozzie's (R) 163rd district.

Vitali told Neighbors that he was very disappointed by the final plan presented by the commission.

"My basic, basic problem still remains the same – that I'm convinced the motivation  behind the removal of these two wards was political," Vitali said. "It was done at the behest of Delaware County Republicans to make the 163rd a more Republican district."

"I think they ignored the wishes of the people of Haverford Township, and put their own interests above what was best for the community," he added.

Vitali said that the only remedy to this decision is an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He said that Haverford Township's Board of Commissioners has to decide if they want to appeal, which means a potentially costly legal action, as well as a chance the court would reject an appeal.

"Historically, the chance of success in appealing this plan is less than you'd like them to be," Vitali said.

Haverford Township aside, parts of Lower Merion Township were also partitioned off – to Vitali.

Even though Ward 7 of Lower Merion Board of Commissioners President Elizabeth Rogan was not affected, Rogan told Neighbors her concern over redistricting was that Lower Merion have consolidated representation.

Under the final plan, Lower Merion is divided among four legislative districts, adding one to its currently existing three. Lower Merion Wards 4, 8 and 10, previously under Rep.Tim Briggs (D) 149th district, are now under Vitali's 166th.

"Having four different districts is unnecessary and doesn't serve the township well," said Rogan, who testified at the Nov. 23 public hearing.

Rogan said that she was sure Vitali was a good representative, but that his political work was in Delaware County. She feared it would be hard for him to also focus on the parts of Montgomery County's Lower Merion he inherited if he hasn't already established connections.

"Lower Merion and Narberth – that's what [representatives] get," Rogan added. "It would be wonderful of state officials could respect those municipal boundaries."

Vitali said that he looked forward to working as hard as he could for the parts of Lower Merion he now has, but he reminds readers that the drawn district lines are technically not finalized until the appeal process is over.

"Once these lines are finalized I will be reaching out to Lower Merion township to start immediately developing lines of communication with them," Vitali said.

Attempts to reach Haverford Commissioners Larry Holmes and Bill Wechsler, also the board's president were successful, as were attempts to reach Micozzie.

For more details regarding the final plans, click here.

Click here for video of the Dec. 12 meeting.