Sunday, November 28, 2004

BoS Meeting 11/18/2004

The Morning Call's Fred Walter (November 19, 2004) did an excellent job of reporting the BoS meeting's most important decision of the night, the 2005 budget. Joe Nixon (also Morning Call - 11/21/04) reported on the K-9 unit. He wasn't at the meeting but covered that part well anyway! Nixon also (in a piece on 11/18/04) presented good pre-meeting background on the non-residential developer fees issue . Edward Sieger, another press non-attendee (Express Times - November 27, 2004), reported on both the K-9 unit proposal, the budget and the controversial finance director position's 1/2 year funding. When combined, the print media gave a comprehensive view of the major issues before of the Board on 11/18/04. We hope to fill in any blanks.

The 2005 TOWNSHIP BUDGET/ADOPT FIRST SUBMISSION
discussion included a raise for the proposed Financial Director's position. It was $45K at the last meeting (11/4/04) and $49K at this one. Supervisor Hoff said that the job is an "existing position" currently filled by a part time person and that previously the job was done by the tax collector. He maintained that the Township Manager should focus on the future growth of the Township. Supervisor Miller stated that he had talked with the auditors and because they think the Township needs someone, he suggested including 1/2 of the salary in the 2005 budget and revisiting the issue in July after the software has been in place for 1/2 of the year. Chairman Ackerman stated that the job should be done by the Township Manager since that is in the job description and that an Ordinance will be needed to change the Township Manager's duties to exclude the financial aspects. There were three votes. The first was 3:2 against accepting the budget with the position in it. Ackerman, Nicholas, Miller were against it. Hoff and Holmgaard were for it. Miller lickety split introduced a motion to include 1/2 the salary (rounded up to $25K now). That motion passed 3:2 with Supervisors Ackerman, Nicholas, and Miller for it and Hoff and Holmgaard against it. And, quick-as-a-wink, a THIRD motion (by Holmgaard) was introduced to begin the search immediately! Yes, it passed 3:2. This time it was supported by Hoff, Holmgaard, and Miller. Ackerman and Nicholas voted nay.

The FEE RATES/NON-RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS item was tabled. Supervisor Nicholas stated that she did not want to negotiate every project. Hoff said that lowering the rates would encourage non-residential development. Ackerman suggested raising the fees for housing projects.

The K-9 UNIT presentation/demonstration by Officer Chris Young from Plainfield Township was very interesting. His drug sniffing dog turned up zero drugs in the audience! Forks has used the Plainfield K-9 unit three times in 2004 and turned over $200K (in forfeitures etc.) to the District Attorney. The DA's office will donate $10K to the Township for the new K-9 program. The expected additional cost of $800 for insurance will be covered in the 2005 budget. This item passed unanimously.

The SULLIVAN TRAIL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT/SKETCH PLAN was pulled from the agenda. This is the old LANECO property. The developers are skipping this Sketch Plan stage and going directly to the Planning Commission with their Preliminary Plan.

The JALEPANEAUX SUBDIVISION AND LAND DEVELOPMENT PRELIMINARY PLAN comprises 56 acres across Kuebler Road from Harvel Plastics. It was conditionally approved but the waiver for curb and sidewalks along Kuebler Road was deferred until needed. The waiver for sidewalks along the new Mort Drive (cul de sac) was also deferred until needed. The waiver for the cul de sac length was granted. This acreage will be divided into three parcels with the pipe service center/warehouse (TIOGA) at the end of Mort Drive and the two smaller parcels on both sides of Mort Drive. Initially this facility will bring 20 jobs to Forks Township. Tioga may ultimately employ 30 people there. The expected truck traffic will be 10-12 loads of pipe per day. At the PC meeting, this was described as the initial set-up trucking, 10-12 loads inbound per day and 3 loads outbound. There will be approximately 150,000 square feet of indoor storage and additional outside storage in racks up to 12' high serviced by a side-loader forklift. Cutting of pipe will be under a lean-to on the side of the main building. Two known sinkholes have been observed in the corners of two of the three parcels. A "condition" was imposed by the BoS to preserve the existing tree rows. Jalepaneaux also requested a waiver from the "offsite improvement fees." This was tabled pending the outcome of the Non-Residential Development fees issue.

Other Items of Note:

  • Supervisor Nicholas met with the residents of Lockwood Congress who want a sidewalk on Old Mill Road. Engineer Hays said that it would cost $22K. The cost to move the trees (Toboggan to Old Mill) alone is $10K.
  • Township Manager Kichline reported that she attended a Kiwanis Club meeting featuring Prof. Mary Roth from Lafayette College. The topic was sinkholes.
  • Chief Dorney reported that the 1st stage of State Accreditation is completed.
  • Kichline reported that the tree lighting will be on 12/5 at the Community Center.
  • Fred Hay (Engineer) reported that Met-Ed thinks it should get $90K for the right-of-way (Towne Center II). Mr. Hay advises the Township to make Met-Ed go through "land development."
  • The Historical Society wants $5K for restoration projects. There are grants available from PSATS but the deadline is 12/4/04. The Township will pursue funding through grants. The 250th remembrance book will be funded by the Township through the (passive) Recreation Fund.
  • The changes to the new Municipal Complex Police Department areas were requested by the PD and will not result in additional costs. Chief Dorney explained the logic behind the room assignment changes.
  • Supervisor Nicholas suggested adding mailboxes for Supervisors in the new building.
  • Brent Wood (the resident who has vowed to attend every meeting until his problem is solved) thanked the Police Department for the extra efforts extended on the Meco Road/Wagonwheel Trail stop sign problem. He said that it's a "band-aid. He asked what the definition for a complete stop is. He was told that it means all 4 wheels have stopped moving. Apparently on his wife's observation one afternoon, some (4) Township vehicles have missed doing that and rolled through the intersection. He is grateful that two new police are to be added in the 2005 budget.
  • The Easton Area School District wants to use the 3/4 of the old Laneco for Kindergarten. Someone (Supervisor Miller?) suggested that the other 1/4 could be used for a library.
  • Lisa M. Kern has been appointed as an Alternate Sewage Enforcement Officer to help with the workload.
  • Fred Hay (Township Engineer) recommended using U.S. Geological maps on every "existing features" plan presented by developers. He said that these aerial maps show known sinkholes... from 20 years ago.
  • The BoS voted to renew the Township's annual agreement with the SPCA to accept strays. They are getting approximately 2 per day from the Township.
  • Soon-to-be-resident, Scott Hagan (sorry if we got this name wrong), requested a name change for his new street (from STUMP ROAD to anything else!) He was informed that it is still a private road as it has not yet been dedicated to the Township and that he should take the matter up with the developer. He was also advised that he (and his neighbors) will likely be responsible for any costs incurred to change the street signs, etc.
  • Newlins Road resident Andrew Dalton asked for BoS support in his plea to the US Postal Service to get mail delivery on his side of the street. He and his wife were dismayed to learn that they have to cross the street to get their mail. They feel that their new Segal & Morel constructed development near the golf course is no longer in a "rural" area and should not be treated as if it is. The farmers in the township will be surprised to learn this. The BoS informed him that this was not in their purview and to take it up with the Post Office.
  • Alex Gale (Field Construction Manager for the new Municipal Complex) reported that the basic storm sewer system is 100% and that boulevard paving would begin on 11/19/04. He anticipates that the Police Department will be able to move in in February and the Fire Department in May/June. He requested that the water line be installed now since the area is open and ready and that the additional charge of $12.5K (to do it now) be deducted from the plumber's estimate. He said too, that the new owners of the Giant want Met-Ed to pay for lawyers.

At the end of the main meeting (before the Executive Session) Township Manager Kichline made two "informational" announcements:

  1. There will be a meeting of the Elected Auditors to determine the rates for working Supervisors at 6:30 PM before the 12/2/04 BoS meeting. It is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Try to attend!
  2. The approved 2005 budget will be available to the public in the municipal building for 20 days.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or Comment here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

1 comment:

Progress is the Future said...

This post was a good example of a Factual Account of events from the meeting. Rebel, please take note of this.