Sunday, January 09, 2005

BoS Meeting 1/3/05

Once again, both Edward Sieger (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) wrote excellent reports on the meeting(s). Kudos to them both for telling it like it was! We will attempt to fill in the blanks.

Supervisors Bonnie Nicholas and Henning Holmgaard both announced that they met (separately) with the developer (proposed 830 homes on 400 acres) and his lawyer and Township Manager Cathy Kichline at the Municipal Building before Christmas. Ms. Nicholas stated that she did not want to be the only Supervisor who had not seen the proposed project. Atty. Benner did the presentation. Nicholas' conclusion was that Zawarski/Maloney should have to go before the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance. Mr. Holmgaard said of his meeting that he doesn't think that zoning is an issue but that maybe the developers should go before the Planning Commission first and then to the Zoning Hearing Board.


  1. June A Vail, Forks Elected Tax Collector referred to a letter that she sent to John Ackerman, Chairman of the BoS on October 21, 2004. She asked if he had distributed to the other Board members. She expected him to do that since she intended it for all the Supervisors. He admitted that he assumed she sent copies out to the others and he did not distribute it. She wanted her request for a pay increase considered during the 2005 budget discussions. She is now requesting an increase to bring her compensation more in line with what tax collectors make in nearby municipalities. She earned $7000 in 2004 while the tax collector in Bushkill Township earned $15K (plus tax earned fees) and Palmer Township's earned in excess of $50K (plus tax earned fees). She thought that it would be inappropriate to meet with the Supervisor's privately so she raised the issue in the public meeting. She also said that there is $20K in the budget for tax collection so raising her rate should be possible. Chairman Ackerman said that this issue will be added to the agenda for the 1/20/05 meeting.
  2. Carol Ann Coxe asked the Board for a definition of Overlay Zoning. They deferred to Solicitor Kline who explained it this way: Zoning on land allows certain uses. Overlays keep the original uses and add new ones. Ms. Coxe then asked why it would be used instead of a zoning variance. Mr. Kline said that it (the 400 acres & 830 homes) was too big for a variance and if the Zoning Hearing Board granted a variance, they would be basically re-writing the zoning laws and by-passing the Supervisors. She also asked what benefit Overlay Zoning would have for Forks Township and was told that that is something the BoS will have to weigh. (Aside: There is an excellent website here for more on Overlay Zoning.)

The POLICE DEPARTMENT S.O.P. manual was approved unanimously. Chief Dorney said that it was needed for State accreditation and was based on the accepted standards of the Commonwealth. Supervisor Nicholas remarked that the Forks PD is now 60 years old.

HIRING OF TWO FULL TIME POLICE OFFICERS was approved and the appointments of William Mills and Michael Friel became effective today (1/3/05). The new full time officers are two (now) former part time officers who were unanimously recommended by their peers for the jobs. Chief Dorney said that he believes in promoting from within. Supervisor Holmgaard stated that the Township is phasing out the use of part time police officers.

ORDINANCE NO. 290 EMERGENCY AND MUNICIPAL SERVICES TAX was adopted with a 3:1 vote. The nay voter was Supervisor Holmgaard who said, "It sucks... a tax is a tax is a tax." Solicitor Kline stated that an employer can decide in the Quarter when to collect the tax but it must be submitted to the Township at the end of the Quarter.

The PENN'S RIDGE, PHASE 4-DEED OF DEDICATION FOR STREETS RESOLUTION NO. 050103-1 was approved. The developer (Hornstein) paid $640 to the Township. This amount equaled what the Township would have earned in Liquid Fuels Credit if the deadline had not been passed when the roads were dedicated. The developer wants the Township to plow the roads.

AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE FUEL TANK INSTALLATION was TABLED pending receipt of bids by Field Project Manager Alex Gale for both above and below ground tanks. There was a discussion of the pros and cons of both types of tanks as well as the use of private gas stations for gasoline purchases. Chief Dorney recommends that the Township own the gas tanks and that swipe cards be issued. Mr. Gale recommends using compartmentalized tanks. Tim Weis wants the tanks underground for security reasons. Bids for security cameras (for the entire municipal complex) are due in soon. Mr. Gale also asked if the Township wanted an old generator that was on the site. Pete Gheller said that it was okay to dispose of it. Mr. Gale reported that the Police Department building may be delayed a little because there was a problem with a curve in the metal roof panels. And, he reported that the construction debris that made its way to the Jackson farm (during the high winds) will be cleaned up shortly.


  • Township Manager Kichline announced that the Board will meet for a Conditional Use Hearing at 6:30 PM on 1/20/05 (before the regular meeting at 7:30.) Supervisor Holmgaard asked if Conditional Use can be "grandfathered." Solicitor Kline said that it can be since it applies to USE and not to a person.
  • Supervisor Nicholas will likely attend a PSATS convention and a Township Officials Roundtable.
  • Chairman Ackerman announced that the Northampton County Council meeting schedule will remain the same as last year.
  • Supervisor Nicholas questioned where the funds come from when someone other than a Supervisor takes a course. She was told that it comes from the Supervisors Education Fund (except for the police who have their own funds for education). This is so that Supervisors have to approve the activity.
  • Pete Gheller is enrolled in a G.I.S. This is a full semester course.

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.

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