Sunday, February 20, 2005

BoS Meeting 2/17/2005

The BoS meeting of 2/17/05 was covered very thoroughly by Joe Nixon of the Morning Call and by Chris Pollock of the Express Times. Both reporters mentioned the "big" events of the night. Kudos and thank you. Again, we will try to fill in the blanks.

REPORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE:

  • John Ackerman reported that 98% of Forks residents have paid their taxes.
  • Pete Gheller mentioned that the stormwater problem on Farragut Street will be helped by the curb restoration now in progress and that the street sweeper (weather permitting) is now out. Snow removal equipment is still in service.
  • Fred Hay said that he met with PennDot regarding Knollwood Estates. PennDot was reluctant to issue permits for parallel drainage and will now issue the permits without the Township's involvement.
  • Henning Holmgaard reported receiving a letter from the attorney for Nic Zawarski & Sons taking issue with the "sequencing" of the development of commercial and residential in Towne Center II. Holmgaard said that it was "written in lawyers."

Cathy Kichline reported that the Two Rivers Area Greenway group wants to make a presentation to a joint meeting of the Board, the Planning Commission, and the Recreation Department in March. Kichline further reported that she and Fred Hay met with Easton officials to discuss PennDot's efforts and Strausser's requirements regarding stormwater and Frost Hollow and traffic. She also said that the Township received a request to lower the speed limit on Bushkill Drive. Kichline announced the Kiwanis sponsored Easter Egg Hunt for March 26, 2005 at 1:00 PM. And, she said that Senator Wonderling mentioned that some of Township's municipal and transportation projects could benefit from State assistance.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS):

  1. Megan McBride of the College Hill Neighborhood Association, was the first to address the Board. She talked about the traffic and safety issues facing everyone who uses Cattell Street. She cited a Lafayette College student survey in which 16,000 cars were counted per day. She discussed the increase in accidents and the damage to the environment that the rapid development in Forks has brought them. She cited erosion and storm water runoff as major problems to the residents on W. Lafayette Street and also as major problems (sedimentation) to the water treatment plant. She said that the sedimentation lines the banks of the Delaware River from Frost Hollow Road on down to the intake for the water treatment plant. She blamed Forks for the overcrowding in the Easton Area School District. She asked Forks Township to accept responsibility and to assist the City of Easton to help with these problems. After the applause died down, Chairman Ackerman responded that the Township has met with officials from Easton and that the Township was adding east/west roads to carry traffic away from Cattell and to Bushkill Dr. and Route 611.
  2. Forks resident, James Wideman addressed the Board about his concerns regarding the proposed overlay zoning on 400 acres in the Township. He said that he was concerned that the Board members had met privately with the developers. He referred to the Pace University Law webpage on Overlay Zoning and how O.Z. was originally conceived to PRESERVE land not to develop it. He called the proposal for O.Z. in Forks a sham. He said that if this project goes in, it will overtax the sewer system and he cited the letter received by Supervisor Nicholas from the Forks Sewer Department recommending against having sewer lines NORTH of Newlins Road (BoS Meeting 1/21/05). Wideman went on to say the Township will need more police and more firemen as a result. He said that Forks does not need this "monstrosity of a development" and that it is a direct affront to the Comprehensive Plan. If it is approved it will open the "floodgates to a tsunami" of development. He finished to applause from the audience. There was no response from the Board.
  3. A late comer to the meeting missed the 7:30 PM sign-in time and was turned down to Comment by Chairman Ackerman.

The STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX was again, a very detailed report. He discussed the following:

  • That the project's "roofer is grinding to a halt and may get pulled."
  • He suggested replacing the old, deformed roof tiles in the PD with new ones and will get bids.
  • The Municipal Building is on hold because of the weather.
  • The roofing for the Firehouse should begin in a few weeks.
  • He asked again about text for the plaques. Chairman Ackerman imposed of deadline of next meeting (March 3, 2005) on the Board.
  • The advertisements for bids for both the CCTV system and the fuel system were in the newspaper. So far there are 12 bids in for the CCTV and 4 bids for the fuel system.
  • The tree preservation area between the complex and the Giant is not what was originally thought but is instead a bunch of scrub covered by vines and weeds. When the vines were pulled off, the "trees" fell apart. He requested that the Supervisors walk the area with him. They will do this in a worksession before a meeting.

Gale asked the Board if they are considering a CCTV system for the rest of the site. Ackerman wondered "if we need it?" Holmgaard said that the Homeland Security "stuff" may require it.

The E.I.T. & E.M.S.T. COLLECTION agenda item was tabled with a 4:1 vote because not all of the Supervisors received the copies of Solicitor Kline's report (mailed to them at home) in time for the meeting. Kline reported that he had negotiated contract length options with Berkheimer & Associates. He said that the original proposal was for a 3 year contract with an automatic renewal for 3 years. He got them to agree to a 1 year contract with automatic 2 year renewals. Berkheimer also agreed to cut their compensation to 2% of the amount collected. They would provide their own bonding and an audit at their expense. Kline prepared 5 Resolutions for the Board to consider. They will do that at the next meeting.

The PENN'S RIDGE DEVELOPMENT/PHASES 9 & 11 SKETCH PLAN was presented by Alex Hornstein of Omega Homes, the developer. The original plan, presented years ago, showed apartments for these phases. Now Hornstein proposes condominiums, 52 in Phase 9 and 102 in Phase 11 for a total of 154. Tim Weis (Zoning Officer) asked why it was changed. Weis said that he gets calls all the time for rentals in the Township. Mr. Hornstein said that it's because his company is really a builder of homes and not apartments. Supervisor Nicholas asked if the roads will be private. Mr. Hornstein told her that there will be private roads in the interior of the condominium developments. Supervisor Miller said that he wants the bikepath extended. Hornstein said the bikepath will be paved in the spring from Ben Jon Road to the condominiums. Chairman Ackerman asked about Kesslerville Road and was told that it is finished and is open from Ben Jon to Bushkill Drive. The section of the sketch plan showing a future COMMERCIAL area was questioned. Hornstein said that it was in the original PRD and is possible, however, he does not yet have any idea what it will be.

The SOMERSET MEADOWS/ESCROW AGREEMENT was explained by Solicitor Kline as from a 1997 developer who abandoned his project, the current site of Segal & Morel's development along Newlins Road East. The developer gave the Township $73K for road improvements and wanted it back. A settlement was reached in which the developer will get $10K returned and the balance of the money will go to do the storms drains, etc. along Newlins.

The FORT JAMES II SUBDIVISION/FINAL PLAN was approved 5:0. This is the 3 lot subdivision on Kuebler Road and includes the new home of Tioga Pipe's service center. The developer is prepared to comply with the Township Engineer's recommendations as well as those of the Planning Commission. This includes a deferral on the installation of sidewalks until the front two lots are developed. The developer will install industrial type lighting fixtures and will be responsible for maintaining them. They will be privately energized.

There were 3 applicants for the PLANNING COMMISSION RECORDING SECRETARY position. Margolis (we apologize but this is all we could hear of the candidate's name) was selected.

There was discussion of a PART TIME RECEPTIONIST POSITION. Nicholas suggested hiring a full-time receptionist using the $25K that is in the budget for a Financial Director. Ackerman thought they should create the position and work out the details later. Nicholas then offered that they get temporary help now using an outside service. Hoff said that he was "okay with that." Holmgaard said that they "will get someone with computer skills so that we don't have to train."

The Board then went in to Executive Session to discuss personnel issues.

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.

2 comments:

mulligan said...

Inquiry,not sure for or against,are private roads and associations good for the township in the long run? Please respond.

It's a FAC said...

Actually, "mulligan," speaking as a resident and observer only, I would consider these issues separately. First the pros (for the Township) of private roads:

1. No maintenance costs
2. No maintenance costs
3. No maintenance costs

The cons:
1. No control
2. Complaints from residents

Private Associations are another cup of tea altogether I believe, since they have near and far term ramifications. For example, again this is MY opinion only, at their inception in a new neighborhood, there is much enthusiasm and involvement by the members. Rules are in place and things move along very well. After a few years however, as happens in most groups, the membership(homeowners) and leadership changes, the rules probably are bent a little here and there and dissent is likely. As people become more unhappy with the management they have elected, they may lean towards disbanding the association or look to the Township to step in and get things back in order for them. It would seem that there are no real pros and no real cons for the Township except the annoyances to come in the future when things are not going as planned for some of the residents and they want Township help.

Think about the so-called desirable age-restricted communities that so many developers are pushing these days. What happens when grandpa and grandma need to take in their grandchildren and are prohibited by the association's bylaws from doing that. Who are they going to call? The Township? Or, when someone wants to move to warmer climes and the only buyers they can find have kids under the age of 18 (or whatever the restriction is) and they start to create a fuss and try to get the association disbanded and the opposite (good effect intended when the development was approved - no impact on the schools) effect happens, that the age-restricted community becomes no longer age-restricted.

I know I'm not giving you any definitive answers here. I do believe that many associations make it and do a good job for their communities and are trouble free for their municipalities. Still, when things do not go well, the residents will likely want help from the Township.