Sunday, May 22, 2005

BoS Meeting 5/19/05

Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call, 5/20/05) and Nick Falsone (Express Times, 5/20/05) described the meeting deliverables very thoroughly. Read them both for more details. We will try to fill in the blanks.

The meeting began at 7:00 PM with a Conditional Use Hearing for ACR Products, Inc., a company that sells and services pressure washers. The company will be located in the old Fancy Furrows Farm dairy store and the hearing was necessary because under the current zoning laws, there cannot be two uses in one building. Fancy Furrows Farm uses part of the building for farm equipment storage. Under the new zoning (currently being written) two uses will be permitted and hearings will be unnecessary.

At 7:15 PM, Township resident Jim Wideman, was interviewed (in the public meeting room) by the Board for Brent Alinger's unexpired term on the Planning Commission. It was short and to the point. Wideman has lived in the Township since 2001. He said, "I have been in construction most of my life... and I've been in a lot of different developments... I have an interest in what goes on in Forks." He hopes to have a positive impact and he noted that the Township is in a heavy growth mode. When asked if is able to read blueprints, he replied "yes." Supervisor Henning Holmgaard asked if Chairman John Ackerman had the recommendation from the Planning Commission and was told that they did not interview for the position and that this was the only person who submitted an application. Ackerman further stated that it was up to the Board to make the appointment.



  • Supervisor David Hoff reported that there was an Emergency Management meeting last Tuesday.
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas reported that she did the tour of the Police Station and that it is very nice. She said that the Paxinosa and Sullivan Trail sewer main was repaired and that the new pump station went online May 17th. A GIS has been installed on the computer.
  • Supervisor Henning Holmgaard congratulated Lee Fisher on his Primary win.
  • Supervisor Donald Miller reported that the Community Center has been quiet for the last couple of weeks and that they are getting ready for summer. He said that the summer basketball league has over 100 teams. He announced that they have two new classes for the summer, (we think he said) acting and French teaching. Both will be taught by school teachers. There will be a youth soccer camp and all details will be on the Township website.
  • Miller then brought up the wader purchase that Nicholas noted at the last meeting stating that Nicholas was right, they did cost $135. He said that they were not purchased by anyone in his department but by Jim Seiple of the sewer department to work on the pond at the Community Center. Nicholas asked why it was okayed and stated that "we should keep on top of spending and what's okayed without anybody knowing about it." Miller said that it "could all have been resolved with a telephone call to him so that it could have been looked into without wasting everybody's time." The monies will be replaced in the Community Center budget and removed from the Sewer Department budget.
  • Ackerman asked to add two items to the end of the agenda, Designation of Agent Resolution for FEMA to appoint Cathy Kichline and the Planning Commission Vacancy.
  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline reported that she has contacted PennDot about the gully on Route 611 near the Mineral Springs Hotel. She would like to accompany PennDot when they visit (along with Engineer Hay and the DPW chief.) Regarding the requests of residents on 611, she stated that NOAA and PennDot links are now on the Township website.
  • Chief Greg Dorney reported that the police department has moved into the new building and he expressed his sincere thanks to Sean and the road crew who did it all in one day. He said that "Pete's been a great help too." He said that Lehigh Valley College presented the bullet (& flak?) proof vest for Sunny, the new K-9 and that Sunny had his first drug arrest last weekend. On June 2nd there will be a mobile vehicle on site for Project Childsafe. They will provide free gun locks to homeowners so that their weapons can be kept in their homes safely. He has literature available about the program. For those who cannot make the program, firearm locks will be available at the station. They are also planning a bicycle safety program open to all residents of the Township on July 15th in the park system. He added that the PD will host a free self-defense course for women sometime over the summer.
  • Engineer Fred Hay reiterated that the pumping station is online and working perfectly. He said that he needs direction regarding what to do about bid openings. Hoff interjected, "Do we delay the process by two weeks?" Hay said that the bids opened by the Board could be approved subject to his and Kline's review. Holmgaard said that "staff should be opening them" and that the Board is delaying everything. Nicholas said that when the Board opens them publicly, no one can question that they are on the up and up. Kline stated that the bid opening process is four-fold: (1) Bids are opened, (2) Bids are tabulated, (3) The technical people determine that the bids are "responsive technically," and (4) Solicitor exams them to be sure that they contain everything that they are supposed to. A vote was taken to have the staff publicly open the bids before regular meetings (at 6:00 PM?). It passed 3:2 with Ackerman and Nicholas dissenting. Ackerman said that he has been asked how he knows if bids are legitimate when he is not present at their opening. Hoff said that "we have the recommendation of our professional staff."
  • Solicitor Karl Kline reported developers agreements for the EASD Middle School project are ready to go and that the project will likely start in June. He also stated that the Balazs' on Zucksville Road have done nothing about moving the utility pole and that the complaint is ready to be filed.

Nicholas said that she has received complaints from her neighbors about cars and big trucks parked on Hill Road. She asked that NO PARKING signs be put up. Chief Dorney said that the police will enforce a parking ban if the Board passes an ordinance. Holmgaard asked Solicitor Kline write an ordinance and in discussion Supervisor Hoff noted that he doesn't want "to pass an ordinance to try to resolve a neighborhood dispute." Kichline said that she will give Dorney a PennDot booklet on standards.


Resident Scott Gingold addressed the Board to thank the "road department for their swift response and action to the notable sinkhole on Clarendon Drive." He also said that all the residents of Clarendon Drive appreciated the efforts of Kichline, Weis and Hay for getting the heavy trucks (going to the Townes project) off of Clarendon and making them use the construction entrance on Sullivan Trail. Gingold asked if the debt figure (printed on the agenda) now included the interest figure as he had requested at the previous meeting. Kichline said that it does, that the figure printed on the agenda is the current debt including all interest but that they are having trouble finding the amortization schedule for one item. Finally, he asked that the Board add "raising fees to developers" to a future meeting agenda. Gingold said that the way the town is growing, it should not have any debt. Ackerman replied that it would be added as would raising fees for temporary vendors (flower sellers etc.) Holmgaard added that "we are doing new zoning." Kline said that fees are adopted by resolution but that an ordinance is needed first. He added that the last time fees were raised was in 2003 and that they cannot be "ex post facto' raised for projects in progress (as they are grandfathered.)

The STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX, was thorough as usual. He reported that the firehouse is going very well and that it should be occupied in the first half of July. He said that the main trusses for the new Municipal Building are in place. There was a lengthy discussion of the source of the fittings in the project. Victaulic fittings had been specified in the plans and a sub of a sub made a substitution of foreign fittings. This vendor has been replaced as will the fittings. Nicholas asked the move-in date for the Municipal Building and was told the end of September. She asked because of the furniture delivery. Gale said that there will be storage and it shouldn't be a problem. Holmgaard asked about the CCTV system and Gale replied that the PD is completed. Gale advised that time is running out if they want to put the wiring in for the other cameras now while the walls are open. He admonished the Board for continually tabling these things with this little ditty (picture a little jig too), "Tabling doesn't make it." Holmgaard motioned that the wires be put into the walls where the other cameras should go. The wiring along will cost about $18,000. It passed 5:0.

Michael Goffredo, developer, appeared before the Board to explain the SULLIVAN TRAIL BUSINESS PARK/IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETION. Kline, by way of background, noted that the project received approval in 2001 and that the approval agreement was executed in August 2002. Since then two projects have come before the Board for lots in the development, one for Merchants Bank and one for Warren Hospital. He stated that many of the infrastructure improvements have not been completed and that he wrote to Goffredo in January and that there have been lots of letters "flying back and forth" between him and Goffredo's solicitor since then. Hay provided a complete list to Kline of things that need to be completed. Two of the items on the list are the unfinished sanitary easement on the north side of Uhler Road and unrepaired sinkholes in the detention pond. Kline invited Goffredo to come to tonight's meeting. Kline also said that the Letter of Credit has been renewed and extended to May 2006. Goffredo said that there are two reasons that the site improvements are not of concern, (1) "there is nothing that will deter the heavy construction sequences with the roads in their current state" and the roadways are settling and (2) the terms of agreement allow a 2 year period from the date of the first permits. He went on to say that this is one of the most difficult intersections in the Township (Sullivan Trail and Uhler Road). He said the Verizon poles and engineering transitions (from fiber optics to conventional) terminate there. He plans to undertake the road widening with PennDot's project and he wants to minimize the time on Sullivan Trail. He expects to finish in July. He also said that there have been two consecutive years of 51 inches of rain. Hay said that there is no viable sewer system, that they are plugged. Kline asked that Goffredo give his word (a statement) that he will be committed to get all the improvements done within the 2005 building season. Goffredo replied, "That is our intent. I foresee no hurdles." He offered to come back in a month to give a 5 minute report. Weis said that it is important that they start with Sullivan Trail.

Chairman Ackerman recused himself from the ACR PRODUCTS INC/CONDITIONAL USE discussion and vote because is involves a building that he owns. Conditional use was granted in a 4:0 vote.

Bids were opened for the FUELING FACILITY/OPEN AND AWARD BIDS from S&M Management, Inc., from Centerpoint Tank Services, and from APTL(?). The contract will go to the low bidder, Centerpoint, ($91,615) as long as their bid complies with all conditions. Until the bids are analyzed (for adds and deducts), the low bidder is not certain. This was tabled and will be resolved at the next Board meeting on June 2nd. In the interim, the Township vehicles will use the fueling facilities at the Municipal Garage on Frost Hollow Road.

A PennDot permit was issued for the ZUCKSVILLE ROAD/SULLIVAN TRAIL TRAFFIC SIGNAL but it did not include widening Zucksville Road to allow for a left turn lane. Kline said that it is okay to sign it "conditioned" on a written agreement with the developer paying the costs. Hay said that the road will be widened towards the bank (KNBT). Kline thanked the "staff" (Fred and Cathy) for being proactive and finding this.

Kline said that all was in order for ESTATES AT BUSHKILL CREEK SUBDIVISION/DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS and it was approved in a 5:0 vote.

Hoff said that on November 18, 2004 when the budget was passed it included 1/2 the salary for a Finance Manager with the position to be filled by July 1, 2005. He and Kichline believe that a Finance Manager is necessary. He moved that the Board ADVERTISE FOR FINANCE MANAGER POSITION
at a salary of 45-50K per year. Ackerman noted that he was unhappy with this. Kichline says that the position is necessary because of the millions that are handled and that she has an issue going on right now with tax revenues not being transferred and reported to her in a timely fashion. Nicholas reminded Kichline that she agreed to forego that position in favor of a needed receptionist. Nicholas asked where the list is of when things are due. Kichline says that it has taken her two years to find all the contracts that the Township has. She said that she is still finding contracts now. Nicholas pointed out that the Township Manager's job description includes all finance related things. Kichline said she needs staff to do that. Hoff said that a Financial Manager will help the Township to deal with the lack of funds coming in the Township's future. Nicholas noted that the people we have are not necessarily in the positions they should be in right now. She further noted that we should have workers and not "a bunch of chiefs". A resident noted that this position was only to be evaluated now and not voted on. Hoff was prepared for this comment with a reading of the motions from November's meeting. Another resident asked that with all the computerization that has been added, has an outside consultant been brought in to evaluate the staff for what they are doing today since functions may have changed? Holmgaard said that the Township's outside auditor said we need a Finance Manager. Nicholas said she is not saying that we don't need a person to do finance but that we should make sure that everyone is in the proper positions first, that people are trained to do what they are supposed to do. Kichline recommended that a committee be formed to evaluate the need for this position. She feels the Township is missing a link on the financial side. Miller said that he talked to the auditors. Nicholas pointed out that the money is being used for another job and she doesn't know where this money will come from. Hoff said "it's in the budget". A resident asked why we couldn't hire a CPA to get this straightened out. Nicholas said that the books were supposed to be straightened out with the new software package. Holmgaard said it doesn't address the long term problems. Nicholas stated that we were moving into a new building and everyone's jobs are changing. She noted again that we should know when everything is coming due. That it's important that the Board not have to make decisions in one week when things are not known in advance. Ackerman asked to see a job description. Nicholas asked to see how we are going to afford it. It passed 3:2 with Nicholas and Ackerman voting nay.

The CURRENT BUDGET REVIEW was tabled 5:0. In a 5:0 vote Kichline was designated as the AGENT OF RESOLUTION FOR FEMA. And, Township resident Jim Wideman was appointed to fill the PLANNING COMMISSION VACANCY for the unexpired term ending 12/31/06 with a 5:0 vote.

After the EXECUTIVE SESSION the Board announced that the little stone house in the woods next to the park will be rented by Deputy Fire Chief Brian Weis. He is willing to do the minor repairs himself at his own expense. The rent will be $750 per month. The meeting was adjourned.

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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