Sunday, May 08, 2005

BoS Meeting 5/5/2005

(We apologize in advance for not reporting what we could not hear. The room was very crowded, with lots of chatter. NOT ALL SUPERVISORS AND MANAGERS used their microphones and some details were missed by our note takers.)

This night's meeting was especially well attended. It was another SRO meeting. The Municipal Building may be the NEW place to go on Thursday nights! At least two dozen EAHS students were there as was a large group of residents from the flood impacted eastern part of the Township.
Joe Nixon (Morning Call 5/6/05) and new-comer (to Township coverage), Kurt Bresswein (Express Times 5/6/05) described the emotional Comments From the Floor session very thoroughly. In fact, from Bresswein's piece we learned that the Deputy Fire Chief, Brian Weis is the son of Fire Chief Tim Weis (Code Enforcement/Zoning Officer/Emergency Services Coordinator ). One of the students present was invited to "gavel" the meeting OPEN. She did a fine job!


  • Supervisor Nicholas said that the Sewer Department received their computers and asked when the software to read drawings will be installed. She also said that the sewer lines from Paxinosa, Elizabeth, Richmond, and Frost Hollow have been "televised" and that smoke testing of Heather Lane will begin soon. She asked Engineer Hay if there was a deadline for the sewer line on Route 611. He said that the design is not complete, so no, there is no deadline. And, she asked Township Manager Kichline if resumes for the DPW Director's position have been received. Kichline replied that quite a few have been received and that the deadline has been extended to May 13th.
  • Supervisors Holmgaard and Miller did not speak into their microphones and their reports could not be heard above the din. Chairman Ackerman and Supervisor Hoff had no reports.
  • Kichline reported that they have "buttoned up" the FEMA application and the Township will receive $46K for Ivan. She reported that the Township has received a $5K grant for the restoration of the log cabin interior (Joe Nixon - MCall - reported on it 4/29/05). She also said that a proposal from Beatty for $15K (?) was received for the demolition of the Sullivan Trail house. Holmgaard asked if the trees could be saved and was told by Zoning Officer Tim Weis that there was only one pine and it was not in very good shape. Ackerman instructed Kichline to go ahead (with the demolition.)
  • Hay reported that the resident who resisted granting the Township an easement for the Frost Hollow swale work has now signed the agreement in exchange for a 6" diameter silver maple tree. Solicitor Kline asked that the easement agreement be added to the night's agenda. Ackerman made it item #7.
  • Chief of Police Dorney reported that he sent copies of the Traffic Study to the residents complaining of the light problem on Sullivan Trail and Old Mill Road.
  • Zoning Officer Weis reported that FEMA grants of up to $30K are available for eligible homeowners because there was 50% more cumulative damage than first assessed. Holmgaard asked "What if people don't want to?" Weis replied that it was at the "homeowner's option."

CORRESPONDENCE: Hoff noted that the sewer tap in fee was lower. Both Kichline and Hay replied that they are working on it and that they want to add the pumping station.

At the end of the DEBITS/TRANSFERS section Supervisor Nicholas asked a number of questions:

  • She questioned the application of funds from the Sewer Authority Fund for both new Dell computers. Kichline said that she applied 2/3 of Pete's (Gheller) to the Sewer Fund and the balance from the General Fund because "they interact." It was decided that it should be a 50/50 split.
  • Nicholas questioned the purchase from Mike's Bait & Tackle Shop of a pair of waders for $135.00 and the purchase of magazines for the Community Center. She felt that the magazines should be fitness magazines. Miller responded that the $135 Mike's Bait & Tackle purchase was for more than waders. He said the waders were inexpensive and that they also needed hoses (to clean the new detention pond.)
  • She questioned Kichline on the transfer of monies from the Giant account and was told that it was simply a transfer from one account to the other.
  • Nicholas also asked why the total debt figure had increased from the last reported figure to $9,826,594. Kichline explained that a few items were missed when the debt was originally calculated and that missing were the two Fire Company loans, one for a ladder truck and one for a rescue truck.

COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS): This agenda item discussion began with Ackerman addressing the audience to ask, "How many are here tonight who thought that there was going to be a meeting on the flood?" He said that the Supervisors didn't know anything about this. He suggested that their spokesperson contact the staff to set up a workshop. He displayed the anonymous flier that residents in the flood plain received urging them to attend tonight's meeting. Those who wanted to speak, were allowed their five minutes (each).

  1. Jessica Paul (new resident) addressed the Board to discuss the last rainstorm and the mud clogged gully near her home (on North Delaware Drive.) She said that the gully overflowed and caused 611 to be closed. She said that it continues to be choked with mud and that it is ruining the shoulder of 611 and eroding her property as well. She is also concerned about the proposed 30 acre driving range (Riverview) and her drainage. Ackerman told her that the Board has not yet seen any plans for the driving range and that the clogged gully (and drain under 611) is a PennDot problem. She asked how to contact someone from PennDot and Ackerman asked her to leave her phone number. She is concerned about the chemical usage on the golf course also.
  2. Kevin Chu (sic) (husband of Jessica Paul) said that he is an architect and new to Forks and he is interested in "planning" issues. He said that historically developments bring in development dollars. He asked if the Township has plans for a "rainy day fund." Ackerman deferred to Kichline who told Chu that the developers are charged fees, the Recreation Fee, the Capital Improvement Fee, etc. and that the monies are used for things the General Fund does not support. Chu explained that he wants to be sure that the Township is fiscally sustainable in the long term. He stated that fiscal health and quality of life are integrated together.
  3. Colleen Abahazy (flood victim) said that she has lived along the river for nearly 30 years. She asked the Township's help with "the issue of water management or the lack of it." She asked that the Township along with FEMA/PEMA encourage the State and local governments to help. She cited the water releases from the dams during the flood. She noted that the Rieglesville, Upper Black Eddy, and Harmony flood victims got help from their communities with water, traffic etc. for over a week and that the only visible help the Forks residents got was from the police department who stopped the traffic on 611 for three days. Ackerman said that the Public Works Department spent a lot of time on 611 helping to clean it up. Weis stated that he heard about the water releases too and that the Township cannot be specific about water releases and that the Fire Department went door to door to notify residents to evacuate.
  4. Dale Barr (flood victim) said that he was NOT told to evacuate. He did it on his own and began evacuating at 8:00 AM. He thought that the Township should have been on top of what was happening. He got 7' of water in his house and has been cleaning/pushing mud by himself. He said that no one came to help or to ask how they were doing. He read the letters to the editor from others who were flooded in other communities thanking their townships for helping them. He said that the first time he saw anyone from the Township after the flood was when Mr. Weis came down to hand out electrical permits. Ackerman said that HE declared a "state of emergency" and that 4 trucks were sent out to notify people to evacuate. Deputy Fire Chief Brian Weis interrupted to say that he was the one in the truck who spoke to him (Barr) in the morning and told him to get out. Barr said that Lower Mount Bethel Township residents were notified at midnight to evacuate and with that much warning, he could have saved many of his belongings. Tim Weis said that they relied on the County EMS (sheriff's deputy was there) and they didn't tell them early enough.
  5. Carol Shehosky (sic) (flood victim) asked if there is a way on the Township's website (or an 800 number) to show an hourly update of the rate of the river rising. Weis said that this is a good idea. Kichline said that she, Tim, & Greg should look at the communications aspect of the website. Shehosky said that it should be data specific to Forks. Another resident interjected that the Delaware River Basin Authority has one (a river website). Shehosky went on to say that there was nothing for people without computers, no radio, no television, no coverage at all. She asked the Township to create a toll free telephone line for residents to get up-to-the-minute updates and to link the township's website to a river gauge.
  6. Linda Hill (flood victim) stated that "we are upset" that they were not notified sooner through public radio or public TV. She said that they use the yardstick and time clock method to track the rate the river is rising. It gives them an idea of how long they have to get out. She stated that she has been flooded 3 times in 10 years and she suggested that the Township use a representative from the river area. Ackerman told Weis to contact someone upstream for information on water releases. Hill also asked when Frost Hollow Road will reopen. Ackerman stated that it supposed to be completed in July. Hill also said that the golf course has done much damage. She said too, that houses will have to be reconstructed on stilts in order to accept the State grants. She said that the Delaware was 4' higher this time than during Ivan. She asked if the Township will help clean up the river debris. Ackerman said that volunteers can give them a hand but the Township cannot deal with the liability. Kline said that the Township CAN help in an emergency situation but if the Township helps with the general cleanup, then anytime anyone has any kind of a problem they will ask the Township to be responsible for taking care of it. Hill said that she is asking the Township to "step up and speak to PennDot for us!"
  7. Francis Cafferty (sic) (flood victim) said that he heard mention of sewers on 611. Hay said that there will be public sewers on 611 from the Gypsy Rose restaurant to just above where Old River Road meets 611. Cafferty asked WHEN? Hay said that he could not answer since the sewer line is not yet designed. He did state specifically that no one north of Danser Hill Road will get it. Cafferty then questioned enforcement of the 45 mph speed limit on 611. He said that his handicapped and elderly neighbors are terrified to cross the street to get their mail because of the trucks. He said that after the flood there was a dry spell and the trucks came down the street at 60-70 mph and they were out there trying to clean their houses and "breathing all that stuff" (some septic tanks overflowed.) He said that the Penn Dot street sweepers came through like a caravan (3 trucks in a row) and "blew that stuff higher than the mountain." He called the police to get them to stop. He said it happened in Ivan too. Ackerman suggested that he call PennDot since it's their responsibility. He said Harmony Township and Rieglesville fire departments washed the roads. Basements were pumped out by the Coast Guard from Barnegat Light. He asked the definition of "watershed" and asked if the development has helped.
  8. Scott Gingold (resident) asked Ackerman if the debt figure printed on the agenda includes interest owed. Kichline said it does not. He asked what the interest amount is and Kichline said that she will have to calculate it and that she will have it for him at the next meeting (his request.) He asked if the figure included the Community Center Loans. She replied "yes." He requested that the Board heed the pleas he has made on and off for the last seven years to raise the fees charged to developers to support the town's growth as well as its future needs. He stated that there should be no debt with the amount of development happening in Forks Township. There was no response from the Board. Regarding the flood, he said that he wrote a letter to the Morning Call about the lack of coverage during Ivan and that not one person nor one radio or TV station responded. He urged residents to pressure the radio stations with letters and threats to boycott their advertisers (if they do not cover local emergencies.) He said too, that it was great to see so many people at a meeting and that there is a lot going on in this Township. He asked them to please continue to come to meetings.

After the COMMENTS session, many of the students and residents left the meeting.

The STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX began with Gale asking the Board if they had any questions regarding the budget update that he had given them. They did not. He gave much detailed information about the progress of the site and said that the PD move in date is now set for the weekend of May 14th. He asked too if he could add a walk to the flagpole (it was missed in the original design) so that they don't have to walk on the grass. The target date to occupy the new firehouse is now set for the first week of July. Holmgaard asked to discuss agenda item #6 (ADDITIONAL SECURITY @ POLICE STATION) at this point since Gale is involved. Gale said that after the start of the CCTV installation they learned that they are shy of complete coverage. They have 2 blind spots, the entry way, and the weapons storage area. The costs for the needed additional two cameras was not included in the budget and therefore needed Board approval. Nicholas asked how many in total. Gale replied that they had 6 units in addition to all the old stuff. Purchase of the additional units was approved 5:0.

During the FUELING FACILITY discussion Ackerman said that he sent out a few more bid packages. Gale said that he gave out 5 more and some of the companies actually came to look at the ground. The deadline is May 13th and the bid opening will be at (or immediately before?) the next meeting on May 19th.

Hay recommended tabling the PHEASANT RIDGE, PHASES 1, 2, & 3/IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETION until the 7/7/2005 meeting. He said that Jim Seitz was having problems with outside (onsight?) drainage and street lights. The vote was 5:0 to table.

Kline recommended tabling the SULLIVAN TRAIL BUSINESS PARK/IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETION until the next meeting on May 19th. Hay said that the sanitary sewer has been "televised" but nothing else has been done. Kline wrote a letter to the developer, Goffredo, in January. Goffredo's attorney answered him and he asked the Board to look at the letter and revisit it at the next meeting. The vote to table was 5:0.

The RUTH KLEIN/MINOR SUBDIVISION was granted Conditional Approval with a 5:0 vote. The property is located on Richmond Rd. just south of Short Road and the subdivision will make the 16 acre parcel into 4 single family residential lots ranging from 2 acres to 7-1/2 acres. The project was granted a waiver from the SALDO requirement of 2' minimum contour spacing (on the plans). Two of the "conditions" are that lot owners pay all fees and that a deed of dedication for a 13-1/2' tract be given to the Township.

Kline said that all was in order for the KNOLLWOOD ESTATES, PHASE I AGREEMENTS and that there is an irrevocable Letter of Credit for $1,084,998. In addition the developer gave a $4K contribution for traffic study and $28,302 for a road improvement. Kline also noted that the developer has to pay a Recreation Fee of $1500/per dwelling unit, a Capital Improvement Fee of $1750/per dwelling unit, and a Sewer Tap-In Fee of $3350/per dwelling unit. The agreements were accepted in a 5:0 vote.

The Board also accepted ESTATES AT STEEPLECHASE NORTH, PHASE 2 AGREEMENTS in a 5:0 vote after being told by Kline that all was in order.

LAFAYETTE PARK PHASE 1 & PHASE 1A/RELEASE FROM IMPROVEMENT MAINTENANCE was accepted in a 5:0 vote after Hay stated that he inspected it and all was in order to release the Letter of Credit.

Hoff asked that a new FIRE DEPARTMENT/5-YEAR PLAN COMMITTEE be formed. The goal will be to look at expected expenditures for the next five years and to begin a 25 year plan. So far the new committee will consist of Hoff, Kichline, & Weis. Holmgaard also volunteered.

The (added to the agenda) FROST HOLLOW SWALE EASEMENT AGREEMENT was accepted in a 5:0 vote. Kline explained that the condemnation will not be necessary as the homeowner has agreed to the easement in exchange for a 6" maple tree planted where he wants it (on his property.)

After the Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter, the Board voted to accept the resignation of Patrolman Terre Feinberg. 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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