Friday, August 12, 2005

You Came. You Saw. You Spoke! - PC Mtg 8/11/05

For those who thought that their opinions didn't count, their faith was restored last night as right won over wrong and appointed officials did the right thing. More residents and friends of Forks Township attended the August 11, 2005 Planning Commission Meeting than (we are guessing) were ever at the previous record holder,Vista Estates vs. Strausser (Board of Supervisors meeting)! We didn't count heads but it looked like 300+ people to us (as well as to the Morning Call and the Express Times since that's the number they reported too). Forks friends and neighbors are to be commended for coming out on a hot Thursday August night and speaking their minds, and speak they did. Attorney Dennis Benner represented the developer, Kings Mill Development Co., LLC (Zawarski and J.T. Maloney) and presented both options for the two large parcels in the Farmland Preservation district. He even provided a form (on the speakers' stand) for anyone who wanted to stop development (by giving up their land or their development rights) to sign. When asked by an audience member if the developer would sign it, he flatly said, "No."

Both newspapers, the Express Times (Sarah Mausolf) and the Morning Call (Joe Nixon) were there as was Channel 69. In anticipation of a large turnout, Township officials made space available in the Community Center for the meeting and arranged to have Township workers in the parking lot to make sure that there was parking for everyone. Four of our five Supervisors were there (Nicholas was out of town on a long planned family vacation and couldn't make it). A Stockertown Borough Council member came as did two Supervisors from Lower Mount Bethel Township. Both municipalities' representatives made impassioned pleas against the 800 homes. There were also two prominent, well known, and well respected speakers from Easton. They all reminded us that Forks density choices affect not just us, but neighboring municipalities as well. C. David Howell summed it up when he said to the PC and the audience, "The devil is in the density."

Our Planning Commission is to be commended too. They discussed the project(s) with sanity and clarity. They respected the audience and it seemed that they were buoyed a bit by the shear number of people who cared enough to attend one of their meetings. In the end, the vote was 5:1 to NOT recommend the high density plan to the Board of Supervisors. Chairman Tamborrino was the single "nay" vote. He had hoped that there could be a compromise project worked out, that is one with less density than the one that would require Overlay Zoning, and more density than our current Zoning Ordinance allows. That didn't happen. The audience didn't like it and let him know it, resoundingly.

The upshot of this is that only half of what almost everyone who attended wanted was accomplished. Benner has promised to follow the "process" and take it to the Board of Supervisors. We do not know when that will be but it could be as soon as next Thursday night's meeting. The Township website posts meeting agendas sometime after 2:30 PM on Tuesdays before a meeting. Up until that time, the agendas are subject to change. Plan to be there. If you cannot, please contact one of the Supervisors and let them know how you feel. Their phone numbers and addresses can be found at

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