Friday, July 29, 2005

NOAA Joins The ARMY (Corps) - A Forum Announcement

Yes, the photo on the left is Route 611 in Forks on April 4, 2005 at 6:14 AM. We learned today from an announcement in the Morning Call that US Representative Charles Dent is sponsoring a flood solutions forum at Lafayette College on Tuesday, August 2nd at 7:00 PM in Oechsle Hall. The presenters will include the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection. Call Dent's office if you need more information (610-861-9734).

The photo in the upper right is what Frost Hollow looked like on April 9th after the flood waters receded. At the BoS Meeting on 7/21/05 we were told that Frost Hollow Road might reopen in a few weeks. Today's Express Times (Sarah Mausolf) confirms this! YES!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

BoS Meeting 7/21/05

The highlights of the Board of Supervisors 7/21/05 meeting were well covered by both Sarah Mausolf (Express Times 7/22/05) and Jeff Christman (Morning Call 7/22/05). We will attempt once again to fill in some of the blanks.


  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that she has the minutes of the EAJSA. Forks has earned $24K in interest on its unused sewer capacity.
  • Supervisor Henning Holmgaard announced Forks' participation in the National Night Out on the 1st Tuesday in August.
  • Supervisor Donald Miller said that he has the Recreation Department Report.
  • Chairman John Ackerman stated that he has the Public Works Report.
  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline reported that Penn Dot has some minor work to do on the damaged portion of Frost Hollow Road and that it MAY be open in 3 weeks. She also stated that Congressman Dent has chosen Forks Township for a press conference on the gaming bill (because of some of its concerns with the Delaware Nation land claim). She stated, too, that the forms for the memorial trees and the list of tree types will be available at the Municipal Building reception desk. She said that it should be on the Township website in the next couple of days. Lastly, she reported that PennDot has finished its re-timing study of the traffic lights on Sullivan Trail (using Engineer Fred Hay's latest data.) PennDot recommends keeping the light timing as it is for now.
  • Police Chief Greg Dorney reported that the Bike Derby, with Genesis Bike Shop's assistance, was a success. Sixty eight kids participated. He also said that their 3rd Annual Youth Academy begins on Monday, July 25th. Enrollment is closed with thirty five kids signed up. There are 5 on the waiting list. The public is invited to stop by and observe any of the presentations. Another coming event is Forks participation in the National Night Out on Tuesday, August 2nd from 6-9 PM. The PD will man a mobile substation. There will be free gun locks and Self-Child Identification Kits (inkless finger printing, DNA sample kits, crime prevention materials, etc). The location and times will be on the Township website. Dorney said that the call volume through the end of June is 3415. He anticipates it nearing 7000 calls by year end. This represents a big increase over past years.
  • Engineer Fred Hay reported that the Met-Ed poll on Zucksville will be moved in August (see BoS 4/7/05, ZONING AND SALDO ENFORCEMENT ACTION/S&R BALAZS). The homeowner will pay to have the poll moved. As to Mr. Falcone's question at the last meeting about the pond on the school construction site, Hay stated that the pond is on the plan and has landscaping around it. He spoke with Mr. Falcone on Wednesday.


  • Miller reported that his neighbors near the Shawnee School construction area asked him to express their concerns about the dust from the construction. He showed several 8" X 10" color photos of the dust conditions. Hay said that he was unaware of the problem and that he would speak to the construction manager about wetting the soil with water (until things start growing there to stabilize the site).
  • Holmgaard said that Chief Dorney got a letter thanking the PD for its help and concern/compassion when the writer's mother's sister died (after the family's call to 911). The three officers who responded were praised in the letter. (Note: We were not able to hear their names nor the writer's name.)


Brent Wood, a Meco Road resident and no stranger to BoS meetings (see BoS 11/1/05, COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR, NOT AGENDA ITEMS) spoke on several topics. He appeared last year because of a problem at the Wagonwheel/Meco intersection. This night he told of speaking to Met-Ed because of power failures 2 days in a row. He was told by an engineer at Met-Ed that the transformers were "blowing" because of the rapid expansion in Forks (as well as new swimming pools, air conditioning, etc.). He asked that the Board speak to Met-Ed.

Wood said too that he read in the newspaper about expanded water use and wondered if Sullivan Trail is going to look like MacArthur Boulevard. "When does it stop? When are you guys able to say NO?" To these questions, Ackerman deferred to Solicitor Kline. Kline cited the Comprehensive Plan and stated that the Zoning Ordinance was to regulate development within the Comprehensive Plan. He noted the building boom and the pressure developers are exerting to build in the FP district because the southern (zoned for residential) portion of the Township is built out. Wood stated that there is no room in the schools, they are "busting at the seams." Kline replied that unfortunately the State of PA does not allow school districts to participate in subdivision and land development at all and that the school districts are not allowed to collect any fees (from the developers to help the schools.) Wood again stated that he is asking the Board to say "NO" to the developers. He said that deciding between 200 homes or 800 homes (for a project) should be an easy decision to make.

Ackerman told Mr. Wood (and the rest of the audience) that "50 years ago, we tried to keep you and everybody else out and we couldn't stop it." (He said he was speaking "personally" and not for the Board.) Ackerman further said, "When people want to sell their land, they have a right to sell to anybody they want to." Wood said to Ackerman, " have the ability to stop it." Ackerman replied, "Unfortunately, I don't but I thank you for your time."


The STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX was the only "unfinished business" on this evening's agenda. Some of Gale 's detail included:

  • The firehouse blacktop will start next week.
  • The entire site sidewalk prep is underway.
  • There is now good water pressure in the park.
  • The stone cutter (for the date blocks) has disappeared. Gale had intended to drop off the blocks yesterday and will find him (or a substitute).
  • Frick Transfer will be used to move the generator. The Municipal Building will have power cut off for the up to 4-6 hours it will take and it will probably be done at night or on a weekend.
  • Four people emailed regarding Christmas Tree donations. He rejected three of them and will visit the fourth when he finds it. It is somewhere in Bethlehem Township.
  • The newly designed CVS/Giant pond connect will cost approximately $37.3K. $18K-$19K of that expense is required by engineering leaving the balance on the "lap" of Schoor DiPalma. The old Giant pond is being "eaten by sinkholes."
  • Either RCN or Verizon will be the telephone service provider.
  • He suggests simpler mounting brackets for the tree plaques. Miller said that he has pictures of three markers from Hershey Garden and wll get them to him.

Nicholas asked when the fire station will be secure. Apparently somebody got in and walked on the newly treated floor before the epoxy was dry. Gale said that it is repaired and that the doors are in now.


One Up LLC presented the SULLIVAN TRAIL COMMERCIAL LAND DEVELOPMENT PRELIMINARY/FINAL. The developer stated that this was the same plan that they showed at previous meetings and that they have worked with staff. It has retail in the back where the Laneco was and a bank and fast food restaurant in the front. Nicholas asked what kind of businesses were going in there and was told that they have some interest but won't know until the final plan is approved. Ackerman said that he wasn't sure he liked the entrance for southbound Sullivan Trail traffic and that there is a traffic light. The developer said that they've spoken to PennDot and that PennDot is in favor of it. There will be no left turn allowed for northbound Sullivan Trail traffic. He also said that it was "pretty crucial" to the plan. He then invited Hay to comment. Hay summarized their last appearance before the PC stating that Vito (Tamborrino - Chairman) had problems with the same thing. Hay said he supports it (the turn lane). Hay noted that the PC voted to reject this plan at their last meeting (the project was on their agenda but the developer did not show) because a time extension was needed. Hay said that he has a problem with that rejection because there are no zoning or engineering issues. The developer said that the PC wanted them to move the development back and that he didn't think the Supervisors wanted that, that they wanted the open space. Hay then told that the developer has been very cooperative and removed the townhouses (that they first proposed) from the plan. The Township will get 2.7 acres behind the old Laneco and intends to use it for parking for the Community Center. This land is being given in lieu or Recreation Fees. The developer, One Up LLC will pay all other Township fees. Nicholas asked if there was going to be enough space behind the large building for delivery trucks and was told by Hay that the loading docks and space (50') allowed for deliveries. (Aside: Hay had the revised plan and the color one being shown was older so there was some confusion.) Nicholas wondered about the PC having a problem with this project. Hay explained that Vito had a problem with the driveway and that other PC members had a problem with the interior circulation. He said that it meets the specifications of the commercial ordinance. Zoning Officer Tim Weis brought up the issue of the school bus stop on Sullivan Trail and the daycare center at back of the property. The developer said that he knew the PC wanted a way to get the kids safely from their bus stop to the daycare and would work with Hay to design some sort of sidewalk. He stated clearly that he did not want the liability on him. Weis said that right now they have some sort of escort through the parking lot. The developer agreed to work something out. The plan was approved 5:0 subject to Hay's letter and the fine tuning of the driveway.

ORDINANCE 291 TEMPORARY RETAIL SALES/UPDATE FEE SCHEDULE was passed 5:0. Kline explained that this ordinance defines temporary retail sales as sales in locations that are not part of an approved, permanent, ongoing retail establishment. This ordinance will allow the Board to establish permit fees by resolution that are different from the peddlers, door to door, permit fees. The probable fees mentioned were $200/mth with a 30 day maximum or $50/wk. There was discussion about these suggested fees and they will be decided at the next meeting. These transient (tent) sellers are also subject to the Mercantile Tax. The ordinance was approved in a 5:0 vote.

Another 5:0 vote was cast to AUTHORIZE PURCHASE OF PRESSURE SEALER MAILER FOR UTILITY BILLING. Kichline said that this PFMC machine will save time/costs when stuffing envelopes for the quarterly sewer/utility billings as the machine will fold and seal the mailings. Nicholas asked if it would take care of all of the billings (with other sized envelopes) and Kichline said that it will do all of them and that it can be used for the EIT mailings too. The expense will come 1/2 from the Garbage Fund and 1/2 from the Sewer Fund. Holmgaard asked Kichline to renegotiate the warranty term to 180 days. It passed with a 5:0 vote.

The agenda item, AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE FOR POLICE OFFICER EXAM, was explained by Holmgaard as needed in order to replenish the applicant pool. They did it last year and have now run out of candidates. Dorney said that the purpose of the exam is to establish a list of candidates. The test includes written, oral, agility, and background components. It can take up to three months to complete. Authorization was granted in a 5:0 vote.

Kline said that all was in order for MODERN CONCRETE - DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS and they were accepted in a 5:0 vote.

The CURRENT BUDGET REVIEW (JUNE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS IN PACKET, TO BE REVIEWED AUGUST 4th) did prompt a few questions. Nicholas noted that 82% of the parks fuel budget and 87% of the utilities for the wresting building have been used. Kichline said this is the first full year that the wrestling building has been in the budget and that she would meet with her (or use email) to go over her questions. NIcholas also asked about the sign machine that is budgeted for her department. Kichline said that she is waiting for a Public Works Director before making that expenditure.

An EXECUTIVE SESSION was called to discuss the PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR agenda item. A vote was taken after the session to hire Gary Sandt at a salary of $56K (and a ninety day probationary period). It passed 4:0 with one abstention, Supervisor Hoff. No reason was given for the abstention. 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.

Friday, July 15, 2005


Both the Morning Call and the Express Times reported today about last night's Planning Commission meeting. They detailed the conundrum facing our planners, a trade off for more goodies and dense housing versus a traditional and compliant Farmland Preservation district plan. Both Sarah Mausolf and Fred Walter wrote "must read" pieces. They have both done excellent reporting. Kudos. One hopes that Forks residents will take an interest in what could be the absolute death knell of our ability to move a car through the Township and make an effort to free some time on August 11th at 7:30 PM to let the PC know one way or the other how you feel. We know that some of you are on vacation but it's time to get involved.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

BoS Meeting 7/7/2005

Joe Nixon (Morning Call 7/8/05) and Sarah Mausolf (Express Times 7/8/05) reported on the major money issue of this short meeting. Mausolf also did a piece on the progress of the new Municipal Complex (Express Times 7/8/05). We will once again try to fill in the blanks.


  • Supervisor David Hoff reported that he has the June Fire Report and that it will be on file. Also, he stated that 16 resumes have been received for the new Finance Manager position. They are narrowing down that number and hope to start interviews next week.
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas reported that she has the minutes of the May 16th Joint Sewer Meeting (Forks has received the largest quota) and that one of our guys attended a Confined Space seminar.
  • Supervisor Henning Holmgaard showed the new shoulder patch for the Police Department and said that each of the Supervisors had one to take home with them. Chief Greg Dorney said that the "guys" have an August 1 deadline to get the old ones removed and the new ones sewn onto their uniforms. They fit over the old patches and will cover the stitch marks.
  • Supervisor Don Miller said that he has the Park & Recreation Department report.
  • Chairman John Ackerman said that he has the Public Works Department report. He also stated that Township Manager Cathy Kichline is on vacation.
  • Zoning Officer Tim Weis reported that a lot of homeowners along 611 qualified for the $30K federal government grants to raise their homes. He said that 3 of the houses have already been raised and that there are about 7 more to go. Ackerman asked him if he was able to go to the flood meeting in Lower Mount Bethel and Weis said that he could not attend.


  • Hoff reported on a letter from Vincent and Shirley Falcone regarding the Shawnee Middle School construction. Hoff asked that it be considered. Nicholas pointed out that the Falcones want a berm between the detention pond and the houses. Hay said that he has to check whether or not it is a temporary construction pond or a permanent one. He will report back.
  • Nicholas reported a discrepancy between the Planning Commission Joint Meeting Minutes and what she feels was stated regarding the next two months of Staff sessions. The Minutes state that the Staff will work on the TND. Nicholas noted that they were charged to work on the details of the zoning ordinance revisions, and not on TND issues at all. The Minutes will be corrected.
  • Nicholas also said that resident Dan Kye (sic) addressed the PC/Joint Meeting with his concerns regarding theTown Center (zoning) designation for the last three houses on Sullivan Trail. He was told at the PC meeting that it would be on this night's agenda. Nicholas asked that it be added. Weis said that he sent an email to Kichline stating that there was a misinterpretation of the map and that those houses are NOT in the Town Center District. It will not be added to next meeting's agenda.
  • Nicholas asked that the Noise Ordinance (sent to the Supervisors for review by the Solicitor) be added to next meeting's agenda. By way of explanation, Acting Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian, stated that it is intended that his draft match the new zoning. Ackerman said that he thought that would be at the September 27 Joint Meeting. Holmgaard noted that Hay is to bring a decibel meter to that September meeting also. Ackerman explained to the audience that the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors have been holding a series of meetings to discuss revisions to the Zoning Ordinance and the SALDO and that at this point the Staff is working on "incidentals" and the Joint Meetings will resume in September (on the 27th).


  1. Vincent Falcone, a resident living near the Shawnee Middle School project, stated that the residents were not notified of the retention pond. He said that it was added to the plans after approval. He feels that it is impacting the value of their homes and that because of it, there is a mosquito issue. He requests that a berm (and arborvitae) be placed between it and the neighboring homes. Ackerman said that Hay will review the plans.
  2. Susan Turner, a resident living near the zoning map mistake (see the third item under CORRESPONDENCE above) on Sullivan Trail, stated that there is still some confusion since one of the properties is for sale and it is being advertised for commercial and business uses. She said that although it is not Town Center, the people who live there think that it is and that the neighbors are concerned. Weis said that the resident will get a letter. Ms. Turner is also concerned about speeding cars and litter on Sullivan Trail. Dorney asked where she lives.


STATUS UPDATE BY ALEX GALE/MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Mr. Gale asked if there were any questions on the "red" books that each Supervisor was given. Nicholas asked if the schedule in the back was accurate as it indicated that the Municipal Building would be done at the end of August. Gales said that the schedule is outdated and that he is working with the contractor to update it. She also asked that a line be added noting when the furniture delivery is wanted. She asked about the firehouse bathroom tile because Holmgaard mentioned it an another meeting. Gale told her that it is regular tile and is light gray and burgundy.

In his discussion of the general status of the project, Gale said they are putting in a new 3" water line to the park and that the water pressure there should be greatly improved. He also noted that there is a problem with the "steel people" as "a sub of a sub of the prime contractor" is out of business. This involves payment issues and is not a Township problem. He will keep a close watch on it to be sure it does not become a Township problem. Gale also noted that the move date for the firehouse is being set back three to four weeks because of the "snail pace" of the roofing contractor. This may impact the rest of the project but he isn't sure at this time. He will keep the Supervisors informed.

Nicholas asked about the grass border on the traffic islands noting that it would be less work if it was all mulch around the shrubs. Gale said that the grass width was decided by the size of the hand mower that the Township owns. It fits. Gale said that he is not happy with the job that the contractor has done out front and some of the shrubs and grass will be replaced. Gale also said that the maintenance of the entire site will be nearly a full time job for someone.

Gale noted that he is concerned about the "time capsule" as it is time to dig the hole. He must reserve the spot and be sure that he can do the excavation and bury it. He does not know who is in charge of the time capsule and he doesn't want to have all the lawn and sidewalks in and then have to come back and dig the hole.

Holmgaard stated that the tree list is up on the website and Gale said that the Township is still looking for a resident's perfect specimen (19' - 20' high) blue spruce to be relocated and used as the Township Christmas Tree.

Hay suggested that the PHEASANT RIDGE, PHASES 1, 2, & 3/IMPROVEMENTS COMPLETION item be tabled until the next meeting as Met-Ed is not responding with a schedule to the developer (Jim Seitz). It was tabled 5:0.


Hay said that the bid opening for the FROST HOLLOW SWALE/RECOMMENDATION TO AWARD BID took place on Tuesday at 5:00 PM. The low bidder was Nimaris Construction at $797,095. Hay noted that he thought the bid could be lowered to about 1/2 million dollars with some changes and that the contractor could probably start in a month. The bid was accepted as a "not to exceed" number in a 5:0 vote. As soon as the contract is signed a meeting will be scheduled with the residents to get a feel for what their concerns are and to tell them what the scope of the work will be.

Conditional Final Approval was granted to the FORKS MEDICAL OFFICE BUILDING/SULLIVAN TRAIL BUSINESS PARK/LOT LINE ADJUSTMENT/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN (Warren Hospital) in a 5:0 vote. The lot line adjustment is necessary to accommodate the building itself. The remnant lot may be used for an expansion in the future. The lot will have underground detention as it is not conducive to a basin. That will outflow to the storm sewer line on Braden Blvd. which flows into the detention basin on lot #4. That then discharges into Sullivan Trail's system. At the moment the detention pond on lot #4 has a large sinkhole in it that needs to be repaired. Steve Pany, the developer's representative, took issue with paying up front to extend the cul-de-sac (on Braden) to the next property although they agreed at the PC meeting to do that as well as to install sidewalks on Braden. Hay explained that the Township cannot force a developer do an "offsite improvement" (the adjacent property owner, when developing their lot). Hay explained that we have no 209 Act and no Impact Fee for roads and must collect the costs up front. Pany said that the Township is asking for monies (a contribution) to improve a road "if and when" it is needed and that the monies will go just into the Township's coffers. Holmgaard explained the concept of "pass through," that the costs are passed through to the next person. Pany agreed to build the sidewalk when and if the road gets extended and will make a "contribution" of the present day value of the cost to extend the road (in the future.)

Hoff asked about the improvements to the subdivision. Goffredo said that the only hold up is Verizon's move of three old telephone poles on the corner of Sullivan Trail. They have moved the cables. He said that all base paving is done, the sanitary sewer is done. the right of way improvements and seeding are done. Penn Dot has been notified of their schedule.

Pany noted that subdivision milestones have been met and they would like to go forward with their project. Hay noted that the detention basin has a sinkhole that needs to be repaired first. Goffredo said that the as soon as the bank (Merchants Bank, the project for lot #4) signs the right-of-way agreement, the work on the basin will begin. The agreed to stipulation is that the basin on lot #4 must be completed before grading can start on lot #6 (Warren Hospital).

Hay recommended that LAFAYETTE PARK - PHASES 2 & 3/RELEASE MAINTENANCE be accepted. It passed 5:0.

Hay recommended that the BUSHKILL RIDGE/ROADWAY DEDICATION (AND RELEASE OF MAINTENANCE) be accepted. It passed 5:0.

Goudsouzian stated that the PENN'S RIDGE PRD, PHASES 9 & 11/DEVELOPER'S AGREEMENTS were in order. It passed 5:0.

The AUTHORIZATION TO HIRE RECEPTIONIST was approved 5:0 and the position was given to Irene Hess at a rate of $16.33/hour. Hoff explained that Ms. Hess has been working for the Township from a temporary agency for a while.

The PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR discussion was moved to Executive Session.

There were no questions for the CURRENT BUDGET REVIEW.

An EXECUTIVE SESSION was called to discuss the PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR agenda item. It was tabled 5:0. 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.