Sunday, December 24, 2006

BoS Meeting 12/21/06

The December 21st meeting of the Forks Board of Supervisor was sparsely attended by the Supervisors, the "staff," and the public. Supervisors Ackerman and Hoff were on vacation. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported on the meeting. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks.

The previous meeting minutes approval was tabled because only 3 Supervisors were present and one of them, Nicholas, was not at the last meeting and could not vote on the minutes.

Supervisor Comments:
  • Supervisor David Howell Secretary/Treasurer David Howell reported that he received a thank you letter from the Kiwanis for the Township’s assistance to them throughout the year and especially at the tree lighting ceremony. Howell said that the Township should be thanking them in particular for the Easter egg hunt and the Christmas tree lighting because of the "sense of community" that it gives.

Several Kiwanis members were on hand to present the Fire Department with a check for $1000 to be used for its new flag poles. Bryan Weis, Deputy Fire Chief, accepted on behalf of the fire company. The money was originally given to the Kiwanis by a former member, Barry Miles, in honor of his father and to be used specifically for a flagpole in the Township. The Kiwanis passed it on to the fire company for its new flag poles (2 on-building poles - traditional FDNY style on the front of the building - with ground lighting). There will be a dedication ceremony and a plaque will be ordered to honor Miles’ father. Kathleen Shuman (sic) made the presentation on behalf of the Forks Kiwanis Club.

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that one of the candidates interviewed for the Township Manager position told her that his township does an impact analysis of the fire, police, and public works departments as well as EMS, to assess the effects that a development will have before it is approved. That particular township uses the results of the studies to insure that developers provide significant improvements. Nicholas suggested the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor discuss this further.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 3:0. (Chairman/Supervisor Hoff and Supervisor Ackerman were not in attendance.)

Standing Committee Reports
  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - announced that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting and that as of 2007, she and Supervisor Hoff will conduct the meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:00 PM. There will be no January meeting because that night is already scheduled for the BoS Re-organization meeting. Nicholas said that she has asked all the members of the committee to prepare a list of goals for the year.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - absent, no report.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller made a list of Township park workers’ activities - prepared by DPW Director Gary Sandt - available as his report.) No report.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - The committee did not meet since the last BoS meeting.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - Howell noted that Hoff will likely report at the next meeting and that the committee did meet with a representative from a bond house who reviewed possibilities for refinancing the Township debt. Howell said that they have "taken it under advisement."
Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - absent, no report.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - reported correspondence from Henning Holmgaard, the Township representative to the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority. Kline said that the EASJA sends a tentative figure to the Township (of its expected share of the sewer plant) for budget uses. He added that normally this number is a little high and that results in a year end rebate. This year however, there is no rebate and instead, the EAJSA indicates that Forks owes additional money.

Kline said that Holmgaard met with he, Farley, and Hay and that there are significant questions about the assessment. The Township’s numbers do not "jibe" with the numbers on the bill and Farley will look into it further before a report is made to the Board (and before the bill is paid as presented.)

Howell asked Kline if any action must be taken on the inspection report from the LV airport authority of the Forks airport particularly as to height restrictions and objects in the landing and take-off areas (in the right of way). Kline said the State Department of Transportation oversees airports and notifies the airport authority of its findings. The authority takes corrective actions. The Township does not take any action on the report.


GENERAL CODE CORRESPONDENCE/REVISED PRICING ESTIMATE - Kline said that he called General Code to get an explanation of their pricing and because of the holidays was unable to reach anyone. The vote to table was 3:0.


ORDINANCE NO. 301 - PEMA LOAN FOR FIRE TRUCK - Kline explained that this ordinance authorizes the Township to incur the debt for the $100,000 PEMA fire truck loan. The loan is for 15 years at 2%. Per PEMA, because the truck is titled to the Township, the Township must be a co-signer with the Community Fire Co. The money was already advanced by the Township to pay for the truck; this money will repay the Township account. The settlement will be in 30 or more days. Kline said, "The ordinance has been properly advertised..." The vote was 3:0.

PENN’S RIDGE PRD/DEED OF DEDICATION FOR DETENTION BASIN B - Kline reported that the Township agreed to accept ownership of this detention basin as part of the PRD agreement with Hornstein. Hays office has inspected/approved it. Kline said, too, that the Township has a check for $32,952 (a figure based on a formula established at the time to provide for a period of maintenance). A vote to accept was passed 3:0. Nicholas confirmed (with Kline) that the Township is no longer accepting ownership of detention basins (unless previously agreed).

RECREATION SURVEY - Miller said that according to the post office, the response rate on the Forks recreation surveys was very good. It was 21% and the average is 16% (5196 were mailed and 1078 were returned.) Farley did the compilation and because of the way the survey was designed (rank choices) he was able to use weighted averages. If an item was ranked #1, he assigned it 5 points, #2 got 4 points, and so on.

Miller reported that the most popular existing Township recreation features are the walking path (in the park), the Community Center, and the playgrounds (in that order). Of the choices given on the survey and the weighted average method used, a swimming pool (2307 points), a recreation bridge over Sullivan Trail (2069 points), and a bandshell (2000+/- points) eclipsed all other choices. The other points went to: Dog park (1109), Playground equipment (1079), and Ice skating (858).

Miller said that some of the smaller things can be done now with money in the land and acquisition fund. He thought that Federal money might be available for the bridge over Sullivan Trail since it is part of the Greenway. Miller said that he has no idea what the cost of a pool would be and he will look into it. Until he does, he thought that the Board should not dismiss anything that the residents voted for. Nicholas said that she’d like to see a pool in Forks Township.

Nicholas also said that she would prefer a 4-way traffic control (stopping traffic in all directions) to a bridge over Sullivan Trail. Miller will begin researching costs and programs for funding.

One of the questions was about increasing taxes to purchase open space. The response was close but negative for that - 499 yeses and 532 noes.

The number of people (153) who said they’d join a garden club to do physical work in the park (planting and maintaining) surprised Miller. Jim Wideman (PC) asked if there is an area in the park for a rose garden. Miller said that the soccer fields can be shifted to other parks and that the original arboretum plans can be finished. Of the park at Newlins and Richmond, Miller said that there are currently no plans for it but because it now it has a sewer line (allowing bathroom facilities - a $60,000 project in itself), they can now begin planning activities for it. Wideman noted that the rose garden in Bethlehem is very popular and has a small, well-used bandshell.

Howell said that he has discussed a garden club with Miller particularly for a colonial garden around the log cabin and done in conjunction with the Historical Society. He thought that the garden club could "adopt" the park entryways as well as the fountain at the park’s Zucksville Road entrance. Howell thought that the garden club would help to create a sense of community.

Miller said that money for the plant materials, etc. is not a problem. But once everything is planted there are not enough park workers to maintain it. He is hoping that some young people will devote an hour or two a week to weeding. He told of the wildflower garden at the entrance that was beautiful for a couple of years but eventually turned to all weeds.

Lomax for the survey summary.

2007 GENERAL FUND BUDGET/FINAL ADOPTION - Farley said that the budget before the Board contained the minor adjustments recommended by the Board and it was passed 3:0. Read
Nixon for more.

DESIGNATION OF FEMA REIMBURSEMENT AGENT - Farley explained that the Township met with FEMA/PEMA after the flood and applied for funds to recoup some of its expenses. The Township has been approved for $5,200 and the money is awaiting an appointed (by resolution) reimbursement agent. The Board designated Farley as that agent in a 3:0 vote.

There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss a personnel matter (the Township Manager interviews) and the ongoing KMRD litigation. No action was taken during or after the executive session and 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.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Board Appointments - Letters of Interest Due 12/26

Just a reminder for those of you who want to be considered for Board appointments. The year is almost over and there are terms expiring on the Planning Commission (2), the Zoning Hearing Board (1), and the Recreation Board (1).

A legal notice has been published indicating that letters of interest are due to Barb Bartek by regular mail or email no later than 12/26. If you are interested, get your letters of interest to the Board NOW! Good luck.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

BoS Meeting 12/7/06 - Notes Delayed

Please accept our apologies but the notes from the 12/7/06 Board of Supervisors meeting will be delayed. We will get them up as soon as we can. Meanwhile please visit the FAC website for the short version. It's under the calendar on the main page.

Added 12/24/06 - Please read Jan Schott's article in The Easton News for more on this meeting. Note: You'll have to use the zoom feature in Adobe Acrobat Reader as the default font from The Easton News is very small.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Youth Dance Meeting - Scheduled for 12/5/06

Youth Dances - Meeting Tuesday

The first meeting of the Parks & Recreation Committee with officials of the Forks Township Youth Sports Organization and the Recreation Board to discuss
Youth Dances convenes:

Tuesday, Dec 5 - 7:00 PM - Municipal Building

The public is encouraged to attend. If you have kids and they attend these dances, this is your chance to be involved in fixing what's broken.

Kings Mill Zoning Hearing - Round 6 Reminder

Round 6 is coming this Monday for the Forks zoning challenge hearing by Kings Mill & partners!

When again? - Monday, December 4th at 7:30 PM

Where? - Forks Municipal Building -
Please note: This is the regular meeting hall in the new Municipal Building, the one with the comfortable chairs!

The Kings Mill partnership (Zawarski, Maloney, & Benner) alleges that the Farmland Protection District zoning is too restrictive. Their vision proposes 3,042 dwelling units -- apartments, townhomes, and a mobile home park. To us, that looks like:

  • 6,000 more cars on town roads everyday
  • 8,000 more students in the schools
  • 25% of open farm fields covered with roofs and asphalt

This can't be a good thing for Forks. We urge you to attend these zoning challenge hearings. The developers do! And, your presence makes a difference. It reminds them that Forks residents do indeed care about their quality of life and about what they (KMRD, LP) want to do to it!

Bring family, bring friends, bring neighbors... let's not leave an empty seat in the room on Monday, December 4th!

Round 7 is scheduled for December 18th at 7:30 PM. Mark your calendars!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Residents' Appeal - Ordinance 298 - Part 2

The second hearing session in the residents' appeal of Zoning Ordinance 298 was held on Monday, November 20th before the Forks Zoning Hearing Board. Read about it in both Courtney Lomax's (Express Times) article as well as in Joe Nixon's (Morning Call) piece - both from 11/21/06.

The appellants believe that the ordinance was written to benefit one enterprise, Weis Market, and thus constitutes illegal spot zoning. Their attorney, Gary Asteak, rested their case after their expert witness, J. Jerome Skrincosky, a municipal planner, gave testimony.

The Township's side will be presented at the next session on January 8th at 7:30 PM in the Municipal Building.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

BoS Meeting 11/16/2006

The November 16th meeting of the Board of Supervisors had a very long agenda. Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported. We will attempt to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas expressed her thanks to poll workers who volunteered and work long hours on election day. Nicholas said too, that she attended the Bushkill Creek Corridor Revitalization program at Lafayette College this past week and said that she expressed her hope that what they are doing downtown doesn’t stop at the Forks Township border. She was told that Lyons (Lions?) Park will be part of the project and that the bicycle path from downtown will connect into Forks bicycle path off of Bushkill Drive.
Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 4:0. (Chairman/Supervisor Hoff was in attendance.)

Standing Committee Reports

Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - said that there were no committee meetings since the last Board of Supervisors meeting and that there will not be one the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She said that she got a letter from the Forks Emergency Squad and they reported that they have been meeting with Dr. Binns and the EMS Council. They are working towards BLS licensing first and will go for ALS licensing in a few months. Nicholas said that the Board should be receiving a letter from Dr. Binns shortly. Supervisor/Chairman Hoff asked if the squad will come before the Board to request the BLS coverage. Nicholas said that they have to and that the Township also has to have a letter from Binns stating that the squad can do that.

Fire Chief - Tim Weis presented the Community Fire Company’s 2006 contribution towards the ladder truck, a check for $15,000, to Finance Manager Farley.

Police Chief - Greg Dorney updated the public in attendance about an email he sent to the Board detailing the grants he applied for this year. He succeeded in winning the following equipment grants for the police department:

  • National Drug Control Technology Assistance Center - Video Detective - a portable, real time video enhancement system with a value of $42,295 - included in the grant is training (with all expenses paid) in St. Louis, MO.
  • Office of Homeland Security - 2 ballistic shields - value of $6,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) Civil Disorder Kits - ballistic helmets and ballistic protection - valued at $24,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) Tactical Ballistic Blanket - valued at $35,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) 2 Baker Batshields - valued at $6,000.

Dorney said that there are several grants pending approval (passed first phase). Included in this group are:

Dorney reported the total of likely equipment grants in 2006 at approximately $172,000. After the applause Supervisor Don Miller asked Dorney if he thought the accreditation helped. Dorney said that in some of the applications that are scored, he would be "willing to bet that it does bump you up a little bit." Nicholas thanked Dorney "for doing a great job."

Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - reported that there was a meeting last night and that they worked on job descriptions. He will email them to the rest of the Board and suggested a workshop before the next Supervisors meeting. The workshop is scheduled for 7:00 PM on December 7th.

Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) Miller reported that there were approximately 5000 people in the park last weekend for the annual soccer tournament. He said that they were blessed with good weather and that it looked like a Renaissance fair. He added the league asked to have it every year in Forks. Miller declined because of the amount of work involved. It will be held in Moore Township next year. Miller said too that inside winter sports have begun and the community center is crowded.

Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he received the premier edition of the Forks Quarterly in the mail yesterday. He said that everyone "up here" (Supervisors and Staff) contributed 100% to it and that it was a challenge. Howell added that he was disappointed in the many delays but that they happened because it was the first time. He said that the first delay was in meeting the article deadline to the publisher and the 2nd delay was that the ads did not sell well initially. Howell said that in publishing every intermediate delay affects the finish date. He has been told by the publisher that advertisers are lining up for future editions.

Howell said that another delay happened 2 weeks ago when he saw galley proofs and wasn’t satisfied with the ad placements and the fact that the publisher failed to include one of the articles. They worked on it further and by reducing the font size and eliminating contact email addresses, managed to find space for the missing article. He said that he ordered production in order to get it out in the season that was wanted, fall. Had there been more delays, it would have become a winter edition.

There were a limited number of copies available to view. Each Supervisor had one. Mailing to Township residents should begin shortly, probably within the next 6 days.

Nicholas stated that she had not seen it and that the motion to adopt the quarterly stated that the Board was to approve it before publication. She said that it was not supposed to cost the taxpayers any money. Howell said he believed his motion said that the publication costs would not cost the taxpayers any money and that Ackerman brought that up at two meetings and it was clarified then. She said too, that she never saw (or wrote) the Letter From The Supervisors (the lead article).

Howell said that Public Safety never contacted him about any articles. He said he spoke at several meetings and sent email (to her) and got no response. Howell said that the deadline for content contributions was September 1st. He finally went directly to Dorney and Weis for articles. Howell said that all of this set everything back 1 month. Nicholas then asked, "So that disqualifies me from looking at the newsletter before it goes out?" Howell said "no" and that he made a judgement call or the paper would not have been out before December 15th.

Nicholas stated, "Before the next one comes out, I wish to see it. And, I don’t wish to have a letter saying From The Supervisors when I never read the letter." Howell said that she can write the next one if she wants to and that the content of the paper was done by her colleagues. He said, "I think that if you had been part of the process you might not be saying the things you’re saying tonight." He added that in the future final galleys will be given to the Board.

Nicholas said that she is concerned because the old newsletter contained things that were not "politically correct" and that it contained articles written by certain groups that were not supposed to be in government publications.

Howell also reported that the Community Relations Committee is contacting website providers (new ones as well as the current one) regarding the Township website in order to make it "more informative and easy to navigate."

Finance & Administration - David Hoff - said that the budget was the focus of their meeting last week. He added that they have implemented a process that involves zoning and finance. Of the zoning side Weis explained that they have streamlined their process for cash flow. Permits and all help needed for them will continue to come from the zoning department. Payments will be made on the administrative side of the building. Applicants will be able to write just 1 check which will save time in bookkeeping. Farley said that they will distribute the funds internally. - Hoff added that the next committee meeting will be on December 13th.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - asked the Board for approval to design and get bids for a concrete pad for the fire fighting facility on Glover Road. The Board thought that they had already okayed it but weren’t sure. At Solicitor Kline’s suggestion, they voted to ratify their previous okay and if there wasn’t one, to authorize it. The vote was 5:0.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - asked to discuss that day’s non-uniform employees collective bargaining session in Executive Session. Kline reported that the substantive zoning challenge by Kings Mill is continuing and that the next sessions are scheduled for December 4th and 18th at 7:30 PM in the Municipal Building. He added that the hearings are likely to go on through mid-2007 until all the testimony is concluded. At this point the challengers are still presenting their side of the case.

Comments from the Public

Ken Nagy - Dayton Drive, Forks Township - Mr. Nagy said that he was at the Suburban Water Authority meeting last Monday and that the proposed 25 year lease is a win for Easton and a loss for the suburbs. He said that for all practical purposes, this will subsidize Easton’s general budget. He told the Board that no one from any of the suburban areas voiced an opinion, for or against. Nagy said that Forks has lost total political control and that the entire water authority board is appointed by the City of Easton. He asked if the COG had "questioned this thing" and Ackerman replied, "No." Howell said that the chairman, Mr. Churchman, is a Forks resident and that there are other Forks residents on the Board. Nagy said that the City of Easton has 5 representatives on the Board and that there will be no equal vote for Forks.

Nagy’s second subject to the Board was the County’s Open Space. He said that what is in the paper is not at all what happens at County meetings and that the open space proposal is lopsided. The County is talking about giving $275,000 to Bushkill Township and Nagy said, "They are going to get it all for free." Nagy went on to say that Bushkill and Plainfield Townships are going to adopt Act 4 (where property taxes are frozen). He said that most people think that Act 4 only applies to farms and that that is not true. He said that it can apply to farms, environmentally sensitive areas, or anything "called open space that qualifies under the County program which is literally almost anything."

Nagy said that Forks will be paying ½ mil for this and that Forks will get nothing from it because its farmland soil, according to the County, is of "low quality." Ackerman said that that is not true. Nagy told the Board that he wished they would tell the County that they want to "bow out" because the ½ mil (about $40 on average) would be better used if the Township collected its own ½ mil. If it did that, the Township would not have to "beg, borrow, and plead with these people."

Nagy said that $18 million is going into the Easton project (Bushkill Creek Corridor Revitalization) and the majority of the money is going to assist a developer and to assist Lafayette College. He said that the Board, as representatives of the people, should not think of their responsibilities as ending at the border and he wished the Board would change its meeting nights so that they could attend the County Council meetings. Nagy concluded by telling the Board that Forks, Palmer, and Bethlehem Townships are nothing more than cash cows to the County.


POLICE DEPARTMENT/FIVE-YEAR PLAN - Nicholas said that Dorney expressed concern that the Board may have too many questions and that perhaps there should be a workshop to discuss it. She said that in the plan’s first year, 2 policeman will be hired and 4 new police cars will be purchased. In the second year there will be 3 new cars. The car purchases will alternate, 4 and 3 in subsequent years. Nicholas also said that Dorney thought that buying modular furniture for the patrol rooms would accommodate more patrolmen in the same space.

Hoff said that he would like to have a workshop so that the public can attend. Because of vacations and the upcoming holidays, the workshop was scheduled for January 18th at 6:30 PM (before the 7:30 BoS meeting.) The funding for the first year of the plan is covered in next year’s budget.

LIGHTNING PROTECTION - Hay said that he is working on this and will have a report at the next meeting. Farley said that they will be using a carryover from the construction account to pay for it.

DVR - REQUEST FOR PURCHASE - Nicholas said that the DVR for the Municipal Building was hit by lightening and is fuzzy and needs to be replaced. The fuzzy DVR will be kept as a backup. Nicholas said that the $6,975 price from ICU Security includes $175 for labor. Farley got prices (using an internet search) that ranged from $6,200 to $8,500. Nicholas added that she does not want to install the new one until surge protection is installed since the lack of lightning protection has already cost the Township $8,000. She also said that Keifer (ICU Security) told her that "if someone else is messing" with the equipment, it will void the warranty. Hoff asked Nicholas to find out if Keifer installs new equipment that the Township purchases (elsewhere) if there will be an impact on the warranty. It was decided that more information on the warranty is needed. This item will be on next meeting’s agenda. Three prices for the same piece of equipment are needed.

SURGE PROTECTORS - REQUEST FOR PURCHASE - Farley looked up lower prices (than $9,000 quoted by Keifer) for surge protection for the DVRs and all the cameras. The prices Farley got do not include installation. The warranty issue was raised and Kline said that they have "heard a lot about what Mr. Keifer is saying" but the Board needs to get it in writing. Howell said that he would like to see the actual manufacturer’s warranty. Nicholas said that she will get a written warranty. Hay added that he will report on surge protector specs at the next meeting. This will be on next meeting’s agenda.

KEYS - ACCESS TO BUILDING - Nicholas said that the other night she was asked to get cups out and couldn’t get them and everybody laughed at her. She added that Sandt (the other night) was "getting in all over the building and he’s an employee. Employees and janitors have more keys and access to the building than I do." Nicholas noted that there are security cameras all over the building except at the back door that the Supervisors use. Ackerman said that he would at least like a key to the front door because of meetings. Miller said that he has no objection to Supervisors having keys to the front door and made a motion to that effect. Nicholas seconded. Nicholas also said that she showed Ackerman and Sandt how to get into the zoning area (sliding out the little piece of wood on the doors over the counter). The motion passed 4:1. Howell cast the nay vote. Dorney will provide keys to any Supervisors who ask for them and record same on the master list (which the key holder must sign also).

SET PARK AND RECREATION MEETING DATE TO DISCUSS YOUTH DANCES - Miller said that the Athletic Association and Recreation Board want this resolved as soon as possible. There was a public work session scheduled and then cancelled because Nicholas could not attend. Miller thought that it would take more than one work session because there is much involved. He thought that they should hear both sides and that there are a lot problems as well as perceived problems and that they most work on solutions. The sessions will be open to the public and the public will be allowed to comment. At Howell’s suggestion to set a date, the Board selected 12/5 or 12/12 at 7:00 PM for the first session. Miller will let the Athletic Association and the Recreation Board choose one and he will inform the Board. The meeting will be advertised and listed on the Township website calendar.


FORT JAMES III - LOT CONSOLIDATION PLAN - Ackerman removed himself to the audience because his land is involved. Kline said that in addition to the lot consolidation, the preliminary subdivision plan is before the Board.

Hay said that the lot consolidation plan is simply joining the Brennan tract (100+ acres) and the Ackerman tract (16 acres) into one 123+/- acre tract. This was approved 5:0.

Kline said that the developer, J.G. Petrucci, is requesting approval of the preliminary major subdivision and it was before the PC on 10/13/06. It is for 19 lots and will be done in 2 phases. In the first, Braden Road (from Uhler) will stop at a cul de sac and Glover Road gets relocated and a stub road will be constructed from the main road to the Modern Concrete property. In phase 2, Braden will cross the rail line (pending Norfolk Southern approval) and connect to Kesslersville Road. If there is no railroad approval, the stub street will be connected to Glover.

Engineer (for the developer) Steve Pany explained that the Planning Commission wanted a road connecting to Kuebler between Georgia Pacific and Tioga Pipe instead of connecting to Glover Road. He said that Petrucci’s feeling is that a road through those commercial properties would substantially disrupt Tioga Pipe as well as prevent rail access to its property (and to Modern Concrete and to the MCS trucking facility).

Hay said that he agreed with the Planning Commission’s choice of Kuebler (without more than 30 seconds of thought.) But since then he’s met with the developer and the developer said that if Glover is to be used, the Glover/Padula intersection will be straightened out. Hay said that if that is done, he prefers that solution as rail service is critical to the development.

Jim Petrucci, president of J.G. Petrucci said that he recruited Tioga to Forks and during their talks, Tioga insisted that they be on a dead end cul de sac. He promised it to them. He also said that the railroad is using safety as an issue but in fact, there is a national policy to minimize rail crossings. Petrucci has hired the nationally known firm of Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Nicholson & Graham to represent them in the Norfolk Southern negotiations as well as any with the PUC.

Dean Turner (Planning Commission) explained that the PC suggested Kuebler access because it is against condemning residential property for industrial purposes. They also felt that truck traffic was more suited to Kuebler.

Kline said that part of the PC’s recommendation was because 18 of the 19 lots are in phase 1 and extending Braden Boulevard is in phase 2. If phase 1 is done, the Township would have no leverage to get the developer to work at getting the rail crossing. Another of the PC’s recommendations was that Braden be connected to Kesslersville within 5 years and if they failed, "after a good faith effort," to get the rail crossing, then Kuebler should be the secondary access along the property line between Georgia Pacific and Tioga Pipe. Kline said that he got an extremely strong letter from Tioga’s council opposing that roadway. Staff then met and discussed other alternatives including straightening Glover. That involves taking land from Modern Concrete and Modern Concrete is amenable to it because they want rail service.

Turner added that the PC recommended that the Board write a letter to the PUC recommending the rail crossing because the Braden extension is the Township’s first choice.

The Board voted 4:0 (Ackerman was in the audience) to grant approval of the preliminary major subdivision subject to Keystone’s letter and that Braden connect to Kesslersville in 5 years and if a good faith effort to get the rail crossing fails, the developer must build a secondary access road to Glover and must straighten out the kink in Glover Road to the satisfaction of the Township engineer.

VICTAULIC CO. OF AMERICA - LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - The plan for a single story office addition to the manufacturing plant was approved 5:0. Howell asked if the addition will accommodate new employees and was told that Victaulic will be relocating 20-25 employees from its Allentown facility.

PENN’S RIDGE PRD - ACCEPTANCE OF ROADS IN PHASES 5, 6, 7, & 8 - Kline said that the roads are completed and inspected and that the deeds of dedication are in order. Kline also said that the Board had a resolution to vote on to apply for the Liquid Fuels credit. Hoff asked about whether or not this was too late for Liquid Fuels credit and was told that it was but that the developer has agreed to pay the "lost" amount to the Township. The Board approved the Resolution in a 5:0 vote. There was discussion about not plowing the roads until the money is received. It was incorporated into a motion, no payment, no plowing. It passed 5:0.

FORKS CVS LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - TIME EXTENSION - Kline explained that the developer is proceeding with both plans (CVS and Weis Market) and that granting this extension is a way of slowing the CVS process. Hay said that the PC recommended final approval and Turner said that it was preliminary approval and that a conditional use hearing must be held for the CVS. Turner noted that there are two different developers, Lidia Development for CVS and SamCar for the Weis Market. They have the same principals. The extension is until March 31, 2007. It passed 5:0.

DARWIN SMITH - MODIFY PLAN - Hay said that Dale Reinert Custom Homes has asked for a waiver of note #13 on the original Darwin Smith plan for 6 lots. Note #13 restricted the driveway placement for 5 lots (the 6th is the Smith home). The lots are on Old Mill Road between Indian Trail and Wagonwheel and the driveways will be on Old Mill. Weis said that there was a grading issue with the old plan. Kline said that generally driveways are placed on the up side of the lots. The PC recommended approval as long as the front entry garages have driveway provisions for k-turns. It passed 5:0.

FORKS VILLAGE SUBDIVISION, PHASE 2 - DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline said that the developer’s agreements, letter of credit, certificate of insurance, and escrow are in order. This passed 5:0.

WAGNER/YMCA LAND DEVELOPMENT - DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline said that the developer’s agreements are signed and the letter of credit , certificate of insurance and escrow are in order. Howell said he hopes the Township will do a traffic study of the area because it’s a dangerous road. He added that it’s a wonderful adaptive reuse of the building. This passed 5:0.

VERIZON EASEMENT AT FROST HOLLOW PUMP STATION - Hay said that this has been going on for a long time. It is on Township land off of Meadow Lane and will allow Verizon to serve Riverview Estates Phase 7. It passed 5:0.

STOCKERTOWN FIRE COVERAGE - Kline stated that the Township received notice that Stockertown had rescinded the Liberty Hose Fire Company’s sanction to provide fire protection service in the Borough. He said that Stockertown contacted Tim Weis (after the fact) to ensure that Forks would provide coverage on an emergency basis.

Kline said that he spoke with Stockertown’s solicitor, Gary Asteak, who told him that the Borough owns the fire vehicles, the building, and some of the equipment. He also said that the Borough is looking at ways to resurrect the fire company or forming another fire company. They will need coverage for some time.

Kline further said that the Board could agree to provide fire and rescue coverage to the Borough for a specific time period and if it takes Stockertown longer than the specified period, the Township should be reasonably compensated. He suggested that the Board appoint representatives to discuss this with Stockertown. Asteak told Kline that Stockertown has already appointed 2 representatives, Mr. Zaboy and Jack Fatzinger.

Nicholas said that she spoke with Amy Richards on Thursday and told her that it would have to be a Board decision. She said that she heard about it from a webpage and that there were emails between Hoff, Howell, Weis, and Kline but that no one informed her, the head of the Public Safety Committee. Hoff said that she is head of Public Safety for Forks and that does not automatically include her in discussions between municipalities. Hoff said, "Get over it."

Nicholas said that she could have been copied on the emails and Hoff countered that she wants to know everything immediately but doesn’t discuss anything with anyone. She said that the committees do not work. Hoff said that he finds "it amusing that the Rec. Committee can’t meet with the Athletic Association without the Board." Hoff said too, that he wondered when Public Works was going to tell the Board about demoting a crew chief and promoting someone else 7 months ago.

Howell said that he’s known Amy Richards since before he was a Supervisor and she called him and talked with him "under confidentiality" a few days before the meeting. She was concerned about the vote and what their options would be. Howell said he immediately communicated to the Board chairman (because it involved an outside municipality) and to the solicitor. Howell added that "the committee system works" and that it works under the direction of the Board.

Nicholas said, "Obviously the flow of communication does not work." "You’re right," Hoff said, "Public Works is a perfect example."

Hoff made a motion recommending that the Board agree to the minimum requested coverage time and that a committee be formed to begin discussions with Stockertown. After the second, Turner asked who takes care of vehicle rescue on Route 33 near Stockertown. Hoff said that Stockertown covers a 3 mile stretch and that it will be included in the agreement.

Nicholas wanted to add to the motion that the committee be composed of the two people on the 2007 safety committee, herself and whoever rotates in. Hoff said that even though he rotates in, he doesn’t not believe this to be a Public Safety committee issue. Hoff said that because he’s been involved with the fire company for the last ten years, he would like to be part of the discussions. Hoff said that he will agree to the amendment that will add himself and Nicholas, assigned by the Board (and not as Public Safety committee members), to the committee to meet with Stockertown’s representatives.

This passed 5:0. Kline will inform Asteak.

VIDEO SURVEILLANCE - Nicholas said that there is a broken camera on top of a pole in the parking lot. It was hit by lightning. The extent of the damage is unknown until the camera is taken down and checked. Hoff suggested that the Facilities Manager talk to ICU Security about it.

ORDINANCE NO. 300 - AMENDMENT TO POWERS & DUTIES OF TOWNSHIP MANAGER - Kline said that this was advertised and ready for the Board to adopt. It passed 5:0.

RESOLUTION NO. 061116-2 - DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ACT - Kline explained that the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Lehigh Valley requires that each municipality adopt this resolution. It passed 5:0.

Nicholas announced the Kiwanis tree lighting is scheduled for Sunday, December 3rd at 7:00 PM in front of the Municipal Building. Students from local schools will be providing music and Santa will arrive on a fire truck. Donations of food, socks, book bags, and hooded sweatshirts will go to Project Easton.

2007 BUDGET - TENTATIVE ADOPTION - Hoff said that there have been many budget work sessions and that the proposed budget is for $7,081,764. The proposed budget does not contain a tax increase. Hoff noted that the Board had a copy of a letter from the County Assessment Office and that their calculation for real estate tax differed from the amount in the budget. He asked Farley to take a look at it. Nicholas said that at the Supervisors’ meeting at the Pomfret Club, she learned that the County is reassessing houses and that might account for the difference. Hoff said that each year the Township gets an assessed value and that they didn’t have it when the budget process was started. The budget was tentatively adopted in a 5:0 vote.

Howell noted that the Board had a copy of a letter sent by Weis to Mr. Riker of the Easton School District regarding continuing parking violations in the fire lanes at Shawnee Middle School. Howell asked if it would be appropriate for Forks police to check several times a week and keep a log of violations. This way, when Riker says that it’s been taken care of, and it hasn’t, he can be told of the violations.

There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss the non-uniform employees contract negotiations and personnel matters.

After the Executive Session, at which no action was taken, the Board said that they discussed the work done by the management staff in the absence of a Township Manager. The Board then voted the following raises and bonuses to management:

  • Police Chief Greg Dorney - $6,000 bonus and 8% raise.
  • Human Resources Manager, Barbara Bartek - $3,000 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Finance Manager, Jim Farley - $3,000 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Zoning Officer, Tim Weis - $1,500 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Director of Public Works, Gary Sandt - 4% raise.

The bonuses will be paid in the first pay period in December. 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.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Running For Local Office 2006 Workshop!

Election 2007 will be here before you know it and if you are considering running for one of the 2 expiring Supervisor seats in Forks, this workshop is for you!

League of Women Voters of the Lehigh Valley is hosting a workshop on how to go about running for local office. Please contact the LWVLV for more information on their Running for Local Office Workshop 2006.

It is scheduled for next Saturday, November 18 from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM at Northampton County Community College. This program is invaluable for candidates. So, even if you are just "tempted" to run, enroll and learn all about the process. It will help you to decide. Contact them by
email and/or download the registration form and return it to them with the $45 fee today. Don't delay!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

BoS Meeting 11/2/2006

The November 2nd meeting of the Board of Supervisors ended without an executive session. The Board spent much time on the subject of Forks Township Youth Sports Organization dances (for grades 5-7) in the Community Center. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Precious Petty (Express Times) reported on the meeting. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

Supervisor David Howell addressed
Karen Haduck’s letter published in the (11/1/06 edition of the) Express Times. He refered to Ms. Haduck’s letter as "a stirring, moving and disturbing description of a dance" held at the Community Center on 10/27/06 and put on by the Forks Township Youth Sports Organization. (Howell asked if Ms. Haduck was in attendance and at this point she was not.) Howell personally apologized for the dance and said that he found out about it from the newspaper. He said that he called a few friends in the Township and that they confirmed that "this was not an atypical dance."

Howell said that he thought there was failure of communication between the Board of Supervisors and its appointed boards and commissions. He said that the failure of the Athletic Association to maintain appropriate conduct at the dances is disrespectful to the residents as well as to the Board. Howell said that it puts all employees as well as all elected and appointed officials of the Township at risk for "civil liability" if something that could have been anticipated and dealt with occurs at one of the dances.

Howell noted that it is not the responsibility of the police department to act as chaperones (and intervene in instances of inappropriate conduct) and he motioned that dances be suspended until the "failure of responsibility" can be sorted out. He called for a public meeting (to be held in the evening so parents can attend) with the Parks and Recreation Committee and officers of the Recreation Board and the Athletic Association.

Supervisor Nicholas said that when her son was small she chaperoned dances because she wanted to be sure that where her son was was safe. She said that she did participate in separating children, although not to the degree described in Haduck’s letter. Nicholas said that "a lot of parents need to get involved in their children’s lives."

(Acting Chairman) Supervisor Miller said that he attends all the dances and that 90% of the kids are just good kids. He added 10% of the kids watch too much television or are taken by their parents to R rated movies. Miller also said that there were 2 paid staff members there as well as 3 police officers (paid for by the Athletic Association) and that "we were not informed." Miller said that he found out about it the next day from Haduck who attended jazzercise class and told him about it. He added that "for whatever reason" she did not say anything that night when something could have been done about it (like call the parents.) He said that he doesn’t know who the kids were. Miller said that he does tell parents to come to dances and see what their kids are doing.

Nicholas said that she suggested a few years ago that photo IDs be issued for the kids and that contact/parent information be on them. That way she said, if a kid is acting up, his/her card can be pulled and that the kid would not be allowed back in the dance. Nicholas said too that it would discourage kids who act up from coming in the first place.

Howell said that he doesn’t know the rules and regulations for the dances and that they should be published.

Zoning Officer Weis noted that he, the (former) Township Manager and Police Chief Dorney met on more than one occasion with the athletic association. Weis said that they did outline rules and regulations including the number of chaperones that had to be there and the procedure for ID checking. He said that this was established last year but didn’t know if there was a written policy somewhere.

Miller suggested that the rules be revisited. Howell added that there should be members of the Athletic Association in at the dances who have "virtual responsibility" and who will call the police when necessary. Supervisor Ackerman said that dances should be stopped until the Athletic Association meets in front of the Board.

Howell’s motion to suspend the dances pending review of the policies and procedures at a special public meeting/workshop was passed 4:0.

Karen Haduck arrived late to the meeting and missed the first 10% of this discussion. She was allowed to speak when she made her presence known well into the meeting. We are including her comments here.

Haduck said she was here on a school night (with a babysitter at home) because it is important to her. She said that there was nothing exaggerated in her letter to the paper. She said that she made no representation that the police should be responsible for taking action on inappropriate behavior.

Haduck agreed with Miller than only about 10% of the kids are causing the problem. She also said that all
the rules are on the website and that she just found them. She added that the "wheel does not have to be invented, it’s there." The rules just need to be enforced.

Haduck said that she stood in the rotunda of the Community Center and spoke with two policemen and one employee for at least 10 minutes about what she saw during the previous 2-1/2 hours.

Haduck said too, that cancelling dances is not the answer. She said that kids that age do not need "ambiance" and that the lights should be turned on. She said that someone should talk to the DJ about the music that is played and that at one point all the kids were lined up doing a line dance and the DJ stopped it after about 30 seconds to play the MTV type music. She said that there should be no dances until IDs are issued. She thought that there are easy, simple steps to getting this worked out.

Howell invited Haduck’s assistance at the public meeting. She agreed to participate.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 4:0. (Chairman/Supervisor Hoff was in attendance.)

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - announced that she has received the emergency management ID cards and that all employees and Supervisors will be getting them (in case of emergency). Weis will be taking the ID photos.

    Nicholas also said that the police department server must be replaced and that there is money in the legislative capital purchases fund to cover Hodges Technologies $4930 estimate. Replacing the server passed 4:0.

    There was discussion of the ICU Services newly received invoice for $1050 (for when the "DVR went down"). Apparently ICU said that they were going to "eat" this charge. Ackerman asked Nicholas to look into this.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) Miller reported that there are approximately 5000 people expected in the Township over the weekend for the annual soccer tournament. He also said that Farley is working on compiling the survey data and that 700 have been processed so far.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he received the black and white galleys for the new quarterly publication and that it looks very nice. There were some ad placement issues so it will be just a little longer until its published.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the committee will be meeting on Wednesday at 7:000 AM. He also said that DPW Director Sandt tried out the new leaf vac and loves the way it works.

Emergency Management Coordinator - Tim Weis asked if everyone noticed the new clock in the meeting room. It cost $35 and all were impressed at how nice it looks. There was applause.

Nicholas said a computer is needed for the Command Center and will cost $2500. It will be an administrative capital purchase item. Purchase was approved 4:0.

Weis reported that he did write letters to the two homeowners affected by the driveway easement (Knollwood and Ben Jon?) as far as snow plows are concerned.

Weis said too, that the Knox-Box Ordinance deadline is coming up and 6 commercial properties are online now and by the end of November there will be 20. Weis also requested that the Board pass a resolution to adopt the Hazard Mitigation Plan (a joint effort by Lehigh and Northampton Counties). He said that a resolution is necessary by local municipalities in order to adopt the plan. This will make the Township eligible for funds in the event of natural disaster or terrorist attack.

Weis announced the next hearing dates for the Kings Mill zoning challenge as November 13, December 4, and December 18. All will be at 7:30 PM.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - reported that the DPW finished work on the Sycamore swale and he recommended that letters be sent to homeowners association explaining "perpetual maintenance." The homeowners are responsible for the maintenance.

Hay said that the new sinkhole on Arndt Road will need emergency repair and that the sewer line is under water. He said that they televised the line and that there are about 220 feet that must be replaced. Howell asked if the Suburban Water Authority will pay for it. Hay said that that gets into what caused the sinkhole and that they would be forever arguing. He said that they will say that the sinkhole caused the break in the pipe. Howell said that he knows that sinkholes are caused by water and erosion. Howell suggested sending a bill. Hay said he expects to get it back with a little note saying "prove it."

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - said that he had only agenda items. Howell asked Kline what is normally done with voting for PERMA (sic) (the Township is a member). He wondered if they make a selection as a Board or as individuals. Ackerman said that they’ve never done anything because they don’t know any of the people. Howell asked if he could make selections on behalf of the Board. Nicholas said he could make his own but not hers. Kline explained that it’s one vote, the vote of the Board of Supervisors. He suggested that Howell research the candidates and make a recommendation to the Board for voting. Howell said that he would make his choice based simply on the information provided in the voting materials. The Township’s vote is not due until December 31. Howell will read the materials and make a recommendation to the Board.

Comments from the Public

  • Mary Cuadra of Easton’s pool advisory board addressed the Board to appeal for support for next year’s pool costs. She said that Easton will only open one community pool, Eddyside and that Forks families use it. Cuadra said that there the 2007 budget for one pool is $24,000 and that the actual cost to run two pools last year was $91,000. She proposed that a Forks resident join the pool advisory board to help make decisions on what happens to the pools. Cuadra hopes that the Board will consider helping. Howell asked if they are exploring charging a larger non-resident fee. Howell also asked if she will approach Lanta regarding a bus pickup from the Giant to Eddyside. She said that she would ask.
  • Jim Wideman (Planning Commission member) addressed the Board about the height of the speed bumps in the park. He said that they are unacceptable and that his car bottoms out going over them no matter how slow he goes. He would like them changed into humps instead of bumps. Ackerman asked if they are removable and Sandt said, "No." Wideman suggested that they are "expandable."


FORKS COMMONS - CVS LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Weis said that he received a phone call from the developer asking to be removed from this night’s agenda. Also, he received a letter from the developer granting an extension until 3/31/07. This will go before the Planning Commission for acceptance.

FORT JAMES III - PRELIMINARY SUBDIVISION PLAN, PHASE I - Hay reported that the developer asked to have this item removed from the agenda and rescheduled to the next Board agenda. He added that the developer plans to begin pursuing the Braden rail crossing with the PUC.

RESOLUTION 061102-1/ESTABLISHMENT OF LEGAL DEFENSE FUND - Kline said that this fund was suggested by Forks resident Rachel Hoagland. Kline said that a contribution does not entitle a resident to tell the Board how to handle litigation. The resolution states that contributions are to be made payable to the Township of Forks with notations that indicate that it is for the legal defense fund. The resolution also states that the funds are to be used for the costs of defending the Township’s ordinances and policies against legal challenges and that the Board of Supervisors has sole discretion to use the funds for "said purpose." "The Board of Supervisors shall have sole control and authority over the conduct of such litigation." This passed 4:0.

2007 BUDGET/FIRST DRAFT SUBMISSION - Finance Manager Farley said that the budget was pretty close to being balanced and he recommended sending it back to Finance Committee and to the departments to trim it down. There will be another budget meeting on November 13 at 4:30 PM.

POLICE DEPARTMENT/FIVE-YEAR PLAN - Nicholas provided copies of the plan to the Board. She said that Chief Dorney did most of the work. It will be voted on at the next BoS meeting.

AUTHORIZATION TO ACCEPT APPLICATIONS/POLICE DEPARTMENT - The Five Year Plan for the police department included hiring two new officers next year. Because it takes time to review applications, Dorney asked for authorization to accept applications now. This passed 4:0.

LIGHTENING PROTECTION - Nicholas said that lightening struck again and hit the camera on the pole and consequently the DVR in the police department is all "fuzzy." She had an estimate for $9,000 for surge protection. Also recommended was the purchase of a new DVR and keeping the damaged one as a spare. A new DVR will cost $6975. (Farley will check the State contract to see if a comparable DVR is available.)

Nicholas also had an estimate of $18,000 for lightening protection. Because it is over $10,000 it must go out for bid. Hay will write the bid specs.

Howell asked who ICU is and Nicholas said that it is the company that installed the security system. Howell said that the $9000 proposal indicates products to be purchased. Nicholas said if that if "you go and mess with those DVRs" the warranty will be voided. Howell thought that surge protection might be a generic product that could be purchased. Nicholas told him that the warranties will be voided on all the cameras and DVRs.

Ackerman said that he would like to see the surge protectors go out for bid. Howell agreed and Hay will write up the bid spec.

COMPUTER FOR COMMAND CENTER - Voted on earlier in the meeting and approved. See Emergency Management Coordinator above.

BUILDING SECURITY - The discussion about keys continued. Miller said that he had no problem with the Supervisors having keys to the front door. Ackerman said that they don’t need keys to the offices but that not being able to lock the front door is a problem. He added that he should be able to get into the administrative area.

Nicholas argued that municipal buildings are to be used to house people in cases of emergency. Weis said that the Knox-Box does have a key for every room in the building. Nicholas then said that if she wants to give someone a tour, she should call 911? She said that people give the Board the authority to run the Township but won’t let them walk in the buildings. She said that if a Supervisor wants a key, he/she should have one and that there are cameras all over the building. She added, "If you can’t trust me, then tell me to get out of this position."

Miller said that the security system was set up this way for a reason (but he doesn’t know what it was) and that they all have access to the areas during working hours. The key policy was set by two people who are no longer employees of the Township, Alex Gale and Kathy Kichline. Ackerman said that the key policy should have come to the Board. The vote to give keys to Supervisors was tied 2:2.

SPCA 2007 CONTRACT - Farley said that there is a language change in the contract this year restricting the animal control officer and police department as the only authorized agents of the Township to bring animals to the SPCA. The Township will be charged per animal. It passed 4:0.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS/RIVERVIEW WEST - Hay said that everything has been inspected and is ready to go. The vote was 4:0 in favor.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS/LAMBERT ESTATES - Hay said that everything has been inspected and is ready to go. The vote was 4:0 in favor.

There was no executive session and 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.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kings Mill Zoning Hearing - Round 4 Reminder

The Kings Mill (and partners) zoning challenge hearing continues with Round 4 on Monday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 PM in the Community Center.

Kings Mill (and partners) allege that Forks' zoning is too restrictive. The farmland preservation district does not permit high density housing. Kings Mill wants to erect over 3000 dwelling units on 545 FP acres and is willing to spend time and money over the years it will take for the zoning challenge to be resolved.

The next round is tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 13 at 7:30 PM.

If you care - one way or the other - attend the hearing. Be counted!

Grocery Zoning Appeal - Part 1

The group of 15 Forks residents who filed an appeal of Forks' Ordinance 298, the ordinance that adds a grocery to the list of conditional uses in the employment center (EC) district, had their opening hearing on Monday, October 23. They are represented by attorney Gary Asteak. He summarized the appellants charges of spot zoning. For details, please read Lomax (Express Times) and Nixon (Morning Call - The link will take you to a scanned image on the RWC blog. - The Morning Call chose to exclude this report from its online coverage.)

The appeal will take several sessions before the Zoning Hearing Board. The next is scheduled for Monday, November 20 at 7:30 PM.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

BoS Meeting 10/19/06

On October 19th the Board of Supervisors considered many agenda items including Kings Farm, the by-right (allowed under the old zoning ordinance) plan proposed by Nic Zawarski & Sons, JT Maloney/Signature Homes, and Dennis Benner. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported on the long discourse and the vote for a time extension. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks on the rest of the meeting.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor John Ackerman said that Forks was the host township for last night’s Twin Rivers COG meeting. It was held in the Municipal Building. Diane Elliott from Lafayette College heads the COG. The focus was emergency management coordination among member municipalities and it was attended by fire chiefs, police chiefs, and emergency management coordinators. Ackerman said that they concluded that no one is talking to one another from township to township. They discussed how they could all be in contact and that "the radio seems to be the biggest problem in the whole county." He added that Forks impressed other members with how Forks operates.

  • Ackerman also said that he attended the Merchants Bank open house and that it’s really nice.

  • Supervisor David Hoff reported that they held the first 2 budget work-sessions on Monday and Tuesday and that the next will be on 10/23 at 4:30 PM. Hoff also said that he was invited to speak to the Police Association on Thursday (10/12.)

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 4:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - asked DPW director Gary Sandt to report on the "leaf project and maybe some others." Sandt said that they just started collecting leaves yesterday - with one machine. The second will be out there in the next week. He added that the Frutchey Hill "recycling" is in process and that they will be finishing up the work on the storm sewer pipes there.

    Howell said that there was a copy of a letter in the Supervisors packets that Sandt wrote to a homeowner who cut down/back a tree on township property. Sandt said that the homeowner cut it back to within a foot of the tree trunk. Sandt said it was an oak and that the homeowner didn’t like it because it "gets worms." The homeowner guaranteed Sandt that it will "be nice" next summer. He added that the homeowner offered to replace it with a red maple if it didn’t. Ackerman asked if he started to "cut the tree down or just trim it?" Sandt said that if you only have a foot of branch from the trunk of the tree, "it’s pretty close." Howell suggested that the township was being "hoodwinked" by the homeowner and that the time for planting trees is now, in the fall. Ackerman agreed that it would be better to plant a tree now (than in the summer.) The tree-pruning homeowner will be advised to plant a 15' (4" in diameter) sunset maple now, not next summer. The oak will be removed.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) Miller said that he had a written report available of everything done in the parks for anyone who wanted to read it. And, as usual, Miller detailed public programs in the Community Center and the parks. He said that the tool show in the Community Center is there from today to Sunday and that on Sunday the park will be crowded because Forks is playing Palmer Township.

    Hoff inquired about the surveys and Miller asked Finance Manager Jim Farley to detail how the surveys were going. Farley said that they have 800-1000 returned surveys so far and that they will continue to accept them because every one is important. Miller said that it was great that "the people" are responding (to the survey.)
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - said that he got a call today from the publisher of the newsletter and that he should have the layout (with ad placement) in the next few days for approval. Once the Board approves it, it will go into full publication and then be sent to a distributor who will address and mail them.

    Howell also said that a new map is being considered for the spring and that it will be done as a "community guide" - a map, street guide, and community guide . The last Township map was done in 2002. Hometown Press will work with Zoning Officer Tim Weis on the map. It will be a large format16 fold map.

    The Community Relations Committee (Howell and Ackerman) is going to next look at the Township website. Howell said that it is deficient in many ways and that they will be looking at other webhosts in order to get more capacity. They will try to get the best possible service and capacity that they can.

    Ackerman asked if there will be any costs to the Township for the newsletter in view of the advertising. Howell said that the original $600 estimate was for an 8 page publication mailed to 4500 households. The reality is that it is an 18 page edition and will be mailed to 5500 households. The expected postage is $1400. The community guide will also cost about $1400 to mail and the actual publishing costs will be paid for by advertisers. Howell added that it will be a "one time only edition" and won’t be done again for 3 or 4 years.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - said that the committee met last Wednesday and reviewed ½ of the administration and zoning budget. The other half will be next Monday. Farley provided the Board with a monthly revenue vs. expense summary.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - provided the Board with a printout from the USGS website detailing what a 100 year flood really is. Hay also said that his office met today with the PennDot/Northampton County liaison to get Liquid Fuels straightened out. The liaison said that he would get back to him in a couple of days with whatever resolutions and maps he will need so that the Township will get the proper amount of money.

Ackerman asked Hay about Alex Gale coming in to go over punch items from the Municipal complex construction. Hay said that Gale spoke with Facilities Manager Pete Gheller last week and discussed them (especially the leaks) and that “it’s in the process of being taken care of.”

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - said that there are continuing discussions concerning the non-uniformed employees contract and that he will bring this matter to the Board in executive session. Kline also said that there is a tax assessment appeal scheduled in November for Knox Avenue Senior Housing and that he would like to discuss it with the Board in executive session.

Comments from the Public

Pete Murgia thanked everyone involved in the swale reconstruction and for fixing the problems. He inquired about the rumored new curb cut into the property and was told by Hay that it will go in opposite the swale (from his house). It will allow access for the parks department lawnmowers. Murgia said that he’s been mowing it for 20 years (because there was no access) and that the Township is welcome do the next 20.


USA ARCHITECTS/AUTHORIZATION FOR PAYMENT - Hay said that he met with Gale for details on the invoice and that Gale said that the original invoice (submitted last April) was for $33K and that he and former Township Manager Kichline and USA Architects agreed to the $20K amount at a meeting on May 17. Gale told him that there was not a lot of paperwork on it and that it was basically for "2 hours here, 3 hours here over the project." Hay said this is very common and he recommended that the invoice be paid. Kline confirmed with Hay that the other $13K was for work that needed to be redone because it wasn’t done right the first time. Ackerman said that the Board would just have to take Hay’s word for it. Hoff noted that the detail shows 196 hours over 95 different instances. Kline suggested that a letter be sent along with the check stating that it represents payment in full to USA Architects. Ackerman recommended that Kline write the letter. Payment was approved in a 4:0 vote.

ELECTRONIC SIGN - MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Ackerman said that Nicholas put this on the agenda and that it should wait until she was there for discussion. He added that he didn’t know where the sign was to go and that Gale should be contacted for a copy of the papers. Sandt said setbacks were on the design but he doesn’t know where the paperwork is. This was tabled (until the 11/2 meeting) in a 4:0 vote.


FORKS LANDING - Hay recommended approval of this industrial development (just north of the Norfolk Southern rail crossing on the west side of Sullivan Trail). It is a three lot subdivision served by a cul de sac and with access onto Sullivan Trail. The lots are 5 acres, 4-1/2 acres and 15-1/2 acres. A portion of the large lot (noted as 3B on the plan) is in the flood plane and although it will belong to the owner of lot 3, it will remain "in agriculture." Sullivan Trail will be widened on both sides into the existing right- of-way. There will be a dedicated right turn lane for southbound traffic and a dedicated left turn lane for northbound traffic. The developer (per PennDot permit) is to share the cost of improving the Uhler/Sullivan intersection with the developer of the southeast corner. Ackerman indicated that a developer owns the northeast corner but is not ready to develop it yet. The plan was approved in a 4:0 vote (based on the September 7th review letter).

KNOLLWOOD ESTATES - DRIVEWAY ACCESS EASEMENT AGREEMENT FOR LOT 2 - Kline explained that this access easement was necessary for the owners of lot 2 on Zucksville and the southern part of Ben Jon Road because it has no access onto Zucksville (poor sight distance) and the Township owns that portion of Ben Jon Road. (Ben Jon does not connect to Zucksville and that section is not going to be opened as a public street.) It was passed in a 4:0 vote with one abstention (Nicholas who arrived late because of traffic and who missed the discussion).

RIVERVIEW ESTATES WEST - PHASE III - FINAL PLAN - Hay described this Segal & Morel plan as totally clean and recommended that the Board approve it. Howell asked about the opening of Winchester Drive (through to Vista Estates) and Hay said that it should stay closed until the construction is done and the construction vehicles are no longer using it (Winchester.) Howell said that the developer should put up signs cautioning snowmobilers about the boulders, etc. because they won’t see them when there is a foot of snow on the ground. The plan was approved in a 5:0 vote.

JACOBS FARM - PHASE II - FINAL PLAN - There has been one change in this over-55 (age restricted) manufactured home plan since it was last presented; it will have its own clubhouse. Sidewalks have been added to both sides of Biltmore and to Braden. Ackerman asked about the grass down the middle of Braden Boulevard and who will mow it. He was told that it had been turned into a "boulevard," that the strip is 10' wide, and that the Township will mow it. Howell asked if the developer will consider adding a tot-lot for use by the residents’ visiting families. The develop said that there is possibly room for it behind the clubhouse. The plan was approved in a 5:0 vote.

KINGS FARM MAJOR SUBDIVISION - PRELIMINARY PLAN - Attorney John VanLuvanee represented the developers (Nic Zawarski & Sons, JT Maloney/Signature Homes, and Dennis Benner) who filed a by-right plan shortly before the new zoning ordinance was adopted in February 2006 to build 182 single family homes on 2 acre lots (on 485 acres) in the Farmland Protection zoning district. VanLuvanee brought along a stenographer and a tape recorder. He said that he sent a letter to Kline and to the Board on 10/18/06 offering an extension until 1/31/07 for this plan.

VanLuvanee stated that the project engineer, Hanover Engineering, submitted revised plans to the Township (this morning) answering point by point Hay’s review "memo" from April. He noted that they did not get a formal review letter. Hay, and everyone on the Board, had a copy of the formal review letter that he sent to the developer dated July. Kline noted that Benner referred to it in his appearance at the Board meeting on July 20th and that at that same meeting Benner indicated that the Kings Farm developers would proceed with all of the work necessary to obtain subdivision approval including the perc tests and the soil tests.

Kline said that he had a letter from attorney Piperato suggesting a revision to the Township’s Act 537 plan (the plan that prohibits public sewers in the FP.) Mention was made of letter received by (former Township Manager) Kichline (from Piperato) early on that neither Kline nor the Board was aware of (regarding sewers). Kline said that if a plan is submitted for an area in the Act 537 Plan, "the applicant doesn’t have a right to wait for things to change" and to keep the plan active for the entire time. In a letter to Piperato in July, Kline said "that the obligation to proceed in good faith runs both ways."

Kline said that there doesn’t seem to be any activity on the soil in the acreage involved. Ackerman noted that farmers would be upset if they were doing soil testing before the crops were harvested. It was noted that the plan was filed in December 2005, well before the crops were planted.

Hay said that normally perc tests are done before plans are submitted. Kline stated that the plans contain no information concerning sewage for the project. Hay added that there is no capacity available in the Easton sewage plant for this and that there no plans for sewage have been submitted.

It was decided to accept the developers’ offer of an extension until February 16, 2007 in a 3:2 vote with Howell and Nicholas casting the nay votes. The developers must present a complete planning module to the Township by January 31, 2007. A complete planning module includes all perc and soil tests. The plan must then be reviewed by the Township engineer.

The Planning Commission will have this on its agenda on February 8, 2007 and the Supervisors on February 15, 2007. Kline said that it should be very clear that any further extensions will be unlikely.

NON-UNIFORMED EMPLOYEE PENSION PLAN/WAIVER OF EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR 2005 AND 2006 - Kline said that the pension plan is "actuarially solvent" and that employees will not have to make contributions for 2005 and 2006. He said that the plan earned 7% and that this resolution is required by the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board. It was approved in a 5:0 vote.

APPROVAL OF THE TOWNSHIP MANAGER JOB DESCRIPTION AS AN ADDENDUM TO ORDINANCE 244, DATED OCT. 16, 1997 AT PAGES 691-694, REPLACING PAGES 691-693 - Howell presented the near-final draft of the rewritten Township Manager job description to the Board. Ackerman and Nicholas took issue with the words "The Township Manager is the chief administrative officer of the Township and serves by Board appointment." After discussion it was agreed to shorten it to "The Township Manager serves by Board appointment." It was approved in a 5:0 vote and Kline will prepare the ordinance that modifies the job description and gets it (the ordinance) ready for advertisement. Also, a copy of it will be sent to each of the short list candidates who are still interested and available for the position. Also discussed was a policy change that will make it mandatory that all managers maintain their daily online appointment calendars. This policy change is effective immediately.

the ordinance was taken from a draft that the EAJSA prepared. He said that the cost will be $71K and that the DEP will reimburse the township for 50% of that but it could take years. "Don’t hold your breath," Kline added. Hay explained that if the leaks are fixed and storm and ground water are no longer seeping in, capacity of the sewage treatment plant will increase and the plant will not face a costly expansion as soon is it might be needed otherwise. Hay said that the plant currently receives about 1,000,000 gallons a day of unaccounted for water. Kline said that it will be much more cost effective to get that extra water out than it will be build a much larger plant. The study to find storm/ground water leaks into the Forks sewage lines was approved in a 5:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an executive session to discuss a personnel matter, a re-assessment tax appeal litigation, and the non-uniformed employees contract negotiations. No action was taken by the Board during the executive session.

A vote was taken after the session to accept the stipulation that Northampton County joined into to reduce the assessment on Knox Avenue Senior Associates from $900,000 to $485,700. It passed 5:0 and the meeting was adjourned.

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