Sunday, January 22, 2006

BoS Meeting 1/19/06

The Board of Supervisors had a long night on January 19, 2006. It began with an EXECUTIVE SESSION at 6:00 PM followed by a WORKSHOP at 7:00 PM and the regular meeting at 7:30 PM. It was the last meeting to be held in the OLD (soon-to-be-demolished) Municipal Building. And, it was an especially important meeting. Both Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) were there. Please read their articles.


After the Executive Session Solicitor Karl Kline announced that its purpose was to address a personnel issue and a threatened litigation and that no action was taken.


The half hour workshop was dominated with questions from Acting Chairman John Ackerman. He was not at the meeting on 12/29/06 when most of the questions were already posed. Vice Chairman David Howell answered all of his questions and explained that the differences between the current liaison structure and the proposed standing committees structure are "mind boggling." He noted too, that in the current liaison structure there are no defined roles and/or responsibilities for Supervisors.

Ackerman asked how Howell could know that the liaison structure isn’t working since he wasn’t involved in it. Howell explained that he talked with 6 former Supervisors spanning the years 1965-97 and talked to other Supervisors too. They all felt that the committee proposal had merit. He explained that a Supervisor will be on a committee to advise, observe, and comment not to run the day to day operations. They will report back to the Board and this will formalize how they do things.

The liaison structure (where one Supervisor acts as the link between a single department and the BoS and where that Supervisor stays for years and years and years) will be replaced by Standing Committees composed of two Supervisors and managers and department heads representing related areas. Supervisors will rotate every two years to another Committee. Year one will be the exception; one of the two Supervisors on a given Committee will have a one year term and the other a two year term.

Howell further discussed the specific committees and said that in his proposal he has combined fire and police and EMS into one committee, Public Safety. The other committees are Finance & Administration, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and the new one, Community Relations. He described the Community Relations committee as the one between the Board and "the community-at-large which includes school districts, other municipalities, the citizens of Forks, other councils and committees where we (the Board) feel a relationship should be maintained."

Additional pluses for the new committee structure include: transparency in government (Open Government), continuity for long term planning, and Supervisors who are familiar with all aspects of the Township government that they head.

Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that the Township has no control over EMS, that they are volunteers as is the Fire Department and that all of the volunteers work at jobs.


  • Supervisor David Hoff stated that the office is well prepared to begin the move to the new Municipal Building tomorrow(1/20/06).
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that Chief Dorney is not yet in charge of the card key system. Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that it will be turned over to him next week. She explained that the delay is due to waiting for all three buildings to be networked and that up until it is, Alex (Gale) has been in handling the card keys. Nicholas put it on record that since Dorney is not yet in charge he is not responsible for the card keys (until it is turned over to him.) Nicholas said that Dorney has two more doors in the Police Department that he would like card keys systems on (the doors were wired for swipe boxes but they were not installed.)
  • Nicholas also said that there is a part-time front desk position for the Police Department in the budget and she would like the position advertised. Kichline will take care of the advertisement and it will be on next week’s agenda.
  • Nicholas asked if the Township could purchase a digital recorder so that meeting recordings can be kept on file. Currently the meeting tapes are erased and reused right after the Minutes are approved. Kichline added that once the Minutes are approved, they become the "live document." Kline noted that there are pros and cons for keeping a record of everything that was said at every meeting. He said that the tapes are used to make sure that the minutes are accurate but "who knows what someone could use those tapes for one year, two years, four years down the line." He said that the Board should take everything into consideration before changing that policy.
  • Nicholas also suggested that at every meeting the Board tackle making priorities and procedures and she thought that the first one should be "job descriptions." After job descriptions, she suggested reviewing purchasing policies and other policies and procedures. Supervisor Hoff said that the committee structure will facilitate that.
  • Supervisor Don Miller said that things are going full blast in the Community Center and that the new parking lot behind the old Giant (former Laneco) is open and is being used.
  • Acting Chairman John Ackerman questioned the $19K payment to Tim Merwarth (on the financial statement) and was told by Kichline that he closed out his Sullivan’s March escrow account.
  • Kichline announced that the move to the new building may result in limited service to the residents on Friday afternoon (1/20/06) and she reminded everyone to use the Sullivan Trail entrance to the new complex as the entrance from the park will be closed for a limited time. She also noted that the Community Day Meeting on Monday, 1/23/06 will be the first meeting in the new building.
  • Kichline wondered if she should make arrangements for a sale or auction of what is left in the old Municipal Building. She said that she would prefer tagging things. Kline said that it is probably okay to do that and he will look into it and get back to her. Kichline remarked that they do not want to heat the building after the move.
  • Kichline also told the Board that she received a phone call from a resident on the corner of Newlins and Kesslersville Roads (and Destiny Lane) who wants a guardrail installed because of accidents at the intersection. Kichline asked Hay, Dorney and Sandt to take a look at the intersection. She remarked that there is adequate site distance at that four-way stop intersection. Ackerman said that he can offer the homeowner a few large rocks from his farm.
  • Chief Greg Dorney wants the accreditation committee to come to the 2/16/06 BoS meeting to present the department’s certificate. There was no objection from the Board. Dorney also said that there have been in excess of 100 robberies in the LV over the last few months, mostly at banks, and the Police Department had Forks bank representatives in for training including identity theft procedures. Dorney is hoping to tie this program in with other businesses in the Township. Lastly, he said that he has a grant to attend a police development executive course administered by Penn State University in Fort Indiantown Gap. He also has received a grant for the advanced level course in May. Corporal Grifo will be the officer in charge while he is away.
  • Zoning Officer/Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Weis said that they are in the process of setting up the required training for NIMS - the National Incident Management System - for Township Supervisors and Township employees. This is tied to Federal funding "down the road." He said that they will hold a class for employees in Forks but if anyone is unable to attend that there will be nighttime classes at NCC.
  • DPW Director Gary Sandt reported that he has been informed by a District representative from Penn Dot that they hope to have stop signs or whatever Fred (Hay) set up, in place on Bushkill Drive within a week. Hay said he sent nothing to them.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley noted that the Athletic Association data will be included in the Township database. He added that 2005 has been rolled to 2006 and that they are "hitting the ground running." He also said that the auditors meetings will begin on 1/30/06.
  • Solicitor Karl Kline discussed the inter-municipality liquor license transfer request by BW Forks, Inc. That is Big Woody’s and they are going to be the operators of the new sports bar in Towne Center I. (That’s the commercial project between the Jackson Farm and Pitchfork Nursery which will also house a hardware store, a Walgreens, a Goddard School, and a Quisnos - all in front of the housing development to come.) Kline explained that they have requested the required public hearing (for a liquor license transfer). It is tentatively scheduled for 2/2/06 at 7:00 PM.
  • Supervisor C. David Howell pointed out that the debt amount shown on the agenda is now below $9 million. He asked too, if email is "correspondence" and was told that it is.


PERMANENT STANDING COMMITTEES PROPOSAL - The discussion (from the Workshop) continued with Nicholas noting that the Township is not in charge of EMS. Howell stated that EMS is the third arm of public safety in the Township and that there are occasions when each area has to come together as a group. He added that the Standing Committee has a scope of responsibility not a scope of control or administration. Supervisor David Hoff stated that the Safely Committee met over issues "as needed" and was very successful. He added that EMS met with them from the beginning and that the Safety Committee was able to resolve a lot of things that did not have to come before the Board.

Nicholas asked if there will be a written structure for every committee. Howell said that they are just creating the committees framework now - then they will fine tune the responsibilities.

Miller said that he liked what Howell has done and is probably 90% behind it. His concern was that Supervisors in the past were in areas in which they felt comfortable and the new guy got what was left. Howell asked him to suppose he (Howell) was a civil engineer and retired road builder, would he (Miller) appoint him over Ackerman for Public Works - probably not because he’s the new guy. He said that he doesn’t think assignments to liaisons should be to serve the personal interests of the Supervisors but to serve the community.

The department managers and directors present were polled. Dorney said that the opportunity to brainstorm is a great idea. Weis stated that organizations working together and brainstorming is great. Sandt said that it is worth a try. And, Farley said that in his Fortune 500 experience, one of its biggest benefits to a committee system is soliciting the "buy in" of others to work on problems. Two audience members made comments too, one said that "multi-tasking is worth a try" and the other suggested that they try it for a year.

Howell’s original motion to establish five Standing Committees also included changing the Community Center Co-ordinator’s title to Director of Parks & Recreation since he (Don Miller) does indeed do the work of a director. That proviso was removed from the motion at the suggestion of Nicholas and a vote was taken. It passed 5:0.

APPOINT DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF - Bryan Weis was reappointed Deputy Fire Chief in 5:0 vote.


ESTATES AT STERLING HILL/FINAL PLAN - Developer Jim Seitz and his representative described the Final Plan before the Board for 135 homes on 68 acres at the corner of Mitman and Arndt Roads. The Board was told that they added a recreation lot towards the center of the site and that the project will have a homeowners association. Kline noted that preliminary plan approval was granted on March 3, 2005 and that on 12/8/06 the PC rejected this Final Plan without explanation. Planner Erik Chuss was in attendance and explained his vote to reject - he said he objected to the driveways on Mitman Road. Kline stated that it was approved at the preliminary and "you can’t just remove that." It was approved in a 5:0 vote subject to Engineer Fred Hays’ review letter.

RIVERVIEW RECREATION CENTER/FINAL PLAN - Sal Panto, Strausser representative, appeared before the Board to ask for Final Plan approval for the private Riverview Recreation Center. He said that the center will have a bath house, a meeting room for the homeowners association, a swimming pool, basketball, tennis & sand volley ball courts, a pavilion, open space, and parking. As to the cul-de-sac, he said that they have left it where they originally proposed it because Kline told him that if they moved it from the preliminary plan location, they would have to re-file. He said that this location will work better "for the many ideas we have for that area." The private cul-de-sac will not be built until the rest of the site development is underway. It will be owned by the homeowners association and thus, no snow easement will be necessary. Until the rest of the site is developed and the cul-de-sac is built, there will be a temporary private road to the clubhouse and parking area. Strausser will extend Ramblewood Road to Newlins Road and dedicate it to the Township as a public road. Hay pronounced it a "very clean plan" and recommended approval. The subdivision into two lots as well as the land development were approved in 5:0 votes subject to Hay’s review letter.

KNOLLWOOD ESTATES (Phase 2) - TIME EXTENSION/PRELIMINARY SUBDIVISION - Developer Zawarski and his representatives described this plan as on the northern part of the Gertner Farm. It will have 113 lots on 65 acres with open space along the swale. The culvert crossing that they must install has come under DEP scrutiny and review and until they have the DEP permits, the plan is subject to change. The PA Fish & Game Commission became involved also and wanted a fish ladder in the swale. Ackerman remarked that he’d never seen fish swim in grass. That request was overcome. DEP is requiring an additional storm sewer pipe where the swale meets Zucksville Road. Also, the developer will continue Mitman Road as shown on the Comprehensive Plan.

Howell asked about the process and Zawarski’s representative explained that the developer grants the time extension, not the Board. He said that the BoS has 90 days to act on a plan unless the developer grants an extension. If the extension is not granted the Board is forced into action on the plan, either denial or approval.

Kline added that the "staff" (Hay, Kichline, Weis, and the Chairman of the Planning Commission) meet on Monday before a PC meeting to establish the agenda and that they go over "all of these things" and that they recommended that extension. Planner Chuss added that the PC requested an update on this plan at its December meeting for their January meeting. It was not provided to them so that they had no knowledge of the status of the plan and the complications with DEP and therefore recommended rejecting the time extension. Kline said that to his knowledge that request was never made known to the developer. The developer said that his engineer will be directed to give monthly status reports to the PC.

The Board accepted the (90 day) time extension in a 5:0 vote. This plan will go back before the PC for their input and comment.

MET-ED RESOLUTION: PENN’S RIDGE, PHASES 5, 6, & 8 - Met-Ed requires an ordinance in order to activate the energy for street lights. This passed in a 5:0 vote.


ORDINANCE NO. 295/TWO RIVERS COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS CONSIDER FOR ADOPTION - Kline explained the Two Rivers Council of Governments was formed in 1999 and that the Township’s participation had a sunset provision. This ordinance is necessary to continue Forks’ membership and that it will continue unless the Township gives a 30 day notice. It conforms to the language of the agreement. It was properly advertised and passed in a 5:0 vote.

There was no other business and the meeting was adjourned.

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