Sunday, March 19, 2006

BoS Meeting 3/16/06

The BoS meeting on the 16th was lightly attended. The only reporter (we don’t know which paper) left after getting a phone call. We will attempt to report it all for you! Please note too that the Supervisors Reports, because of the new Committee structure, have taken on new importance as a vital part of the "business" of the Board. Acting Chairman John Ackerman was absent.


  • Supervisor David Hoff - Administration & Finance Committee: The committee is currently working on job descriptions for all office employees. Some do more than one job and each job is being described individually. Hoff said too that the six month probationary period is over for the new Finance Manager and moved that Jim Farley be retained at a salary of $54K. It is in the budget. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas remarked that Farley is doing a great job - his experience and software knowledge are assets. Howell noted that his corporate world background brings an additional dimension to the Township’s financial well being. The motion to retain at the new pay rate were passed 4:0.

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas - Emergency Services Committee: Nicholas reported that she presented certificates from the Board to 6 boys in Cub Pack 21 at their annual Blue & Gold. She also reported that there were two Road and Parks meetings and that the selling of the milling machine to Lower Nazareth was discussed.
Nicholas said that she was asked by (absent) Acting Chairman Ackerman to discuss keeping the existing garage in the parking lot of the old Municipal Building because the Township needs the storage space. Project Manager Alex Gale said that if it was kept, 10 parking spaces will be lost since the building is 3/4 into the parking lot. He said that the building floor is on a different grade level than the surrounding land, that it has no power, no sewer, no water, needs guard rails around it to keep people from blocking it in, and needs a new roof. Gale said that he must know before two weeks are up since they will be working there soon. The estimated cost to repair is $50K-$75K. Howell asked how long the project has been planned (without the garage) and Gale told him two years. Hoff suggested finding a better location and putting up a new building. He also said that the parks building had doubled in size and should be able to accommodate parking for the new truck. Miller offered space behind the Community Center. He thought that for the amount of money needed to fix the old garage, the vo-tech could put up a new building.

Nicholas also introduced Dorney’s idea of baseball-type cards of the police officers. A sample was passed around. Nicholas said that the cards would be a community service and that kids like them. She added that the money is in the budget for them.

Nicholas noted that the Township has been giving $300 a year to the Chester County Conservancy. She thought that since we have a local group, the Bushkill Conservancy, that the Township should instead give money to it. It will be added to next year’s budget.

The Safety Committee meets next week. Howell asked if there was concern over EMS’ financial condition. Nicholas said that the committee will be getting their financials at the meeting. Kline noted that the Township has not co-signed or guaranteed any loans for them. Hoff said that this is the second time they got a letter about them. The other was last year. He added that they last made a vehicle payment in September.

  • Supervisor Donald Miller - Parks & Recreation Committee: "Winter sports are winding down." Forks has 8 teams in the playoffs and the finals will be on March 25th & 26th. Soccer, baseball, cheerleading and softball will be starting up right after basketball ends. There are 800 kids signed up already. The sign-ups were done over a one month period at the Community Center and most parents were pleased since they could come in at any time. Miller reported too, that the new, new sign will be up in about two weeks. The old, new sign was the wrong size and had to be returned. Also, Miller noted that the vo-tech is back working on the storage building and they should finish it this school year. In April after basketball is over, the 5-year Recreation Committee will begin their review of what they planned five years ago.

  • Vice Chairman David Howell - Community Relations Committee: He attended the recent (3/15/06) Twin River COG (Council of Governments). The members include Forks, Palmer, Easton, Wilson, Glendon, Bethlehem Township, West Easton and maybe Freemansburg (soon). The COG is working on changes in its bylaws to get elected officials to take a more active role at meetings. Kichline attends for Forks as do Ackerman and Howell. The group is beginning a "visioning" process to determine the priorities of members and so far came up with: 1. Public Safety, 2. Comprehensive planning, and 3. Organic waste recycling (ever municipality is running out of space - the cornfields are going away).

Howell said too, that one of the important issues facing our neighbors (and us) is avian (bird) flu. He reported that a recent newspaper article said that it is not question of whether it will come here, it is a question of when. Howell reported that the hospitals in the LV are not equipped to handle the number of people expected to arrive seeking treatment. He said too, that the Township must be part of the solution and as "first responders" Forks must review its resources to serve the community. Stockertown just had an

emergency preparedness test and failed. Stockertown has now gone to its COG for help.

Howell added that the Community Relations Committee exists to create an informational bridge to the community. To do that, they hope to upgrade and expand the website and to re-establish the newsletter. They (Howell, Ackerman, & Kichline) will be meeting next week to explore what the newsletter will look like and what it will cost. Kichline is amassing the data.

Township Manager: Cathy Kichline - The fuel system is up and vehicle keys and PINs have been given to the employees. Various reports have been given to the managers to help monitor fuel consumption. She noted too that in a conversation with one of the Township’s local developers she was asked what might be needed that has been forgotten from the budget - a "wish list." As a result, Tom Maloney of Signature Homes gave her two checks, one for $5K for Forks Community Day and one for $13K for use by the police department (at their discretion).

Kichline also reported that she has submitted grant proposals to Rep. Grucela for the Forks Historical Society’s project to restore a "merchant’s wagon" and to Sen. Dent for discretionary funds. She noted too, that the jointly owned (with Lower Nazareth Township) milling machine is no longer needed by Forks DPW. Lower Nazareth wants to buy Forks share. She has sent a proposal to Lower Nazareth and waiting to hear back from them.

Kichline briefly noted that COGS is an important resource among municipalities - a way to work together for common goals. Her "pet project," yard waste, is on their list. Waste Management is limiting grass clippings and Sandt is having trouble getting rid of leaves. Regarding the Township newsletter, she said that she’s had some discussions with a company named Hometown Press. They do them completely - they compile the newsletter, write the articles, get the advertising, and build the newsletter around what the customer wants.

Police Chief: Greg Dorney - PennDot wants to remove the warning signs on Bushkill Drive at the Arndt Road intersection, the location of the new 4-way stop. Dorney said that until last week, officers were only giving warnings to drivers who went through the stop signs. Last week (on March 8th) they began enforcement. The results are not good. In one week they gave citations to 33 drivers for going THROUGH the stop signs without stopping. One of the vehicles was a school bus. They also arrested two for drunk driving, two for drug violations, removed firearms from one, and one of his officers was nearly run down by someone going through the stop sign at 60 mph. Also there were two crashes with injuries. He asked the Board to ask PennDot to put down stop bars and/or reflective markings or to at least give the Township authority to do that. Dorney is concerned that when the flashing signs come down, someone will get seriously hurt.

Kichline said that she asked Dorney to report on this to the Board so that it will be "memorialized" in the Minutes. Kichline said, "Stop sign were nice but it’s not enough." Nicholas (who lives near the intersection) said that she hears the sirens all the time. Hoff asked if there is an increase in traffic since the stops were put up. Dorney did not know. Howell asked Kline what the exposure of the Township is if nothing is done? Kline said that it’s a State road and that the Township has asked PennDot for years for help with that intersection. Kichline said that the cost of the stop bars and reflective markings would be approximately $1000. Nicholas wondered if the placement of the 40 mph speed limit signs so close to the stop signs is part of the problem. Kline said that the Township should write a letter to PennDot to urge them to do something. Nicholas asked that Dorney detail the police stops in a letter to PennDot and that Kichline write one too.

Dorney reported too that the recent program they presented at the Community Center on how to protect yourself from identity theft had 18 attendees and that they got lots of positive feedback. The next program they are presenting will be on April 24th and it will be a teenage drinking and driving course. Participants include the Fire Department, EMS, and the District Attorney’s office. The school district is also cooperating and will market it through the schools. It will be open to newly licensed drivers as well as those who will be driving a year or two from now.

Finance Manager: Jim Farley - The auditors are nearly done and final numbers should be ready in a couple of weeks.

Department of Public Works Director: Gary Sandt - His crews are busy cleaning up from the winter. He noted that "Ed’s out back putting some fences up - trying to keep people off the grass."

Zoning Officer: Tim Weis - A letter was sent to Al Jenks to remind him to remove the billboard near Lockwood Congress. The billboard is coming down. The agreement deadline is March 31st and apparently they will beat the deadline. Weis reported too, that there was joint training last Monday night with the Palmer Township FD (at the house on Newlins & Richmond.) It went very well. The FD also hosted Cub Pack 21 for a tour.

Engineer: Fred Hay - Only agenda items.

Solicitor: Karl Kline - Both he and Kichline received a letter from RCN reminding the Township that their franchise is up on 4/28/2008 (not a typo). They want to renew and this will require a public hearing.


Nicholas said that she spoke with Kichline about employees going to seminars. She suggested that they, along with employees who have reached certain lengths of service, be "recognized" at the Christmas party by the Supervisors. Everyone agreed and Nicholas will work with Kichline on it.


MILFORD LAND CO. MINOR SUBDIVISION/FINAL PLAN - Hay said that this was simply creating a lot in Jacobs Farm 2 in order to convey the land to Old Castle - a paper conveyance. It will be used for storage and as a buffer and will be deed restricted to allow no development. It was approved 4:0 subject to Hay’s letter.

RANDY DEWALT MINOR SUBDIVISION/FINAL PLAN - This subdivision is on the corner of Mitman and Dewalt. Howell asked Hay about the stand of young trees behind the principal home and was told that they are on lot five and it is not being developed. The Board agreed with the PC recommendation to flip the driveways on lots 3 and 4 to the other side to get them as far from the intersection as possible. The treeline on lot #1 will be preserved by covenant on the plan. The subdivision was approved in a 4:0 vote subject to Hay’s letter and the treeline covenant.

FORT JAMES III - UPDATE BY DEVELOPER - In his project update for the commercial development planned for the northern end of the township between Uhler Road and Kesslersville Road and behind the existing commercial buildings, J. G. Petrucci representative Tom Shaughnessy described Norfolk Southern RR as being "contentious" regarding Braden Boulevard and an at-grade crossing. Norfolk Southern is going to require a run-around track parallel to their line. This would make two at-grade crossings necessary. It was Shaughnessy’s opinion that getting one crossing is possible but getting two is unlikely. Petrucci has proposed a Y to allow locomotives to pull in and reverse and back in cars.

Steve Pany (for Petrucci) said that they are planning to "phase" the development. They are proposing a high volume drive at Uhler and Braden. They anticipate 4000 "trips" per day. There will be a left turn lane from Uhler into Braden. There won’t be enough sustained traffic throughout the day to warrant a signal. There will be a right in, a left out, and a through - to any potential development on the Ackerman farm to the north. They are proposing at Braden and Kesslersville, the same type of intersection as will be at Braden and Sullivan Trail. They are also proposing to curb the property on Kesslersville Road. They propose too to put three culverts under the road to take the stormwater across under the road. The culverts would be in Phase 1 and the rail crossings and intersection improvements in Phase 2.

Nicholas asked what happens if they don’t get the rail crossing. Pany answered that Braden would have to "dead-end" and there would be no access (except emergency access) from Kesslersville. There would still be a rail-served industrial park. Braden will still connect to Glover Road.

They are requesting that the PC and BoS review their plan in phases so that they can continue to develop the industrial park. There will be a meeting with PennDot next week that Hay and Kichline will also attend. Nicholas asked what if the Township wants traffic signals. Pany replied that if the Township wants a signal part way through the project, they can ask for it. Arrangements would have to worked out with PennDot. Nicholas said that she felt that a provision has to be in there somewhere in case it is needed.

LAFAYETTE MEADOWS/DEDICATION OF ROADWAYS IN PHASES 1, 2, & 3 - Kline said that all the paperwork was in order and that Hay’s office has inspected the roads there. Weis said that there are still some emergency access issues. Kline said that this was the first he heard about this and noted that the Township still has the security deposit. Approved in a 4:0 vote.

ZACHARY ZAZO - CIT LAND DEVELOPMENT /REQUEST TO ALTER WORKING HOURS - This is a request to allow asbestos removal work on 2 roofs (with saws) to be done from 10:00 PM to 6 AM. Howell asked that the residents be notified that this is before the BoS and requested that it be tabled until they are notified. Kline said that the Board can ask that CIT send letters. The BoS was told that the noise would be much like a "lawnmower." They plan to begin work in May and it will take 4 months. The Board said that the nearby residents must be notified about the next meeting on April 6th. The Township will do that. This was tabled 4:0. The contractor will meet with the Board and interested project neighbors at 6:30 PM prior to the April 6th regular meeting to answer questions. The request to change working hours will be on that night’s meeting agenda.

REVISIT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN - The PC sent a letter to the Board requesting that the Comprehensive Plan be "revisited" (Kichline said they meant "update") and that Charlie Schmehl from Urban Research & Development be hired to help. The current Comprehensive Plan was written in 1997. Hoff suggested that URDC give a proposal so that they can get an idea of the cost involved. Hoff said that this is a big project and could take 4 years. Kichline said that there is $13K in the budget for "fine tuning" the Zoning Ordinance. Hoff also confirmed with Kline that the Comprehensive Plan work would not have to go out for bid since it was a professional service. Nicholas suggested that they go over this request with the PC. Kichline suggested that Schmehl attend also since he has notes from all the hearings/meetings. A joint workshop with the PC was scheduled for 3/28/06 at 7:00 PM. They will also go over the fine tuning of the Zoning Ordinance.

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.

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