Sunday, April 09, 2006

BoS Meeting 4/6/06

There was a pre-meeting (for the residents near the CIT project - who cared enough to come and ask questions) before the 4/6/06 BoS meeting. Only one couple came. And, they cut the working hours deal for all the nearby neighbors. The regular meeting began at 7:30. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) were there. Please read their very informative articles. They always include material from their after-meeting interviews.

  • Secretary/Treasurer David Hoff - Administration & Finance Committee: Hoff reported that the job descriptions for the office staff are complete and that they are putting them into a format that will make them easier to read and follow. They will be ready in the next month or so.
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas - Public Safety Committee: Nicholas reported that the Police Department is beginning its 5 year plan. Chief Greg Dorney has given the committee a "good" schedule. She said that Dorney is going to check into the the Rapid Notification Program, a program to inform the public of impending emergency situations. Nicholas said that at their next meeting they will begin to review the Emergency Management Plan.

Nicholas announced that Forks EMS wrote a check to the PA State Fire Commissioner, that Atty. Gary Asteak is working on the (EMS) bylaws, and that an audit of their last 10 years is in process. She said too that Kichline and Dorney are going over the "Knox Box" Ordinance - and it will be finalized for the Board’s review. Bryan Weis is going over the ID System that all Supervisors and Township employees will have to have.

Nicholas also said that she spoke with officials in charge of Public Safety Commitees and PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) about keys for Supervisors. She was told that it is good governance for all the Supervisors to have keys for all the buildings (in case of emergencies - since no one knows who will be around when needed). She gave copies of their letter to the Board. She asked that this be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

Nicholas asked too to have locked Supervisors’ mailboxes in the lobby of the Municipal Building. It was discussed in the past but no decision was made. This too, has been added to the next meeting’s agenda.

  • Vice Chairman David Howell - Community Relations Committee: Howell reported that he, Ackerman, and Township Manager Cathy Kichline have been meeting to work on the design and format of a new Forks "quarterly" publication. They hope to have a "mock-up" at the next BoS meeting (or the one after that) for the Board’s review. He said that the first issue could run 16 pages and will be a good vehicle for the Township to impart pertinent information to residents.

It will not cost the taxpayers any money as it will be paid for with advertising revenues - a "limited" amount of advertising so as not to disrupt the content. Kichline is currently working at getting together an estimate of the full publishing costs so that advertising rates can be established. Nicholas asked if there are written guidelines for content. Howell said that it will be "politically correct" and that the BoS will set the editorial policy. Each segment of the community government will have responsibility for a portion of the bulletin. The committee anticipates that this will not be a "newsy" publication but more an informative one.

Howell added that one of the functions of the Community Relations Committee is to "bridge the information gap between citizens and government." Another is for forge relationships with Forks neighbors. He told of the COG (council of governments) "vision" to help the City of Easton and he said that Forks Community Days is one way to help bring communities together. There will be representation from the arts community of Easton, the Easton Farmers’ Market, and (some form of participation by) the Easton Business Association.

  • Supervisor Donald Miller - Parks & Recreation Committee: (aside - to our knowledge the Parks & Recreation Committee has yet to meet.) - Miller said that the winter programs ended 1-1/2 weeks ago. Forks had two basketball teams play for the finals, one won (13 year old girls) and one lost (by only one point in the last 7 seconds of the game.) There are two months before summer basketball and during that time the gym floors will undergo refurbishing. He added that Forks will host the AAU tournaments on weekends. And, he said that Engineer Fred Hay is designing the parking lot for the Meco fields. Permanent bathrooms will be installed in the future.
  • Acting Chairman John Ackerman - Public Works Committee: Ackerman related that they are working on job descriptions and have been dealing with personnel matters.


  • Township Manager: Cathy Kichline - Kichline noted that Urban Research & Development Corporation’s proposal (dollars) to revise and update the Comprehensive Plan was in their packets. She said that it just came today and she will add it to next meeting’s agenda.

Kichline informed the Board too that the Fire Department has hired Service Master to clean the new firehouse and that she has given them "key access" on Wednesdays between 5:30 and 7:30 PM.

Kichline said that she, Dorney, & Zoning Officer Tim Weis reviewed "our ordinances" and met with District Justice Litzenberger. She will forward all materials to Kline for his review of amendments/changes regarding the "enforcement-ability of those particular ordinances." The Board should see "that" within the next couple of weeks.

Kichline noted too that she, Hay, Weis, and PC Chairman Vito Tamborrino will be meeting to work on the technical aspects of the SALDO in the event that URDC is hired to assist. And, she said that she will be speaking to the Sertoma Club at their April 11th meeting at 6:30 PM.

And, she said that the egg hunt will go on rain or shine on Saturday (4/8/06).

  • Police Chief: Greg Dorney - Dorney reported on the Arndt/Bushkill intersection. He said that in 23 days of enforcement in March, there were 59 citations issued for stop sign violations, 4 DUI arrests, 3 drug arrests, 1 firearms arrest, and 3 injury accidents. They will continue targeted enforcement at that intersection.
Dorney reported too that he and Officer Rowden attended training in Harrisburg last week. They were trained as (and are now certified) "assessors" for the State Assessment Program. They will be asked to conduct assessments throughout
the Commonwealth.
  • Finance Manager: Jim Farley - Farley reported that the 2005 audit is almost done. The auditors should finish one day next week and the reports should follow in a month or so.
  • Department of Public Works Director: Gary Sandt - Sandt said that they are busy with street sweeping, working on the Old Mill Road storms sewers and grates (so that the bike-lane can be put in), installing traffic "humps" to slow the traffic down (in the park), and doing some work around the pump station to "dress it up."
Howell wondered about the Township’s preparedness for the approaching hurricane season since we have pockets of 100 year flood plains all around us. He suggested that the Township have some sort of "incident management" plan to deal with excessive rains. He noted that during the last heavy rain, the Township ran out of "horses" to block the flooded streets. Kichline replied that the Public Safety Committee will be, in the next two weeks, going over and updating the current Emergency Management Plan and that part of that work will be identifying available resources. A list of detention and retention pond ownership is being prepared by Pete Gheller (Facilities Director) and Sandt.
  • Zoning Officer: Tim Weis - Weis reported that the billboard (on Sullivan Trail near Lockwood Congress) is down and that the flower tent is back again this year and this time they are paying the new, higher fees and are under the new "term" rules.
  • Engineer: Fred Hay - Hay said that the Board had a letter to Kichline from PennDot (in their packets) regarding directional signs that the Township wants. They are looking at three intersections: Kesslersville & Uhler, Kesslersville & Kuebler Roads, and Arndt & Bushkill (blinking lights and new road markings.) PennDot has no problem with the directional signs (posts with mast arms) as long as the Township pays for them.

Regarding Gollub Park, Hay said that the survey plan is recorded and that plats and descriptions for easements have been prepared. When asked by Howell to report on the tree cutting up there, Hay said that 2 trees were cut down today. Howell said that there more like 10 trees cut on the right-of-way. He provided photos for the Board to see. Howell added that the right-of-way is now in disarray and is unsafe for hikers. He said that a less-than-an-acre parcel has been clear-cut by a logger. He wants a truck sent by the tree-cutting-landowner (at his own expense) to clean up the path and he said that he thought that the Township should be compensated for the fair value of the trees cut (in the right-of-way), approximately $16K.

Solicitor Karl Kline noted that the right-of-way is not a Township road and that ownership of a "paper street" reverts to the adjacent property owners (up to the middle). Kline added that the property owner (who cut the trees) says that he’s been denied access to his property. Kline noted that "who owns the trees?" is an "intricate point" and he will have to look at the SALDO for provisions for woodlands and will report to the Board at the next meeting.

Pete Rossi (the property owner who cut the trees in the right-of-way and member of the Zoning Hearing Board) addressed the Board saying that Township officials knew that he was going to do that and that he did not clear cut his lot. He also said that the mess will be cleaned up. Rossi said that so far the trees have cost him more then $3K to get rid of. He said he cut 4 live trees and two dead ones (in the right-of-way) and that (on his lot) he cut trees 50 feet in, and did not "clear cut" the entire lot. The trees will be chipped.

Solicitor: Karl Kline - Agenda items only


Ackerman noted that the Board has received a response from the LVPC (Lehigh Valley Planning Commission) regarding the Comprehensive Plan.


ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN/B.O.S. - Kline said that at their annual meeting the Board is required to elect a Chairman. No one was elected at that first meeting in January and he (Kline) made a determination to allow the previously elected Chairman to continue until a successful election was held. There is no provision in the Second Class Township code for what happens if a Chairman is not elected. There is also nothing in the code dealing with whether or not an elected Chairman has a vested right to remain in that position for the entire year.

Howell explained that he put this item on the agenda because the Board failed to elect a chairman and that since he was not on the Board last year, the Board is a "new" Board. He felt too that not electing a Chairman is a disservice to their responsibilities.

Nicholas nominated Ackerman. Ackerman seconded. Howell nominated Hoff. Miller seconded. Hoff said that he would step down as Secretary/Treasurer if elected. The vote for Ackerman was 2:3. The vote for Hoff was 3:2.

Next Howell was nominated for Secretary/Treasurer. He said that he would step down as Vice Chairman if elected. He was elected in a 3:2 vote. Hoff nominated Ackerman for Vice Chairman but Ackerman refused the nomination. Hoff then nominated Miller and Miller was elected 5:0.

REPORT OF EAJSA/HENNING HOLMGAARD - Holmgaard reported that Easton is represented on the Authority by one person while Easton has 6 representatives. Palmer has 2 representatives. He said that Palmer owns the 2nd largest share of capacity and Forks owns the 3rd largest. He asked that the Board write a letter to the EAJSA and request another member. Ackerman said that this was a "no-brainer to go for it" and the vote was 5:0 in favor. The letter will be ready for the April 17th EAJSA meeting.

ZACHARY ZAZO - C.I.T. LAND DEVELOPMENT/REQUEST TO ALTER WORKING HOURS - Howell said that there was an earlier meeting that evening with the neighbors of CIT and the developer to discuss the requested change in working hours. He felt that it was thorough. The Dewey Engineering representative, (Warren Garrity ?) summarized the meeting. He said that he explained to the neighbors that the noise factor would be limited to the first 1 to 1-1/2 hours of the work beginning at 10 PM. After that after that, the roofing contractor will scrape the cut material off the roof and load it into wheel barrows for disposal down the shoot to the garbage bin. There will be no hauling-away and no truck traffic during the night working hours.

He added that there is a large magnitude of work to be done there over the summer and changing the work hours will help them to get it done. The neighbors and he agreed to a trial of sorts. If the noise bothers them, the operation will be stopped. The neighbors were given the home and cell phone numbers of Mr. Garrity(?) so that they may contact him at any time. Twelve letters were sent to residents and only the Hoaglands attended. The Board allowed the working hour change (10 PM - 6 AM) in a 5:0 vote.


TRANSFER OF LIQUOR LICENSE PERMIT/APPLICATION & FEE - Howell reported that the Township was completely unprepared for Big Woody’s liquor license transfer request and had to write a letter to Woody’s counsel in order to learn something about it. He provided a sample permit form for the Board to look over.

In discussion of the sample form, Nicholas said that she thought that the name and address of where the license is coming from should be on the front page of the form. She said too that the form requires that the applicant provide the name and address and telephone number of the contact person for each license (including the inactive ones) already in the Township. She asked, "Why do we need to know that?" She thought that it had nothing to do with an incoming license. Kline said that this information would let the Board know how many potential licenses are already in the Township. He added that it is not a burdensome requirement for the applicant. Hoff noted that the Township is not notified if someone transfers a license "out" of the Township. Nicholas then agreed that the requirement to provide the information stay on the permit form.

Hoff asked what fee would be appropriate. Kichline suggested that fees be $1000 for the first hearing and an additional $750 if a second hearing is necessary. The fees represent the cost of advertizing the hearing and paying the court recorder’s fees. Kline suggested that the fees be in line with the costs for a zoning hearing. He will prepare a resolution for the Board for the next meeting.

GODDARD SCHOOL/DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS - Kline reported that all was in order. The agreements were accepted 5:0.

GLEN HALE LAND DEVELOPMENT/DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS - This is a u-store-it facility on Glover Road. Kline said that all was in order and the agreements were accepted 5:0.

CROP FARMING LEASE AGREEMENT - The Board agreed 5:0 to allow Mr. Rinaldi to farm the Township’s 53 acres on the southeast corner of Richmond and Newlins Roads. Rinaldi will pay $55/acre ($2915). Ackerman asked that the Township land near the airport also be included in this because time is getting late to plant crops and the Rinaldis are willing to farm it at the same price. The tillable acreage is yet to be determined. Hoff suggested that this lease be approved now and that there be another motion to "administratively" execute the second lease once the acreage question is answered.

Miller said that Alex Gale (project manager for the new municipal complex) has the "transition" zone acreage. Gale said that corn cannot be planted there. The Board agreed in a 5:0 vote that there will be no crops planted in the transition zone and that both leases are approved.

SETTLEMENT OF TAX ASSESSMENT APPEALS: (1) Knox Avenue Senior Associates (2) MCS Industries, Inc. - Kline explained that the Northampton County tax assessment office handled these appeals initially and agreed to lower the amounts. The EASD also signed off on them. The Board voted 5:0 to sign off too.

AUTHORIZATION TO HIRE PART-TIME ADMIN. ASST./ZONING OFFICE - Weis said that he received 40 applications for this 20 hour/wk position. He conducted 10 interviews. He recommended the hiring of Cheryl Murphy (sic) and the Board voted 5:0 to hire her. Her pay will be $13/hr.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - The Board met to discuss a real estate matter as well as several personnel matters. No action was taken 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.

No comments: