Sunday, June 18, 2006

BoS Meeting 6/15/2006

The June 15 meeting of the Board of Supervisors was well attended by the public. Kudos to Forks residents for coming to hear more about the Kings’ & partners zoning challenge. Both Ted Strong (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) wrote about it. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks. Supervisors David Hoff and Bonnie Nicholas were not in attendance.

There was a Joint Meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the Recreation Board at 6:30 PM. Attending for the BoS were Donald Miller, John Ackerman and David Howell. The Recreation Board was represented by Ed Moore, Lincoln Holly, Ray Guffy, Dan Reiter, Carl Scerbo, and John O’Neil. Alex Banas was absent.

After much discussion both Boards resolved to communicate with each other more. The Recreation Board will try to have a representative attend the Parks & Recreation Committee meetings regularly. The Recreation Board minutes are now on the Township website. Their regular public meetings are held once a month on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of the month at 7:00 PM in the Community Center. (Please check the Township calendar.)

The Recreation Board is working on a survey that will be distributed to all Forks households this summer. They were urged by Planning Commission Chairman Vito Tamborrino to work on a "master plan" that will fit in with the Comprehensive Plan (which is about to undergo a re-rewrite).

Regular Meeting

Treasurer’s Report - Howell reported the Township’s cash outlays since the last BoS meeting and explained that PLGIT (for $246,318.44) means Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, the holders of the Township’s bond. He also said that the Real Estate Fund debit amount ($284,068.64) represented a transfer from the Real Estate Tax Collection Account into the General Fund.

Standing Committee Reports
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - noted that the committee met with Engineer Fred Hay on June 7th to review alot of public works projects for 2006 and 2007. Ackerman said that they are recommending to the Township that the developer be allowed to remove the "eyebrows" on Winchester Dr. His committee felt that it would be a help to everyone traveling that roadway although there are "issues" as to why the road cannot be finished. Ackerman added that the committee also discussed job descriptions.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: This is not a Committee report. It is a Supervisor’s Comment.) Miller reported that baseball is winding down. Summer basketball has started at the Community Center and there are 147 teams. Miller said that this is about 30 teams over last year. There is a high school volleyball league on Wednesday nights. The park is full every night and there are a lot of senior citizens using the walking path.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell reported that there have been website additions which will allow easier navigation of the Forks Township website as well as help to give a better understanding of the functions of the boards. He said that the agendas and minutes from Zoning/Planning Commission, and the Recreation Board have been moved to menus on the PC and RC pages.

Manager’s Report & Correspondence - Cathy Kichline reported:

  1. The passing zone on Kesslersville Road has been eliminated (with PennDot approval) at the Township’s request.
  2. They (?) are reviewing a bus stop at Sullivan Trail and Town Center Boulevard.
  3. The Parks & Recreation Committee is finalizing improvements to Meco park and Lafayette field. The committee is also working on the recreation survey which should go out in the July "newsletter."
  4. The Public Works Committee has worked on job descriptions for the DPW and the Board has them for review.
  5. The Community Relations Committee is continuing to assist and work on Forks Community Days Sept 16-17. Kichline announce to that the BoS has authorized that the building dedication and open house be in conjunction with the Forks Community Days. Local officials are being invited.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - reported that he, Kichline and Henning Holmgaard met with the EAJSA engineers regarding an authority wide I & I (infiltration & inflow) study of stormwater in the septic/sewer system. The authority is proposing that all the municipalities hire one engineer to do the study. The estimated cost to Forks is $60K and the State will reimburse 50% of that making the net cost $30K. Hay recommended that the Township participate. This study will identify all the problems in the EAJSA’s area. Palmer is already "on board."

Hay said too, that he visited Lovene Heller’s property on Arndt Road (see BoS notes from 5/18/06) and that what happened there is that the deeds follow the south side of Arndt Road and the right of way on the north side is not symmetrical and the road isn’t straight. Hay said that in Heller’s case they are taking 39 feet. He added that the right of way should have been dedicated a long time ago. Ackerman asked what can be done to straighten it out. Hay said that "it is the way it is."

Mr. Heller was in the audience and said that he didn’t even know that Hay was there (on his property) and that he wished he had known. He’d like to see what he’s doing. Heller said that he deserved that. DeHuy (sic) put in the stakes. Hay said that they are not going to move the road and that he (Heller) has a property dispute with DeHuy (sic) who did the survey. Heller said that he has a property dispute with the Township since they charged him to put in the curbing and the sewer line (in the 70s). Now it seems that the property belonged to the school district (and was dedicated to the Township.)

Solicitor Kline suggested that the Board should meet with Hay to go over his findings. Heller asked that the BoS not put this on the backburner.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline notified the Board of the zoning challenge from Bucks/Lehigh Land Company, LLC, Nic Zawarski & Sons Developers, Inc., Nic Zawarski Development Corp., and KMRD Limited Partnership owners of about 545 acres in Forks' Farmland Preservation (FP) district. Kline said that he thought these were the same people who requested a zoning change in that area to allow for medium density residential housing (last August).

Kline added that this was before the PC and BoS and both declined to allow the zoning change. He said too that he thought, "...quite frankly that this is just an effort to try to force the Township to make the zoning change in this area." The challanges are:

  • The 3 acre lot size in the FP
  • The 1 acre cluster option with equal open space

Kline said that the developers also claim that the Township does not provide for its fair share of mobile home parks and that the Township does not provide for its fair share of multi-family housing.

Kline detailed the process as beginning with a public hearing in front of the Forks Zoning Hearing Board. If either party objects to the outcome then it will go to the Court of Common Pleas (where no testimony is taken and the ruling is based on a review of the testimony taken by the ZHB.) And, if either party objects to that decision, an appeal can be made to the Commonwealth Court (an appellate court that deals with municipalities). Again, if either party objects, the PA Supreme Court can be asked to hear the case. Kline thought that if this goes its full length, it could take 5 years.

Kline asked to brief the Board further during Executive Session.

Comments from the Public

Jim Wideman (resident and PC member - addressed the issue of the zoning challenge and) expressed his "extreme dissatisfaction" with what "prominent developers in our area" have brought before the Township. Wideman said that the developers would doom the only open space in the Township to being a slum and that it is a direct affront to every one of the Supervisors.

Wideman added that the area is zoned for 3 acre or cluster (1 acre with 1 acre of open space) lots. He reminded the Board that this was discussed in great depth during the recent Zoning Ordinance review and that the Board voted unanimously to adopt the new Zoning Ordinance.

Wideman said that he hopes the Board will let the developers know that "we will not be terrorized by their actions." He noted too that there are close to 3000 homes approved and not yet built (in Forks) and these homes will increase Forks’ population approximately half of what it currently is. Wideman said that the infrastructure demands that will be required by an additional 3000 units are "astronomic beyond belief" - (Police) Chief Dorney would need to double his police force - (Fire Chief) Tim Weis would have to increase fire protection - and these are things that do not increase in small amounts but by 100s of thousands of dollars. Wideman notes that 3000 dwelling units with 2 cars each making 2 trips a day per car will result in 12,000 trips per day on our roads.

Wideman ended by reiterating his "extreme dissatisfaction with developers who would bring this challenge."


THE COURTS AT NEWLINS ROAD/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay explained that the letter in the Board members’ packets contain many stormwater technical comments that will not cause design changes in the plan. Hay said that he recommended approving this plan conditioned on the comments (his letter) and Ackerman made a motion to approve. Kline noted that the PC vote was 4:2 for conditional approval based on Hay’s letter and the requirement of a covenant by the homeowners association that no recreation equipment (or other things) shall be allowed to be placed in the 100 year flood plain. Ackerman added that to his motion.

Howell said that he attended the PC meeting where this was discussed so that he could be better prepared for it now. He questioned the 100 year flood plain line and its distance to the back doors of the units. Hay said that he thought it was 30 feet horizontally and 4 feet vertically. Howell said that he likes the concept but is bothered by the design and he wondered if there was some other way to design it to bring the units farther up (the hillside) so that they are farther from the flood plain. Hay said that one of the developer’s design constraints is that a 100 ft. buffer (to the north) is required.

Ackerman asked Hay if he was referring to the 100 year flood plain where it is now (on the map) or where it will be when the project is done? Hay explained that FEMA roughly estimates flood plains when they draw their maps and that it’s up to the landowner to do a detailed study for submission to FEMA. At that time, FEMA will redraw the map.

Howell asked how the more controlled water will impact the downstream area. Hay said that the volume will increase but the rate of its flow will not increase - "There will be more water but it will run longer." Ackerman said that in addition to another culvert under Sullivan Trail, the developer has agreed to contribute $20K to improvement on the other side of Sullivan, namely another culvert under Newlins Road (which will be raised.)

The land development plan was conditionally approved in a 3:0 vote.

COMMERCE BANK/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay explained that he provided Commerce Bank’s consultant with a letter on November 18, 2005 and he has since learned that there are some land issues that will probably never be resolved. This plan was rejected in a 3:0 vote.

PATRIOT VILLAGE SUBDIVISION/INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT AND SEWER AGREEMENTS - Kline reported that everything is in order. The vote was 3:0 to accept the developers agreements.

AWARD BID/USED POLICE VEHICLE- Kichline explained that the Township put the sale of a 2004 Crown Victoria out for bid. On June 9 Kichline and Pete Gheller (Facilities Director) opened the two bids that were received. Kichline said that the high bidder was Mr. Ron Phillips His bid was $500. The vote was 3:0 to accept the bid.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS PENN’S RIDGE DEVELOPMENT - Kichline explained that this was actually a correction to the January 2006 resolution and provides for 2 additional street lamps. Kline said that this will supercede the old resolution. It was approved 3:0.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss TWO potential lawsuits. 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.

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