Sunday, August 06, 2006

BoS Meeting 8/3/2006

The August 3. 2006 Supervisors’ meeting was very lengthy despite its modest agenda. Members of the public spoke of noise, traffic and drainage problems. Solicitor Karl Kline discussed the upcoming (August 7th & 21st) zoning hearing meetings on the Kings Mill partnership’s zoning challenge. And, more of the Forks Community Days and the concurrent Municipal Complex Open House details were confirmed. Express Times reporter Sarah Mausolf, was there and reported on the discussion surrounding the Township Manager advertisement decision. Please read her article. We will try to fill in the rest of the meeting.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that there was a request by the "greyhound people" to have 3 dogs at Community Days. She pointed out that "Therapy Dogs" already have permission. Dean Turner (Planning Commission and Community Days Committee) asked if the Board would consider giving blanket permission for all dog groups to participate. Supervisor John Ackerman said that he thought it should be limited or there would be "too many dogs there at one time." The Board voted 5:0 in favor of the greyhounds.
  • Nicholas discussed the Community Days schedule. It was confirmed that the opening ceremony for the Municipal Building will be from 11:00-noon on Saturday and that the official open house for the entire complex, Municipal Building, Police Department, and Fire Department will be from noon-4:00 on Saturday only. None of the municipal buildings will be open on Sunday. Nicholas added that she asked EMS if they wanted to participate and has not yet received word from them.
  • Nicholas asked the Board on behalf of Harry (Bennet) if there is a "future" for Community Days as an "annual thing." Supervisor Ackerman said that he thought they should "wait and see how it goes this time."
  • Supervisor David Howell said that he received an email from John Raquetta (sic) Promotions about the possibility of the Township lending traffic control horses/cones and directional equipment to the Italian Festival at Forks Eagles on Sullivan Trail. The festival is scheduled for August 26-27. Ackerman said that he didn’t see why not. Howell said he’d forward the email to him, Nicholas, and DPW Director Gary Sandt for follow-up.
  • Howell said that he received an inquiry from the "Moms’ Club of Forks Township" about having a collection box in the lobby of the Municipal Building. They already have one at the Community Center. The Moms’ Club collects school supplies to benefit the Third Street Alliance of Easton - for needy children. Nicholas said that it was fine with her.
  • Hoff said too that he received two letters which he has passed on to Nicholas. One was from the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council and the other from the Easton Emergency Squad.
  • Supervisor Ackerman reported receiving a letter in praise of the DPW department from Michael & Cynthia Oberheiser (sic). The DPW moved rocks in the swale during recent flooding.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. His motion to accept was approved 5:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas reported that she was embarrassed when she showed up for a Safety Committee meeting last Wednesday and her key fob did not work. She had to walk through wet grass to get to a Barb Bartek’s window. Bartek let her in the building. Nicholas was with one of the meeting attendees who expressed surprise that Nicholas did not have a key for the front door.

Nicholas met with EMS, Fire Police, & life members. They discussed EMS subscriptions running out at the end of August. Nicholas said that Suburban EMS will let her know what is going on with Forks’ subscriptions after they meet with their attorney. Nicholas said that she asked for their decision in writing. Nicholas will be attending a (Forks) EMS meeting next week. She added that the "life members" are stepping in and getting things straightened out.

Police Chief Greg Dorney - reported that the J.T. Maloney (Signature Homes and a partner in Kings Mill) gift money (ref. BoS Meeting 3/16/06 - Manager’s Report, paragraph 1) was used to purchase audio/video units for two of the police cars. Dorney said that the units "will add some accountability to the officers, increase their level of safety, and help with prosecution matters." Nicholas added that they "might be getting a grant" for some additional units.

Nicholas then brought up a minor complication that is causing a delay to the delivery of
the new fire truck that was expected on August 18. The "minor complication" will cost an additional $3600 and according to Finance Manager Jim Farley the money is available in the capital equipment fund. Nicholas gave permission for the money to be spent since the "minor complication" is needed.

Chairman Hoff asked how much was realized as a discount when the truck was ordered because of the initial cash down-payment. He was told that it was a little over $5000. The conclusion was that even with this extra expense the truck is still under the amount quoted.

Nicholas then asked Solicitor Karl Kline to elaborate on another "issue," this one about not filing for the PEMA loan (for the fire truck) yet. Kline said that the volunteer fire department is supposed to file the loan application and that the Township joins in as a guarantor. After the loan is approved, there must be an ordinance written to authorize the indebtedness and after that, there must be "proceedings" filed with the State in
order for the State to approve the amount of indebtedness. And, after all of that, the Township will be able to sign the paperwork in order to get the PEMA loan.

Nicholas said that until the PEMA loan is received that money will have to come from another account (in order to take delivery on the new truck when it is ready in September.) Kline said that the loan process could take up to 60 days. A member of the fire department said that they have filed the loan papers with Kline for his review. Farley said that he will have to talk to the Township’s auditors but he believes there is money available.

Supervisor Howell raised a "point of order" about the Maloney gift. He asked how much the gift was and was told by Dorney that it was $13K and that they did not spend it all. Howell remarked that "that is a sizeable gift from a developer." He asked if the funds were taken in as revenue and whether or not it was a general gift or was for a purpose. Nicholas said that it was for the Police Department.

Howell said that as a point of order for all future gifts from developers, the Board should agree to accept them. Nicholas said that the Board talked about this when it happened. She said that Ms. Kichline announced at a Board meeting that Maloney gave the money to the Township for use by the PD.

Howell said that for future gifts, the Board should "move to accept them and to accept the purpose for which they are given." Kline said that Howell’s point was well taken. Kline added that there are two parts to a gift, the offering and the accepting. He said that most of the time, gifts would be acceptable but that there could be situations where they Board may not want to accept the gift. He cited as unacceptable conditions: [1] where the Board would have to approve a subdivision or [2] when the gift could only be used for a certain race. He thought that it would be a good idea that at the time of gifts, the Board approve accepting them, especially if they have conditions.

Howell asked Dorney how much money was left. Dorney said that there is approximately $2K left. Howell asked Farley where it is in the record keeping and Farley replied that it is in an accrual account for the PD.

Ackerman suggested making a motion to accept the Maloney gift for cameras for the police cars. It passed 5:0.

Emergency Management Co-ordinator (and Fire Chief) Tim Weis said that Mr. Maloney also approached him about a similar donation but Weis said he didn’t know what the Fire Department wants yet. Weis was cautioned to approach the Board so that they can make a motion to accept it. Ackerman said that he thought that the Board should reconsider the matter of keys for Supervisors. He said he and Howell went to a COG meeting in Williams Township and were given a tour of their new building. Ackerman said that Williams Township Supervisors have keys for every building and every room. Ackerman added that he contacted 6 other townships and in every case the Supervisors have keys. Dorney has prepared a report on building entries and when the Board has reviewed it, Ackerman asks that they revisit its "key" action.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - reported that Lower Nazareth is willing to buy Forks share in their jointly owned milling machine. Farley said that it is valued at $110K and that Lower Nazareth will pay off Forks portion of the note and pay Forks ½ of the equity in the machine (approximately $42K). Kline will work with Farley on the paperwork. The sale was approved "administratively" (so that when all the details are worked out the sale can be done) in a 5:0 vote.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller reported on events in the parks and not on meetings of his committee.) Miller said that summer programs are winding down, that the adult outdoor basketball program finished up this week, and that the indoor kids tournaments are finishing next week. Fall sports, football and soccer, are due to start next Monday night.
Miller said that there is a problem with one of the air conditioners in the Community Center and that he hopes that it is fixed in time for Monday’s Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Miller said that the Township has no contracts with repair people and that he is "not too happy" with the vendor they brought in to do the repairs. They were a no-show for two days. Albarell Electric was finally called in and they found an electrical problem. It was not fully functional on Thursday.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that they met last week with with Hometown Press and that the first edition of the Forks new quarterly will be out in October. Howell said that Joe Ferry of Shadywood Communications has been assigned as the editor/staff writer for it. Howell added that all Supervisors, managers, and directors will get an email from Joe Ferry outlining the requirements for their articles (for the first edition). Joe Ferry will do the writing.

Howell said too, that pages 2 or 3 will contain a message from the Board. He said that in the first edition, it will be about the quarterly itself. In future editions it will more likely be a recap of things of significance that have happened in the last quarter as well as things that are upcoming in the Township. Howell volunteered to write the first one (if no one else wants to) and added that he will send it to each of them for comment.

Howell said that advertisement sales are going slowly and that he was told that this is not unusual for a first time publication since businesses want to know what a publication will look like before committing money. Howell said too, that one of the things the Township has going for it is that the quarterly will be mailed to every household in the township. Businesses like that.

The deadline for getting the paper out to layout designers is September 1st so articles must be in the next couple of weeks.

Howell also said that the Historical Society would like to update their part of the website and he is working with them on that. It should be done in the next couple of weeks.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - reported that there will be a committee meeting next Wednesday at 3:00 PM.

Nicholas added here that some little boys came up to her and thanked the Police Department for the academy. She said that they want it to be there next year. Dorney said that they have changed a few things, added programs, and that interest has always been there.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - said that he is looking to the Board from some direction regarding developers’ improvement security releases. How it has worked in the past is that the developer applied for it, their engineers certified the quantity, Hays office verified it, Hays office signed off on it, the Township Manager signed off on it, and then sent it to the security holder (bank) along with a cover letter (in order for the bank to release the funds.) The Board voted 5:0 to allow Finance Manager Jim Farley to sign the paperwork.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - reported that he received a call from Williams Township’s Manager, Debbie Patterson about 30,000 gallons of sewage treatment plant capacity. It was owned by the Crivellaro family and was sold it to Williams Township. Williams will keep 9,000 gallons and Forks will purchase 21,000 gallons at $6.80/gallon ($142,800). This purchase was voted on at the November 3, 2005 Supervisors’ meeting. The check was approved 5:0.

Kline next reminded everyone of the "zoning validity challenge filed by Mr. Maloney, Mr. Zawarski, and Mr. Benner" will have it’s first hearing date before the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 PM in the Community Center. The second hearing is scheduled for the 21st. Kline said too, that he is sure that there will be additional hearings.

Kline said that what they are trying to do is have the zoning in the Farmland Preservation (FP) district declared illegal so that they can put in several thousand homes on the 550 or so acres that they control there. Kline said that what is at issue is the "sovereignty" of the Township and "whether or not the developers are going to dictate or the Board of Supervisors are going to dictate the course of development in the Farmland Preservation district."

Planner Dean Turner asked that since it’s a public hearing and the public is invited, what can they (the public) do? Kline replied that the ZHB will make up the rules and that they have their own solicitor. He said that he imagines the public will be allowed to ask questions of witnesses. Nicholas remarked that all witnesses must be sworn in.

Turner asked what he/the public can do to prepare and said that it sounds like they should be preparing testimony about the things that are actually offered that the KM partners say are not. Kline said that he will leave a copy of the "challenge" with Barb (Bartek?) for anyone who wants to see "where they are headed and the points they want to make."

Kline said that he and Attorney Steven Goudsouzian will represent the Township. The first part of the case will be the challengers presentation of the testimony and then the Township will have an opportunity to cross examine (their witnesses.) Later on, the Township will present their witnesses and then KM will have an opportunity to cross-examine.

Comments from the Public:

  • Elizabeth Westbrook from North Delaware Drive told the Board of increased, dangerous traffic on 611 near the Riverside Deli. She said that the 45 mph speed limit is not enforced and that pulling out of her driveway is dangerous. She said too that mailboxes are on the opposite side of the street and access to her river property is also across the street. She told of the many joggers and bicyclists and that the road is in very bad shape (erosion from flooding and damage from heavy trucks.) Ms. Westbrook said that the post office told her that it is unlikely to allow mail delivery on her side of the street since it’s too dangerous. She asked the Township to lower the speed limit to 35, ban large trucks, add weight limit restrictions, and enforce highway laws. She said, "Citizens deserve to be protected."
Hoff said that the Township can only address the police issue since 611 is a PennDot road. Westbrook said that the Township can write a letter to Rep. Grucela and that his office said that she needs a letter from the Township in order to do anything with PennDot. Howell suggested that she lobby the State Representatives to allow radar use by local police. Dorney said that his department has handled 700 more calls this year than last year at this time.
  • Gretchen Gerstel, Forks Avenue, said that she learned from Farley that Miller was the second signer of the check to pay for the $3000 table. Ackerman offered that he refused to sign the PO for the table. Only one signature is needed on a PO. Nicholas said that it was a special order table and was the result of a "glitch" in the system.
  • Regina Clay (from Briarwood at Steeplechase) told the Board of drainage problems and broken promises by the developer, Zawarski. She said that he promised to level and re-grade the trenches and swales that are causing basements to flood. She added that the standing water is causing mosquitoes and flies. Hay said that he visited the site and that the developer cannot get in there to do anything because all the residents put up fences. Ms. Clay was advised by Hoff that this is an issue with the developer. Clay said she has called his office and sent certified letters and that he doesn’t return calls.
  • Holly Baldwin of Palmer Township near Bushkill Part told of the 11 hours and 4 stages worth of music coming from the Bushkill Park fund-raiser. She said that there were 60 bands and that she called the park as well as the police. Baldwin told of her aged mother in tears because of all the noise. The police told her that the park has a special permit. Weis said that there was no special permit issued and that the use is "permitted." He told her too, that the park has its own security force and K-9 unit. He added that the park will give away trips to Atlantic City to all the neighbors if they do it again. Dorney said that the Township PD were called there 3 times. The first time they made them shutdown 2 stages. The second time they made them turn the volume down. The third time (10:35 PM) they shut it down.
  • Donald Telly (sic) of Richmond Road and next door to Forks Elementary School told of the speeding on Richmond Road. He said that many cars are using Richmond to avoid the lights on Sullivan Trail. He said that he has a 1 year old child and it’s dangerous. He asked that the Township put in speed bumps, use radar, or make the road one-way. Hoff told him that it is a PennDot road. Telly asked that a police cruiser sit in his driveway.
  • Dean Turner of Richmond Road (and the Planning Commission) said that Harry & Susan Bennett (Community Day Chairs) wrote a letter to One-Up LLC to ask permission to use the old Laneco lot (in front of the vacant store) for Community Day parking. They were given the okay as long as there is $1 million liability insurance policy where One-Up is named as an additional insured. Turner added that the Fire Police are scheduled to patrol parking lots. Kline said that the Township insurer needs to be notified to be sure that the coverage is provided. Nicholas said that she will call Barb (Bartek?) and have her look into it.

Turner had a suggestion for the Township website, that there be an announcement page for all legal announcements. He said that he, like a lot of people today, does not subscribe to newspapers and reads online.

Turner said that he was not speaking for the Planning Commission (PC) but for himself as a member of the PC. He said that there is no formal mechanism to gather and present PC information to the Board of Supervisors. He said that he knows that Kline and Hay attend both meetings but he doesn’t see "how humanly they can represent both at the same time." Turner said that he felt that some "very good conversations" are not related to the Board because they are not incorporated in decisions that the Board makes. He added that he doesn’t understand "why the PC exists if their efforts are only going to be duplicated by more conversations later." Turner asked that a more formal method to give input to the Board be created. He suggested a rotation of members at Supervisors’ meetings to report on projects. He said that he’s heard that minutes are provided but he doubted that if there was a PC meeting one Thursday and a Board meeting the next, that the minutes are available.

Turner said he was disturbed by things he’s noticed, namely that when developers come in to speak they are greeted with friendly banter, concessions are made, and things are granted. When residents of the Township come in with problems, they are told "that’s not our issue, that’s a PennDot issue, you have to talk to so-and-so." Turner said that he is one of many who elected the Board to represent him and that developers did not elect them. He added that he’d like to hear more about how the Board will help residents, perhaps offering to "spearhead" issues with PennDot so that the residents will feel like the Board is representing them and not other people.


Forks Village Subdivision, Phase I - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that he had a signed agreement, a certificate of insurance, a letter of credit, and that everything was in order. The vote was 5:0.

Riverview Estates:

a) Phase 2C Temporary Parking - Hay said that his letter, dated 7/7/06 described this as basically a temporary parking lot. Howell said that he was at the PC meeting where this was discussed and he remembered a "condition" in their acceptance. That condition was that there be snouts installed to skim off petroleum (grease & oil.) Hay said that their engineer agreed to snouts and that he will be sure that they are included in the submitted drawings. Turner added that the snouts were put in as a condition because the parking lot drains directly to the river and the runoff will contain parking lot dirt as well as car dirt. Turner said that snouts are one of the water management suggestions from the State and that they help to filter off the petroleum products.

Nicholas suggested that PC meetings be digitally recorded so that she can hear their (the PC) comments before the projects come before the Board. Hoff noted that the minutes are the official record. Kline affirmed this and said that they are the official record because they are reviewed and approved. Turner said that he will gladly tape the meetings for Nicholas.

The vote was 5:0, with conditions.

b) Recreation Center - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that all is in order and that the developer wants to move forward with infrastructure improvements for the Riverview Recreation Center. The vote was 5:0.

Resolution #600803-1 / Two Rivers Council of Governments - Howell said that the Twin River COG would like to have the Borough of Freemansburg as a member and in order to do that a Resolution is needed from each member municipality. The vote was 5:0.

Resolution #060803-2 / Liquor License Transfer - BW Forks, Inc. - Kline explained that the public hearing on this liquor license transfer from Bethlehem to Forks was held last February. This is for Big Woody’s Sports Bar. The PA Liquor Control Board approved the application. The vote was 4:0. Howell abstained because he wrote a dissent to the PA Liquor Control Board asking for a additional conditions including a period of good behavior. Howell said that he was disappointed in the PLC.

G&G Developers LLC Land Development - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that the developer is ready to get a building permit and to start building. All is in order. The vote was 5:0.

DCNR/Lehigh Valley Greenways/Permission to use Meeting Room August 30, 2006 - Granted in a 5:0 vote.

Advertise Township Manager Position - Ackerman said that he would like to hold off on this until after the ordinance and job description are re-written. Hoff agreed that they need to be redone but he thought that the advertisement should go out while the documents are being rewritten.

Howell said that he thought they should at least start the process. He explained that when one advertises for a position, a complete job description is not included in the text and waiting to do that will delay it until the fall. Nicholas thought that the qualifications may change. Howell said that they can send out a letter acknowledging receipt of the resume(s) and stating that the job description is subject to change.

Nicholas agreed with Ackerman. Howell agreed with Hoff. The audience chimed in and expressed their opinions - agreeing with Ackerman and Nicholas. Many comments were exchanged. Gerstel said that "we don’t need another $3000 table" and that the "citizens of this town are totally fed up and if you don’t believe me, you will a little later on in the year." She added, "Or maybe some of you should resign from the Board if you are not qualified to sit up there and pass judgement." Then she added, "I guess nobody else has the guts to get up and say anything. What are you going to do to me? Ask me to move?"

Another attendee asked the Board if they’ve ever considered a Township Planner instead of a Township Manager. She said that Palmer Township has one and it’s working well. It was noted that Palmer also has a Township Manager.

A motion was made by Howell to solicit resumes for a manager subject to any change in the ordinance describing the duties. Miller seconded the motion and noted that he thought from their previous discussions that they were going to advertise in PSATS magazine but he just got his and there was nothing in there. He would like to run an ad in it since it goes to every township manager in the State of Pennsylvania and is not just local like "our newspapers are."

Ackerman said that it’s a good idea to put it in the magazine and that it must be done right away to make the next issue. He added that he thought it was too early to advertise in the local papers.

Turner asked if the 5 people on the Board have a consensus of what they are looking for and Nicholas said that she guessed they do not agree on that. Turner asked how they could go forward with the process if they don’t agree? Hoff said that they can work through the process to build the document (ordinance and job duties) and that it will be a consensus of the Board but it doesn’t mean that they will agree on the same person.

The discussion went on with more interjections from other members of the audience.

A vote was taken and the motion to advertise the position in the PSATS, Lehigh Valley economic and trade journals and the local newspapers was passed 3:2. PSATS will be done right away. The resume deadline date was set at September 15. Ackerman and Nicholas cast the nay votes.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss litigation and a personnel matter. No action was taken by the Board 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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