Sunday, October 08, 2006

BoS Meeting 10/5/2006

The October 5th meeting of the Board of Supervisors began at 6:30 PM with a one hour worksession to discuss the Township Manager duties and responsibilities and ended with an executive session to discuss personnel issues and a potential litigation. Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported on the meeting. We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that she had been asked by Boy Scout Troop 29 if there are any community service projects that they might do for the Township. She added that in the spring, the a few of the scouts will be looking for "Eagle projects." Nicholas said that she was thinking that they might do something at Gollub Park. Engineer Hay thought that there were things they could do there. Nicholas asked that anyone who can think of projects for them let her know. She added that the scouts really helped with Community Days and if it weren’t for them, the garbage cans would have been overflowing on Sunday morning.
  • Zoning Officer Tim Weis said that the Boy Scouts Annual Food Drive is coming up and he asked the Board’s permission to allow the scouts to use the zoning garage. Weis said that in past years, they were allowed to use the old garage. A motion was made to allow use of the zoning garage for the Boy Scouts Annual Food Drive. It passed 5:0.
  • Supervisor David Hoff reminded all that budget sessions are coming up on October 16th & 17th at 4:30 PM. (They are listed on the Township website/calendar.)
Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 5:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas said that Bill Keifer (president of the Forks EMS board of directors) was at the recent Public Safety meeting. She said that there will be no lapse in subscription coverage and that subscriptions should be out shortly (as soon as all the details of the printing are done.) The subscription mailing will have both Suburban and Forks EMS on it. Nicholas said that Forks EMS is working with Dr. Binns (executive director of the Eastern PA EMS Council) on their plan and is hoping to be back in business in 60 days. Nicholas said that Suburban EMS has been filling in and is doing a very good job. She extended her thanks to them for "helping us out."

Nicholas said too that the Fire Department got its new engine and that the Police Department’s 5 year plan will be reviewed at the next Public Safety meeting.

Police Chief Dorney detailed a new department initiative called the Vial of Life Program. Dorney showed a pharmaceutical bottle and said that it contains a sticker to be placed on residents’ door, a pencil (donated by 2 Tees Golf), and a form which indicates that residents are participants in the program as well as details all physicians and medications. He added that all residents should keep the bottle in their refrigerators (a uniform location for all residents to use) so that they can be found by police officers in the event that there is a medical emergency. Dorney said that the premise is that 90% of the time police officers are first on the scene and are asked by the EMS personnel what medical information they have gathered. The bottles will be available for free at the Municipal Building, Community Center, Fire Department, EMS, and Police Department.

Emergency Management Co-ordinator Tim Weis reported that the counters and radios in the new command center should be installed by the end of next week. He added that they will be using an existing white board (from the old building) in the new center.

Nicholas said too, that at the next public safety committee meeting there will be a review of ID badges and that all township personnel will have picture ID badges as part of the emergency management program.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that there will be committee meeting at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, October 11.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) As usual Miller detailed public programs in the Community Center and the parks. He said that football and soccer are "about half way through" and that probably two of the teams will go to the playoffs. He said too that this is Forks’ year to host the November soccer tournament and that it will involve all of Forks’ soccer fields as well as some in Palmer. He said that they are expecting 10,000 people for it. Miller also said that the recreation survey has been mailed and that any residents who did not receive one can get a numbered one from Finance Manager Farley.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he expects to receive galley sheets of the first edition of the new Forks Quarterly in a week or so - for Board approval. He said that earlier in the week the last of the articles was submitted to Hometown Press and that they are working on the page layouts now.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - said their last meeting was not held due to illness and that there will be a committee meeting next Wednesday (October 11) at 3:00 PM to work on the administrative and revenue sides of the budget.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay reported that E.J. Breneman has equipment in place on Broadway Road and that they will begin work on the Frutchey Hill recycling tomorrow. He thought it would take three days. The road surface then has to cure for 3 weeks before it can be driven on again.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline said that (Forks EMS) Bill Keifer called with an update on the and that he and Barry Albertson (Suburban EMS) have reached agreement on the brochure language and on the escrow of the subscription funds. Keifer and Alberston will be the only two who can write checks. For every month that Suburban is providing service to Forks (because Forks is not yet licensed and operating) Suburban will be paid 1/12 of the subscription money in escrow. When Forks EMS is back in operation, it will get the funds.

Kline also said that they are also looking at a different structure for the board of directors to be an independent board composed of some community members who have no Forks EMS ties. Nicholas said that she asked them if a member of the Forks Board of Supervisors can sit on their Board. Forks EMS is looking into it.

Comments from the Public:

  • Scott Gingold asked the Board why his citizens group’s appeal to zoning ordinance 298 is listed on the Township’s website news page when the significant zoning challenge by Zawarski is not. Howell said that it could be an oversight and that it will be easy to put it there. Kline said that he has written an article for the Quarterly about the zoning challenge and that it is appropriate to put on the website too.

Gingold also said that the Forks Action Committee website contains misinformation about the zoning appeal. In FAC’s announcement of the hearing, it contains the line "For the grocery? Against it? You won’t want to miss this hearing!" Gingold said that no one in the appellant group is against a grocery and that the appeal has to do with spot zoning.

Gingold talked too, about reading Joe Nixon’s article (9/25/06) in the Morning Call that advertisers were being sought for the Forks Quarterly. His organization, Residents Who Care, wrote to the Township for contact information which they received on Thursday (9/28/06) morning. They sent an email to Ms. Morano of Hometown Press that same morning. They didn’t get a response so they telephoned only to be told that all advertising space was sold. They received an email the next day stating the same thing. He said that others who inquired were not told that it was sold out. He told the Board that he was curious as to why this would happen. Howell asked, "What others were told?" Gingold said that they are still looking into it. Howell said that the Board relies on the judgement of their agent and the agent said it was sold out. Gingold responded that maybe they "ought to question that judgement."

Howell said that there is a spring issue coming and that he is free to make application again although he cautioned that as policy the Township will probably not accept ads from religious institutions, political groups, etc.

  • Ken Nagy
    spoke to the Board of his concerns with the (Northampton) County open space proposal. He said that it would result in a ½ mil increase and mean $50 to $75 in additional taxes for every resident in Forks. Nagy said that Forks residents will be paying more than others and since "we have no open space to speak of in Forks Township," it would benefit us little. He said that in the cities who will be getting the most from this a ½ mil is probably $17. Nagy said that there is a Municipal section that Forks is totally ineligible for. The grant matching will be 50% for townships and 25% for boroughs and cities. He suggested that the Board to tell County that Forks will not participate and therefore not pay.

Nagy asked too that the Township Manager job description emphasize grant writing because there "are a lot of grants out there." He said that all the County will do is submit the grant to the State and then dole it out - a middleman. He said that Forks could get the money directly. Nagy added that he’d like the Board to change its meeting date so that they could go to County meetings and see what’s happening. Nagy said that "what you read in the papers is not what’s happening." He added that Forks’ 12,000 residents give it political clout. Ackerman said that he agreed with Nagy regarding the open space (with County).

Nagy’s next concern was the Suburban Water Authority and giving $1million to enhance the pensions of Easton employees who come over to Suburban and why the City of Easton should be paid $1.2 million annually "for giving up the maintenance and operation of a water plant they’ve mismanaged and neglected up to this point." Nagy wondered why the City (in the new agreement) should be entitled to 1/3 of the new tap-in fees. He remarked that it’s a classic example of rewarding the City for doing a bad job. Nagy said that he is "bothered that no one on the Board has protested this arrangement" and he suggested that the Township hold a public meeting with Suburban Water. Nicholas said that she will put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

And, Nagy related that he overheard the individual in charge of (upcoming property tax) reassessment... "I can’t wait to get into Forks."

Howell offered that Nagy regularly attend the Twin Rivers COG meetings and that they discuss many of his concerns including the water authority, waste management, and organic waste management. Howell thought that Nagy’s input would be appreciated and said that there is a meeting coming up on October 18 in the Forks Municipal Building.

  • Jay Reese (sic) said that he is 82 years old and lives off of Chief Tatamy Lane on Farcroft Drive. He asked if the Township has a weed ordinance and when told that it does he asked why it isn’t enforced. He described how developers bought the land around him and do not cut the weeds and how difficult it is to get out of his driveway because of that. He asked about the weeds around retention pond by the railroad trucks on Sullivan Trail. He was told that it’s the Township’s and that it is by State mandate, a "naturalized pond."

Reese remarked about the flooding at Chief Tatamy Lane saying that the developer gave the church $90K for the right-of-way and won’t take responsibility. Hay said that the developer says he "gave them $90K they should take responsibility."

Reese talked about the dust created by developer Nic Zawarski and how the EPA cited one of NZ’s sub contractors (for dust). Reese said that the EPA received 140 complaints for dust by developers in the LV. And, he, Reese, did a survey of local construction sites and found only one with a spray truck and it was nor working.

Reese said too, that construction employees urinated in front of his wife on two occasions, that the workers on job sites are working without scaffolding (he wondered who handled OSHA complaints for the Township), and that so far this year, the garbage hauler has missed collecting his trash even though he puts it out on Wednesdays for Friday pick-up. He said he’s just going to leave it there to pile up from now on.

Nicholas said that she will personally call the hauler for him. Ackerman said that if he sees a workman urinating to call the police.

Reese said that his street sign was knocked down by a garbage truck and he was billed by the Township ($57 for the sign). He paid the invoice but the sign was never replaced. Nicholas asked DPW Director Sandt to take care of the street sign.

Reese concluded by saying that the developers use "bully tactics." "You complain, you’re going to pay the price."

USA ARCHITECTS/AUTHORIZATION FOR PAYMENT - Finance Manager Farley explained that the $20K invoice represented an agreement between the company and Alex Gale (project manager) and former Township Manager Kichline. Originally there was an additional invoice for $13.5K. Farley said that he spoke with a gentlemen over the phone about the invoice. Ackerman asked Kline that since there are problems in the buildings if the money should be held back.

Kline suggested that Farley conduct a full investigation to determine if the invoice was for additional work as a result of problems or is an invoice for legitimate extras and report back to the Board. Nicholas said that she remembers Gale telling her that the architects had to redesign the arch in the front and "that may be some of the reason why the roof leaks by June Vail and the windows are breaking."

A meeting with the company and Kline and Farley was suggested. Miller offered that Alex Gale has the answers and Hay said that since Gale is now associated with Keystone Engineering, he will have him come to speak to the Board at the next meeting.


THE COURTS AT NEWLINS ROAD - LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay said that the Board had a copy of his 9/7 letter as well as a copy of a memo from the LVPC. He also informed the Board that the Planning Commission rejected this project with a 6:1 vote (Tamborrino was for it) for safety issues. Ackerman said that he doesn’t see any safety issues.

Howell said that the PC was concerned that the back doors of the townhomes are 30 feet from the flood plain. Nicholas complained that there are no dimensions on the drawings from the backyards to the swale and she remarked that her employer would not accept drawings without dimensions. Hay said that there is vertical distance as well as horizontal to be considered in the distance from the flood plain. The basements of the townhomes are 5 feet above the flood plain as well as thirty feet in horizontal distance.

Nicholas said that she spoke with Dent and a Rendell representative who told her that the "100 year flood plain calculations are wrong in Pennsylvania and that’s why we’ve had these floods." Nicholas also said that this goes against the Twin Rivers Greenway agreement that the Township signed since the Greenway plan specifically cites this unnamed flood plain in Forks as to have nothing built in it. She noted too that the Township allowed Mr. Zawarski to build a road in the 100 year flood plain against its agreement with the Bushkill Conservancy. Nicholas was told that nothing is being built in it. The homes will be outside it and above it. Hay said that plan meets all the Federal, State, & Township stormwater regulations.

Howell said that he went to the site at 11 PM during Wednesday night’s 2" rain and that Newlins Road West was impassible. He thought that this plan was "putting the cart before the horse" and that the flooding problems for the downstream neighbors should be dealt with first.

Ackerman said that the water will not go all over the road like it does now. The developer is going to build a sod waterway to control where the water goes. Hay said that the 100 year flood does not mean a flood every hundred years but means "a 1 in 100 chance of that much water coming down."

Howell stated that he would rather see single family residences spread out on the higher ground. He added that single family homes are more attractive and he wished the developer would be satisfied with the money that could be made from them instead of from 36 townhomes.

Nicholas expressed her concern that the plan was going against the greenway plan that was agreed to by the Board. She further said that she doubted that anyone on the Board read the 150 page document. Kline said that the Board can only consider what’s in the Zoning Ordinance, the SALDO, and whether the plan meets all Federal and State criteria.

Ackerman said that he spent 30 years on the conservation board and that he worked with Hay and talked to the conservation district. Everyone he talked to said, "This plan will work."

Dean Turner (PC) asked if the new industrial area (to the northeast) drainage was being considered. Hay said that this is under review right now. Kline noted that Act 167 states that the post-development rate of water flow cannot be faster than the pre-development rate.

Turner also asked if the plantings to mark the flood plain were in the plan. Hay pointed out that they are on the drawing and will consist of "continuous" low shrubs. Nicholas asked that dimensions to the flood plain be delineated on the plan. The developer agreed.

The plan for 36 townhouses at the northeast corner or Newlins and Sullivan Trail was approved in a 3:2 vote with Nicholas and Howell dissenting.

SPEED LIMIT REDUCTION ON RICHMOND ROAD - The Board voted 5:0 to ask PennDot to do speed/traffic studies on both Richmond Road and Route 611. PennDot sets speed limits by determining what speed 85% of the cars are traveling and sets the limit within 5 mph of that. Hay further explained that if 85% of the cars are doing 50 mph and the speed limit is 45 mph, Penn Dot will never lower the speed limit to 35. If the limits are lowered on either road, the Township and not PennDot will be required to maintain the signs (on the roads with the changed speed limit).

RESOLUTION INSTALLATION OF BLINKING LIGHTS AT ARNDT ROAD AND BUSHKILL DRIVE - Hay explained that the Township will be responsible for financing and maintaining the blinking lights. The resolution was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

EAJSA/ACT 537 - INFLOW/INFILTRATION ORDINANCE & AGREEMENT - Hay said that this study will use flow meters to see where the the water is coming from (in the sewer lines). Kline said that there are leaks or cracks in the pipes that allow stormwater to enter the sewer pipes. This stormwater reduces the capacity of the sewage treatment plant. If the stormwater is not checked, the plant will need (expensive) expansion sooner rather than later. The study will cost $71,445 and the DEP will pay for half of it. Ackerman noted that there is money in the sewer fund for this. The ordinance was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an executive session to discuss the a personnel matter and potential litigation. Invited in (separately) were Finance Manager Farley, Police Chief Dorney, and Mel Hodges of Hodges Technologies.

Five votes were taken after the executive session:
  1. To hire Hodges Technologies, Inc to effectuate enhancement to the computer intrusion system including installation of GroupWise 7. The estimated cost is $4,000. Approved 5:0.
  2. To direct that the Forks Township computer network will be undergoing intrusion detection upgrades and during that period there will be no personal use of any computers until further notice. This policy is effective Monday AM 10/9/06. Solicitor Kline will prepare a 1 or 2 paragraph document to be sent via email to the Township for dissemination to all the employees on Friday. Approved 5:0.
  3. To indicate that effect Monday 10/9 there should be no downloads of screensavers and that it shall be made known to all employees that when the upgrade is accomplished all screensavers will be set to default values. Approved 5:0.
  4. Effective immediately all IT functions at Forks Township will be outsourced to Hodges Technologies for the purpose of intrusion detection. Approved 5:0.
  5. To direct Hodges Technologies to make additional recommendations to the Forks Township Board of Supervisors with the Board of Supervisors to establish a means to review these recommendations and adopt them as official policy of the Township. Approved 5:0.
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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