Sunday, November 19, 2006

BoS Meeting 11/16/2006

The November 16th meeting of the Board of Supervisors had a very long agenda. Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported. We will attempt to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas expressed her thanks to poll workers who volunteered and work long hours on election day. Nicholas said too, that she attended the Bushkill Creek Corridor Revitalization program at Lafayette College this past week and said that she expressed her hope that what they are doing downtown doesn’t stop at the Forks Township border. She was told that Lyons (Lions?) Park will be part of the project and that the bicycle path from downtown will connect into Forks bicycle path off of Bushkill Drive.
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 4:0. (Chairman/Supervisor Hoff was in attendance.)

Standing Committee Reports

Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - said that there were no committee meetings since the last Board of Supervisors meeting and that there will not be one the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. She said that she got a letter from the Forks Emergency Squad and they reported that they have been meeting with Dr. Binns and the EMS Council. They are working towards BLS licensing first and will go for ALS licensing in a few months. Nicholas said that the Board should be receiving a letter from Dr. Binns shortly. Supervisor/Chairman Hoff asked if the squad will come before the Board to request the BLS coverage. Nicholas said that they have to and that the Township also has to have a letter from Binns stating that the squad can do that.

Fire Chief - Tim Weis presented the Community Fire Company’s 2006 contribution towards the ladder truck, a check for $15,000, to Finance Manager Farley.

Police Chief - Greg Dorney updated the public in attendance about an email he sent to the Board detailing the grants he applied for this year. He succeeded in winning the following equipment grants for the police department:

  • National Drug Control Technology Assistance Center - Video Detective - a portable, real time video enhancement system with a value of $42,295 - included in the grant is training (with all expenses paid) in St. Louis, MO.
  • Office of Homeland Security - 2 ballistic shields - value of $6,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) Civil Disorder Kits - ballistic helmets and ballistic protection - valued at $24,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) Tactical Ballistic Blanket - valued at $35,000.
  • (Notified - receipt pending) 2 Baker Batshields - valued at $6,000.

Dorney said that there are several grants pending approval (passed first phase). Included in this group are:

Dorney reported the total of likely equipment grants in 2006 at approximately $172,000. After the applause Supervisor Don Miller asked Dorney if he thought the accreditation helped. Dorney said that in some of the applications that are scored, he would be "willing to bet that it does bump you up a little bit." Nicholas thanked Dorney "for doing a great job."

Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - reported that there was a meeting last night and that they worked on job descriptions. He will email them to the rest of the Board and suggested a workshop before the next Supervisors meeting. The workshop is scheduled for 7:00 PM on December 7th.

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.) Miller reported that there were approximately 5000 people in the park last weekend for the annual soccer tournament. He said that they were blessed with good weather and that it looked like a Renaissance fair. He added the league asked to have it every year in Forks. Miller declined because of the amount of work involved. It will be held in Moore Township next year. Miller said too that inside winter sports have begun and the community center is crowded.

Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he received the premier edition of the Forks Quarterly in the mail yesterday. He said that everyone "up here" (Supervisors and Staff) contributed 100% to it and that it was a challenge. Howell added that he was disappointed in the many delays but that they happened because it was the first time. He said that the first delay was in meeting the article deadline to the publisher and the 2nd delay was that the ads did not sell well initially. Howell said that in publishing every intermediate delay affects the finish date. He has been told by the publisher that advertisers are lining up for future editions.

Howell said that another delay happened 2 weeks ago when he saw galley proofs and wasn’t satisfied with the ad placements and the fact that the publisher failed to include one of the articles. They worked on it further and by reducing the font size and eliminating contact email addresses, managed to find space for the missing article. He said that he ordered production in order to get it out in the season that was wanted, fall. Had there been more delays, it would have become a winter edition.

There were a limited number of copies available to view. Each Supervisor had one. Mailing to Township residents should begin shortly, probably within the next 6 days.

Nicholas stated that she had not seen it and that the motion to adopt the quarterly stated that the Board was to approve it before publication. She said that it was not supposed to cost the taxpayers any money. Howell said he believed his motion said that the publication costs would not cost the taxpayers any money and that Ackerman brought that up at two meetings and it was clarified then. She said too, that she never saw (or wrote) the Letter From The Supervisors (the lead article).

Howell said that Public Safety never contacted him about any articles. He said he spoke at several meetings and sent email (to her) and got no response. Howell said that the deadline for content contributions was September 1st. He finally went directly to Dorney and Weis for articles. Howell said that all of this set everything back 1 month. Nicholas then asked, "So that disqualifies me from looking at the newsletter before it goes out?" Howell said "no" and that he made a judgement call or the paper would not have been out before December 15th.

Nicholas stated, "Before the next one comes out, I wish to see it. And, I don’t wish to have a letter saying From The Supervisors when I never read the letter." Howell said that she can write the next one if she wants to and that the content of the paper was done by her colleagues. He said, "I think that if you had been part of the process you might not be saying the things you’re saying tonight." He added that in the future final galleys will be given to the Board.

Nicholas said that she is concerned because the old newsletter contained things that were not "politically correct" and that it contained articles written by certain groups that were not supposed to be in government publications.

Howell also reported that the Community Relations Committee is contacting website providers (new ones as well as the current one) regarding the Township website in order to make it "more informative and easy to navigate."

Finance & Administration - David Hoff - said that the budget was the focus of their meeting last week. He added that they have implemented a process that involves zoning and finance. Of the zoning side Weis explained that they have streamlined their process for cash flow. Permits and all help needed for them will continue to come from the zoning department. Payments will be made on the administrative side of the building. Applicants will be able to write just 1 check which will save time in bookkeeping. Farley said that they will distribute the funds internally. - Hoff added that the next committee meeting will be on December 13th.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - asked the Board for approval to design and get bids for a concrete pad for the fire fighting facility on Glover Road. The Board thought that they had already okayed it but weren’t sure. At Solicitor Kline’s suggestion, they voted to ratify their previous okay and if there wasn’t one, to authorize it. The vote was 5:0.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - asked to discuss that day’s non-uniform employees collective bargaining session in Executive Session. Kline reported that the substantive zoning challenge by Kings Mill is continuing and that the next sessions are scheduled for December 4th and 18th at 7:30 PM in the Municipal Building. He added that the hearings are likely to go on through mid-2007 until all the testimony is concluded. At this point the challengers are still presenting their side of the case.

Comments from the Public

Ken Nagy - Dayton Drive, Forks Township - Mr. Nagy said that he was at the Suburban Water Authority meeting last Monday and that the proposed 25 year lease is a win for Easton and a loss for the suburbs. He said that for all practical purposes, this will subsidize Easton’s general budget. He told the Board that no one from any of the suburban areas voiced an opinion, for or against. Nagy said that Forks has lost total political control and that the entire water authority board is appointed by the City of Easton. He asked if the COG had "questioned this thing" and Ackerman replied, "No." Howell said that the chairman, Mr. Churchman, is a Forks resident and that there are other Forks residents on the Board. Nagy said that the City of Easton has 5 representatives on the Board and that there will be no equal vote for Forks.

Nagy’s second subject to the Board was the County’s Open Space. He said that what is in the paper is not at all what happens at County meetings and that the open space proposal is lopsided. The County is talking about giving $275,000 to Bushkill Township and Nagy said, "They are going to get it all for free." Nagy went on to say that Bushkill and Plainfield Townships are going to adopt Act 4 (where property taxes are frozen). He said that most people think that Act 4 only applies to farms and that that is not true. He said that it can apply to farms, environmentally sensitive areas, or anything "called open space that qualifies under the County program which is literally almost anything."

Nagy said that Forks will be paying ½ mil for this and that Forks will get nothing from it because its farmland soil, according to the County, is of "low quality." Ackerman said that that is not true. Nagy told the Board that he wished they would tell the County that they want to "bow out" because the ½ mil (about $40 on average) would be better used if the Township collected its own ½ mil. If it did that, the Township would not have to "beg, borrow, and plead with these people."

Nagy said that $18 million is going into the Easton project (Bushkill Creek Corridor Revitalization) and the majority of the money is going to assist a developer and to assist Lafayette College. He said that the Board, as representatives of the people, should not think of their responsibilities as ending at the border and he wished the Board would change its meeting nights so that they could attend the County Council meetings. Nagy concluded by telling the Board that Forks, Palmer, and Bethlehem Townships are nothing more than cash cows to the County.


POLICE DEPARTMENT/FIVE-YEAR PLAN - Nicholas said that Dorney expressed concern that the Board may have too many questions and that perhaps there should be a workshop to discuss it. She said that in the plan’s first year, 2 policeman will be hired and 4 new police cars will be purchased. In the second year there will be 3 new cars. The car purchases will alternate, 4 and 3 in subsequent years. Nicholas also said that Dorney thought that buying modular furniture for the patrol rooms would accommodate more patrolmen in the same space.

Hoff said that he would like to have a workshop so that the public can attend. Because of vacations and the upcoming holidays, the workshop was scheduled for January 18th at 6:30 PM (before the 7:30 BoS meeting.) The funding for the first year of the plan is covered in next year’s budget.

LIGHTNING PROTECTION - Hay said that he is working on this and will have a report at the next meeting. Farley said that they will be using a carryover from the construction account to pay for it.

DVR - REQUEST FOR PURCHASE - Nicholas said that the DVR for the Municipal Building was hit by lightening and is fuzzy and needs to be replaced. The fuzzy DVR will be kept as a backup. Nicholas said that the $6,975 price from ICU Security includes $175 for labor. Farley got prices (using an internet search) that ranged from $6,200 to $8,500. Nicholas added that she does not want to install the new one until surge protection is installed since the lack of lightning protection has already cost the Township $8,000. She also said that Keifer (ICU Security) told her that "if someone else is messing" with the equipment, it will void the warranty. Hoff asked Nicholas to find out if Keifer installs new equipment that the Township purchases (elsewhere) if there will be an impact on the warranty. It was decided that more information on the warranty is needed. This item will be on next meeting’s agenda. Three prices for the same piece of equipment are needed.

SURGE PROTECTORS - REQUEST FOR PURCHASE - Farley looked up lower prices (than $9,000 quoted by Keifer) for surge protection for the DVRs and all the cameras. The prices Farley got do not include installation. The warranty issue was raised and Kline said that they have "heard a lot about what Mr. Keifer is saying" but the Board needs to get it in writing. Howell said that he would like to see the actual manufacturer’s warranty. Nicholas said that she will get a written warranty. Hay added that he will report on surge protector specs at the next meeting. This will be on next meeting’s agenda.

KEYS - ACCESS TO BUILDING - Nicholas said that the other night she was asked to get cups out and couldn’t get them and everybody laughed at her. She added that Sandt (the other night) was "getting in all over the building and he’s an employee. Employees and janitors have more keys and access to the building than I do." Nicholas noted that there are security cameras all over the building except at the back door that the Supervisors use. Ackerman said that he would at least like a key to the front door because of meetings. Miller said that he has no objection to Supervisors having keys to the front door and made a motion to that effect. Nicholas seconded. Nicholas also said that she showed Ackerman and Sandt how to get into the zoning area (sliding out the little piece of wood on the doors over the counter). The motion passed 4:1. Howell cast the nay vote. Dorney will provide keys to any Supervisors who ask for them and record same on the master list (which the key holder must sign also).

SET PARK AND RECREATION MEETING DATE TO DISCUSS YOUTH DANCES - Miller said that the Athletic Association and Recreation Board want this resolved as soon as possible. There was a public work session scheduled and then cancelled because Nicholas could not attend. Miller thought that it would take more than one work session because there is much involved. He thought that they should hear both sides and that there are a lot problems as well as perceived problems and that they most work on solutions. The sessions will be open to the public and the public will be allowed to comment. At Howell’s suggestion to set a date, the Board selected 12/5 or 12/12 at 7:00 PM for the first session. Miller will let the Athletic Association and the Recreation Board choose one and he will inform the Board. The meeting will be advertised and listed on the Township website calendar.


FORT JAMES III - LOT CONSOLIDATION PLAN - Ackerman removed himself to the audience because his land is involved. Kline said that in addition to the lot consolidation, the preliminary subdivision plan is before the Board.

Hay said that the lot consolidation plan is simply joining the Brennan tract (100+ acres) and the Ackerman tract (16 acres) into one 123+/- acre tract. This was approved 5:0.

Kline said that the developer, J.G. Petrucci, is requesting approval of the preliminary major subdivision and it was before the PC on 10/13/06. It is for 19 lots and will be done in 2 phases. In the first, Braden Road (from Uhler) will stop at a cul de sac and Glover Road gets relocated and a stub road will be constructed from the main road to the Modern Concrete property. In phase 2, Braden will cross the rail line (pending Norfolk Southern approval) and connect to Kesslersville Road. If there is no railroad approval, the stub street will be connected to Glover.

Engineer (for the developer) Steve Pany explained that the Planning Commission wanted a road connecting to Kuebler between Georgia Pacific and Tioga Pipe instead of connecting to Glover Road. He said that Petrucci’s feeling is that a road through those commercial properties would substantially disrupt Tioga Pipe as well as prevent rail access to its property (and to Modern Concrete and to the MCS trucking facility).

Hay said that he agreed with the Planning Commission’s choice of Kuebler (without more than 30 seconds of thought.) But since then he’s met with the developer and the developer said that if Glover is to be used, the Glover/Padula intersection will be straightened out. Hay said that if that is done, he prefers that solution as rail service is critical to the development.

Jim Petrucci, president of J.G. Petrucci said that he recruited Tioga to Forks and during their talks, Tioga insisted that they be on a dead end cul de sac. He promised it to them. He also said that the railroad is using safety as an issue but in fact, there is a national policy to minimize rail crossings. Petrucci has hired the nationally known firm of Kirkpatrick, Lockhart, Nicholson & Graham to represent them in the Norfolk Southern negotiations as well as any with the PUC.

Dean Turner (Planning Commission) explained that the PC suggested Kuebler access because it is against condemning residential property for industrial purposes. They also felt that truck traffic was more suited to Kuebler.

Kline said that part of the PC’s recommendation was because 18 of the 19 lots are in phase 1 and extending Braden Boulevard is in phase 2. If phase 1 is done, the Township would have no leverage to get the developer to work at getting the rail crossing. Another of the PC’s recommendations was that Braden be connected to Kesslersville within 5 years and if they failed, "after a good faith effort," to get the rail crossing, then Kuebler should be the secondary access along the property line between Georgia Pacific and Tioga Pipe. Kline said that he got an extremely strong letter from Tioga’s council opposing that roadway. Staff then met and discussed other alternatives including straightening Glover. That involves taking land from Modern Concrete and Modern Concrete is amenable to it because they want rail service.

Turner added that the PC recommended that the Board write a letter to the PUC recommending the rail crossing because the Braden extension is the Township’s first choice.

The Board voted 4:0 (Ackerman was in the audience) to grant approval of the preliminary major subdivision subject to Keystone’s letter and that Braden connect to Kesslersville in 5 years and if a good faith effort to get the rail crossing fails, the developer must build a secondary access road to Glover and must straighten out the kink in Glover Road to the satisfaction of the Township engineer.

VICTAULIC CO. OF AMERICA - LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - The plan for a single story office addition to the manufacturing plant was approved 5:0. Howell asked if the addition will accommodate new employees and was told that Victaulic will be relocating 20-25 employees from its Allentown facility.

PENN’S RIDGE PRD - ACCEPTANCE OF ROADS IN PHASES 5, 6, 7, & 8 - Kline said that the roads are completed and inspected and that the deeds of dedication are in order. Kline also said that the Board had a resolution to vote on to apply for the Liquid Fuels credit. Hoff asked about whether or not this was too late for Liquid Fuels credit and was told that it was but that the developer has agreed to pay the "lost" amount to the Township. The Board approved the Resolution in a 5:0 vote. There was discussion about not plowing the roads until the money is received. It was incorporated into a motion, no payment, no plowing. It passed 5:0.

FORKS CVS LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - TIME EXTENSION - Kline explained that the developer is proceeding with both plans (CVS and Weis Market) and that granting this extension is a way of slowing the CVS process. Hay said that the PC recommended final approval and Turner said that it was preliminary approval and that a conditional use hearing must be held for the CVS. Turner noted that there are two different developers, Lidia Development for CVS and SamCar for the Weis Market. They have the same principals. The extension is until March 31, 2007. It passed 5:0.

DARWIN SMITH - MODIFY PLAN - Hay said that Dale Reinert Custom Homes has asked for a waiver of note #13 on the original Darwin Smith plan for 6 lots. Note #13 restricted the driveway placement for 5 lots (the 6th is the Smith home). The lots are on Old Mill Road between Indian Trail and Wagonwheel and the driveways will be on Old Mill. Weis said that there was a grading issue with the old plan. Kline said that generally driveways are placed on the up side of the lots. The PC recommended approval as long as the front entry garages have driveway provisions for k-turns. It passed 5:0.

FORKS VILLAGE SUBDIVISION, PHASE 2 - DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline said that the developer’s agreements, letter of credit, certificate of insurance, and escrow are in order. This passed 5:0.

WAGNER/YMCA LAND DEVELOPMENT - DEVELOPER’S AGREEMENTS - Kline said that the developer’s agreements are signed and the letter of credit , certificate of insurance and escrow are in order. Howell said he hopes the Township will do a traffic study of the area because it’s a dangerous road. He added that it’s a wonderful adaptive reuse of the building. This passed 5:0.

VERIZON EASEMENT AT FROST HOLLOW PUMP STATION - Hay said that this has been going on for a long time. It is on Township land off of Meadow Lane and will allow Verizon to serve Riverview Estates Phase 7. It passed 5:0.

STOCKERTOWN FIRE COVERAGE - Kline stated that the Township received notice that Stockertown had rescinded the Liberty Hose Fire Company’s sanction to provide fire protection service in the Borough. He said that Stockertown contacted Tim Weis (after the fact) to ensure that Forks would provide coverage on an emergency basis.

Kline said that he spoke with Stockertown’s solicitor, Gary Asteak, who told him that the Borough owns the fire vehicles, the building, and some of the equipment. He also said that the Borough is looking at ways to resurrect the fire company or forming another fire company. They will need coverage for some time.

Kline further said that the Board could agree to provide fire and rescue coverage to the Borough for a specific time period and if it takes Stockertown longer than the specified period, the Township should be reasonably compensated. He suggested that the Board appoint representatives to discuss this with Stockertown. Asteak told Kline that Stockertown has already appointed 2 representatives, Mr. Zaboy and Jack Fatzinger.

Nicholas said that she spoke with Amy Richards on Thursday and told her that it would have to be a Board decision. She said that she heard about it from a webpage and that there were emails between Hoff, Howell, Weis, and Kline but that no one informed her, the head of the Public Safety Committee. Hoff said that she is head of Public Safety for Forks and that does not automatically include her in discussions between municipalities. Hoff said, "Get over it."

Nicholas said that she could have been copied on the emails and Hoff countered that she wants to know everything immediately but doesn’t discuss anything with anyone. She said that the committees do not work. Hoff said that he finds "it amusing that the Rec. Committee can’t meet with the Athletic Association without the Board." Hoff said too, that he wondered when Public Works was going to tell the Board about demoting a crew chief and promoting someone else 7 months ago.

Howell said that he’s known Amy Richards since before he was a Supervisor and she called him and talked with him "under confidentiality" a few days before the meeting. She was concerned about the vote and what their options would be. Howell said he immediately communicated to the Board chairman (because it involved an outside municipality) and to the solicitor. Howell added that "the committee system works" and that it works under the direction of the Board.

Nicholas said, "Obviously the flow of communication does not work." "You’re right," Hoff said, "Public Works is a perfect example."

Hoff made a motion recommending that the Board agree to the minimum requested coverage time and that a committee be formed to begin discussions with Stockertown. After the second, Turner asked who takes care of vehicle rescue on Route 33 near Stockertown. Hoff said that Stockertown covers a 3 mile stretch and that it will be included in the agreement.

Nicholas wanted to add to the motion that the committee be composed of the two people on the 2007 safety committee, herself and whoever rotates in. Hoff said that even though he rotates in, he doesn’t not believe this to be a Public Safety committee issue. Hoff said that because he’s been involved with the fire company for the last ten years, he would like to be part of the discussions. Hoff said that he will agree to the amendment that will add himself and Nicholas, assigned by the Board (and not as Public Safety committee members), to the committee to meet with Stockertown’s representatives.

This passed 5:0. Kline will inform Asteak.

VIDEO SURVEILLANCE - Nicholas said that there is a broken camera on top of a pole in the parking lot. It was hit by lightning. The extent of the damage is unknown until the camera is taken down and checked. Hoff suggested that the Facilities Manager talk to ICU Security about it.

ORDINANCE NO. 300 - AMENDMENT TO POWERS & DUTIES OF TOWNSHIP MANAGER - Kline said that this was advertised and ready for the Board to adopt. It passed 5:0.

RESOLUTION NO. 061116-2 - DISASTER RELIEF AND EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE ACT - Kline explained that the County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Lehigh Valley requires that each municipality adopt this resolution. It passed 5:0.

Nicholas announced the Kiwanis tree lighting is scheduled for Sunday, December 3rd at 7:00 PM in front of the Municipal Building. Students from local schools will be providing music and Santa will arrive on a fire truck. Donations of food, socks, book bags, and hooded sweatshirts will go to Project Easton.

2007 BUDGET - TENTATIVE ADOPTION - Hoff said that there have been many budget work sessions and that the proposed budget is for $7,081,764. The proposed budget does not contain a tax increase. Hoff noted that the Board had a copy of a letter from the County Assessment Office and that their calculation for real estate tax differed from the amount in the budget. He asked Farley to take a look at it. Nicholas said that at the Supervisors’ meeting at the Pomfret Club, she learned that the County is reassessing houses and that might account for the difference. Hoff said that each year the Township gets an assessed value and that they didn’t have it when the budget process was started. The budget was tentatively adopted in a 5:0 vote.

Howell noted that the Board had a copy of a letter sent by Weis to Mr. Riker of the Easton School District regarding continuing parking violations in the fire lanes at Shawnee Middle School. Howell asked if it would be appropriate for Forks police to check several times a week and keep a log of violations. This way, when Riker says that it’s been taken care of, and it hasn’t, he can be told of the violations.

There was an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss the non-uniform employees contract negotiations and personnel matters.

After the Executive Session, at which no action was taken, the Board said that they discussed the work done by the management staff in the absence of a Township Manager. The Board then voted the following raises and bonuses to management:

  • Police Chief Greg Dorney - $6,000 bonus and 8% raise.
  • Human Resources Manager, Barbara Bartek - $3,000 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Finance Manager, Jim Farley - $3,000 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Zoning Officer, Tim Weis - $1,500 bonus and 4% raise.
  • Director of Public Works, Gary Sandt - 4% raise.

The bonuses will be paid in the first pay period in December. 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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