Sunday, January 29, 2006

PC Public Hearing - Zoning Ordinance - 1/24/06

On Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Forks residents (and some non-residents too) had their first opportunity to ask the Planning Commission and their paid consultant, Charlie Schmehl from Urban Research & Development Corporation (URDC), questions about the proposed new Zoning Ordinance. This was the first of two public hearings.

It was a night of revelations; we learned what concerns Forks folks. Mostly what brought people out and made them ask questions was that some form of the new ordinance might impact them. Here are some of the asked questions:

Q. - What about a buffer between the Town Center District and my adjacent residential property?
A: There is a 70' setback requirement.

Q - What about the new 100 foot buffer requirement on my high-end manufactured home development next to a deed restricted industrial property?
A: The project has been before us for a while, there are very clear ways to proceed. (Solicitor Karl Kline in reference to the manufactured home development off of Kesslersville Road.) Attorney Danny Cohen (sic) announced that the developer (Jenks of Jacob’s Farm) filed his plan that morning (therefore, old rules).

Q. - What about the 2 acre restriction of Act 319 and my farm in the Farmland Preservation District?
A: Simple, just do a subdivision for one acre and put a conservation easement on another similar sized area of your farm. In fact you can do a whole series of one acre lots that way.

Q. What about the way sign square footage is measured?
A: For wall or neon signs, it is clarified to be the smallest rectangle or other regular geometric shape that can be drawn around the total word(s) (eg. the square footage of a rectangle around Walgreens).

Some of the features of the new Zoning Ordinance include:

  • Changes to the density allowance in all districts, notably in the FP where the minimum lot size changes from 2 acres to 3 acres unless a "cluster" plan is presented and then the lots can be one acre in size as long as 50% of the development is open space.
  • Golf courses are now allowed in the FP District.
  • No new housing will be permitted in the Town Center District.
  • Minimum lot sizes in the Heritage Corridor (Bushkill Creek) and the Riverfront Conservation (Delaware) Districts are increased to 1 acre.
  • Auto sales and auto repair are no longer allowed in the Heritage Corridor District.
  • Age restricted housing will be permanently restricted by deed and by lease.
  • Drive-through fast food restaurants are now permitted in the Employment Center Districts (with setback restrictions from residential areas and from the FP District.)
The objectives of the new ordinance as described by Schmehl are to achieve balance in land uses and to provide an adequate tax base. This ordinance intends to maintain open space and to preserve the rural nature of Forks.

The revelations? - Kings Mill, LLC was represented by Attorney Dennis Benner, the same Dennis Benner who presented the overlay zoning sketch to the Planning Commission public meeting in August. He referred to the new ordinance as "confiscatory" and as something that will prevent young people from buying homes here since they will be too expensive. He objected to the three acre lot sizes in the FP District and informed the PC that the Kings Mill partnership now owns a "material" portion (about 500 acres) of total FP acreage. He added that Kings Mill filed a plan for development of that acreage in December under the old (2 acre lot size restrictions). He said that there will by 185 houses there.

(Note: We do not know if the 185 homes and acreage designated for them is the same "alternative" plan presented in August, the permitted "by-right" plan on the 380 original acres. Or - if the new plan covers all 500 acres. Because of the time constraints invoked once a plan has been submitted for review, we anticipate that this version will come before the PC at their next meeting on February 9, 2006 at 7:30 PM. Anyone who is interested in how this comes out is urged to attend.)

And, the quote of the night: PC Chairman Vito Tamborrino after thanking Charlie Schmehl for all of his hard work over the time it took to develop the new ordinance and after saying that the main goal is open space said, "We don’t have to lay down and die in terms of people coming in here developing." The Planning Commission voted 5:0 to adopt the new ordinance as is.

It is important to note too, that projects already underway or in the hands of the Township for consideration, are still under the old zoning rules. Uses that are no longer permitted in a given district, but already exist there, are also protected. The new Zoning Ordinance applies for "new" projects only. Existing lot sizes need not be changed if they do not meet the minimum new size but projects on them must conform in every other way to the new ordinance.

The Zoning Ordinance Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7, 2006 at 7:00 PM. There will be a 30 minute informal open house in the new Municipal Building before the meeting. If you haven’t been inside yet, these meetings are good opportunities to check out the new digs. The Municipal Building (in this writers’ opinion) is very, very nice.

Please read
Sarah Mausolf’s (Express Times) and Joe Nixon’s (Morning Call) articles for more on the Planning Commission Zoning Ordinance Public Hearing.

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.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

BoS Meeting 1/19/06

The Board of Supervisors had a long night on January 19, 2006. It began with an EXECUTIVE SESSION at 6:00 PM followed by a WORKSHOP at 7:00 PM and the regular meeting at 7:30 PM. It was the last meeting to be held in the OLD (soon-to-be-demolished) Municipal Building. And, it was an especially important meeting. Both Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) were there. Please read their articles.


After the Executive Session Solicitor Karl Kline announced that its purpose was to address a personnel issue and a threatened litigation and that no action was taken.


The half hour workshop was dominated with questions from Acting Chairman John Ackerman. He was not at the meeting on 12/29/06 when most of the questions were already posed. Vice Chairman David Howell answered all of his questions and explained that the differences between the current liaison structure and the proposed standing committees structure are "mind boggling." He noted too, that in the current liaison structure there are no defined roles and/or responsibilities for Supervisors.

Ackerman asked how Howell could know that the liaison structure isn’t working since he wasn’t involved in it. Howell explained that he talked with 6 former Supervisors spanning the years 1965-97 and talked to other Supervisors too. They all felt that the committee proposal had merit. He explained that a Supervisor will be on a committee to advise, observe, and comment not to run the day to day operations. They will report back to the Board and this will formalize how they do things.

The liaison structure (where one Supervisor acts as the link between a single department and the BoS and where that Supervisor stays for years and years and years) will be replaced by Standing Committees composed of two Supervisors and managers and department heads representing related areas. Supervisors will rotate every two years to another Committee. Year one will be the exception; one of the two Supervisors on a given Committee will have a one year term and the other a two year term.

Howell further discussed the specific committees and said that in his proposal he has combined fire and police and EMS into one committee, Public Safety. The other committees are Finance & Administration, Parks & Recreation, Public Works, and the new one, Community Relations. He described the Community Relations committee as the one between the Board and "the community-at-large which includes school districts, other municipalities, the citizens of Forks, other councils and committees where we (the Board) feel a relationship should be maintained."

Additional pluses for the new committee structure include: transparency in government (Open Government), continuity for long term planning, and Supervisors who are familiar with all aspects of the Township government that they head.

Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that the Township has no control over EMS, that they are volunteers as is the Fire Department and that all of the volunteers work at jobs.


  • Supervisor David Hoff stated that the office is well prepared to begin the move to the new Municipal Building tomorrow(1/20/06).
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that Chief Dorney is not yet in charge of the card key system. Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that it will be turned over to him next week. She explained that the delay is due to waiting for all three buildings to be networked and that up until it is, Alex (Gale) has been in handling the card keys. Nicholas put it on record that since Dorney is not yet in charge he is not responsible for the card keys (until it is turned over to him.) Nicholas said that Dorney has two more doors in the Police Department that he would like card keys systems on (the doors were wired for swipe boxes but they were not installed.)
  • Nicholas also said that there is a part-time front desk position for the Police Department in the budget and she would like the position advertised. Kichline will take care of the advertisement and it will be on next week’s agenda.
  • Nicholas asked if the Township could purchase a digital recorder so that meeting recordings can be kept on file. Currently the meeting tapes are erased and reused right after the Minutes are approved. Kichline added that once the Minutes are approved, they become the "live document." Kline noted that there are pros and cons for keeping a record of everything that was said at every meeting. He said that the tapes are used to make sure that the minutes are accurate but "who knows what someone could use those tapes for one year, two years, four years down the line." He said that the Board should take everything into consideration before changing that policy.
  • Nicholas also suggested that at every meeting the Board tackle making priorities and procedures and she thought that the first one should be "job descriptions." After job descriptions, she suggested reviewing purchasing policies and other policies and procedures. Supervisor Hoff said that the committee structure will facilitate that.
  • Supervisor Don Miller said that things are going full blast in the Community Center and that the new parking lot behind the old Giant (former Laneco) is open and is being used.
  • Acting Chairman John Ackerman questioned the $19K payment to Tim Merwarth (on the financial statement) and was told by Kichline that he closed out his Sullivan’s March escrow account.
  • Kichline announced that the move to the new building may result in limited service to the residents on Friday afternoon (1/20/06) and she reminded everyone to use the Sullivan Trail entrance to the new complex as the entrance from the park will be closed for a limited time. She also noted that the Community Day Meeting on Monday, 1/23/06 will be the first meeting in the new building.
  • Kichline wondered if she should make arrangements for a sale or auction of what is left in the old Municipal Building. She said that she would prefer tagging things. Kline said that it is probably okay to do that and he will look into it and get back to her. Kichline remarked that they do not want to heat the building after the move.
  • Kichline also told the Board that she received a phone call from a resident on the corner of Newlins and Kesslersville Roads (and Destiny Lane) who wants a guardrail installed because of accidents at the intersection. Kichline asked Hay, Dorney and Sandt to take a look at the intersection. She remarked that there is adequate site distance at that four-way stop intersection. Ackerman said that he can offer the homeowner a few large rocks from his farm.
  • Chief Greg Dorney wants the accreditation committee to come to the 2/16/06 BoS meeting to present the department’s certificate. There was no objection from the Board. Dorney also said that there have been in excess of 100 robberies in the LV over the last few months, mostly at banks, and the Police Department had Forks bank representatives in for training including identity theft procedures. Dorney is hoping to tie this program in with other businesses in the Township. Lastly, he said that he has a grant to attend a police development executive course administered by Penn State University in Fort Indiantown Gap. He also has received a grant for the advanced level course in May. Corporal Grifo will be the officer in charge while he is away.
  • Zoning Officer/Fire Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Weis said that they are in the process of setting up the required training for NIMS - the National Incident Management System - for Township Supervisors and Township employees. This is tied to Federal funding "down the road." He said that they will hold a class for employees in Forks but if anyone is unable to attend that there will be nighttime classes at NCC.
  • DPW Director Gary Sandt reported that he has been informed by a District representative from Penn Dot that they hope to have stop signs or whatever Fred (Hay) set up, in place on Bushkill Drive within a week. Hay said he sent nothing to them.
  • Finance Manager Jim Farley noted that the Athletic Association data will be included in the Township database. He added that 2005 has been rolled to 2006 and that they are "hitting the ground running." He also said that the auditors meetings will begin on 1/30/06.
  • Solicitor Karl Kline discussed the inter-municipality liquor license transfer request by BW Forks, Inc. That is Big Woody’s and they are going to be the operators of the new sports bar in Towne Center I. (That’s the commercial project between the Jackson Farm and Pitchfork Nursery which will also house a hardware store, a Walgreens, a Goddard School, and a Quisnos - all in front of the housing development to come.) Kline explained that they have requested the required public hearing (for a liquor license transfer). It is tentatively scheduled for 2/2/06 at 7:00 PM.
  • Supervisor C. David Howell pointed out that the debt amount shown on the agenda is now below $9 million. He asked too, if email is "correspondence" and was told that it is.


PERMANENT STANDING COMMITTEES PROPOSAL - The discussion (from the Workshop) continued with Nicholas noting that the Township is not in charge of EMS. Howell stated that EMS is the third arm of public safety in the Township and that there are occasions when each area has to come together as a group. He added that the Standing Committee has a scope of responsibility not a scope of control or administration. Supervisor David Hoff stated that the Safely Committee met over issues "as needed" and was very successful. He added that EMS met with them from the beginning and that the Safety Committee was able to resolve a lot of things that did not have to come before the Board.

Nicholas asked if there will be a written structure for every committee. Howell said that they are just creating the committees framework now - then they will fine tune the responsibilities.

Miller said that he liked what Howell has done and is probably 90% behind it. His concern was that Supervisors in the past were in areas in which they felt comfortable and the new guy got what was left. Howell asked him to suppose he (Howell) was a civil engineer and retired road builder, would he (Miller) appoint him over Ackerman for Public Works - probably not because he’s the new guy. He said that he doesn’t think assignments to liaisons should be to serve the personal interests of the Supervisors but to serve the community.

The department managers and directors present were polled. Dorney said that the opportunity to brainstorm is a great idea. Weis stated that organizations working together and brainstorming is great. Sandt said that it is worth a try. And, Farley said that in his Fortune 500 experience, one of its biggest benefits to a committee system is soliciting the "buy in" of others to work on problems. Two audience members made comments too, one said that "multi-tasking is worth a try" and the other suggested that they try it for a year.

Howell’s original motion to establish five Standing Committees also included changing the Community Center Co-ordinator’s title to Director of Parks & Recreation since he (Don Miller) does indeed do the work of a director. That proviso was removed from the motion at the suggestion of Nicholas and a vote was taken. It passed 5:0.

APPOINT DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF - Bryan Weis was reappointed Deputy Fire Chief in 5:0 vote.


ESTATES AT STERLING HILL/FINAL PLAN - Developer Jim Seitz and his representative described the Final Plan before the Board for 135 homes on 68 acres at the corner of Mitman and Arndt Roads. The Board was told that they added a recreation lot towards the center of the site and that the project will have a homeowners association. Kline noted that preliminary plan approval was granted on March 3, 2005 and that on 12/8/06 the PC rejected this Final Plan without explanation. Planner Erik Chuss was in attendance and explained his vote to reject - he said he objected to the driveways on Mitman Road. Kline stated that it was approved at the preliminary and "you can’t just remove that." It was approved in a 5:0 vote subject to Engineer Fred Hays’ review letter.

RIVERVIEW RECREATION CENTER/FINAL PLAN - Sal Panto, Strausser representative, appeared before the Board to ask for Final Plan approval for the private Riverview Recreation Center. He said that the center will have a bath house, a meeting room for the homeowners association, a swimming pool, basketball, tennis & sand volley ball courts, a pavilion, open space, and parking. As to the cul-de-sac, he said that they have left it where they originally proposed it because Kline told him that if they moved it from the preliminary plan location, they would have to re-file. He said that this location will work better "for the many ideas we have for that area." The private cul-de-sac will not be built until the rest of the site development is underway. It will be owned by the homeowners association and thus, no snow easement will be necessary. Until the rest of the site is developed and the cul-de-sac is built, there will be a temporary private road to the clubhouse and parking area. Strausser will extend Ramblewood Road to Newlins Road and dedicate it to the Township as a public road. Hay pronounced it a "very clean plan" and recommended approval. The subdivision into two lots as well as the land development were approved in 5:0 votes subject to Hay’s review letter.

KNOLLWOOD ESTATES (Phase 2) - TIME EXTENSION/PRELIMINARY SUBDIVISION - Developer Zawarski and his representatives described this plan as on the northern part of the Gertner Farm. It will have 113 lots on 65 acres with open space along the swale. The culvert crossing that they must install has come under DEP scrutiny and review and until they have the DEP permits, the plan is subject to change. The PA Fish & Game Commission became involved also and wanted a fish ladder in the swale. Ackerman remarked that he’d never seen fish swim in grass. That request was overcome. DEP is requiring an additional storm sewer pipe where the swale meets Zucksville Road. Also, the developer will continue Mitman Road as shown on the Comprehensive Plan.

Howell asked about the process and Zawarski’s representative explained that the developer grants the time extension, not the Board. He said that the BoS has 90 days to act on a plan unless the developer grants an extension. If the extension is not granted the Board is forced into action on the plan, either denial or approval.

Kline added that the "staff" (Hay, Kichline, Weis, and the Chairman of the Planning Commission) meet on Monday before a PC meeting to establish the agenda and that they go over "all of these things" and that they recommended that extension. Planner Chuss added that the PC requested an update on this plan at its December meeting for their January meeting. It was not provided to them so that they had no knowledge of the status of the plan and the complications with DEP and therefore recommended rejecting the time extension. Kline said that to his knowledge that request was never made known to the developer. The developer said that his engineer will be directed to give monthly status reports to the PC.

The Board accepted the (90 day) time extension in a 5:0 vote. This plan will go back before the PC for their input and comment.

MET-ED RESOLUTION: PENN’S RIDGE, PHASES 5, 6, & 8 - Met-Ed requires an ordinance in order to activate the energy for street lights. This passed in a 5:0 vote.


ORDINANCE NO. 295/TWO RIVERS COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS CONSIDER FOR ADOPTION - Kline explained the Two Rivers Council of Governments was formed in 1999 and that the Township’s participation had a sunset provision. This ordinance is necessary to continue Forks’ membership and that it will continue unless the Township gives a 30 day notice. It conforms to the language of the agreement. It was properly advertised and passed in a 5:0 vote.

There was no other business 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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

One Person's Opinion

Don Dal Maso's proposal for school district impact assessments by municipalities has indeed received some welcome press lately. He has detailed some of it in edition #3 of his newsletter, One Person's Opinion.

Don's written to F.A.C. with the time and place of the UMBT Board of Supervisors meeting in which his proposal is an agenda item. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 23, 2006 at 7:00 PM in the UMBT Municipal Building on Sand Pit Road off of Rte. 512. For driving directions (courtesy of Don)
click here.

He said that the originally scheduled presentation - the one discussed in the
Express Times for 1/9/06 didn't happen. Lots of people came though! There was some confusion about the schedule and now it is officially on the agenda for the 23rd. He hopes that people from nearby communities will come to learn more about it and to support it too (of course.) Apparently a good number of those who made it to the 1/9/06 meeting, were not proponents. No, they were not. Do try to attend. It's important to your future. Heck, it could happen here!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

So Far In January... The Short Version

The Township Municipal Building has been a busy place during the first two weeks of January. The Board of Supervisors had their re-organization meeting and filled the vacancies on the appointed boards and commissions. The Elected Auditors met to set the pay rates of working Supervisors (those who work for the Township in other capacities) and gave them the same 4% raises that other Township employees are receiving in 2006.

The Zoning Hearing Board rejected the three variance requests by CVS (project now called Forks Commons), one for two uses on one lot, another for relief from the loading area requirement for the proposed fast food restaurant, and the third for relief from landscape requirements for the CVS loading area. CVS subsequently withdrew its request for Conditional Use from the Planning Commission agenda and for a
Conditional Use Hearing by the BoS on 1/19/06. The new zoning ordinance, when approved, will allow two uses on one lot.

The Planning Commission voted to reject a time extension granted by Knollwood Estates Phase 2. The rejection was based on Fred Hay's (Keystone Engineering) letter from the summer of 2005 and the agenda item was for a Preliminary Subdivision. The planners felt that they hadn’t heard from anyone regarding the plan since last August and enough was enough. It will now go before the BoS and the Board can decide whether or not to accept the time extension. If they do, it will go back to the PC for recommendations. If they do not, the developer must resubmit plans. Two of the Supervisors were in the audience, Ackerman and Howell.

Dean Turner (PC) asked during the re-organization session, if the PC or the BoS was responsible for appointing the PC solicitor and engineer. Tamborrino told him that it was the Board’s role and Kline added that the Board did it at their last meeting.

A resident of Meadowlane Drive addressed the PC and told them that he will be losing three huge trees to Riverview Estates West developer Segal & Morel. Apparently the stone fence-row is wider than noticed when the project was under discussion and Segal & Morel’s promise not to touch the trees is not practical (for S&M). Zoning Officer Tim Weis will talk to the developer and remind them of their promise.

UMBT will have Don Del Maso’s proposal to assess school district impact fees on its 1/23/06 agenda. As soon as we know the time and location of the meeting, we will note it here on the FAC blog as well as on our website. Please contact him directly if you want to know more. He’ll be happy to hear from you.

The new Municipal Building will be open for business on Monday, January 23, 2006. The Township's website cautions all residents to use the Sullivan Trail entrance as the park entrance will be closed. We do not know if that is a permanent condition or just a temporary one.

There are a more details about all of the above on the
Forksaction website. And, if you are curious about where a project is or what stage it's in, there is a chart of recent projects on the News Page. Check it out and don’t forget to vote in this week's survey!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

BoS Re-Org Meeting & Interviews 1/3/06


This evening's schedule began at 5:30 PM with candidate interviews for the three Planning Commission vacancies. A total of seven candidates submitted letters of interest to the Board and of them, six were interviewed. The seventh, Vito Tamborrino, went on record at the last Board meeting announcing that the request for an interview was "insulting." He was not interviewed. The other incumbent, John Castrovinci, Principal at Forks Elementary School, apparently had no issue with the process and took part willingly.

Those interviewed possess very impressive backgrounds. One is an archeologist who has spent the last 25 years of his career as a cultural resource manager working with planners and engineers. Another has years of experience serving on school boards in neighboring NJ. Still another is a small business owner and Delaware River Keeper. Another is a civil engineer who is involved in the planning aspects of government; his specialty is sewer and water, and in particular, storm-water. And, yet another is a chemical engineer with an MBA in Finance, Accounting, and Strategy!

They are indeed an exceptionally well qualified group of candidates. Most were asked if they would consider the position on the Zoning Hearing Board if not selected for the Planning Commission and most said that they would. One additional person applied only for the Zoning Hearing Board and was also interviewed.

Henning Holmgaard, former Supervisor whose term expired 12/31/05, was interviewed for the Vacancy Board slot. Alex Banas, incumbent and candidate for the Recreation Board did not attend.

After the interviews, the Board discussed the candidates (in public view - but not in earshot) amongst themselves. They met informally in the front of the room behind the meeting table.

At 7:00 PM President Judge Robert A. Freedberg officiated at the swearing-in of our newest elected officials, Supervisor C. David Howell, Elected Auditor James Craig, and Tax Collector June Vail.


Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony the Board of Supervisors held their annual Re-Organization Meeting. They began with an EXECUTIVE SESSION to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken and the meeting resumed.

Normally they convene, nominate and elect Board officers, and then vote on other municipal appointments. This year though, they were unable to agree on who should be Board Chairperson. Sarah Mausolf from the Express Times and Joe Nixon from the Morning Call were there. Their articles tell it all! Please read them both.

First Nicholas nominated Ackerman for Chairman, then Hoff nominated Miller. Ackerman got two votes, his own and Nicholas’. Miller got two votes, Hoff’s and Howell’s. Miller, true to his past actions, would not vote for himself. So... yes, it went on like that for a while. Howell nominated Hoff, Miller and Howell voted for him. Hoff wouldn’t vote for himself. Howell suggested a recess. Hoff nominated Howell - it died for lack of a second. No one else nominated anyone and Solicitor Kline noted that Ackerman would have to finish the meeting as Chairman (and act as such until a new Chairman is elected) in order for the meeting to continue.

Nicholas then nominated Miller as Vice Chairman, Ackerman and Nicholas voted for him and Hoff opposed with two abstentions (Howell and Miller.) Then Hoff nominated Howell. Howell won 5:0.

PNC Bank and PLGIT were voted in as depositories of Forks Township.

All of the (successful) elections and appointments were unanimous except one, Township Manager. Here’s how it came out:

Chairman - NONE elected (almost all Supervisors were nominated at one point or another and not one got more than two votes)
Vice Chairman - C. David Howell
Township Manager - Cathy Kichline (3:2 with Supervisors Ackerman and Nicholas casting the "no" votes)
Solicitor - Karl Kline ($120.00/hr)
Township Engineer - Keystone Consulting Engineers ($84.00)
Auditor(s) - France, Anderson, Basile & Company, P.C.
Earned Income and E.M.S. Tax Collector - Mary Ann Kessler
Assistant Collector - Anne Bennett-Morse
Mercantile Tas Collector - Sandi Rossi

The 2006 meeting schedules for the Board and for the Planning Commission were set also. The BoS will meet on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of the month at 7:30 PM with a possible 3rd meeting (if necessary) on the 4th Thursday. Thirty or sixty minute workshops may be scheduled before or immediately after the regular meetings. The Planning Commission will meet on the 2nd Thursday at 7:30 PM and their workshop sessions, which will be treated in the same manner as regular meetings, are set for the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM.

PEMA’s Emergency Operations Plan was adopted.

More Appointments:

Emergency Management Coordinator - Tim Weis
Assistant Emergency Management Coordinators - Greg Dorney & Cathy Kichline
The Board voted to approve payment of routine bills that may have penalties or interest if they are not paid before the next BoS meeting. The Municipal Building's daily hours (open the public) were set at 7:30-4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Office employees’ hours range between 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Hours for the Director of Public Works can vary from the standard hours.

Yet More Appointments:

Vacancy Board - Henning Holmgaard (1 year term)
Planning Commission - Carl Dicker (unexpired term 2007)
Planning Commission - John Castrovinci (incumbent - 4 year term)
Planning Commission - Vito Tamborrino (incumbent - 4 year term - 3:2 vote with Howell and Nicholas voting "no")
Zoning Hearing Board - Ron Asteak (unexpired term 2007)
Recreation Board - Alex Banas (5 yr term)
Secretary/Treasurer of the General Fund and Office liaison - David Hoff
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer of the Gen. Fund - Cathy Kichline
Department of Public Works liaison - John Ackerman
Police liaison - Bonnie Nicholas
Recreation Department liaison - Donald Miller
Fire Department liaison - C. David Howell
Fire Chief - Tim Weis (also Fire Marshall)
Deputy Fire Chief - Ackerman said that "we are going to hold off"
Zoning Enforcement Officer & Plumbing & Building Inspector - Tim Weis
Flood Plain Permit Officer - Chris Noll (and alternate Fred Hay) - Keystone Consulting Engineers
Assistant Zoning Officers - Loretta Fuehrer & Matt Miller
Sewage Enforcement Officer - Chris Noll (sic) with Fred Hay as alternate, Keystone Consulting Engineers
Electrical Inspectors - David Shields (sic), Keystone Electrical Inspectors

The Wages & Benefits Packages of the Collective Bargaining Unit for police and non-uniform was accepted and the Re-Organization Meeting was adjourned.


The regular meeting was very short. There were no REPORTS, no DEBITS AND TRANSFERS, no COMMENTS FROM THE FLOOR (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) and no NEW OR OLD BUSINESS. There was a Penn State football game though. So after the approval of the revised Minutes (4:0 with 1 abstention by Hoff who was not at that meeting) from the 12/15/05 meeting, this 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.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

BoS Meeting 12/29/05

The Board of Supervisors held a special meeting on December 29, 2005 to pass the 2006 operating budget and to discuss and act on several other unresolved 2005 agenda items. Meredith Bowen (Express Times) and Fred Walter (Morning Call) both published accounts of the meeting. Please read their articles. We will attempt to fill in the blanks.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING - Normally these Minutes are approved with minor changes but this night they were NOT approved because Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas took exception to the section detailing her motion to table the discussion of Permanent Standing Committees until January when Mr. Howell would be there as a Supervisor (so that he could vote) and to continue the liaison structure until then. The Minutes apparently said something else. It was decided to table the Minutes approval until the 12/15/05 meeting tape is reviewed and to vote on them at the January 3, 2006 meeting.

SUPERVISORS REPORTS - Supervisor Donald Miller reported on the condition of the floors in the new gyms. He said that normally the floors are re-coated and sanded annually but because the new floors’ expansion joints were affected by humidity, they could not be tended to until the heat was turned on in the building and they dried out. The installer said that "cupping" is normal and that the floors will dry out. Since the floors will not be done now but will be done in 2006, he moved to escrow the (2005) budgeted $6K to the 2006 budget. This passed in a 4:0 vote (Chairman Ackerman was on vacation with his family and not in attendence.)


  • Township Manager Cathy Kichline reported that Forks has been approved for a stop control signal at the Arndt and Bushkill intersection. She, Chief Greg Dorney, and DPW Director Gary Sandt will get together with PennDot after the holiday to discuss what kind of signal it will be. She added that it will likely be a 4-way stop.
  • Solicitor Karl Kline was pleased to report that he received the decision of the court in the Easton Area Industrial Land Development case (their land is at the northwest corner of the Richmond and Newlins intersection) regarding trucks using Richmond and Newlins Roads. The EAILD wanted trucks to exit onto Newlins Road but the Township gave approval of the project based on trucks exiting onto Richmond Rd. The EAILD appealed the Township’s action. The court decided in favor of the Township. Trucks will not be allowed to exit onto Newlins Road.
DEBITS - The vote on the debits was not unanimous. Nicholas abstained stating that the information was not received until the meeting and that she could not vote on anything she could not review first.


  1. Planning Commission Chairman, Vito Tamborrino, Jr. stated that he was insulted by the Board’s request to re-interview him for his expiring slot on the Planning Commission. He also objected to the (two) positions being advertised as "vacancies" and said that they should have been called "expiring terms." He said he was confused by the Board’s motives to re-advertise for the positions since both he and John (Castrovinci) have asked to continue on. He noted that he has served on the PC for 9 years and as its chairman for 2-1/2 years. He said that he’s been involved in two major "editings" to the Zoning Ordinance and has been through almost half of the development in the Township "during the busiest years of development the Township has ever seen."

    He said that he was given numerous comments of appreciation from residents on both sides of the issue and from some members of the Board when he presided over the recent critical public meeting attended by over 300 residents on a very hot topic, development in the FP district.

    Citing his experience as an architect and construction manager, he dared the Board to find a more qualified person in the Township than himself. He noted that he’s been working in the construction arena for 25 years and knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. Tamborrino asked that the Board formally approve his re-appointment at this meeting and "not waste anymore time on politics." He concluded by saying that he is "willing to play and fight for the position" and that he "will - not - go - quietly."

    After some discussion by the Board, it was decided that sitting members of appointed committees and boards whose terms are expiring and who wish to be re-appointed, need not be re-interviewed. Tamborrino then said that if they wish to interview him, let him know and he will be there.

  2. Detective Philomena Sandt presented Supervisor Henning Holmgaard with a plaque on behalf of the Forks Township Police Department in appreciation for his dedication and commitment (to the police department.) Holmgaard praised the "turn around" in the Police Department and thanked Chief Dorney and the entire police department for what they have accomplished.


FINAL ADOPTION OF THE 2006 OPERATING BUDGET GENERAL FUND AND UTILITY FUND - Kichline noted that there was a change in the health care costs and that the amount is reduced by $153K. She said that the original budget figure was an estimate and that the new number is the actual amount. Nicholas asked if the number can be changed at this time and Kline said that since this is the real figure, it can. The budget was approved in a 3:1 vote with Nicholas voting against it. There was no discussion.

APPOINT TWO CORPORALS - Holmgaard turned the floor over to Chief Dorney who stated that he would like to Board to promote two officers, Jack Dressler and Shawn Hummer to the rank of corporal. Both will serve as supervisors on the night shift. He asked that the promotions be effective January 8, 2006. The Board approved with a 4:0 vote.

APPOINT ONE DETECTIVE - Dorney explained that in October the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania instituted a new juvenile matters process and that there is overwhelming paperwork involved. He said that this position’s primary responsibility will be with juvenile matters and he asked that Officer James Rowden be promoted. The Board gave its approval with a 4:0 vote.

APPROVE HIRING OF TWO OFFICERS - Dorney asked the Board to approve the hiring of two new officers to replace the officers promoted to corporals. He gave the names of Sean Stark and Joseph Effting for their consideration. He noted that Stark will be leaving the Nazareth force to join Forks and that Effting is a retired Allentown detective sergeant. The Board approved with a 4:0 vote.

PERMANENT STANDING COMMITTEES - Nicholas made a motion to table until after Howell takes office in January. Holmgaard is the Supervisor who added this item to the agenda. He said that he wanted to leave the Board (his term ends 12/31/05) with this. A lengthy discussion followed in which Howell was invited to participate.

Nicholas said that she doesn’t like the word "permanent" in the committee names (Permanent Standing Committees). Howell explained that the word is a "word of art" in legislative government and that the word "permanent" is used simply "to give the impression to the public and to yourselves that this is an arrangement that has been done with due diligence and a great deal of concern and discussion." It also means that the committees can be changed only with Board approval. The committees exist as long as the Board allows them to exist.

Nicholas also felt that the Community Relations Committee was unnecessary since each Board member does this every day. Howell said that this would be more formal and encompass the website, newsletter, and working with staff to develop a communicative relationship between the Board and the community. Hoff stated that committees are the only way to get 5-year plans done. Miller then suggested that it be put on the agenda for a January meeting.

Tamborrino (PC) asked if the committee meetings will be public sessions? Howell said that they would not be as they are dealing with the legislative function of the Board. Gretchen Gerstel (from the audience) asked if she can go to the two Supervisors on a committee with issues? Hoff explained that, like she can today, she can call a Supervisor, a department head, or the Township Manager with questions and her issue will come back to the full Board for discussion unless it’s easily resolved at the (new) committee level.

The motion to table passed. The workshop session is scheduled for January 19, 2006 at 7:00 PM.


AUTHORIZATION TO HIRE FULL TIME PARKS EMPLOYEE - Terry Hoff, who has worked part time since April 2004 was hired full-time in a 4:0 vote.

AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE ORD. NO. 295/TWO RIVERS COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS - Kline said that in November 1999 the Board approved the Township’s participation in the Two Rivers Council of Governments and that that Ordinance No. 257 had a sunset provision for 12/31/05. This new ordinance needs to be enacted in order to continue the Township’s membership in the Two Rivers Council of Governments and it contains new language that follows the actual inter-municipal agreement and eliminates the sunset provision. The new language says that the Township will participate in the Two Rivers Council of Governments unless the Township gives 30 days notice of its intent to withdraw. The ordinance was approved in a 4:0 vote.

ZONING ORDINANCE 2/07/06 - SET TIME FOR HEARING - Kline explained that in order to adopt the new Zoning Ordinance public hearings by both the PC and the Board are required and that the hearings must be advertised. The hearing date for the PC was set for the PC workshop session on Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 7:00 PM and the date for the Board’s hearing was set for Tuesday, February 7, 2006 at 7:00 PM. This will allow the Board to adopt the Zoning Ordinance at its February 16, 2006 meeting.

MISCELLANEOUS END OF MEETING DISCUSSION - Holmgaard revisited the comments of Vito Tamborrino, Jr. and asked if the Planning Commission should be the entity to do the interviews of the new (not those currently serving) people? Nicholas said that she thought the Board should interview people for committees that the Board is responsible for. Hoff remarked that he saw no reason to interview those already serving and made that motion.

Resident Gerstel noted that there are five new people who have applied for the Planning Commission and that that has never happened before (that there are five.) She said that the Board now has an opportunity to get new people and fresh ideas. She added that she saw no reason that those on committees should expect to be reappointed. Tamborrino said that what he said was that the interview process was a "little bit degrading." Holmgaard noted that because they don’t have to be re-interviewed does not mean that they have to be reappointed. Gerstel said that she "just wants it clearly understood."

The motion to not require interviews of those currently serving whose terms are expiring and who want to be re-appointed was passed 4:0. Kichline said that she will call the three people who are on committees who want to be reappointed and take them off the interview schedule. Nicholas added, "Unless they want to be interviewed..."

There was no EXECUTIVE SESSION and the meeting was adjourned.

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