- Supervisor John Ackerman reported that Ace Hardware will have its ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, April 26 at 6 PM (and party through 8 PM). All Supervisors were invited. Ace is disappointed at the response so far and Ackerman asked that Supervisors let the store know if they are coming. When asked how the lack of a Certificate of Occupancy for the store as well as for the highway would affect their plans Ackerman replied that people could park in the lot for that night.
- Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas noted that cars are traveling on the new parks garage driveway through to the new parking area and she feels that the cars will be parking by the garage. Engineer Fred Hay told her that there are plans for chains to block the driveway at both ends. Nicholas also said that a resident suggested reflecting strips on the stop sign polls at the Arndt/Bushkill intersection. She said too, that the office staff told her that there is no fireproof box to lock up checks in the new office at night.
- Chairman David Hoff expressed the condolences of the Board to Gary Sandt and the Sandt family on the passing of his father, Paul Sandt, a former Township Supervisor.
Howell explained that the Treasurer’s Report (formerly Debits & Transfers) section of the meeting details Township spending since the last BoS meeting - the Board must approve the payment of bills (in each of the categories listed on the agenda.) He said that as an audience member (in his pre-Board days) he was uncertain what the debits/transfers were all about and he offered the explanation in case others in the audience felt that same way.
Standing Committee Reports
- Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - Reported that the Police Department has begun its 5-year plan. She asked that electing Rich Bassett as assistant EOP coordinator be added to the agenda. Nicholas reminded the Board and the audience that the Police Department is having a DUI Awareness Program (teenage drinking and driving) on Monday, April 24 from 6-9:30 PM. Chief Greg Dorney added that the District Attorney’s office, Forks EMS and Forks PD will be involved and that there is still some room and to register, contact the department.
Howell expressed concern about how dangerous the Arndt/Bushkill intersection has become and asked Dorney for suggestions to improve it. Dorney replied making that intersection as highly visible as possible is about all they can suggest. There is enforcement there every day - "the purpose is to make a safe intersection." They don’t want to see anyone lose their life.
- Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - Had nothing to report from the committee. He asked Township Manager Kichline to update the construction status and about planning a day for the open house. Kichline said that they are finishing the punch list and that she anticipates that it will be done by June 1. Hoff suggested a June 10 date for the open house. It will be set at the next meeting. Kichline added that the "time capsule" could be buried at the time and that the memorial trees could be dedicated too.
- Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: This committee has yet to meet.) Miller reported that the parks are full and that the recreation path is the most popular thing in the park. He said too that the AAU basketball tournament will continue through the end of May (volleyball tournaments too), that sign-ups for football will take place the entire month of May, that they are working on additional parking at the Meco fields, and that he is working on a newsletter to come out in the next month (or so). He added that the new electronic sign is up and that they are having software training for it.
- Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - Said that the committee’s initial focus is to renew the publication of what used to be called the (Forks) Township Newsletter. Kichline has submitted a mock-up of the first page to Hometown Publishing. Howell added that the publication will be informational and not "newsy." A parks/recreation survey will be in it as will a centerfold map of the Township with all the latest roads. When Howell said that the first edition will probably be Summer 2006 Nicholas asked if the new publication could be done for the open house. She thought it would be a perfect spot for it. Howell said that that is unlikely but that "they will do their best." Hoff asked that the Community Relations Committee notify the public about the open house. Howell said that it will go on the Township website, the newsletter and public service ads in the local papers.
- Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - Reported that the job descriptions for the office are ready to finalize. He announced a new one page revenue vs. expense summary, showing all the revenue sources and all the expense catagories as well as the annual budget and where the Township is year to date. It will be posted on the website so that everyone can see how the Township is doing financially. Howell added that this report is an "achievement in disclosure" It should be posted on the website on Monday. The report was made available to the public at the meeting and will be online soon - as presented.
Manager’s Report & Correspondence - Cathy Kichline said that anyone with questions about the new finance report can call her or Finance Manager Jim Farley. She also said of the PD update of its 5 year plan that she has shared her statistical research (on the Township) with Dorney and she encouraged everyone to take a look at the plan when it comes out.
Building & Zoning - Tim Weis said that project status reports are now on the website and that commercial will be added it. Kichline added that there are 10 commercial establishments under construction at this time.
Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - Agenda items only
Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - Agenda items only
Comments from the Public
- Resident Art Panzini of Zucksville Road addressed the Board to alert them of a possible future catastrophe on Zucksville due to drainage problems and the new construction for College Park. He said that there was a meeting arranged by Hay with Muschlitz Excavating, Signature Homes, Weis and himself on his property and that nothing was decided to remedy the problem of the low spot on Zucksville that drains approximately 1/3 of mile and seven driveways. He said when he bought his property 25 years ago he was given a map that showed the requirements for the subdivision and a drainage easement on the north side of Zucksville Road. He said that this easement was never recorded at the courthouse. He addd that he is a physical geologist. He gave the Board some photographs - one of them showed a "big splash" and under that "big splash" is a car. He also said that a sinkhole is forming on his property.
Panzini said that if that sinkhole gives way sewerage will spill all over thearea. He said that he has spoken with Senator Wonderling about the problem and that more accidents will happen. The cost of sewer repairs will be a big issue. Hay said that there was never a drainage system put in at Sullivan’s March and that to fix it right they have to go through two sets of properties across the street. Hay said that it is a PennDot problem. Panzini noted that PennDot says it is a Township problem. The consensus was to speak again to Wonderling to see if he can get PennDot to do something.
- Resident and Planning Commission member, Jim Wideman reported that he has received calls about the new speed bumps in the recreation area. He said that he saw quite a few marks on the tops of the speed bumps indicating damage to cars. He suggested speed "humps" instead. Speed humps are approximately 3" tall by 3' wide with ramps at both sides and are "kinder and gentler" to cars. Miller said that speed humps are exactly what are going in next week. A resident in the audience also suggested painting the humps yellow or white so that they can be seen. Miller said that that will be done also.
RESOLUTION & APPLICATION/LIQUOR LICENSE TRANSFER - The resolution was approved 5:0. Applicants wishing to transfer liquor licenses into the Township from other communities in the county will now have to apply for a permit and pay a fee of $1000 for the first hearing. If a second hearing is needed they must pay an additonal fee of $750.
GOLLUB PARK EASEMENT AGREEMENTS - Kline explained that easements will provide the public and the Township with a way to get to the park. The public easement will allow a footpath over a corner of the Krause property. Krause granted that permission at an earlier meeting. The emergency (and maintenance) easement will allow Township vehicles to use the old trolley bed to get there. The trolley bed is solid and crosses private property. The footpath will be 8' wide and constructed of mulch over gravel. Most of it will be aligned along the southern side of the "paper street," Valley View.
Owners of 4 parcels on Valley View, Tom Matteson and Francine Ludict asked the Board if they could cross the path and the Met-Ed property (on the paper street) to get to their farthest parcel. Kline said that since the Township had not used Valley View in 20 years, it lost the right to the road. He said that the property reverted back to the adjacent landowners. Easement agreements have been sent to Krause, Arcury, Met-Ed, and Ludict/Matteson.
Nicholas asked why the public path was not staying completely on the paper street and Kline said it was to preserve trees. Someone from the audience said that they have all been cut down. Kline said that without the easements for emergency access, the Township will have to make a way for vehicles to get back to the park. Pete Rossi (property owner and Zoning Hearing Board member) said that without the easement for the walking path, 5 more trees and 3 new plantings will have to come down in order for him to get access to his property.
Krause and Arcury are reviewing the easement agreement for emergancy access and wish to speak with Kline and Kichline further on it. The other owners, Ludict/Matteson, who live in Ohio, will meet with Hay and Kichline Friday at 8:00 AM. This matter will be decided at the next BoS meeting.
DEVELOPER IMPACT FEE TO AID SCHOOL DISTRICTS - Howell said that Kichline received a communication from Rep. Grucela’s office requesting Township support for HB 2550, his bill to allow impact fees levied by school districts. Activists for this cause, Richard Cowell and Don Dal Maso addressed the Board.
Cowell asked that Forks adopt a resolution like those adopted by Upper and Lower Mount Bethel Townships. He said that Washington Township is considering it too. Cowell said that the bill will allow schools to charge developers sufficient fees to offset the costs of new students their developments bring. "Now is the time to take action."
Dal Maso spoke of a new bill endorsed by 14 State Representatives to pass a building excise fee of up to $26K per house. He said that UMBT Supervisor Loren Rabbat is taking the lead and will be at the PSATS convention on Monday.
Dal Maso also said that on Monday, May 1st seven municipalities served by the Bangor Area School District are meeting to discuss this.
Nicholas said that she spoke with Grucela about the bill a month ago and that she supports it (and Grucela.) Miller said he supports this 110%. Hoff asked Dal Maso if he had been to the school districts and Dal Maso replied that he had and that they are very supportive. Howell noted that the second bill (HB 2564 - if you want to read it, the School Impact Fees begin on page 24) is sponsored by Representative Mailtland and that Grucela endorses it as well as his own bill. Kline said that since there are two bills, the Board can vote to adopt a resolution supporting the concept and not a particular bill. They did just that in a 5:0 vote! (Yes, there was APPLAUSE!)
RIVERVIEW ESTATES, PHASE 2C/COUNTRY CLUB ENGINEERING REVIEW - No one was at the meeting to represent the developer and the item, based on Hay’s recommendation, was rejected in a 5:0 vote. Hay noted that Strausser Enterprises did not submit proper plans for this large parking lot (to go to the gazebo).
RESOLUTION APPOINTING DELEGATE TO TWO RIVERS COUNCIL OF GOVTS. - Ackerman was appointed as a delegate with Howell as the alternate at the 2/2/06 BoS meeting. The Two Rivers COG requires a resolution. It was approved 5:0.
CVS/ZONING DEFINITION - Kline explained to the Board and the audience that this project is located at the south eastern corner of Sullivan and Uhler and that it is zoned for commercial and industrial development. Developer Sam Maranka is interested in developing the parcel. The (first proposal) CVS is an allowed use in that district, the (new proposal) grocery is not. The grocery requires a public hearing and the developer is requesting that the process begin now. Kline said that the Board has to decide if it wants to make any changes in the zoning in that area at all and if it is willing to change the zoning for a grocery store, it must decide the "degree" to which it will be changed.
Rose Randazzo an attorney (and partner) from SamCar spoke of the 3 mile (from the site) radius "trending study" that they did and how it led to a "high end" grocery as a preferred use over a CVS. (She added that SamCar is a preferred CVS developer.) The "trending study" indicated that there are 5137 housing units approved and not yet under construction, a population of 38,000 within three miles of the site, and a median income of $55K plus.
Randazzo said that the study showed a real need for a second food store in this area. Forks is, to the developer, the "focal point for all the development that is happening - and Sullivan Trail is one of the main roads for everything that’s happening in the surrounding communities." SamCar is "community minded" and didn’t want to let this pass without asking the Board if this was what they’d like.
Randazzo said too that the new store would be approximately 70K square feet and will provide 150-200 part-time and full-time jobs. It is expected to do $30 million per year in sales generating an additional $45K in mercantile tax. The Forks Giant is doing $800,000 in gross sales per week.
Howell asked Randazzo if she had seen the headline in this morning’s Easton Express. She had not. He summarized it as, "We goofed. We totally mis-estimated the growth in the area." Howell thought the numbers in their study are low. Randazzo said that she knows that they are but that they were done for the CVS and CVS requires only a 3 mile radius. Howell said that for the Board’s sake, it must understand the impact that an upscale grocery will have on the Township and that it must think about what will happen if Palmer gets a racetrack and Tatamy a Route 33 interchange. He said that Uhler Road could become an "aorta of cars." He added that an upscale grocer will not be just a community store for Forks residents.
Nicholas asked how large the piece of property is (10 acres) and then asked how large Zawarski’s property is behind Met-Ed (11 acres). She told Randazzo that it is in Town Center - just for her information. Ackerman noted that the traffic that will be brought in will depend on what chain is brought in. He thought it important to know this.
The developer said that traffic will have full access from (new streets) Braden and Ian and that there will be a deceleration lane on Sullivan for northbound traffic to a right in/right out drive. Ackerman asked about the traffic from a grocery compared to other uses. He also noted that the traffic coming in for the new industrial parks has to be considered also.
Kline said that the Board does not have to make any changes to the zoning ordinance. The Board must decide though and if not voting "no," it must let the developer know what other information it needs. He suggested directing himself and Mr. Schmehl (URDC) to draft several different zoning changes for the Board to consider.
Howell said that he is concerned that Pandora’s Box will be opened if the zoning is changed and asked Kline if the Township would be open to litigation when the next big box retailer wants to build in the EC district. Kline said "no" since the Board is acting rationally and in the best interests of the Township. Howell said that he needs more information and suggested a Joint Workshop. Hoff agreed and also asked the developer to come up with a study that a grocery store would use. Nicholas suggested that the Board direct Kline to prepare options for their consideration.
It was decided that because the developer needs to know quickly if the Township wants an upscale grocery store at that site, that the PC Workshop on Tuesday, April 25th (7 PM) become a Joint Meeting so that Supervisors and Planning Commission can discuss this project together. Kline said that he can have things for the Board for the May 4th BoS meeting and that the Board can take action at its second meeting, May 18.
LOCKED MAILBOXES - Nicholas said that the outside drop box where residents "deposit" their tax payments is not secure and even get wet. She said that she can put her hand inside and take anything out. After discussion it was decided to get a used USPostal mailbox and paint it with the Township logo to use instead.
Nicholas said too, that residents have asked her why there are no boxes for Supervisors where they can drop off mail for them. Ackerman said that people want to drop off something for a Supervisor and not have anyone else see it. Weis said that for safety issues, any kind of locked boxes like that should be outside. What if someone doesn’t like a particular Supervisor? Ackerman said that the idea came from when he first became a Supervisor and people wanted to have a suggestion box.
There was discussion of a bank of boxes outside of the building. Howell wondered why people would want to come to a building with cameras all around it in the dead of night to drop off a secret note. He thought that they could use the mail to do that and send it to his home. He added that if the boxes are outside of the building and have Supervisors names on them, he does not want one. Hoff thought that people could just make the envelope "personal & confidential."
BUILDING/SECURITY KEYS - Nicholas read a statement that she prepared advocating keys to all the municipal buildings for Supervisors for use in cases of emergency. She said that even though the Township has an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), the Supervisors are the "bottom line" and when something happens it will come back to the Supervisors. She also had a letter from PSATS endorsing keys for Supervisors.
Ackerman asked Kichline how she arrived at the times and dates that Supervisors and employees have access to the buildings. Kichline said that she worked with Chief Dorney and that Supervisors have 24/7 access to the Supervisors’ areas. Employees have additional access on an as-needed basis but they must let someone know that they need to be in the building. Nicholas said that if there is an emergency, she doesn’t want to have to break down a door to get into a building that she might have to secure later on.
Weis said that every building has a "knox box" and access to a key is only ten seconds away for any police officer or fire officer who places a radio call to the 911 center. He added that Kline is preparing the "knox box" ordinance for the Board’s consideration. Ackerman said that he thought Supervisors should be able to go anywhere in the buildings at any time. Keys for Supervisors was defeated in a 2:3 vote.
URDC - PROPOSAL FOR COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE - URDC’s 6 phase proposal will cost $31K. It is for a 12 month period. The work will not begin until Fall and Kichline noted that there is $13K in the budget already for Zoning Ordinance changes. The balance of the funds needed will come from next year’s capital improvement fees. This was approved 5:0.
ADDED- ELECT RICH BASSETT AS EOP ASSISTANT COORDINATOR - Bassett was appointed in a 5:0 vote. His (volunteer) duties will include updating everyone’s phone numbers, researching resources around the Township, suggesting things needed for the command center immediately and in the future.
There was no Executive Session 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.