Sunday, April 23, 2006

BoS Meeting 4/20/06

The April 20th Board of Supervisors meeting was longer than most and did not include an executive session. There was enough of importance to Forks taxpayers at issue this night to warrant the meeting’s length. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) reported. Please read their articles. Please note: The agenda format has been revised. We will follow it for our meeting notes.

Supervisor Comments

  • 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.

Treasurer’s Report

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.
  • Dorney said that there were 570 calls for service in March and that at the current pace April could reach 700. He noted that there were 2 more drug arrests. Dorney reported also on PD training in March - all officers had firearms training (live fire training with shooting and moving techniques), all officers took a 4 different training courses dealing with the topic of "pursuit," there was also communications level training, and 5 officers were sent to outside training. He note that accreditation is continuing to "professionalize" 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.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another Conundrum - PC 4/13/06

On Thursday April 13th at their regular meeting, the PC was once again faced with making a decision without all the information that it would have like to have. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) detailed the conundrum. Please read their accounts. Chairman Vito Tamborrino was absent. Vice Chairman Erik Chuss filled in for him.

FORKS COMMONS - CVS LAND DEVELOPMENT - SamCar, the developer for this property on the southeast corner of Sullivan Trail and Uhler Road came back with the “high end” grocery store traffic study and asked that the PC vote to move it to the next step that night, thus saving them 30 days in the process and helping them to maintain their (six) possible tenants’ interest.

CVS/SamCar’s original proposal to the PC on 12/8/05 was for a CVS drugstore and fast food drive-through restaurant. The CVS project was/is “by right” (meaning it is allowed under the zoning and can’t be denied). The fast food drive-through though was not a “by right” plan and had to go before the Zoning Hearing Board. That board denied the CVS/SamCar variance request on 1/9/06. SamCar/CVS withdrew its conditional use request on 1/12/06.

On March 9th, they appeared again at the PC meeting, this time with a proposal for a yet-to-be-named "high end" grocery store (and possible gas station) for the site. They presented demographic study results to show that not only was the population density and projected growth up to what such a store warrants, but that the median income of the area residents ($55K) would certainly support it.

At the April 13th meeting they summarized the traffic study filed earlier with the Township. In the hour long discussion and question/answer session, it became apparent that although they used figures and growth estimates provided by PennDot, the growth percentage was not appropriate for Forks growth rate. They used the typical PennDot 2.2% rate. Planner Erik Chuss pointed out that Forks has grown 44% since 2000. The discussion produced only one traffic increase example, going north on Sullivan Trail during peak hours - the grocery would add an additional 165 cars. No one disputed the grocery’s traffic draw since the developers are very familiar with those statistics. Questioned however, were the traffic figures used as the basis for the study.

The PC, with the exception of Dean Turner, voted to send a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to consider a zoning change to allow the grocery store. The planners were reassured by Solicitor Karl Kline that this was not a final step by any means. The BoS can say “no.” The developer can balk at conditions imposed by the PC later on when the plan is presented formally. The PC can turn it down then too. The PC asked for more accurate traffic projections.

The Board of Supervisors will ultimately decide whether or not to change Forks zoning in order to allow a grocery store - read ANY grocery story - in the EC (Employment Center) district. They can put constraints in the zoning to be very restrictive for road configurations, etc., almost confining the store to that one site. However, once revised, the zoning change will apply to the entire EC district. Without the zoning change, Forks will get the “by-right” CVS store on that corner. SamCar will do one or the other.

RIVERVIEW ESTATES, PHASE IIC/TEMPORARY PARKING LAND DEVELOPMENT was also on the PC agenda. Based on a letter by engineer Fred Hay, it was rejected in a 6:0 vote. Apparently “the developer” declined to submit the required materials per the SALDO and simply resubmitted the same sketch that was last submitted - with the parking lot in the wrong place. His representative (David Lear - Lehigh Engineering) said that he asked his client to allow submission of the proper plans and was told to use the sketch and call it a plan.

This was discussed in terms of “the developer,” the “sketch,” etc. Turner said that he might consider granting waivers if “the developer” will do the plantings that “he” committed to on Winchester Drive. These plantings and buffers are already part of earlier agreements and thus need not be renegotiated. The submitted sketch was soundly rejected. The audience was left wondering who this “developer,” who so casually ignored the rules that every other developer must follow, could be?

The PC also learned that the YMCA Day Care is being “evicted” from its space in the EASD building on Bushkill Drive. The EASD has moved in and there is no longer any room for the day care. The land development before the PC was for a space in the old Industrial Engraving (still marked as such on the Knox Avenue side of the building but now owned and occupied by an environmental services company). The owner will fix a portion of the building and grounds for the day care. The PC's only issues were about traffic and parking. Hay will look at the on-street parking situation on Sullivan Trail and may recommend parking on one side only. The PC tabled the request and the day care will come back with a traffic flow proposal.

For additional project updates from the PC meeting, please see the F.A.C. News page.

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, April 09, 2006

BoS Meeting 4/6/06

There was a pre-meeting (for the residents near the CIT project - who cared enough to come and ask questions) before the 4/6/06 BoS meeting. Only one couple came. And, they cut the working hours deal for all the nearby neighbors. The regular meeting began at 7:30. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) were there. Please read their very informative articles. They always include material from their after-meeting interviews.

  • Secretary/Treasurer David Hoff - Administration & Finance Committee: Hoff reported that the job descriptions for the office staff are complete and that they are putting them into a format that will make them easier to read and follow. They will be ready in the next month or so.
  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas - Public Safety Committee: Nicholas reported that the Police Department is beginning its 5 year plan. Chief Greg Dorney has given the committee a "good" schedule. She said that Dorney is going to check into the the Rapid Notification Program, a program to inform the public of impending emergency situations. Nicholas said that at their next meeting they will begin to review the Emergency Management Plan.

Nicholas announced that Forks EMS wrote a check to the PA State Fire Commissioner, that Atty. Gary Asteak is working on the (EMS) bylaws, and that an audit of their last 10 years is in process. She said too that Kichline and Dorney are going over the "Knox Box" Ordinance - and it will be finalized for the Board’s review. Bryan Weis is going over the ID System that all Supervisors and Township employees will have to have.

Nicholas also said that she spoke with officials in charge of Public Safety Commitees and PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) about keys for Supervisors. She was told that it is good governance for all the Supervisors to have keys for all the buildings (in case of emergencies - since no one knows who will be around when needed). She gave copies of their letter to the Board. She asked that this be added to the next meeting’s agenda.

Nicholas asked too to have locked Supervisors’ mailboxes in the lobby of the Municipal Building. It was discussed in the past but no decision was made. This too, has been added to the next meeting’s agenda.

  • Vice Chairman David Howell - Community Relations Committee: Howell reported that he, Ackerman, and Township Manager Cathy Kichline have been meeting to work on the design and format of a new Forks "quarterly" publication. They hope to have a "mock-up" at the next BoS meeting (or the one after that) for the Board’s review. He said that the first issue could run 16 pages and will be a good vehicle for the Township to impart pertinent information to residents.

It will not cost the taxpayers any money as it will be paid for with advertising revenues - a "limited" amount of advertising so as not to disrupt the content. Kichline is currently working at getting together an estimate of the full publishing costs so that advertising rates can be established. Nicholas asked if there are written guidelines for content. Howell said that it will be "politically correct" and that the BoS will set the editorial policy. Each segment of the community government will have responsibility for a portion of the bulletin. The committee anticipates that this will not be a "newsy" publication but more an informative one.

Howell added that one of the functions of the Community Relations Committee is to "bridge the information gap between citizens and government." Another is for forge relationships with Forks neighbors. He told of the COG (council of governments) "vision" to help the City of Easton and he said that Forks Community Days is one way to help bring communities together. There will be representation from the arts community of Easton, the Easton Farmers’ Market, and (some form of participation by) the Easton Business Association.

  • Supervisor Donald Miller - Parks & Recreation Committee: (aside - to our knowledge the Parks & Recreation Committee has yet to meet.) - Miller said that the winter programs ended 1-1/2 weeks ago. Forks had two basketball teams play for the finals, one won (13 year old girls) and one lost (by only one point in the last 7 seconds of the game.) There are two months before summer basketball and during that time the gym floors will undergo refurbishing. He added that Forks will host the AAU tournaments on weekends. And, he said that Engineer Fred Hay is designing the parking lot for the Meco fields. Permanent bathrooms will be installed in the future.
  • Acting Chairman John Ackerman - Public Works Committee: Ackerman related that they are working on job descriptions and have been dealing with personnel matters.


  • Township Manager: Cathy Kichline - Kichline noted that Urban Research & Development Corporation’s proposal (dollars) to revise and update the Comprehensive Plan was in their packets. She said that it just came today and she will add it to next meeting’s agenda.

Kichline informed the Board too that the Fire Department has hired Service Master to clean the new firehouse and that she has given them "key access" on Wednesdays between 5:30 and 7:30 PM.

Kichline said that she, Dorney, & Zoning Officer Tim Weis reviewed "our ordinances" and met with District Justice Litzenberger. She will forward all materials to Kline for his review of amendments/changes regarding the "enforcement-ability of those particular ordinances." The Board should see "that" within the next couple of weeks.

Kichline noted too that she, Hay, Weis, and PC Chairman Vito Tamborrino will be meeting to work on the technical aspects of the SALDO in the event that URDC is hired to assist. And, she said that she will be speaking to the Sertoma Club at their April 11th meeting at 6:30 PM.

And, she said that the egg hunt will go on rain or shine on Saturday (4/8/06).

  • Police Chief: Greg Dorney - Dorney reported on the Arndt/Bushkill intersection. He said that in 23 days of enforcement in March, there were 59 citations issued for stop sign violations, 4 DUI arrests, 3 drug arrests, 1 firearms arrest, and 3 injury accidents. They will continue targeted enforcement at that intersection.
Dorney reported too that he and Officer Rowden attended training in Harrisburg last week. They were trained as (and are now certified) "assessors" for the State Assessment Program. They will be asked to conduct assessments throughout
the Commonwealth.
  • Finance Manager: Jim Farley - Farley reported that the 2005 audit is almost done. The auditors should finish one day next week and the reports should follow in a month or so.
  • Department of Public Works Director: Gary Sandt - Sandt said that they are busy with street sweeping, working on the Old Mill Road storms sewers and grates (so that the bike-lane can be put in), installing traffic "humps" to slow the traffic down (in the park), and doing some work around the pump station to "dress it up."
Howell wondered about the Township’s preparedness for the approaching hurricane season since we have pockets of 100 year flood plains all around us. He suggested that the Township have some sort of "incident management" plan to deal with excessive rains. He noted that during the last heavy rain, the Township ran out of "horses" to block the flooded streets. Kichline replied that the Public Safety Committee will be, in the next two weeks, going over and updating the current Emergency Management Plan and that part of that work will be identifying available resources. A list of detention and retention pond ownership is being prepared by Pete Gheller (Facilities Director) and Sandt.
  • Zoning Officer: Tim Weis - Weis reported that the billboard (on Sullivan Trail near Lockwood Congress) is down and that the flower tent is back again this year and this time they are paying the new, higher fees and are under the new "term" rules.
  • Engineer: Fred Hay - Hay said that the Board had a letter to Kichline from PennDot (in their packets) regarding directional signs that the Township wants. They are looking at three intersections: Kesslersville & Uhler, Kesslersville & Kuebler Roads, and Arndt & Bushkill (blinking lights and new road markings.) PennDot has no problem with the directional signs (posts with mast arms) as long as the Township pays for them.

Regarding Gollub Park, Hay said that the survey plan is recorded and that plats and descriptions for easements have been prepared. When asked by Howell to report on the tree cutting up there, Hay said that 2 trees were cut down today. Howell said that there more like 10 trees cut on the right-of-way. He provided photos for the Board to see. Howell added that the right-of-way is now in disarray and is unsafe for hikers. He said that a less-than-an-acre parcel has been clear-cut by a logger. He wants a truck sent by the tree-cutting-landowner (at his own expense) to clean up the path and he said that he thought that the Township should be compensated for the fair value of the trees cut (in the right-of-way), approximately $16K.

Solicitor Karl Kline noted that the right-of-way is not a Township road and that ownership of a "paper street" reverts to the adjacent property owners (up to the middle). Kline added that the property owner (who cut the trees) says that he’s been denied access to his property. Kline noted that "who owns the trees?" is an "intricate point" and he will have to look at the SALDO for provisions for woodlands and will report to the Board at the next meeting.

Pete Rossi (the property owner who cut the trees in the right-of-way and member of the Zoning Hearing Board) addressed the Board saying that Township officials knew that he was going to do that and that he did not clear cut his lot. He also said that the mess will be cleaned up. Rossi said that so far the trees have cost him more then $3K to get rid of. He said he cut 4 live trees and two dead ones (in the right-of-way) and that (on his lot) he cut trees 50 feet in, and did not "clear cut" the entire lot. The trees will be chipped.

Solicitor: Karl Kline - Agenda items only


Ackerman noted that the Board has received a response from the LVPC (Lehigh Valley Planning Commission) regarding the Comprehensive Plan.


ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN/B.O.S. - Kline said that at their annual meeting the Board is required to elect a Chairman. No one was elected at that first meeting in January and he (Kline) made a determination to allow the previously elected Chairman to continue until a successful election was held. There is no provision in the Second Class Township code for what happens if a Chairman is not elected. There is also nothing in the code dealing with whether or not an elected Chairman has a vested right to remain in that position for the entire year.

Howell explained that he put this item on the agenda because the Board failed to elect a chairman and that since he was not on the Board last year, the Board is a "new" Board. He felt too that not electing a Chairman is a disservice to their responsibilities.

Nicholas nominated Ackerman. Ackerman seconded. Howell nominated Hoff. Miller seconded. Hoff said that he would step down as Secretary/Treasurer if elected. The vote for Ackerman was 2:3. The vote for Hoff was 3:2.

Next Howell was nominated for Secretary/Treasurer. He said that he would step down as Vice Chairman if elected. He was elected in a 3:2 vote. Hoff nominated Ackerman for Vice Chairman but Ackerman refused the nomination. Hoff then nominated Miller and Miller was elected 5:0.

REPORT OF EAJSA/HENNING HOLMGAARD - Holmgaard reported that Easton is represented on the Authority by one person while Easton has 6 representatives. Palmer has 2 representatives. He said that Palmer owns the 2nd largest share of capacity and Forks owns the 3rd largest. He asked that the Board write a letter to the EAJSA and request another member. Ackerman said that this was a "no-brainer to go for it" and the vote was 5:0 in favor. The letter will be ready for the April 17th EAJSA meeting.

ZACHARY ZAZO - C.I.T. LAND DEVELOPMENT/REQUEST TO ALTER WORKING HOURS - Howell said that there was an earlier meeting that evening with the neighbors of CIT and the developer to discuss the requested change in working hours. He felt that it was thorough. The Dewey Engineering representative, (Warren Garrity ?) summarized the meeting. He said that he explained to the neighbors that the noise factor would be limited to the first 1 to 1-1/2 hours of the work beginning at 10 PM. After that after that, the roofing contractor will scrape the cut material off the roof and load it into wheel barrows for disposal down the shoot to the garbage bin. There will be no hauling-away and no truck traffic during the night working hours.

He added that there is a large magnitude of work to be done there over the summer and changing the work hours will help them to get it done. The neighbors and he agreed to a trial of sorts. If the noise bothers them, the operation will be stopped. The neighbors were given the home and cell phone numbers of Mr. Garrity(?) so that they may contact him at any time. Twelve letters were sent to residents and only the Hoaglands attended. The Board allowed the working hour change (10 PM - 6 AM) in a 5:0 vote.


TRANSFER OF LIQUOR LICENSE PERMIT/APPLICATION & FEE - Howell reported that the Township was completely unprepared for Big Woody’s liquor license transfer request and had to write a letter to Woody’s counsel in order to learn something about it. He provided a sample permit form for the Board to look over.

In discussion of the sample form, Nicholas said that she thought that the name and address of where the license is coming from should be on the front page of the form. She said too that the form requires that the applicant provide the name and address and telephone number of the contact person for each license (including the inactive ones) already in the Township. She asked, "Why do we need to know that?" She thought that it had nothing to do with an incoming license. Kline said that this information would let the Board know how many potential licenses are already in the Township. He added that it is not a burdensome requirement for the applicant. Hoff noted that the Township is not notified if someone transfers a license "out" of the Township. Nicholas then agreed that the requirement to provide the information stay on the permit form.

Hoff asked what fee would be appropriate. Kichline suggested that fees be $1000 for the first hearing and an additional $750 if a second hearing is necessary. The fees represent the cost of advertizing the hearing and paying the court recorder’s fees. Kline suggested that the fees be in line with the costs for a zoning hearing. He will prepare a resolution for the Board for the next meeting.

GODDARD SCHOOL/DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS - Kline reported that all was in order. The agreements were accepted 5:0.

GLEN HALE LAND DEVELOPMENT/DEVELOPERS AGREEMENTS - This is a u-store-it facility on Glover Road. Kline said that all was in order and the agreements were accepted 5:0.

CROP FARMING LEASE AGREEMENT - The Board agreed 5:0 to allow Mr. Rinaldi to farm the Township’s 53 acres on the southeast corner of Richmond and Newlins Roads. Rinaldi will pay $55/acre ($2915). Ackerman asked that the Township land near the airport also be included in this because time is getting late to plant crops and the Rinaldis are willing to farm it at the same price. The tillable acreage is yet to be determined. Hoff suggested that this lease be approved now and that there be another motion to "administratively" execute the second lease once the acreage question is answered.

Miller said that Alex Gale (project manager for the new municipal complex) has the "transition" zone acreage. Gale said that corn cannot be planted there. The Board agreed in a 5:0 vote that there will be no crops planted in the transition zone and that both leases are approved.

SETTLEMENT OF TAX ASSESSMENT APPEALS: (1) Knox Avenue Senior Associates (2) MCS Industries, Inc. - Kline explained that the Northampton County tax assessment office handled these appeals initially and agreed to lower the amounts. The EASD also signed off on them. The Board voted 5:0 to sign off too.

AUTHORIZATION TO HIRE PART-TIME ADMIN. ASST./ZONING OFFICE - Weis said that he received 40 applications for this 20 hour/wk position. He conducted 10 interviews. He recommended the hiring of Cheryl Murphy (sic) and the Board voted 5:0 to hire her. Her pay will be $13/hr.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - The Board met to discuss a real estate matter as well as several personnel matters. No action was taken 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.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Joint Meeting - 3/28/06 - Amended

These notes have been amended after hearing from one of our readers who was at the meeting. Many thanks. We do try to get it right.

The joint workshop session on the 28th was as interesting as we expected. Joe Nixon’s March 29th Morning Call article described the main issues discussed by the Planners and the Supervisors. Please read it for more information.

Charlie Schmehl from Urban Research and Development Corp. (URDC) was there by invitation to detail the issues raised at the public hearings for the new zoning ordinance. Some will become amendments to the new ordinance, some will not. Discussed were:

  • Clarification that a 4 acre lot in the FP may be subdivided into 3 acre and 1 acre lots with the condition that the 3 acre parcel carries an easement to prevent future subdivision.
  • Making a landscaped berm a requirement between residential and commercial uses in all zoning districts.
  • Changing the setback for mobile home parks to 100 feet from land occupied by an industrial use.
  • Creating an age restricted mobile home park density bonus.
  • Relieving Hanson Aggregates (1900 block of Sullivan Trail – in the TC district) from setback requirements.
  • Changing Braden Airport from a non-conforming use to an allowed use in the REM district – decided against it.
  • More clarification on the definition of and regulations for neon signs.
  • Altering the time between electronic sign message changes from once every 6 seconds to once per minute. Time and temperature signs will be exempt.
  • Requiring the planting of trees (by developers) in open space to create wooded areas.
  • Township purchase of open space (from developers). Currently there is nothing to stop developers from selling their open space to “slum landlords” (Solicitor Karl Kline).

The above items will be finalized as amendments (or not) at the next workshop session on April 25th.

Kline noted during the the billboard discussion (allowed only in the EC district) that there is a rumor that the owners of the (former) billboard near Lockwood Congress and Tastebudz is unhappy that his billboard had to come down and wants to put one up across the street.

It was decided that the SALDO review will be done in the conventional way (at PC workshops) and will take 3 to 4 meetings. Engineer Fred Hay volunteered to take care of the technical end of the review – which will begin at the April 25 workshop session.

The Comprehensive Plan has not been revised in 10 years. Two of the Planners thought that it should have been done before the Zoning Ordinance re-write. It will undergo an update as it is the beginning of the process to fine tune the other two documents - the SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance) and the Zoning Ordinance.

Planner Erik Chuss, who was unable to be at the workshop, sent a letter to Tamborrino expressing his opinion of the form the process should take. Chuss felt that it should be done in groups with citizen participation. The groups would be composed of representatives of all folks with an interest in Forks - solicited to participate would be farmers, residents, the Athletic Association, the Recreation Board, businesses, and (as suggested by Supervisor David Hoff) homeowners associations. Tamborrino (and others) felt that it should be done at monthly public workshops with one large meeting at the end for citizen input – like the Zoning Ordinance was done. There will be public hearings by both the PC and the Board before the updated plan is approved.

The topics that will be covered in the Comprehensive Plan workshops include traffic, roads, trails (recreation plan), and preservation in the the FP (Farmland Protection), the RC (Riverfront Conservation), and the HC (Heritage Corridor) districts.

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.