Sunday, June 25, 2006

Supermarket versus CVS (etc.)

You are invited to speak out about it!

Date: Thursday, June 29

Time: 7:00 pm

Place: Forks Municipal Building public meeting room

Reason: The first and only Public Hearing on the proposed zoning amendment to allow a grocery store in the Employment Center district.

ONLY on this night, the public will have its say at telling the Board of Supervisors why a grocery store amendment should or should not be approved. If you don’t tell them, they will vote without knowing how you feel about it.

It’s your Township.
It does not belong to developers.
It does not belong to the Board of Supervisors.
It does belong to you!

Ignoring opportunities like public hearings just means you don’t care how things turn out.

If you do care... be there … be counted … be heard!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Zoning Challenge - Public Hearing - Save the Date(s)

One year ago Forks residents turned out in droves to hear the Kings' proposal for high density development in the FP district. It's that time of year again, August!

A legal notice has been published in the Express Times setting August 7 & 21 at 7:30 PM for the first two sessions of the public hearing. Like last year's Planning Commission meeting, it will be held in the Community Center.

These hearings are PUBLIC HEARINGS. All are invited!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

BoS Meeting 6/15/2006

The June 15 meeting of the Board of Supervisors was well attended by the public. Kudos to Forks residents for coming to hear more about the Kings’ & partners zoning challenge. Both Ted Strong (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) wrote about it. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks. Supervisors David Hoff and Bonnie Nicholas were not in attendance.

There was a Joint Meeting of the Board of Supervisors and the Recreation Board at 6:30 PM. Attending for the BoS were Donald Miller, John Ackerman and David Howell. The Recreation Board was represented by Ed Moore, Lincoln Holly, Ray Guffy, Dan Reiter, Carl Scerbo, and John O’Neil. Alex Banas was absent.

After much discussion both Boards resolved to communicate with each other more. The Recreation Board will try to have a representative attend the Parks & Recreation Committee meetings regularly. The Recreation Board minutes are now on the Township website. Their regular public meetings are held once a month on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of the month at 7:00 PM in the Community Center. (Please check the Township calendar.)

The Recreation Board is working on a survey that will be distributed to all Forks households this summer. They were urged by Planning Commission Chairman Vito Tamborrino to work on a "master plan" that will fit in with the Comprehensive Plan (which is about to undergo a re-rewrite).

Regular Meeting

Treasurer’s Report - Howell reported the Township’s cash outlays since the last BoS meeting and explained that PLGIT (for $246,318.44) means Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, the holders of the Township’s bond. He also said that the Real Estate Fund debit amount ($284,068.64) represented a transfer from the Real Estate Tax Collection Account into the General Fund.

Standing Committee Reports
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - noted that the committee met with Engineer Fred Hay on June 7th to review alot of public works projects for 2006 and 2007. Ackerman said that they are recommending to the Township that the developer be allowed to remove the "eyebrows" on Winchester Dr. His committee felt that it would be a help to everyone traveling that roadway although there are "issues" as to why the road cannot be finished. Ackerman added that the committee also discussed job descriptions.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: This is not a Committee report. It is a Supervisor’s Comment.) Miller reported that baseball is winding down. Summer basketball has started at the Community Center and there are 147 teams. Miller said that this is about 30 teams over last year. There is a high school volleyball league on Wednesday nights. The park is full every night and there are a lot of senior citizens using the walking path.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell reported that there have been website additions which will allow easier navigation of the Forks Township website as well as help to give a better understanding of the functions of the boards. He said that the agendas and minutes from Zoning/Planning Commission, and the Recreation Board have been moved to menus on the PC and RC pages.

Manager’s Report & Correspondence - Cathy Kichline reported:

  1. The passing zone on Kesslersville Road has been eliminated (with PennDot approval) at the Township’s request.
  2. They (?) are reviewing a bus stop at Sullivan Trail and Town Center Boulevard.
  3. The Parks & Recreation Committee is finalizing improvements to Meco park and Lafayette field. The committee is also working on the recreation survey which should go out in the July "newsletter."
  4. The Public Works Committee has worked on job descriptions for the DPW and the Board has them for review.
  5. The Community Relations Committee is continuing to assist and work on Forks Community Days Sept 16-17. Kichline announce to that the BoS has authorized that the building dedication and open house be in conjunction with the Forks Community Days. Local officials are being invited.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - reported that he, Kichline and Henning Holmgaard met with the EAJSA engineers regarding an authority wide I & I (infiltration & inflow) study of stormwater in the septic/sewer system. The authority is proposing that all the municipalities hire one engineer to do the study. The estimated cost to Forks is $60K and the State will reimburse 50% of that making the net cost $30K. Hay recommended that the Township participate. This study will identify all the problems in the EAJSA’s area. Palmer is already "on board."

Hay said too, that he visited Lovene Heller’s property on Arndt Road (see BoS notes from 5/18/06) and that what happened there is that the deeds follow the south side of Arndt Road and the right of way on the north side is not symmetrical and the road isn’t straight. Hay said that in Heller’s case they are taking 39 feet. He added that the right of way should have been dedicated a long time ago. Ackerman asked what can be done to straighten it out. Hay said that "it is the way it is."

Mr. Heller was in the audience and said that he didn’t even know that Hay was there (on his property) and that he wished he had known. He’d like to see what he’s doing. Heller said that he deserved that. DeHuy (sic) put in the stakes. Hay said that they are not going to move the road and that he (Heller) has a property dispute with DeHuy (sic) who did the survey. Heller said that he has a property dispute with the Township since they charged him to put in the curbing and the sewer line (in the 70s). Now it seems that the property belonged to the school district (and was dedicated to the Township.)

Solicitor Kline suggested that the Board should meet with Hay to go over his findings. Heller asked that the BoS not put this on the backburner.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline notified the Board of the zoning challenge from Bucks/Lehigh Land Company, LLC, Nic Zawarski & Sons Developers, Inc., Nic Zawarski Development Corp., and KMRD Limited Partnership owners of about 545 acres in Forks' Farmland Preservation (FP) district. Kline said that he thought these were the same people who requested a zoning change in that area to allow for medium density residential housing (last August).

Kline added that this was before the PC and BoS and both declined to allow the zoning change. He said too that he thought, "...quite frankly that this is just an effort to try to force the Township to make the zoning change in this area." The challanges are:

  • The 3 acre lot size in the FP
  • The 1 acre cluster option with equal open space

Kline said that the developers also claim that the Township does not provide for its fair share of mobile home parks and that the Township does not provide for its fair share of multi-family housing.

Kline detailed the process as beginning with a public hearing in front of the Forks Zoning Hearing Board. If either party objects to the outcome then it will go to the Court of Common Pleas (where no testimony is taken and the ruling is based on a review of the testimony taken by the ZHB.) And, if either party objects to that decision, an appeal can be made to the Commonwealth Court (an appellate court that deals with municipalities). Again, if either party objects, the PA Supreme Court can be asked to hear the case. Kline thought that if this goes its full length, it could take 5 years.

Kline asked to brief the Board further during Executive Session.

Comments from the Public

Jim Wideman (resident and PC member - addressed the issue of the zoning challenge and) expressed his "extreme dissatisfaction" with what "prominent developers in our area" have brought before the Township. Wideman said that the developers would doom the only open space in the Township to being a slum and that it is a direct affront to every one of the Supervisors.

Wideman added that the area is zoned for 3 acre or cluster (1 acre with 1 acre of open space) lots. He reminded the Board that this was discussed in great depth during the recent Zoning Ordinance review and that the Board voted unanimously to adopt the new Zoning Ordinance.

Wideman said that he hopes the Board will let the developers know that "we will not be terrorized by their actions." He noted too that there are close to 3000 homes approved and not yet built (in Forks) and these homes will increase Forks’ population approximately half of what it currently is. Wideman said that the infrastructure demands that will be required by an additional 3000 units are "astronomic beyond belief" - (Police) Chief Dorney would need to double his police force - (Fire Chief) Tim Weis would have to increase fire protection - and these are things that do not increase in small amounts but by 100s of thousands of dollars. Wideman notes that 3000 dwelling units with 2 cars each making 2 trips a day per car will result in 12,000 trips per day on our roads.

Wideman ended by reiterating his "extreme dissatisfaction with developers who would bring this challenge."


THE COURTS AT NEWLINS ROAD/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay explained that the letter in the Board members’ packets contain many stormwater technical comments that will not cause design changes in the plan. Hay said that he recommended approving this plan conditioned on the comments (his letter) and Ackerman made a motion to approve. Kline noted that the PC vote was 4:2 for conditional approval based on Hay’s letter and the requirement of a covenant by the homeowners association that no recreation equipment (or other things) shall be allowed to be placed in the 100 year flood plain. Ackerman added that to his motion.

Howell said that he attended the PC meeting where this was discussed so that he could be better prepared for it now. He questioned the 100 year flood plain line and its distance to the back doors of the units. Hay said that he thought it was 30 feet horizontally and 4 feet vertically. Howell said that he likes the concept but is bothered by the design and he wondered if there was some other way to design it to bring the units farther up (the hillside) so that they are farther from the flood plain. Hay said that one of the developer’s design constraints is that a 100 ft. buffer (to the north) is required.

Ackerman asked Hay if he was referring to the 100 year flood plain where it is now (on the map) or where it will be when the project is done? Hay explained that FEMA roughly estimates flood plains when they draw their maps and that it’s up to the landowner to do a detailed study for submission to FEMA. At that time, FEMA will redraw the map.

Howell asked how the more controlled water will impact the downstream area. Hay said that the volume will increase but the rate of its flow will not increase - "There will be more water but it will run longer." Ackerman said that in addition to another culvert under Sullivan Trail, the developer has agreed to contribute $20K to improvement on the other side of Sullivan, namely another culvert under Newlins Road (which will be raised.)

The land development plan was conditionally approved in a 3:0 vote.

COMMERCE BANK/LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay explained that he provided Commerce Bank’s consultant with a letter on November 18, 2005 and he has since learned that there are some land issues that will probably never be resolved. This plan was rejected in a 3:0 vote.

PATRIOT VILLAGE SUBDIVISION/INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT AND SEWER AGREEMENTS - Kline reported that everything is in order. The vote was 3:0 to accept the developers agreements.

AWARD BID/USED POLICE VEHICLE- Kichline explained that the Township put the sale of a 2004 Crown Victoria out for bid. On June 9 Kichline and Pete Gheller (Facilities Director) opened the two bids that were received. Kichline said that the high bidder was Mr. Ron Phillips His bid was $500. The vote was 3:0 to accept the bid.

MET-ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHTS PENN’S RIDGE DEVELOPMENT - Kichline explained that this was actually a correction to the January 2006 resolution and provides for 2 additional street lamps. Kline said that this will supercede the old resolution. It was approved 3:0.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss TWO potential lawsuits. 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, June 11, 2006

PC - They Heard It First! - 6/8/06

Sometimes the Planning Commission is the last to know and sometimes the first. At their June 8 meeting, they were the first to learn of the first challenge to the new Zoning Ordinance, the same ordinance they worked so long and hard to develop.

Township Solicitor Karl Kline told them that the Township has received a zoning challenge from the owners of nearly 550 acres in the Farmland Preservation (FP) district. He said that the challenge attacks the (new) 3 acre minimum lot size. The challenge attacks the (new) 1 acre lots with equal amounts of open space (the cluster option). The challenge states that there is not adequate space for mobile home parks. And, the challenge says that there is not enough multi-family housing in Forks.

On 6/9/06, Sarah Mausolf’s first piece about it appeared in Express Times. And, the day after that, she wrote a more in depth piece. Please read her articles as well as the thought provoking 6/11/06 Express Times editorial. There is much to consider.

Kline said that he will brief the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting on June 15. He said too, that the zoning hearing must be held within 45 days of the filing. That should put this important meeting some time before July 22. Whether it will be the Zoning Hearing Board’s project or the Board of Supervisors’ is yet to be decided. Kline said that it may take more than one hearing (session) and that if it goes to the courts it will not likely be resolved in this decade.

Kline did not name names when he told the PC. Mausolf did. This is the same group that proposed the 800 plus homes in the FP district last summer (the link is to the August 2005 archives). There do seem to be more entities involved now though. There is also more land involved - although it appears that the partnership has no plans (as of the filing date) for the added 104 acre parcel on Broadway Road. A total of 3042 mobile homes, apartments, condominiums, & townhouses are now proposed on roughly the same parcels as last summer’s proposed 800 plus units.

Not mentioned at the PC meeting this night was the fact that last February, the Kings Mill, LLC partnership submitted a "by right" plan for that acreage under the old zoning ordinance. This plan is still in review by the Township Engineer, Fred Hay. That plan calls for 187 single family homes on 436 acres and conforms to the Zoning Ordinance in effect at the time of submission.

To see the scope of the new proposal in relation to the FP district, click here. If you want to see its size in relation to the entire Township, click here (large file).

The PC considered other projects this night too. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) wrote about the Stryker Brigade Combat Readiness Center as well as some of the other agenda items. The F.A.C. newspage has updates of all the projects on the agenda with the exception of Riverview Estates Phase IIC Land Development. Because Strausser’s representative, Sal Panto, could not stay for his turn at the lectern, the project was tabled without discussion.

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, June 04, 2006

BoS Meeting 6/1/2006

On 6/1/06 Board of Supervisors set a date for the new Municipal Complex open house. Read more about it in articles by Ted Strong (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call). We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:
  1. Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas reported that she received an email from Dick Couch (the Chairman of the Community Days Celebration planned for September 16 & 17) that both he and his wife are ill and can no longer spearhead the event. Township Manager Cathy Kichline said that Mr. Bennett and his wife Sue, vice-chairs of the committee, will take over and will meet with staff next week. BoS Chairman David Hoff instructed Kichline to send a thank you letter from the Board to Mr. & Mrs. Couch for getting the Community Days Program started and wishing them well.
  2. Supervisor David Howell said that he received a letter from Jean Rogers in favor of the grocery store and that she could not be at this meeting because of a broken hip. He postponed reading her letter until the Public Hearing on June 29th.

Treasurer’s Report - Howell reported the Township’s cash outlays since the last BoS meeting.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas reported that work continues on the (PD) 5 year plan. Nicholas said too that she received a number of phone calls from residents after a television program about hurricane season aired. She said that they are working on the Command Center and much it should be done by the end of June and it will be totally completed by the end of July. She added that it will be ready for "any kind of hurricane."
Emergency Management Co-ordinator Tim Weis announced that the Knox Box decoders have been installed in the (supervisory) police vehicles and fire trucks. He said that letters have gone out to businesses, response has been positive and applications are coming in.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman had nothing to report. Nicholas mentioned that Pete Gheller passed a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) course. Kichline added that Gheller was sent to community college to take an Advanced GIS course. Kichline said that the Township is using it a lot and right now they are identifying all of the Township owned detention ponds and that this information will be used at the Comprehensive Plan meetings. Also, Gheller is taking some aerial shots of the Township.
Director of Public Works Gary Sandt reported that Ed (Kleppinger) is looking at some front mounted mowers for use around the new complex. Sandt said the Ed has tried both TORO and John Deere mowers. Ed found the TORO mower to do the best job because of its turning radius. He added that the mower is budgeted at $18 and will run about $17.4 K through TORO. It is 4 wheel drive and a cab can be attached so that it can be used to remove snow in the winter. Sandt said that he has a purchase order ready to go.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: This committee just had its first meeting!) Miller reported that the (Parks &) Recreation Committee is working on the survey that they will mail out to every residence in Forks. He reported on sports too. He said that the Super Regional Basketball Tournament (girls) was held last week and included teams from Baltimore, Long Island, NY State, etc. Miller said that there were a lot of positive comments about Forks wonderful facility. He said too, that adult summer basketball is no longer "in limbo," that there are seven teams and that it is sanctioned by Lafayette College (some of their students participate). Also, all Forks cheerleaders are "in" this weekend for practice, next weekend there is an AAU Basketball Tournament, and the indoor summer basketball (boys & girls) league has 147 teams.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell had nothing new to report.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff reported that the committee met last week and updated the job descriptions (copies in the Supervisors’ packets). Hoff said that a part-time position for Building & Zoning was added to the descriptions. Nicholas commented that the Secretary to the Board of Supervisors position was not included. Hoff said that it was removed at her (Nicholas’) request. He added that it is a separate, "exempt" job and not part of any other job.

Ackerman questioned whether or not "the front girl" was overworked. Hoff said that they are looking at that position to see if the new systems have improved that situation. He said that the descriptions will be reviewed annually (after the Board’s Re-Organization Meeting) and if there are changes, they will come back to the Board. The job descriptions for office staff were approved in a 5:0 vote.

A new job title was added, that of Human Resource Manager. Hoff said that in analysis the work that Barb Bartek is doing is not reflected in the title, Office Manager. She is doing the work of a Human Resource Manager. (Bartek was on the committee to develop job descriptions.) Miller asked who will be in charge if Kichline is out and Hoff explained that there is a chain of command in place. Bartek’s new title was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

Hoff announced too, that he received correspondence from Representative Rich Grucela that Forks was awarded a $53,782 recycling grant. Kichline explained that it was awarded because of Forks residents success at recycling. She congratulated all Forks residents for their recycling efforts.

Finance Manager Jim Farley reported that the annual audit is complete and that they will be meeting on Monday to review it before making recommendations to the Finance Committee.

Manager’s Report & Correspondence - Cathy Kichline said that a Supervisor suggested that there be a joint meeting of the Board with both the Recreation Board and the Planning Commission. Ackerman asked, "Why would the Planning Commission be involved?" Kichline said that they have been invited and Ackerman then asked, "Who invited them?" Howell said that it was his suggestion that the PC be involved in any land use issues in the Township. Howell said that for any kind of comprehensive planning for recreation (or anything), the "appointed Boards represent professionals in our community with ideas." He said that as the remaining Township land is being developed that it’s important that the PC knows what the Board wants to do. He added that they "represent a meaningful group of ideas" and should be part of any planning. Howell said that recreation and quality of life issues are part of comprehensive planning.

Ackerman said that he didn’t understand the purpose of this. Howell explained that it was to solicit ideas about our parks and recreation. Nicholas said that that’s what the Parks & Recreation Committee is supposed to be taking care of and that the committee should be reporting back to the Board.

Hoff remarked that if the purpose is to meet about the Comprehensive Plan then the dialog should be ongoing. Miller thought that the initial meeting should just be with the Recreation Board since they "haven’t sat down" with the Supervisors in years. He thought that the Recreation Board has things they want to talk to the BoS about that have nothing to do with the Comprehensive Plan.

A joint meeting with the Recreation Board (and BoS) was scheduled for 6:30 PM on June 15th. It will be advertised. It passed in a 5:0 vote.

Kichline reported too, that she received a letter from Lehigh Valley Canine Therapy Association asking to participate in Forks Community Days. She brought this to the Board because dogs are not allowed in the park. After discussion about limiting the dogs to Association dogs only (no residents’ dogs), about restricting the number of dogs to 5, about requiring that the dogs be leashed, and that the group provide "appropriate sanitation," their participation was approved in a 5:0 vote.

Municipal Complex Project Manager Alex Gale reported on the status of the project. He provided the Board with a sketch of his proposed new Sullivan Trail electronic sign for their opinion. It is larger than permitted by zoning according to Nicholas. Howell said that he discussed this issue with URDC’s Charlie Schmehl and that "informational" signs are exempt. Kline said that the sign amendment had been "put on the back burner" because of the grocery store issue but that it was certainly discussed. Nicholas said that the exact size of the sign needs to be known. Zoning Officer Weis said that informational signs are exempt. Gale said that he needs to know what he has to work with. Gale also said that the police sign will come down since it will be covered by the new one.

Gale said that he finished working for the Township (for pay) yesterday (5/31/06). He said that he may come in several days a week as contractors finish up things on their punch lists - at no charge to the Township.

Gale gave a detailed summary of what is still to be finished and the expected completion solutions and times. He asked what wording the Board wants on the time capsule and monument. The time capsule, filled with items collected at the 250th celebration in 2004, will be buried at the Forks Community Days in September.

Gale asked that he be allowed to re-mulch the complex a few weeks before the Community Days in September because things will be grown in by then and will look better. Two inches of the intended 4" is already down.

"Do you remember where you were two years ago... and where you’re at now?" Gale asked. He said that for the dollars that were spent, Forks "did pretty damned good." Hoff thanked Gale for all the work he’s done.

Ackerman asked what happened with the engineers and their differences from months ago and also what happened with the insurance company when winds knocked down all the fire department building roof trusses. Gale said that he will be meeting once again with Schoor diPalma in the next couple of weeks. He added that they had very direct responsibility for well over $100 K in additional expenses. As to the wind damage, Gale said that the Township’s insurer paid for the repairs but that there is nothing to stop the company from going back to the contractor’s insurer to reclaim the money since the contractor was clearly at fault.

Kichline expressed her appreciation as well as that of the staff for the new building and what Gale did for them.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - Only agenda items. Hoff mentioned a letter from Alexis and Evan Fisher who wrote to tell the Board how much they appreciated Hay’s help solving a problem that they had. Hoff added that he appreciated him doing that.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline announced that the Delaware Nation’s attorney has filed a petition with the 3rd Circuit Court Of Appeals to reconsider its previous action. Kline said that he does notthink it will be successful but it is continuing to "grind on."


MUNICIPAL COMPLEX OPEN HOUSE/SET DATE & TIME - The Open House dates and times were set to coincide with Forks Community Days, September 15 & 16, 2006. There will be an opening ceremony 11-noon and the entire complex will be open to the public from noon to 4 PM each day. The Board agreed to authorize $1000 to be spent on refreshments in a 5:0 vote.


CROP FARMING LEASE/BREWERE FARMS, LLC - Kline said that this is a 5 acre tract west of Metzgar Field. This is a one year lease and the rent will be $500. It passed 5:0.

MET-ED RESOLUTION FOR ADDITIONAL STREET LIGHTS - Kichline explained that Pheasant Ridge’s lighting has been inspected by the engineer and is ready to go. It passed 5:0.

PROPOSAL FOR TRAFFIC SIGNAL AGREEMENT - Kichline said that the traffic signal maintenance agreement will expire June 30th and proposals were solicited from three companies. Only one responded, Traffic Signal Solutions, our current provider. Hay noted that the Meco/Sullivan light was not in the proposal but it isn’t an issue since it is still "in design" and won’t go out for bid until late summer. Kline said that the proposal was in order. The contract was awarded to Traffic Signal Solutions in a 5:0 vote.

Weis said that the line was cut to the emergency traffic signal (for the PD & FD) and isn’t going to red on the southbound side on Sullivan Trail. Hay asked who cut the wire and Weis said that he was not sure.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss the non-uniformed employees contract renewal.

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.