Sunday, August 27, 2006

Zoning Challenge - Real Start - 8/21/06

The Real McCoy and YOU were there!

The Kings Mill zoning challenge hearing got off to a slow start on Monday (8/21/06). Three hundred (or so) interested Forks residents and neighbors were in the audience.

Please read the Express Times and the Morning Call for details of the meeting and for summaries of the "charges" against Forks' new Zoning Ordinance.

(Click on any of the photos to see larger images.)

Lawyers and witnesses for the new KMRD, LP applicant (photo on the left.)

Audience before the start of the hearing.

KMRD's expert witness discusses soil quality.

The hearing process is detailed by "our" team.

The Express Times is to be commended for taking a stand in two editorials, one published on June 11, 2006 and the other on August 25, 2006.

EASD Superintendent, Dennis Riker, spoke out publicly in a letter to the Express Times. Riker explained in language we all understand (school tax dollars) just what a project of this magnitude will COST us! (Click on the links to read the articles.)

Round 2 is tentatively scheduled for Monday, October 16th and Round 3 for Monday October 30th. Save the dates. This is too important to miss!

Notice: Special BoS Meeting - Monday, 8/28/06

The Board of Supervisors have called a special meeting for Monday, August 28th at 7:00 PM in the Municipal Building. According to the (linked) legal notice from the Express Times, "The purpose of the special meeting is to determine the Advance Life Support and Basic Life Support providers of emergency services for the Township of Forks, and to consider such other business as may come before the board at that meeting."

As most of you are aware from the newspaper coverage (see
Mausolf - Express Times and Coombe - Morning Call), Forks EMS is, at the moment, out of business. Palmer's Suburban EMS has been our provider since the doors were closed on Forks EMS.

Superivisors are to make a decision regarding the official EMS provider to the Township on Monday night. Subscriptions run out 8/31/06 so time is of the essence.

If you have something to tell the Supervisors or if you simply are concerned and want to be sure that EMS service is resolved, come to the meeting!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

BoS Meeting 8/17/06

The August 17 meeting of the Board of Supervisors was an exceptionally long one and dealt mostly with Township business and not developers and their projects. In fact only one project was on the short agenda. Please read Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon’s (Morning Call) for more. We will try to fill in the blanks.


The regular meeting was preceded by a 45 minute workshop session to iron out the Township Manager job description. Supervisor Miller was not in attendance.

The Board made a start at it by deciding to go through the old job description paragraph by paragraph and categorizing each as one of 5 broad funtions/groups:
  1. Finance
  2. Staff
  3. Public (includes dealing with the public, the press, regional and civic groups, and with other government agencies)
  4. Land development (and "land use control" - a term from the old definition that all agreed needs clarification)
  5. Board of Supervisors (relationship)

Supervisor David Howell volunteered to sort the paragraphs by the new categories so that each Committee can review them and make recommendations back to the Board. Other employee responsibilities will also be reviewed in light of the manager’s position redefinition. There will be an additional workshop before the next meeting.

Regular Meeting

During the review of the minutes for the 7/20/06 and the 8/3/06 Board of Supervisors meetings Supervisor Howell said that the minutes of the 8/3/06 meeting were reported correctly (but not completely) on the request by Richetta Productions for traffic cones and horses for the Italian American festival at the Eagles on August 26 & 27. Howell said that the minutes do not reflect that he asked Supervisors Ackerman and Nicholas if they would agree to this and Ackerman "indicated verbally that he would." Howell said then that he would send the information by email to Ackerman, Nicholas and DPW Director Sandt. He did do that but when Richetta Producitons contacted Sandt, Sandt told them "no." Ackerman said that he planned to bring this up in the Public Works Committee discussion.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Ackerman opened with a question to Chairman Hoff. Ackerman asked Hoff if he had been in a meeting in the Township Manager’s office with two other Supervisors on April 5th. Hoff said that he didn’t recall. Ackerman then asked Howell the same question. Howell said that he’d have to look at his calendar. Ackerman then asked Supervisor Miller. Miller said he had "no idea." Hoff asked why this has come up and Ackerman said that he wants to know if he "did or didn’t first" and then he’d let him know. Howell said that he’d like to know who the "informant" is and Ackerman said that he was and then he admitted to not being there.
  • Supervisor Nicholas said that it occurred to her while at a Community Days meeting that no one sent invitations to public officials. She took it upon herself to have Debi Tindall write letters to Morganelli, Stoffa, Rendell, etc. (Nicholas read the form letter that was sent). Nicholas also sent an email to staff heads asking them to meet with her on the 28th in order to get volunteers for the open house and to get the "refreshments coordinated." Nicholas then said that she needs to know where the "time capsule" is to be buried so that a hole can be dug in advance.

Nicholas said that the Manager was to be doing all of these things and (in the absence of a Manager) she has volunteered to make sure that they get done. Nicholas asked Bartek (Secretary tot he Board) to confirm that there is $1000 available for refreshments. Hoff asked Nicholas to check with PNC Bank because they made an offer to handle some of the refreshments.

Howell asked Nicholas about Senator Wonderling and Nicholas said that he has been invited. Howell said that Wonderling wants to have a booth there. Nicholas said that she asked Solicitor Kline to check into what is allowed in political booths on municipal property. Howell said that what he wants to have is not partisan but all State publications.

Nicholas added the flowers on the front table (the $3K table) were donated by the flower shop down by Bushkill Park.

  • Hoff said that he received correspondence about the "Act 43 property review" and he said that it lists farms. He said that he just wanted to be sure that there are none on the list that are involved in the zoning challenge. Kline said that he will have to check the tax parcel numbers against the one’s that the developers have listed.

Ackerman said that if the land is in "Ag Land Preservation where they got funds from the municipality, county and state, they are the only ones who are eligible for a freeze on their taxes." Ackerman added that at this point there is no property in Forks that has that designation. The Brown property is going to be approved but they have not yet received any monies. Ackerman added that every municipality in the EASD must approve this (Act 43) for the freeze to be put in place.

Kline said that there are two lists, one for Act 43 and one for Act 4. He said that Ackerman’s point is about Act 4, a freeze of tax millage. Kline said that as of now, no property in Forks is eligible and that Forks, the county, and the school district would have to approve it. Nicholas clarified that it would just freeze the millage exempting the properties from tax increase.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

Nicholas noted that Forks entered an agreement this year with Northampton County SPCA to pay a per animal fee of $40. In the past the Township paid one flat fee. She said that so far this year, the Township has paid $2K. She said that with a flat fee, the budget item is known. In the per animal contract anyone from Forks (police, animal control, and "people") can drop off an animal and the Township is billed $40. She asked that this be looked into for next year’s budget.

Nicholas then said that the Sam’s Club renewal was brought to her attention. She said that apparently when it was discontinued in mid-year, no one notified Sam’s Club in writing. Ackerman said that the Board dropped the membership and he collected all the cards. Fire Chief Weis said that when he could buy at Sam’s Club, he saved thousands of dollars for the Fire Department (over what he now has to pay.) Ackerman said, "The system was abused and that’s why we done away with it." He added that the Township has a number of company credit cards (Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.) and that the Township needs to find a way to keep them from being abused. He doesn’t want a "good person to go bad."

Howell suggested that Sam’s Club membership be researched by Farley and that he report back to the Board.

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 5:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas read a letter from Forks EMS life members. They wrote that they elected a new Board of Directors and were to hold a business meeting on 8/17/06. Nicholas said that Suburban EMS’ Mr. Albertson will be at the Public Safely meeting on 8/23 and she invited someone from Forks EMS to attend. Subscriptions for Forks residents are the big issue since they run out at the end of August.

Nicholas said that she got a letter from Suburban’s lawyer and gave it to Kline. Kline said that he got a very informative 8 page letter from their Mechanicsburg attorney. Kline said that it provides information about the law and subscriptions. He added that the government gets involved because it pays the bills under Medicare and Medicaid. The government has a requirement that patients pay a certain portion and with a subscription program, the patient portion is waived.

Forks EMS cannot sell subscriptions because they are not in operation at this time. Kline summarized the Township’s options as noted in the letter:

  1. Continue with Suburban.
  2. Suburban keeps subscriptions in an escrow account that would draw from on a
    monthly basis.
  3. Township uses taxpayer money to pay it all.
  4. Do nothing.

Nicholas said that she discussed these options in a meeting with Albertson and they decided it was not a good idea for the Township to take over. Kline noted that it’s a "slippery slope" if the Township starts paying the bills especially since when someone else is paying the bills, bills tend to increase. She added that this is the major thing on the Forks EMS agenda tonight.

Nicholas said that she is going to tell both EMS squads that they must come to an agreement on subscriptions by the Public Safety meeting on 8/23 as well as have the necessary contracts signed (by then). Nicholas said that Forks EMS already has the subscription forms printed. She said that Suburban has said it was fine if Forks EMS sends them out and has the money put in escrow. Suburban would then draw 1/12 per month (as long as they are the service provider.) Nicholas said that if the Board comes to the "advertised" meeting on the 23rd, they can make a decision then. Nicholas emphasized that they are running out of time and that a decision must be made.

Hoff asked what kind of legal agreement is needed to insure that the money paid for subscriptions goes into an escrow account. Nicholas said that the escrow account will have both Suburban and Forks EMS names on it and that lawyers will draw up the agreement. Kline said that Forks EMS has an obligation to prove to the Board of Supervisors that it is financially viable. Until the BoS changes its position Suburban EMS is the primary provider for the Township.

Nicholas said that a Forks police officer was attending the EMS meeting (this night) to discuss the investigation with them. Nicholas was told that Forks EMS hopes to collect on the outstanding bills (owed to them) and that if they get 1/4 of it, they will be able to pay their debt.

The question of the consequences of a slow mailing came was raised by an audience member. Nicholas said that part of the agreement will be that existing subscriptions will be extended for so many weeks.

The Public Safely meeting on 8/23 at 5:00 PM (advertised and open to the full Board as well as to the public) will be in the Municipal Building.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - began with a discussion of the horses requested by Richetta Productions for Italian American Celebration (at the Eagles) parking. He said that the Township has two different requests for horses for the same dates, the "Italian something group" and Giant (5 year anniversary).

Ackerman said that it was the decision of the Public Works Committee that the talian American celebration is not a Township function. He said, "They are an outside group coming in and we didn’t feel that we should be providing for them." Ackerman confirmed with Chief Dorney that Richetta Productions has contracted (and will pay for) 2 police officers from 2-8 PM each day. Dorney said that this request was put in 6-9 months ago.

Howell said "that it would be an embarrassment for the Township not to help" and that Richetta Productions will be at the Community Days Celebration and has volunteered their radio show. They are waving their $1200 fee. Howell added that Richetta, at no charge, had a radio show for 2 days at the 250th Anniversary Celebration.

Howell said that 5,000 or more people will probably come to the Italian American Celebration. Howell added that those attending will be passing through Forks and will see its "growth and potential." Richetta already has enlisted Lafayette College’s help for overflow parking. Palmeri bus company will be providing transportation between the Laneco lot and the Eagles. Howell said that a lot of people in our town are helping with this celebration and that "we have to be a good neighbor." He said, "All they want from us is some horses and cones to direct traffic off of Sullivan Trail and guide it to certain designated areas."

Ackerman said, "Where do we end this?" Howell replied that this is a singular event and that they are not making future policy.

Sandt said that Giant requested 15 horses and that they would wipe them out. Kline added that Giant is a "for profit entity" and that there are "opportunities for them to rent" them. Sandt said that a precedent was set when the Township provided barricades for their Easter Egg hunt.

Miller remarked that he doesn’t know how many times the Giant has given free water and food to the Township during the floods. There was discussion about how the Township only has 15 horses left since the floods. Howell suggested that the Township order more horses now.

Engineer Hay suggested using cones with tape in the parking lot. Ackerman agreed to split the horses available between the Giant and the Italian celebration. Howell said that the Township should not have said "no" without telling them the problem.

Ackerman reported too, that they are working on the milling machine sale and are waiting for Kline and "Dave" (Hoff?) to hear from Lower Nazareth. Kline said that Finance Manager Farley was to have initiated contact with the Lower Nazareth Township Manager. Farley said that Lower Nazareth manager said that there is no firm agreement on the conditions (of purchase) and that they will check their records and get back to him.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks and not on meetings of his committee.) Miller reported that summer basketball finished last week and that there were a record 150 teams. The free Easton News did a nice front page article. Miller said too that the program is at its maximum. He also had a list of everything that was done in the parks and made it available for anyone to look at after the meeting. He said that this evening, "It’s all football in the park and that there were probably 500 people out there."
Ackerman asked Miller why the chain was up preventing entrance to the Laneco parking area. Miller said that they are putting the chain up in the morning to stop people from using it as a short-cut while the Township vehicles are moving around. At 3:30 PM when the workers leave they are to put the chain down. Ackerman asked that Miller remind Ed (Kleppinger.)
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported he did his first "written report" and that he thinks he will do that from now on. He had 20 copies available.

Howell said the committee has not had a meeting since the last Board meeting but that he has been actively talking to staff about articles for the first edition of the Forks quarterly. He reported that ad sales are going very slowly and that no ads have yet been purchased by Big Woody’s, Ace Hardware or any of the banks. Small retailers have shown interest. Howell said that he "will probably make a lot of personal calls along Sullivan Trail and bend some arms." Howell said too that the survey that was to be a "pull out" in the center of the first edition is being mailed separately as the Parks & Recreation Committee doesn’t want to wait until October for the data. They will mail it themselves. They need the data in order to prepare the 2007 budget.

As to the map that was contracted by the Township last year, that vendor has disappeared (along with the advertising monies he collected. Dorney said that the Attorney General is involved.) Hometown Press will do a map and sell ads for it. It will not be ready in the next 60 days but Howell said that it will be a complete map. Zoning Officer Weis is providing the street guide data for it (from the county) in digital form.

Howell announced that Zoning Hearing Board minutes will be online at the Township website soon. They will go back to the beginning of the year. The ZHB does not have agendas so only their minutes will be online.

Howell said that he’s been in discussion with Senator Wonderling’s office regarding a PA Department of Community and Economic Development grant. He said that there is "money available to townships and municipalities for communications to residents." Howell thanked Deputy Fire Chief Bryan Weis and the president of the Volunteer Fire Company because he will piggy back on one of their grant applications. Howell hopes that grant money will be available to upgrade and enhance the Township website.

Nicholas asked Dorney if this was related to the money he is trying to get for the Police Department for rapid communications and Dorney said that it is not connected.

Nicholas asked Miller what is on the survey and he replied that it is basically the same as last time (many years ago). She asked if he had a "money for open space" question and he said that he did.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - reported that the committee met on August 9th and that they discussed the updating of the computer system and getting spyware and spam filters in place. They reviewed their "task list" with the financial software provider and discussed content filtering. Farley sent an email to Hodges about content filtering (to cut down on Internet use) and intends to implement this slowly because of the possibility of impacting things that are unintended. The committee will not meet on 8/23 and the next meeting will be on 9/13.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - reported on the Fire Department training building, currently a 22' x 68' pad on the corner of Glover and Kuebler Roads. Hay said that it will be 2 years before a building is erected there. He asked that the Board wave SALDO for this project as it would be a waste of Fire Department money to go through land development. Hoff added that this is part of the FD 5 year plan approved last year. The Board voted 5:0 to wave SALDO.

Hay said that the Mitman Road will be "recycled" next year and that in preparation the sewer line was "televised." A 270 ft. clay line must be replaced and about 15 epoxy spot repairs are needed on the rest of the line. Hay estimated the cost at $40-45K and said that it should be done now before Mitman Road is redone. Miller asked if any developers will be paying and Hay said "no" but that the Preserve has paving to do but since the road will be "recycled" they will give the Township the cost of their paving. The vote was 5:0 to do the repairs.

Hay reported that Frutchey Hill will also be "recycled" and the specs are ready for advertisement. Hay said he thought he would have the bid opening on 9/6 so that the Board can review the bids at their meeting on 9/7/06.

Of the Frost Hollow Swale, Hay said that it is close to completion and that the rains caused delays. Hay also said that the original plan was just to include work in the Frost Hollow development. He has been called out to look at storm damage on Dayton Drive in the Ramblewood swale, a "maintenance nightmare." Hay recommended repairing approximately 600 feet of it (from the original project limits to the culvert) with "cable concrete" at a cost of $100K. Hay would like to begin the work now using the contract prices that are in existence. Farley was asked if there was enough money in the capital improvement account and he said that there was. The repair was authorized in a 5:0 vote.

A resident asked when Strausser was going to get his portion of the swale done and Kline replied that Strausser has been stopped from working on Phases 5, 6, & 7 until he gets the unfinished things done.

The same resident asked that locations be put on the development list that is on the Township website. Weis said he will look at it and put directions or locations on it.

Ackerman asked Hay about the status of Valley View Road (to Gollub Park). Hay said that he is waiting for contours from the surveyor.

Ackerman said that Uhler Road caved in and forced PennDot into installing new 36" pipes instead of the 24" ones that were there. He hopes that this helps with the flooding. Howell asked Hay if 611 has the same drains (as Uhler - the 24" pipes) where the shoulders have given way. Hay said that he didn’t know and that he would have to talk to PennDot.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - reminded everyone that the 2nd hearing on the zoning validity challenge will be held on August 21 at 7:30 PM in the Community Center.

Kline reported that the Township finally has a bill of sale for the purchase of the 21K/gal. Crivellaro sewage capacity. Forks bought it from Williams Township.

Comments from the Public:

  1. Scott Lusher (sic) of Bushkill Park Drive reported that for 11 hours (during the recent concert event) the windows on his house shook. Lusher asked if the Township has a noise ordinance. Ackerman told him that there is one in the new zoning. Howell pointed out that Forks has no light meter or decibel detector and only the zoning officer for enforcement. Weis said that the didn’t think the noise ordinance applied in the Heritage Corridor, only in the EC, but he will check.

  2. Peter Murgia (sic) of Tree Line Drive said that he is concerned about the new swale and that the he has lost 40-50% of the use of that side of his property. There was discussion of the height of the gabion baskets. It was agreed that Hay would call Mr. Murgia and set a time to look at the swale with him.

  3. Ken Nagy of Dayton Drive informed the Board that because their meetings are scheduled on Thursday nights and conflict with county meetings, the Township is losing out on grant money that other municipalities are getting, namely Conservation money. He said that Mr. Dent gave $40K to Wilson for police radios and that Forks must start banging on politicians for grants. He said too, that the Board should hire a grant writer. Nagy said that it was "time that the townships stop being the cash cows for the county" and should change the meeting day.


Fire Company/PEMA Loan - Kline said that he has looked at all the files submitted to him by the Fire Department and the legal advertisement has been placed. The paperwork should be ready to file in a week or two. He added that the ($100K at 2%) loan money could take 4 months to get. (Bryan) Weis said that the vehicle replacement fund should have enough in it to cover the new truck. (Tim) Weis said that this dilemma is partly because the fire company dropped the ball and partly because the manufacturer is ahead of schedule.

The Township owns the fire equipment but cannot apply for PEMA loans, only the fire company can do that. Farley will prepare a financial analysis of the situation (whether the Township will be facing a deficit situation by advancing the amount due on delivery or if there are enough funds available.) Kline said that the Board has paid $183K of the $399K already. Kline also said that he needs to know the exact amount as part of the application.

Nicholas said that she wants to know how to prevent this from happening again. It was explained that the (former) Township Manager handled some of the particulars. This will be on the agenda for the next meeting.

Municipal Complex Security - Nicholas explained that she wants card key access to all the Municipal Complex buildings (and to the administrative area in the Municipal Building.) She said that Supervisors have no keys, are in charge of the Township, and cannot get into the buildings. She opined that if somebody doesn’t want a key, they don’t have to have one. Miller’s Community Center key also allows access to the front door of the Municipal Building. Ackerman wants a key to the front door as well as a key to the administration areas of the Municipal Building. Nicholas said that if an employee walks out the door and forgets her purse, the only way (now) to get back in is to call Weis who lives far away. With keys, that employee could call one of the five Supervisors instead.

It was noted that keys to all the offices and other things were not in a lock box as they were supposed to be but instead were found in the credenza of the (former) Township Manager. Nicholas said that anyone with access to that office could have made copies of those keys and that the "security in these buildings are really, really lax."

Ackerman said that it was "sad" to go to other Townships and see that they "have keys to any building they want."

Ackerman noted that Alex Gale and the former manager set up the current security key access program and that two weeks ago, Dorney physically took the keys and cards from Alex Gale. Dorney said that there is only one master key for all the buildings and that is in the possession of the Facilities Manager, Pete Gheller. Weis’ master key is only for the Municipal Building.

Hoff said that he has no problem with keys to the front door so that the building can be opened for meetings and such but he does have a problem with granting access to the administration area where all the records are kept. Nicholas said that all the records are locked up. Ackerman said that sometimes he’s come in the morning for a meeting and couldn’t get in the building until the clock "turned a certain time" to allow access.

Howell suggested that each Supervisor make a list of their concerns and that the Public Safety Committee consider them. He noted that now that all committee meetings have been advertised, Supervisors can be in meetings and not worry about the Sunshine Law. Ackerman thought that it’s a good thought to have the committee do that particular issue.

Supervisors had a printout of building accesses provided by Chief Dorney as a result of an investigation into an unauthorized entry into the Municipal Building. Terminology and door locations were discussed at length. Cardholder means that a specific cardholder opened a door. Forced entry means that a key was used.

Nicholas said that on the report it showed that on July 5th Alex Gale reported that the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) was not working properly and on July 6th the ICU trouble shooter came and confirmed that. On July 7th, ICU removed the camera and sent it back to the manufacturer. The Supervisors were not notified. On August 9th the camera was back in service. Dorney said that ICU thought there was some sort of power surge that affected the unit. Dorney said that the security company has been invited to the Wednesday Public Safety meeting. Nicholas said that there needs to be a back-up system for the DVR units.

Howell said that the report was generated because he filed a police report over what he considered an "unauthorized entry" into the Municipal offices. Ackerman said that there are a lot things in the police report that were said in Executive Session and that nothing said in Executive Session is to get out of that room. Howell said that everything he said in the police report was from open discussions in the administrative offices and if it was later discussed in Executive Session, it had already been "dedicated to public information." Ackerman asked Kline if he was right and Kline said that "if there are allegations made about criminal activity affecting access to records, then it is appropriate to file a complaint and have a formal investigation."


Fort James Lot 2A - United Plastics Land Development Plan - This was approved in a 5:0 vote based on Hay’s letter of August 4th. United Plastics will be making styrofoam clamshell containers for Chinese restaurants in the Forks Industrial Park with access from Glover Road. The company is moving here from New Jersey.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss litigation and a personnel matter. No action was taken by the Board during the session. After the session, a vote was taken to authorize Kline to hire Thomas Kosa, a commercial photographer, to assist with photographs for the zoning litigation at an initial price not to exceed $3,000. The Board approved this in a 5:0 vote.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Workshop - Township Manager Position - 8/17/06

The Board of Supervisors will meet in a 6:30 PM workshop session (open to the public) before the regularly scheduled 7:30 PM session on 8/17/06. It is to discuss the position of Township Manager.

A good session to attend for all who are interested in this job.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Zoning Challenge - Start Will Get Do-Over!

According to the newspapers (see Mausolf - Express Times and Nixon - Morning Call) over 300 people turned out for the Kings Mill (and partners) zoning challenge hearing on August 7th. Bracelets affirming farmland preservation in Northampton County were distributed... 420 of them!

The meeting started only to be stopped minutes later when it was discovered that the required letters to property owners within 300 feet of the (named in the suit) parcels were not sent. The landowners were not notified that there was to be a hearing on the 7th.

To read the Kings Mill (and partners) zoning challenge for yourself, click HERE. And, to read a letter to the Express Times from Francis Caffrey, a Forks resident and meeting attendee, click HERE. His sentiments express that of many of the disappointed residents who came to the meeting.

We join Mr. Caffrey's plea for everyone to come again to the re-start on August 21 at 7:30 PM. The Zoning Hearing Board will be buoyed by your show of support for Forks in this most important land use issue in years!

ZONING CHALLENGE HEARING - Kings Mill & partners vs. your quality of life!
Don't miss it!
7:30 PM - Community Center - August 21, 2006

Sunday, August 06, 2006

BoS Meeting 8/3/2006

The August 3. 2006 Supervisors’ meeting was very lengthy despite its modest agenda. Members of the public spoke of noise, traffic and drainage problems. Solicitor Karl Kline discussed the upcoming (August 7th & 21st) zoning hearing meetings on the Kings Mill partnership’s zoning challenge. And, more of the Forks Community Days and the concurrent Municipal Complex Open House details were confirmed. Express Times reporter Sarah Mausolf, was there and reported on the discussion surrounding the Township Manager advertisement decision. Please read her article. We will try to fill in the rest of the meeting.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that there was a request by the "greyhound people" to have 3 dogs at Community Days. She pointed out that "Therapy Dogs" already have permission. Dean Turner (Planning Commission and Community Days Committee) asked if the Board would consider giving blanket permission for all dog groups to participate. Supervisor John Ackerman said that he thought it should be limited or there would be "too many dogs there at one time." The Board voted 5:0 in favor of the greyhounds.
  • Nicholas discussed the Community Days schedule. It was confirmed that the opening ceremony for the Municipal Building will be from 11:00-noon on Saturday and that the official open house for the entire complex, Municipal Building, Police Department, and Fire Department will be from noon-4:00 on Saturday only. None of the municipal buildings will be open on Sunday. Nicholas added that she asked EMS if they wanted to participate and has not yet received word from them.
  • Nicholas asked the Board on behalf of Harry (Bennet) if there is a "future" for Community Days as an "annual thing." Supervisor Ackerman said that he thought they should "wait and see how it goes this time."
  • Supervisor David Howell said that he received an email from John Raquetta (sic) Promotions about the possibility of the Township lending traffic control horses/cones and directional equipment to the Italian Festival at Forks Eagles on Sullivan Trail. The festival is scheduled for August 26-27. Ackerman said that he didn’t see why not. Howell said he’d forward the email to him, Nicholas, and DPW Director Gary Sandt for follow-up.
  • Howell said that he received an inquiry from the "Moms’ Club of Forks Township" about having a collection box in the lobby of the Municipal Building. They already have one at the Community Center. The Moms’ Club collects school supplies to benefit the Third Street Alliance of Easton - for needy children. Nicholas said that it was fine with her.
  • Hoff said too that he received two letters which he has passed on to Nicholas. One was from the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council and the other from the Easton Emergency Squad.
  • Supervisor Ackerman reported receiving a letter in praise of the DPW department from Michael & Cynthia Oberheiser (sic). The DPW moved rocks in the swale during recent flooding.

Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. His motion to accept was approved 5:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas reported that she was embarrassed when she showed up for a Safety Committee meeting last Wednesday and her key fob did not work. She had to walk through wet grass to get to a Barb Bartek’s window. Bartek let her in the building. Nicholas was with one of the meeting attendees who expressed surprise that Nicholas did not have a key for the front door.

Nicholas met with EMS, Fire Police, & life members. They discussed EMS subscriptions running out at the end of August. Nicholas said that Suburban EMS will let her know what is going on with Forks’ subscriptions after they meet with their attorney. Nicholas said that she asked for their decision in writing. Nicholas will be attending a (Forks) EMS meeting next week. She added that the "life members" are stepping in and getting things straightened out.

Police Chief Greg Dorney - reported that the J.T. Maloney (Signature Homes and a partner in Kings Mill) gift money (ref. BoS Meeting 3/16/06 - Manager’s Report, paragraph 1) was used to purchase audio/video units for two of the police cars. Dorney said that the units "will add some accountability to the officers, increase their level of safety, and help with prosecution matters." Nicholas added that they "might be getting a grant" for some additional units.

Nicholas then brought up a minor complication that is causing a delay to the delivery of
the new fire truck that was expected on August 18. The "minor complication" will cost an additional $3600 and according to Finance Manager Jim Farley the money is available in the capital equipment fund. Nicholas gave permission for the money to be spent since the "minor complication" is needed.

Chairman Hoff asked how much was realized as a discount when the truck was ordered because of the initial cash down-payment. He was told that it was a little over $5000. The conclusion was that even with this extra expense the truck is still under the amount quoted.

Nicholas then asked Solicitor Karl Kline to elaborate on another "issue," this one about not filing for the PEMA loan (for the fire truck) yet. Kline said that the volunteer fire department is supposed to file the loan application and that the Township joins in as a guarantor. After the loan is approved, there must be an ordinance written to authorize the indebtedness and after that, there must be "proceedings" filed with the State in
order for the State to approve the amount of indebtedness. And, after all of that, the Township will be able to sign the paperwork in order to get the PEMA loan.

Nicholas said that until the PEMA loan is received that money will have to come from another account (in order to take delivery on the new truck when it is ready in September.) Kline said that the loan process could take up to 60 days. A member of the fire department said that they have filed the loan papers with Kline for his review. Farley said that he will have to talk to the Township’s auditors but he believes there is money available.

Supervisor Howell raised a "point of order" about the Maloney gift. He asked how much the gift was and was told by Dorney that it was $13K and that they did not spend it all. Howell remarked that "that is a sizeable gift from a developer." He asked if the funds were taken in as revenue and whether or not it was a general gift or was for a purpose. Nicholas said that it was for the Police Department.

Howell said that as a point of order for all future gifts from developers, the Board should agree to accept them. Nicholas said that the Board talked about this when it happened. She said that Ms. Kichline announced at a Board meeting that Maloney gave the money to the Township for use by the PD.

Howell said that for future gifts, the Board should "move to accept them and to accept the purpose for which they are given." Kline said that Howell’s point was well taken. Kline added that there are two parts to a gift, the offering and the accepting. He said that most of the time, gifts would be acceptable but that there could be situations where they Board may not want to accept the gift. He cited as unacceptable conditions: [1] where the Board would have to approve a subdivision or [2] when the gift could only be used for a certain race. He thought that it would be a good idea that at the time of gifts, the Board approve accepting them, especially if they have conditions.

Howell asked Dorney how much money was left. Dorney said that there is approximately $2K left. Howell asked Farley where it is in the record keeping and Farley replied that it is in an accrual account for the PD.

Ackerman suggested making a motion to accept the Maloney gift for cameras for the police cars. It passed 5:0.

Emergency Management Co-ordinator (and Fire Chief) Tim Weis said that Mr. Maloney also approached him about a similar donation but Weis said he didn’t know what the Fire Department wants yet. Weis was cautioned to approach the Board so that they can make a motion to accept it. Ackerman said that he thought that the Board should reconsider the matter of keys for Supervisors. He said he and Howell went to a COG meeting in Williams Township and were given a tour of their new building. Ackerman said that Williams Township Supervisors have keys for every building and every room. Ackerman added that he contacted 6 other townships and in every case the Supervisors have keys. Dorney has prepared a report on building entries and when the Board has reviewed it, Ackerman asks that they revisit its "key" action.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - reported that Lower Nazareth is willing to buy Forks share in their jointly owned milling machine. Farley said that it is valued at $110K and that Lower Nazareth will pay off Forks portion of the note and pay Forks ½ of the equity in the machine (approximately $42K). Kline will work with Farley on the paperwork. The sale was approved "administratively" (so that when all the details are worked out the sale can be done) in a 5:0 vote.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller reported on events in the parks and not on meetings of his committee.) Miller said that summer programs are winding down, that the adult outdoor basketball program finished up this week, and that the indoor kids tournaments are finishing next week. Fall sports, football and soccer, are due to start next Monday night.
Miller said that there is a problem with one of the air conditioners in the Community Center and that he hopes that it is fixed in time for Monday’s Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Miller said that the Township has no contracts with repair people and that he is "not too happy" with the vendor they brought in to do the repairs. They were a no-show for two days. Albarell Electric was finally called in and they found an electrical problem. It was not fully functional on Thursday.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that they met last week with with Hometown Press and that the first edition of the Forks new quarterly will be out in October. Howell said that Joe Ferry of Shadywood Communications has been assigned as the editor/staff writer for it. Howell added that all Supervisors, managers, and directors will get an email from Joe Ferry outlining the requirements for their articles (for the first edition). Joe Ferry will do the writing.

Howell said too, that pages 2 or 3 will contain a message from the Board. He said that in the first edition, it will be about the quarterly itself. In future editions it will more likely be a recap of things of significance that have happened in the last quarter as well as things that are upcoming in the Township. Howell volunteered to write the first one (if no one else wants to) and added that he will send it to each of them for comment.

Howell said that advertisement sales are going slowly and that he was told that this is not unusual for a first time publication since businesses want to know what a publication will look like before committing money. Howell said too, that one of the things the Township has going for it is that the quarterly will be mailed to every household in the township. Businesses like that.

The deadline for getting the paper out to layout designers is September 1st so articles must be in the next couple of weeks.

Howell also said that the Historical Society would like to update their part of the website and he is working with them on that. It should be done in the next couple of weeks.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - reported that there will be a committee meeting next Wednesday at 3:00 PM.

Nicholas added here that some little boys came up to her and thanked the Police Department for the academy. She said that they want it to be there next year. Dorney said that they have changed a few things, added programs, and that interest has always been there.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - said that he is looking to the Board from some direction regarding developers’ improvement security releases. How it has worked in the past is that the developer applied for it, their engineers certified the quantity, Hays office verified it, Hays office signed off on it, the Township Manager signed off on it, and then sent it to the security holder (bank) along with a cover letter (in order for the bank to release the funds.) The Board voted 5:0 to allow Finance Manager Jim Farley to sign the paperwork.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - reported that he received a call from Williams Township’s Manager, Debbie Patterson about 30,000 gallons of sewage treatment plant capacity. It was owned by the Crivellaro family and was sold it to Williams Township. Williams will keep 9,000 gallons and Forks will purchase 21,000 gallons at $6.80/gallon ($142,800). This purchase was voted on at the November 3, 2005 Supervisors’ meeting. The check was approved 5:0.

Kline next reminded everyone of the "zoning validity challenge filed by Mr. Maloney, Mr. Zawarski, and Mr. Benner" will have it’s first hearing date before the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 PM in the Community Center. The second hearing is scheduled for the 21st. Kline said too, that he is sure that there will be additional hearings.

Kline said that what they are trying to do is have the zoning in the Farmland Preservation (FP) district declared illegal so that they can put in several thousand homes on the 550 or so acres that they control there. Kline said that what is at issue is the "sovereignty" of the Township and "whether or not the developers are going to dictate or the Board of Supervisors are going to dictate the course of development in the Farmland Preservation district."

Planner Dean Turner asked that since it’s a public hearing and the public is invited, what can they (the public) do? Kline replied that the ZHB will make up the rules and that they have their own solicitor. He said that he imagines the public will be allowed to ask questions of witnesses. Nicholas remarked that all witnesses must be sworn in.

Turner asked what he/the public can do to prepare and said that it sounds like they should be preparing testimony about the things that are actually offered that the KM partners say are not. Kline said that he will leave a copy of the "challenge" with Barb (Bartek?) for anyone who wants to see "where they are headed and the points they want to make."

Kline said that he and Attorney Steven Goudsouzian will represent the Township. The first part of the case will be the challengers presentation of the testimony and then the Township will have an opportunity to cross examine (their witnesses.) Later on, the Township will present their witnesses and then KM will have an opportunity to cross-examine.

Comments from the Public:

  • Elizabeth Westbrook from North Delaware Drive told the Board of increased, dangerous traffic on 611 near the Riverside Deli. She said that the 45 mph speed limit is not enforced and that pulling out of her driveway is dangerous. She said too that mailboxes are on the opposite side of the street and access to her river property is also across the street. She told of the many joggers and bicyclists and that the road is in very bad shape (erosion from flooding and damage from heavy trucks.) Ms. Westbrook said that the post office told her that it is unlikely to allow mail delivery on her side of the street since it’s too dangerous. She asked the Township to lower the speed limit to 35, ban large trucks, add weight limit restrictions, and enforce highway laws. She said, "Citizens deserve to be protected."
Hoff said that the Township can only address the police issue since 611 is a PennDot road. Westbrook said that the Township can write a letter to Rep. Grucela and that his office said that she needs a letter from the Township in order to do anything with PennDot. Howell suggested that she lobby the State Representatives to allow radar use by local police. Dorney said that his department has handled 700 more calls this year than last year at this time.
  • Gretchen Gerstel, Forks Avenue, said that she learned from Farley that Miller was the second signer of the check to pay for the $3000 table. Ackerman offered that he refused to sign the PO for the table. Only one signature is needed on a PO. Nicholas said that it was a special order table and was the result of a "glitch" in the system.
  • Regina Clay (from Briarwood at Steeplechase) told the Board of drainage problems and broken promises by the developer, Zawarski. She said that he promised to level and re-grade the trenches and swales that are causing basements to flood. She added that the standing water is causing mosquitoes and flies. Hay said that he visited the site and that the developer cannot get in there to do anything because all the residents put up fences. Ms. Clay was advised by Hoff that this is an issue with the developer. Clay said she has called his office and sent certified letters and that he doesn’t return calls.
  • Holly Baldwin of Palmer Township near Bushkill Part told of the 11 hours and 4 stages worth of music coming from the Bushkill Park fund-raiser. She said that there were 60 bands and that she called the park as well as the police. Baldwin told of her aged mother in tears because of all the noise. The police told her that the park has a special permit. Weis said that there was no special permit issued and that the use is "permitted." He told her too, that the park has its own security force and K-9 unit. He added that the park will give away trips to Atlantic City to all the neighbors if they do it again. Dorney said that the Township PD were called there 3 times. The first time they made them shutdown 2 stages. The second time they made them turn the volume down. The third time (10:35 PM) they shut it down.
  • Donald Telly (sic) of Richmond Road and next door to Forks Elementary School told of the speeding on Richmond Road. He said that many cars are using Richmond to avoid the lights on Sullivan Trail. He said that he has a 1 year old child and it’s dangerous. He asked that the Township put in speed bumps, use radar, or make the road one-way. Hoff told him that it is a PennDot road. Telly asked that a police cruiser sit in his driveway.
  • Dean Turner of Richmond Road (and the Planning Commission) said that Harry & Susan Bennett (Community Day Chairs) wrote a letter to One-Up LLC to ask permission to use the old Laneco lot (in front of the vacant store) for Community Day parking. They were given the okay as long as there is $1 million liability insurance policy where One-Up is named as an additional insured. Turner added that the Fire Police are scheduled to patrol parking lots. Kline said that the Township insurer needs to be notified to be sure that the coverage is provided. Nicholas said that she will call Barb (Bartek?) and have her look into it.

Turner had a suggestion for the Township website, that there be an announcement page for all legal announcements. He said that he, like a lot of people today, does not subscribe to newspapers and reads online.

Turner said that he was not speaking for the Planning Commission (PC) but for himself as a member of the PC. He said that there is no formal mechanism to gather and present PC information to the Board of Supervisors. He said that he knows that Kline and Hay attend both meetings but he doesn’t see "how humanly they can represent both at the same time." Turner said that he felt that some "very good conversations" are not related to the Board because they are not incorporated in decisions that the Board makes. He added that he doesn’t understand "why the PC exists if their efforts are only going to be duplicated by more conversations later." Turner asked that a more formal method to give input to the Board be created. He suggested a rotation of members at Supervisors’ meetings to report on projects. He said that he’s heard that minutes are provided but he doubted that if there was a PC meeting one Thursday and a Board meeting the next, that the minutes are available.

Turner said he was disturbed by things he’s noticed, namely that when developers come in to speak they are greeted with friendly banter, concessions are made, and things are granted. When residents of the Township come in with problems, they are told "that’s not our issue, that’s a PennDot issue, you have to talk to so-and-so." Turner said that he is one of many who elected the Board to represent him and that developers did not elect them. He added that he’d like to hear more about how the Board will help residents, perhaps offering to "spearhead" issues with PennDot so that the residents will feel like the Board is representing them and not other people.


Forks Village Subdivision, Phase I - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that he had a signed agreement, a certificate of insurance, a letter of credit, and that everything was in order. The vote was 5:0.

Riverview Estates:

a) Phase 2C Temporary Parking - Hay said that his letter, dated 7/7/06 described this as basically a temporary parking lot. Howell said that he was at the PC meeting where this was discussed and he remembered a "condition" in their acceptance. That condition was that there be snouts installed to skim off petroleum (grease & oil.) Hay said that their engineer agreed to snouts and that he will be sure that they are included in the submitted drawings. Turner added that the snouts were put in as a condition because the parking lot drains directly to the river and the runoff will contain parking lot dirt as well as car dirt. Turner said that snouts are one of the water management suggestions from the State and that they help to filter off the petroleum products.

Nicholas suggested that PC meetings be digitally recorded so that she can hear their (the PC) comments before the projects come before the Board. Hoff noted that the minutes are the official record. Kline affirmed this and said that they are the official record because they are reviewed and approved. Turner said that he will gladly tape the meetings for Nicholas.

The vote was 5:0, with conditions.

b) Recreation Center - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that all is in order and that the developer wants to move forward with infrastructure improvements for the Riverview Recreation Center. The vote was 5:0.

Resolution #600803-1 / Two Rivers Council of Governments - Howell said that the Twin River COG would like to have the Borough of Freemansburg as a member and in order to do that a Resolution is needed from each member municipality. The vote was 5:0.

Resolution #060803-2 / Liquor License Transfer - BW Forks, Inc. - Kline explained that the public hearing on this liquor license transfer from Bethlehem to Forks was held last February. This is for Big Woody’s Sports Bar. The PA Liquor Control Board approved the application. The vote was 4:0. Howell abstained because he wrote a dissent to the PA Liquor Control Board asking for a additional conditions including a period of good behavior. Howell said that he was disappointed in the PLC.

G&G Developers LLC Land Development - Developer’s Agreements - Kline said that the developer is ready to get a building permit and to start building. All is in order. The vote was 5:0.

DCNR/Lehigh Valley Greenways/Permission to use Meeting Room August 30, 2006 - Granted in a 5:0 vote.

Advertise Township Manager Position - Ackerman said that he would like to hold off on this until after the ordinance and job description are re-written. Hoff agreed that they need to be redone but he thought that the advertisement should go out while the documents are being rewritten.

Howell said that he thought they should at least start the process. He explained that when one advertises for a position, a complete job description is not included in the text and waiting to do that will delay it until the fall. Nicholas thought that the qualifications may change. Howell said that they can send out a letter acknowledging receipt of the resume(s) and stating that the job description is subject to change.

Nicholas agreed with Ackerman. Howell agreed with Hoff. The audience chimed in and expressed their opinions - agreeing with Ackerman and Nicholas. Many comments were exchanged. Gerstel said that "we don’t need another $3000 table" and that the "citizens of this town are totally fed up and if you don’t believe me, you will a little later on in the year." She added, "Or maybe some of you should resign from the Board if you are not qualified to sit up there and pass judgement." Then she added, "I guess nobody else has the guts to get up and say anything. What are you going to do to me? Ask me to move?"

Another attendee asked the Board if they’ve ever considered a Township Planner instead of a Township Manager. She said that Palmer Township has one and it’s working well. It was noted that Palmer also has a Township Manager.

A motion was made by Howell to solicit resumes for a manager subject to any change in the ordinance describing the duties. Miller seconded the motion and noted that he thought from their previous discussions that they were going to advertise in PSATS magazine but he just got his and there was nothing in there. He would like to run an ad in it since it goes to every township manager in the State of Pennsylvania and is not just local like "our newspapers are."

Ackerman said that it’s a good idea to put it in the magazine and that it must be done right away to make the next issue. He added that he thought it was too early to advertise in the local papers.

Turner asked if the 5 people on the Board have a consensus of what they are looking for and Nicholas said that she guessed they do not agree on that. Turner asked how they could go forward with the process if they don’t agree? Hoff said that they can work through the process to build the document (ordinance and job duties) and that it will be a consensus of the Board but it doesn’t mean that they will agree on the same person.

The discussion went on with more interjections from other members of the audience.

A vote was taken and the motion to advertise the position in the PSATS, Lehigh Valley economic and trade journals and the local newspapers was passed 3:2. PSATS will be done right away. The resume deadline date was set at September 15. Ackerman and Nicholas cast the nay votes.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss litigation and a personnel matter. No action was taken by the Board 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.