Sunday, October 29, 2006

Kings Mill Zoning Hearing - Round 4 Reminder

The Kings Mill (and partners) zoning challenge hearing continues with Round 4 on Monday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 PM in the Community Center.

Kings Mill (and partners) allege that Forks' zoning is too restrictive. The farmland preservation district does not permit high density housing. Kings Mill wants to erect over 3000 dwelling units on 545 FP acres and is willing to spend time and money over the years it will take for the zoning challenge to be resolved.

The next round is tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 13 at 7:30 PM.

If you care - one way or the other - attend the hearing. Be counted!

Grocery Zoning Appeal - Part 1

The group of 15 Forks residents who filed an appeal of Forks' Ordinance 298, the ordinance that adds a grocery to the list of conditional uses in the employment center (EC) district, had their opening hearing on Monday, October 23. They are represented by attorney Gary Asteak. He summarized the appellants charges of spot zoning. For details, please read Lomax (Express Times) and Nixon (Morning Call - The link will take you to a scanned image on the RWC blog. - The Morning Call chose to exclude this report from its online coverage.)

The appeal will take several sessions before the Zoning Hearing Board. The next is scheduled for Monday, November 20 at 7:30 PM.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

BoS Meeting 10/19/06

On October 19th the Board of Supervisors considered many agenda items including Kings Farm, the by-right (allowed under the old zoning ordinance) plan proposed by Nic Zawarski & Sons, JT Maloney/Signature Homes, and Dennis Benner. Both Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported on the long discourse and the vote for a time extension. Please read their articles. We will try to fill in the blanks on the rest of the meeting.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor John Ackerman said that Forks was the host township for last night’s Twin Rivers COG meeting. It was held in the Municipal Building. Diane Elliott from Lafayette College heads the COG. The focus was emergency management coordination among member municipalities and it was attended by fire chiefs, police chiefs, and emergency management coordinators. Ackerman said that they concluded that no one is talking to one another from township to township. They discussed how they could all be in contact and that "the radio seems to be the biggest problem in the whole county." He added that Forks impressed other members with how Forks operates.

  • Ackerman also said that he attended the Merchants Bank open house and that it’s really nice.

  • Supervisor David Hoff reported that they held the first 2 budget work-sessions on Monday and Tuesday and that the next will be on 10/23 at 4:30 PM. Hoff also said that he was invited to speak to the Police Association on Thursday (10/12.)

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

Howell’s motion to accept the debits and transfers was approved 4:0.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - asked DPW director Gary Sandt to report on the "leaf project and maybe some others." Sandt said that they just started collecting leaves yesterday - with one machine. The second will be out there in the next week. He added that the Frutchey Hill "recycling" is in process and that they will be finishing up the work on the storm sewer pipes there.

    Howell said that there was a copy of a letter in the Supervisors packets that Sandt wrote to a homeowner who cut down/back a tree on township property. Sandt said that the homeowner cut it back to within a foot of the tree trunk. Sandt said it was an oak and that the homeowner didn’t like it because it "gets worms." The homeowner guaranteed Sandt that it will "be nice" next summer. He added that the homeowner offered to replace it with a red maple if it didn’t. Ackerman asked if he started to "cut the tree down or just trim it?" Sandt said that if you only have a foot of branch from the trunk of the tree, "it’s pretty close." Howell suggested that the township was being "hoodwinked" by the homeowner and that the time for planting trees is now, in the fall. Ackerman agreed that it would be better to plant a tree now (than in the summer.) The tree-pruning homeowner will be advised to plant a 15' (4" in diameter) sunset maple now, not next summer. The oak will be removed.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) Miller said that he had a written report available of everything done in the parks for anyone who wanted to read it. And, as usual, Miller detailed public programs in the Community Center and the parks. He said that the tool show in the Community Center is there from today to Sunday and that on Sunday the park will be crowded because Forks is playing Palmer Township.

    Hoff inquired about the surveys and Miller asked Finance Manager Jim Farley to detail how the surveys were going. Farley said that they have 800-1000 returned surveys so far and that they will continue to accept them because every one is important. Miller said that it was great that "the people" are responding (to the survey.)
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - said that he got a call today from the publisher of the newsletter and that he should have the layout (with ad placement) in the next few days for approval. Once the Board approves it, it will go into full publication and then be sent to a distributor who will address and mail them.

    Howell also said that a new map is being considered for the spring and that it will be done as a "community guide" - a map, street guide, and community guide . The last Township map was done in 2002. Hometown Press will work with Zoning Officer Tim Weis on the map. It will be a large format16 fold map.

    The Community Relations Committee (Howell and Ackerman) is going to next look at the Township website. Howell said that it is deficient in many ways and that they will be looking at other webhosts in order to get more capacity. They will try to get the best possible service and capacity that they can.

    Ackerman asked if there will be any costs to the Township for the newsletter in view of the advertising. Howell said that the original $600 estimate was for an 8 page publication mailed to 4500 households. The reality is that it is an 18 page edition and will be mailed to 5500 households. The expected postage is $1400. The community guide will also cost about $1400 to mail and the actual publishing costs will be paid for by advertisers. Howell added that it will be a "one time only edition" and won’t be done again for 3 or 4 years.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - said that the committee met last Wednesday and reviewed ½ of the administration and zoning budget. The other half will be next Monday. Farley provided the Board with a monthly revenue vs. expense summary.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay - provided the Board with a printout from the USGS website detailing what a 100 year flood really is. Hay also said that his office met today with the PennDot/Northampton County liaison to get Liquid Fuels straightened out. The liaison said that he would get back to him in a couple of days with whatever resolutions and maps he will need so that the Township will get the proper amount of money.

Ackerman asked Hay about Alex Gale coming in to go over punch items from the Municipal complex construction. Hay said that Gale spoke with Facilities Manager Pete Gheller last week and discussed them (especially the leaks) and that “it’s in the process of being taken care of.”

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline - said that there are continuing discussions concerning the non-uniformed employees contract and that he will bring this matter to the Board in executive session. Kline also said that there is a tax assessment appeal scheduled in November for Knox Avenue Senior Housing and that he would like to discuss it with the Board in executive session.

Comments from the Public

Pete Murgia thanked everyone involved in the swale reconstruction and for fixing the problems. He inquired about the rumored new curb cut into the property and was told by Hay that it will go in opposite the swale (from his house). It will allow access for the parks department lawnmowers. Murgia said that he’s been mowing it for 20 years (because there was no access) and that the Township is welcome do the next 20.


USA ARCHITECTS/AUTHORIZATION FOR PAYMENT - Hay said that he met with Gale for details on the invoice and that Gale said that the original invoice (submitted last April) was for $33K and that he and former Township Manager Kichline and USA Architects agreed to the $20K amount at a meeting on May 17. Gale told him that there was not a lot of paperwork on it and that it was basically for "2 hours here, 3 hours here over the project." Hay said this is very common and he recommended that the invoice be paid. Kline confirmed with Hay that the other $13K was for work that needed to be redone because it wasn’t done right the first time. Ackerman said that the Board would just have to take Hay’s word for it. Hoff noted that the detail shows 196 hours over 95 different instances. Kline suggested that a letter be sent along with the check stating that it represents payment in full to USA Architects. Ackerman recommended that Kline write the letter. Payment was approved in a 4:0 vote.

ELECTRONIC SIGN - MUNICIPAL COMPLEX - Ackerman said that Nicholas put this on the agenda and that it should wait until she was there for discussion. He added that he didn’t know where the sign was to go and that Gale should be contacted for a copy of the papers. Sandt said setbacks were on the design but he doesn’t know where the paperwork is. This was tabled (until the 11/2 meeting) in a 4:0 vote.


FORKS LANDING - Hay recommended approval of this industrial development (just north of the Norfolk Southern rail crossing on the west side of Sullivan Trail). It is a three lot subdivision served by a cul de sac and with access onto Sullivan Trail. The lots are 5 acres, 4-1/2 acres and 15-1/2 acres. A portion of the large lot (noted as 3B on the plan) is in the flood plane and although it will belong to the owner of lot 3, it will remain "in agriculture." Sullivan Trail will be widened on both sides into the existing right- of-way. There will be a dedicated right turn lane for southbound traffic and a dedicated left turn lane for northbound traffic. The developer (per PennDot permit) is to share the cost of improving the Uhler/Sullivan intersection with the developer of the southeast corner. Ackerman indicated that a developer owns the northeast corner but is not ready to develop it yet. The plan was approved in a 4:0 vote (based on the September 7th review letter).

KNOLLWOOD ESTATES - DRIVEWAY ACCESS EASEMENT AGREEMENT FOR LOT 2 - Kline explained that this access easement was necessary for the owners of lot 2 on Zucksville and the southern part of Ben Jon Road because it has no access onto Zucksville (poor sight distance) and the Township owns that portion of Ben Jon Road. (Ben Jon does not connect to Zucksville and that section is not going to be opened as a public street.) It was passed in a 4:0 vote with one abstention (Nicholas who arrived late because of traffic and who missed the discussion).

RIVERVIEW ESTATES WEST - PHASE III - FINAL PLAN - Hay described this Segal & Morel plan as totally clean and recommended that the Board approve it. Howell asked about the opening of Winchester Drive (through to Vista Estates) and Hay said that it should stay closed until the construction is done and the construction vehicles are no longer using it (Winchester.) Howell said that the developer should put up signs cautioning snowmobilers about the boulders, etc. because they won’t see them when there is a foot of snow on the ground. The plan was approved in a 5:0 vote.

JACOBS FARM - PHASE II - FINAL PLAN - There has been one change in this over-55 (age restricted) manufactured home plan since it was last presented; it will have its own clubhouse. Sidewalks have been added to both sides of Biltmore and to Braden. Ackerman asked about the grass down the middle of Braden Boulevard and who will mow it. He was told that it had been turned into a "boulevard," that the strip is 10' wide, and that the Township will mow it. Howell asked if the developer will consider adding a tot-lot for use by the residents’ visiting families. The develop said that there is possibly room for it behind the clubhouse. The plan was approved in a 5:0 vote.

KINGS FARM MAJOR SUBDIVISION - PRELIMINARY PLAN - Attorney John VanLuvanee represented the developers (Nic Zawarski & Sons, JT Maloney/Signature Homes, and Dennis Benner) who filed a by-right plan shortly before the new zoning ordinance was adopted in February 2006 to build 182 single family homes on 2 acre lots (on 485 acres) in the Farmland Protection zoning district. VanLuvanee brought along a stenographer and a tape recorder. He said that he sent a letter to Kline and to the Board on 10/18/06 offering an extension until 1/31/07 for this plan.

VanLuvanee stated that the project engineer, Hanover Engineering, submitted revised plans to the Township (this morning) answering point by point Hay’s review "memo" from April. He noted that they did not get a formal review letter. Hay, and everyone on the Board, had a copy of the formal review letter that he sent to the developer dated July. Kline noted that Benner referred to it in his appearance at the Board meeting on July 20th and that at that same meeting Benner indicated that the Kings Farm developers would proceed with all of the work necessary to obtain subdivision approval including the perc tests and the soil tests.

Kline said that he had a letter from attorney Piperato suggesting a revision to the Township’s Act 537 plan (the plan that prohibits public sewers in the FP.) Mention was made of letter received by (former Township Manager) Kichline (from Piperato) early on that neither Kline nor the Board was aware of (regarding sewers). Kline said that if a plan is submitted for an area in the Act 537 Plan, "the applicant doesn’t have a right to wait for things to change" and to keep the plan active for the entire time. In a letter to Piperato in July, Kline said "that the obligation to proceed in good faith runs both ways."

Kline said that there doesn’t seem to be any activity on the soil in the acreage involved. Ackerman noted that farmers would be upset if they were doing soil testing before the crops were harvested. It was noted that the plan was filed in December 2005, well before the crops were planted.

Hay said that normally perc tests are done before plans are submitted. Kline stated that the plans contain no information concerning sewage for the project. Hay added that there is no capacity available in the Easton sewage plant for this and that there no plans for sewage have been submitted.

It was decided to accept the developers’ offer of an extension until February 16, 2007 in a 3:2 vote with Howell and Nicholas casting the nay votes. The developers must present a complete planning module to the Township by January 31, 2007. A complete planning module includes all perc and soil tests. The plan must then be reviewed by the Township engineer.

The Planning Commission will have this on its agenda on February 8, 2007 and the Supervisors on February 15, 2007. Kline said that it should be very clear that any further extensions will be unlikely.

NON-UNIFORMED EMPLOYEE PENSION PLAN/WAIVER OF EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR 2005 AND 2006 - Kline said that the pension plan is "actuarially solvent" and that employees will not have to make contributions for 2005 and 2006. He said that the plan earned 7% and that this resolution is required by the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board. It was approved in a 5:0 vote.

APPROVAL OF THE TOWNSHIP MANAGER JOB DESCRIPTION AS AN ADDENDUM TO ORDINANCE 244, DATED OCT. 16, 1997 AT PAGES 691-694, REPLACING PAGES 691-693 - Howell presented the near-final draft of the rewritten Township Manager job description to the Board. Ackerman and Nicholas took issue with the words "The Township Manager is the chief administrative officer of the Township and serves by Board appointment." After discussion it was agreed to shorten it to "The Township Manager serves by Board appointment." It was approved in a 5:0 vote and Kline will prepare the ordinance that modifies the job description and gets it (the ordinance) ready for advertisement. Also, a copy of it will be sent to each of the short list candidates who are still interested and available for the position. Also discussed was a policy change that will make it mandatory that all managers maintain their daily online appointment calendars. This policy change is effective immediately.

the ordinance was taken from a draft that the EAJSA prepared. He said that the cost will be $71K and that the DEP will reimburse the township for 50% of that but it could take years. "Don’t hold your breath," Kline added. Hay explained that if the leaks are fixed and storm and ground water are no longer seeping in, capacity of the sewage treatment plant will increase and the plant will not face a costly expansion as soon is it might be needed otherwise. Hay said that the plant currently receives about 1,000,000 gallons a day of unaccounted for water. Kline said that it will be much more cost effective to get that extra water out than it will be build a much larger plant. The study to find storm/ground water leaks into the Forks sewage lines was approved in a 5:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an executive session to discuss a personnel matter, a re-assessment tax appeal litigation, and the non-uniformed employees contract negotiations. No action was taken by the Board during the executive session.

A vote was taken after the session to accept the stipulation that Northampton County joined into to reduce the assessment on Knox Avenue Senior Associates from $900,000 to $485,700. It passed 5:0 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, October 15, 2006

Zoning Challenge - Round 3 - 10/16/06

Round Three is coming for the zoning challenge hearing by Kings Mill & partners!

When? - Monday, October 16th at 7:30 PM
Where? - Forks Community Center

The Kings Mill partnership (Zawarski, Maloney, & Benner) alleges that the Farmland Protection District zoning is too restrictive. Their vision proposes 3,042 dwelling units -- apartments, townhomes, and a mobile home park. To us, that looks like:

  • 6,000 more cars on town roads everyday
  • 8,000 more students in the schools
  • 25% of open farm fields covered with roof tops and asphalt

This can't be a good thing for Forks. We urge you to attend these zoning challenge hearings. Your presence makes a difference. It means that residents care about what is happening to their town. Bring family, bring friends, bring neighbors... let's not leave an empty seat in the gym on Monday, October 16th!

Round Four is scheduled for October 30th at 7:30 PM.

PC - All The Marbles! 10/12/06

The Planning Commission had an agenda crowded with important projects last Thursday night. Joe Nixon (Morning Call) reported on them all. Courtney Lomax (Express Times) focused on the Weis Market and CVS plans.

Fort James III must have two means of access. One is Uhler/Braden and the other was to be Braden/Kesslersville. But, after 6 meetings with Norfolk Southern, Greg Rogerson (J. G. Petrucci) reported that the rail crossing for Braden Boulevard at Kesslersville is not looking positive. Rogerson suggested that his company may pull its project (Fort James III) because of the condition that the PC has imposed, that industrial land be taken for a second means of access rather than residential land (if the Braden/Kesslersville crossing is rejected). The Board will be asked to send a letter to the PUC in support of the crossing.

Kings Farm's "by-right" plan for 180+ homes on 2 acre lots (the fall-back plan if the zoning appeal fails) was recommended for rejection for lack of activity. The developer has not done even one perc test according to township engineer Fred Hay.

SamCar is continuing with its back-up plan for a CVS on the Uhler/Kesslersville intersection just in case the grocery zoning appeal is won. They want to build a Weis Market. They will settle for a CVS. With the smaller (than a grocery store) CVS, there will be room for other businesses on the site too.

The project list on the FAC newspage has been updated with details of these projects as well as the other agenda items.

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.

Monday, October 09, 2006

More On H.R. 4772 - Private Property Rights Implementation Act Of 2006

The US House of Representatives voted on September 29 and passed the onerous Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 that a NYTimes editorial said will negate local zoning laws in favor of big developers by allowing developers to go directly to the Federal Court system when they are displeased with the zoning laws where they want to build. The vote in the House was 231 to 181. Our own Congressman Dent voted FOR it.

On October 2, the
Washington Post published an in-depth look at how this "bait-and-switch" bill originated and what it really means. On the surface, it sounds like a good way to deal with eminent domain problems ""They bait you with eminent domain, but you end up voting to destroy all land-use regulation," said Elaine Clegg, a nonpartisan member of the city council in Boise, Idaho." (Washington Post 10/2/06)

joint letter written by the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments, the International City Management Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures was sent to the House Judiciary Subcommittee On The Constitution in June, urging the committee to reject the bill.

The committee did not reject the bill. It got to the House where it was passed. It is now in the Senate. Luckily the Senate is not in session until November 9 (after the elections). There is time to write to Senators
Specter and (incumbent) Santorum as well as to Senate candidate Bob Casey. Tell them what you think of this bait-and-switch bill, H.R. 4772. Ask them how they will vote when it comes before the Senate.

While you are at it, if you haven’t already written to (incumbent) Congressman
Dent, write now and let him know what you think of his vote on H. R. 4772. Write to challenger Dertinger, too. Find out how each candidate feels about this most important issue. And, don't forget to vote on November 7th!

Unmask the Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 and show it for what it really is, a sham - a vehicle for large land owning developers to get the dwelling unit density they want in our town by taking away our right to control our zoning.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

BoS Meeting 10/5/2006

The October 5th meeting of the Board of Supervisors began at 6:30 PM with a one hour worksession to discuss the Township Manager duties and responsibilities and ended with an executive session to discuss personnel issues and a potential litigation. Joe Nixon (Morning Call) and Courtney Lomax (Express Times) reported on the meeting. We will try to fill in the blanks.

Supervisor Comments:

  • Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas said that she had been asked by Boy Scout Troop 29 if there are any community service projects that they might do for the Township. She added that in the spring, the a few of the scouts will be looking for "Eagle projects." Nicholas said that she was thinking that they might do something at Gollub Park. Engineer Hay thought that there were things they could do there. Nicholas asked that anyone who can think of projects for them let her know. She added that the scouts really helped with Community Days and if it weren’t for them, the garbage cans would have been overflowing on Sunday morning.
  • Zoning Officer Tim Weis said that the Boy Scouts Annual Food Drive is coming up and he asked the Board’s permission to allow the scouts to use the zoning garage. Weis said that in past years, they were allowed to use the old garage. A motion was made to allow use of the zoning garage for the Boy Scouts Annual Food Drive. It passed 5:0.
  • Supervisor David Hoff reminded all that budget sessions are coming up on October 16th & 17th at 4:30 PM. (They are listed on the Township website/calendar.)
Treasurer’s Report - Secretary/Treasurer David Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting.

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

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas said that Bill Keifer (president of the Forks EMS board of directors) was at the recent Public Safety meeting. She said that there will be no lapse in subscription coverage and that subscriptions should be out shortly (as soon as all the details of the printing are done.) The subscription mailing will have both Suburban and Forks EMS on it. Nicholas said that Forks EMS is working with Dr. Binns (executive director of the Eastern PA EMS Council) on their plan and is hoping to be back in business in 60 days. Nicholas said that Suburban EMS has been filling in and is doing a very good job. She extended her thanks to them for "helping us out."

Nicholas said too that the Fire Department got its new engine and that the Police Department’s 5 year plan will be reviewed at the next Public Safety meeting.

Police Chief Dorney detailed a new department initiative called the Vial of Life Program. Dorney showed a pharmaceutical bottle and said that it contains a sticker to be placed on residents’ door, a pencil (donated by 2 Tees Golf), and a form which indicates that residents are participants in the program as well as details all physicians and medications. He added that all residents should keep the bottle in their refrigerators (a uniform location for all residents to use) so that they can be found by police officers in the event that there is a medical emergency. Dorney said that the premise is that 90% of the time police officers are first on the scene and are asked by the EMS personnel what medical information they have gathered. The bottles will be available for free at the Municipal Building, Community Center, Fire Department, EMS, and Police Department.

Emergency Management Co-ordinator Tim Weis reported that the counters and radios in the new command center should be installed by the end of next week. He added that they will be using an existing white board (from the old building) in the new center.

Nicholas said too, that at the next public safety committee meeting there will be a review of ID badges and that all township personnel will have picture ID badges as part of the emergency management program.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that there will be committee meeting at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, October 11.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - (Note: Miller continues to report on events in the parks as his committee report. The following comments rightly belong in the Supervisors’ Comments section. It would appear that the Parks & Recreation committee seldom, if ever, meets since if it did, he would give a committee report.) As usual Miller detailed public programs in the Community Center and the parks. He said that football and soccer are "about half way through" and that probably two of the teams will go to the playoffs. He said too that this is Forks’ year to host the November soccer tournament and that it will involve all of Forks’ soccer fields as well as some in Palmer. He said that they are expecting 10,000 people for it. Miller also said that the recreation survey has been mailed and that any residents who did not receive one can get a numbered one from Finance Manager Farley.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - reported that he expects to receive galley sheets of the first edition of the new Forks Quarterly in a week or so - for Board approval. He said that earlier in the week the last of the articles was submitted to Hometown Press and that they are working on the page layouts now.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff - said their last meeting was not held due to illness and that there will be a committee meeting next Wednesday (October 11) at 3:00 PM to work on the administrative and revenue sides of the budget.

Engineer’s Report - Fred Hay reported that E.J. Breneman has equipment in place on Broadway Road and that they will begin work on the Frutchey Hill recycling tomorrow. He thought it would take three days. The road surface then has to cure for 3 weeks before it can be driven on again.

Solicitor’s Report - Karl Kline said that (Forks EMS) Bill Keifer called with an update on the and that he and Barry Albertson (Suburban EMS) have reached agreement on the brochure language and on the escrow of the subscription funds. Keifer and Alberston will be the only two who can write checks. For every month that Suburban is providing service to Forks (because Forks is not yet licensed and operating) Suburban will be paid 1/12 of the subscription money in escrow. When Forks EMS is back in operation, it will get the funds.

Kline also said that they are also looking at a different structure for the board of directors to be an independent board composed of some community members who have no Forks EMS ties. Nicholas said that she asked them if a member of the Forks Board of Supervisors can sit on their Board. Forks EMS is looking into it.

Comments from the Public:

  • Scott Gingold asked the Board why his citizens group’s appeal to zoning ordinance 298 is listed on the Township’s website news page when the significant zoning challenge by Zawarski is not. Howell said that it could be an oversight and that it will be easy to put it there. Kline said that he has written an article for the Quarterly about the zoning challenge and that it is appropriate to put on the website too.

Gingold also said that the Forks Action Committee website contains misinformation about the zoning appeal. In FAC’s announcement of the hearing, it contains the line "For the grocery? Against it? You won’t want to miss this hearing!" Gingold said that no one in the appellant group is against a grocery and that the appeal has to do with spot zoning.

Gingold talked too, about reading Joe Nixon’s article (9/25/06) in the Morning Call that advertisers were being sought for the Forks Quarterly. His organization, Residents Who Care, wrote to the Township for contact information which they received on Thursday (9/28/06) morning. They sent an email to Ms. Morano of Hometown Press that same morning. They didn’t get a response so they telephoned only to be told that all advertising space was sold. They received an email the next day stating the same thing. He said that others who inquired were not told that it was sold out. He told the Board that he was curious as to why this would happen. Howell asked, "What others were told?" Gingold said that they are still looking into it. Howell said that the Board relies on the judgement of their agent and the agent said it was sold out. Gingold responded that maybe they "ought to question that judgement."

Howell said that there is a spring issue coming and that he is free to make application again although he cautioned that as policy the Township will probably not accept ads from religious institutions, political groups, etc.

  • Ken Nagy
    spoke to the Board of his concerns with the (Northampton) County open space proposal. He said that it would result in a ½ mil increase and mean $50 to $75 in additional taxes for every resident in Forks. Nagy said that Forks residents will be paying more than others and since "we have no open space to speak of in Forks Township," it would benefit us little. He said that in the cities who will be getting the most from this a ½ mil is probably $17. Nagy said that there is a Municipal section that Forks is totally ineligible for. The grant matching will be 50% for townships and 25% for boroughs and cities. He suggested that the Board to tell County that Forks will not participate and therefore not pay.

Nagy asked too that the Township Manager job description emphasize grant writing because there "are a lot of grants out there." He said that all the County will do is submit the grant to the State and then dole it out - a middleman. He said that Forks could get the money directly. Nagy added that he’d like the Board to change its meeting date so that they could go to County meetings and see what’s happening. Nagy said that "what you read in the papers is not what’s happening." He added that Forks’ 12,000 residents give it political clout. Ackerman said that he agreed with Nagy regarding the open space (with County).

Nagy’s next concern was the Suburban Water Authority and giving $1million to enhance the pensions of Easton employees who come over to Suburban and why the City of Easton should be paid $1.2 million annually "for giving up the maintenance and operation of a water plant they’ve mismanaged and neglected up to this point." Nagy wondered why the City (in the new agreement) should be entitled to 1/3 of the new tap-in fees. He remarked that it’s a classic example of rewarding the City for doing a bad job. Nagy said that he is "bothered that no one on the Board has protested this arrangement" and he suggested that the Township hold a public meeting with Suburban Water. Nicholas said that she will put it on the agenda for the next meeting.

And, Nagy related that he overheard the individual in charge of (upcoming property tax) reassessment... "I can’t wait to get into Forks."

Howell offered that Nagy regularly attend the Twin Rivers COG meetings and that they discuss many of his concerns including the water authority, waste management, and organic waste management. Howell thought that Nagy’s input would be appreciated and said that there is a meeting coming up on October 18 in the Forks Municipal Building.

  • Jay Reese (sic) said that he is 82 years old and lives off of Chief Tatamy Lane on Farcroft Drive. He asked if the Township has a weed ordinance and when told that it does he asked why it isn’t enforced. He described how developers bought the land around him and do not cut the weeds and how difficult it is to get out of his driveway because of that. He asked about the weeds around retention pond by the railroad trucks on Sullivan Trail. He was told that it’s the Township’s and that it is by State mandate, a "naturalized pond."

Reese remarked about the flooding at Chief Tatamy Lane saying that the developer gave the church $90K for the right-of-way and won’t take responsibility. Hay said that the developer says he "gave them $90K they should take responsibility."

Reese talked about the dust created by developer Nic Zawarski and how the EPA cited one of NZ’s sub contractors (for dust). Reese said that the EPA received 140 complaints for dust by developers in the LV. And, he, Reese, did a survey of local construction sites and found only one with a spray truck and it was nor working.

Reese said too, that construction employees urinated in front of his wife on two occasions, that the workers on job sites are working without scaffolding (he wondered who handled OSHA complaints for the Township), and that so far this year, the garbage hauler has missed collecting his trash even though he puts it out on Wednesdays for Friday pick-up. He said he’s just going to leave it there to pile up from now on.

Nicholas said that she will personally call the hauler for him. Ackerman said that if he sees a workman urinating to call the police.

Reese said that his street sign was knocked down by a garbage truck and he was billed by the Township ($57 for the sign). He paid the invoice but the sign was never replaced. Nicholas asked DPW Director Sandt to take care of the street sign.

Reese concluded by saying that the developers use "bully tactics." "You complain, you’re going to pay the price."

USA ARCHITECTS/AUTHORIZATION FOR PAYMENT - Finance Manager Farley explained that the $20K invoice represented an agreement between the company and Alex Gale (project manager) and former Township Manager Kichline. Originally there was an additional invoice for $13.5K. Farley said that he spoke with a gentlemen over the phone about the invoice. Ackerman asked Kline that since there are problems in the buildings if the money should be held back.

Kline suggested that Farley conduct a full investigation to determine if the invoice was for additional work as a result of problems or is an invoice for legitimate extras and report back to the Board. Nicholas said that she remembers Gale telling her that the architects had to redesign the arch in the front and "that may be some of the reason why the roof leaks by June Vail and the windows are breaking."

A meeting with the company and Kline and Farley was suggested. Miller offered that Alex Gale has the answers and Hay said that since Gale is now associated with Keystone Engineering, he will have him come to speak to the Board at the next meeting.


THE COURTS AT NEWLINS ROAD - LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - Hay said that the Board had a copy of his 9/7 letter as well as a copy of a memo from the LVPC. He also informed the Board that the Planning Commission rejected this project with a 6:1 vote (Tamborrino was for it) for safety issues. Ackerman said that he doesn’t see any safety issues.

Howell said that the PC was concerned that the back doors of the townhomes are 30 feet from the flood plain. Nicholas complained that there are no dimensions on the drawings from the backyards to the swale and she remarked that her employer would not accept drawings without dimensions. Hay said that there is vertical distance as well as horizontal to be considered in the distance from the flood plain. The basements of the townhomes are 5 feet above the flood plain as well as thirty feet in horizontal distance.

Nicholas said that she spoke with Dent and a Rendell representative who told her that the "100 year flood plain calculations are wrong in Pennsylvania and that’s why we’ve had these floods." Nicholas also said that this goes against the Twin Rivers Greenway agreement that the Township signed since the Greenway plan specifically cites this unnamed flood plain in Forks as to have nothing built in it. She noted too that the Township allowed Mr. Zawarski to build a road in the 100 year flood plain against its agreement with the Bushkill Conservancy. Nicholas was told that nothing is being built in it. The homes will be outside it and above it. Hay said that plan meets all the Federal, State, & Township stormwater regulations.

Howell said that he went to the site at 11 PM during Wednesday night’s 2" rain and that Newlins Road West was impassible. He thought that this plan was "putting the cart before the horse" and that the flooding problems for the downstream neighbors should be dealt with first.

Ackerman said that the water will not go all over the road like it does now. The developer is going to build a sod waterway to control where the water goes. Hay said that the 100 year flood does not mean a flood every hundred years but means "a 1 in 100 chance of that much water coming down."

Howell stated that he would rather see single family residences spread out on the higher ground. He added that single family homes are more attractive and he wished the developer would be satisfied with the money that could be made from them instead of from 36 townhomes.

Nicholas expressed her concern that the plan was going against the greenway plan that was agreed to by the Board. She further said that she doubted that anyone on the Board read the 150 page document. Kline said that the Board can only consider what’s in the Zoning Ordinance, the SALDO, and whether the plan meets all Federal and State criteria.

Ackerman said that he spent 30 years on the conservation board and that he worked with Hay and talked to the conservation district. Everyone he talked to said, "This plan will work."

Dean Turner (PC) asked if the new industrial area (to the northeast) drainage was being considered. Hay said that this is under review right now. Kline noted that Act 167 states that the post-development rate of water flow cannot be faster than the pre-development rate.

Turner also asked if the plantings to mark the flood plain were in the plan. Hay pointed out that they are on the drawing and will consist of "continuous" low shrubs. Nicholas asked that dimensions to the flood plain be delineated on the plan. The developer agreed.

The plan for 36 townhouses at the northeast corner or Newlins and Sullivan Trail was approved in a 3:2 vote with Nicholas and Howell dissenting.

SPEED LIMIT REDUCTION ON RICHMOND ROAD - The Board voted 5:0 to ask PennDot to do speed/traffic studies on both Richmond Road and Route 611. PennDot sets speed limits by determining what speed 85% of the cars are traveling and sets the limit within 5 mph of that. Hay further explained that if 85% of the cars are doing 50 mph and the speed limit is 45 mph, Penn Dot will never lower the speed limit to 35. If the limits are lowered on either road, the Township and not PennDot will be required to maintain the signs (on the roads with the changed speed limit).

RESOLUTION INSTALLATION OF BLINKING LIGHTS AT ARNDT ROAD AND BUSHKILL DRIVE - Hay explained that the Township will be responsible for financing and maintaining the blinking lights. The resolution was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

EAJSA/ACT 537 - INFLOW/INFILTRATION ORDINANCE & AGREEMENT - Hay said that this study will use flow meters to see where the the water is coming from (in the sewer lines). Kline said that there are leaks or cracks in the pipes that allow stormwater to enter the sewer pipes. This stormwater reduces the capacity of the sewage treatment plant. If the stormwater is not checked, the plant will need (expensive) expansion sooner rather than later. The study will cost $71,445 and the DEP will pay for half of it. Ackerman noted that there is money in the sewer fund for this. The ordinance was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an executive session to discuss the a personnel matter and potential litigation. Invited in (separately) were Finance Manager Farley, Police Chief Dorney, and Mel Hodges of Hodges Technologies.

Five votes were taken after the executive session:
  1. To hire Hodges Technologies, Inc to effectuate enhancement to the computer intrusion system including installation of GroupWise 7. The estimated cost is $4,000. Approved 5:0.
  2. To direct that the Forks Township computer network will be undergoing intrusion detection upgrades and during that period there will be no personal use of any computers until further notice. This policy is effective Monday AM 10/9/06. Solicitor Kline will prepare a 1 or 2 paragraph document to be sent via email to the Township for dissemination to all the employees on Friday. Approved 5:0.
  3. To indicate that effect Monday 10/9 there should be no downloads of screensavers and that it shall be made known to all employees that when the upgrade is accomplished all screensavers will be set to default values. Approved 5:0.
  4. Effective immediately all IT functions at Forks Township will be outsourced to Hodges Technologies for the purpose of intrusion detection. Approved 5:0.
  5. To direct Hodges Technologies to make additional recommendations to the Forks Township Board of Supervisors with the Board of Supervisors to establish a means to review these recommendations and adopt them as official policy of the Township. Approved 5:0.
The meeting was adjourned.

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