Sunday, December 30, 2007

HB 904 Still Alive In Harrisburg!

According to an article by Richard Fellinger in the (December 30, 2007) Lebanon Daily News, Representative Robert Freeman's bill for temporary development moratoriums has passed committee and will come before the full house in 2008.  This bill will allow municipalities undergoing zoning and/or comprehensive plan reviews to impose up to eighteen month development/building moratoriums.

For more background on HB 904, see (FAC blog post) Building Moratoriums & Developer Impact Fees

In discussion, at their August 16, 2007 meeting, Forks Supervisors endorsed HB 904 in principle but tabled passing RESOLUTION #070816-2/SUPPORT OF TEMPORARY BUILDING MORATORIUM LEGISLATION.  Miller and Ackerman both preferred that a letter of support be sent (instead of the Howell sponsored Resolution). 

At its September 6th meeting, after discussion and input from Planning Commission members Erik Chuss and Dean Turner, the Board voted 5:0 to PASS RESOLUTION #070906-3/Support of Temporary Building Moratorium Legislation.

PennFuture has HB 904 on its list of bills to watch.  Check it out.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

BoS Meeting 12/20/2007

Forks Township's Board of Supervisors last meeting of 2007 was well attended. Almost everyone seeking appointment to the 2008 vacancies was there. Both Supervisors-elect were there. Outgoing Supervisor John Ackerman was not. He was on vacation. Discussion of Forks EMS' request for payment of the $20,000 earmarked (for the squad) in the Forks 2007 budget was covered by both JD Malone (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call). Read on for more on the rest of the meeting.

SUPERVISOR COMMENTS

Supervisor Nicholas asked about General Codes (item in packets). She said that she thought that the codes were recently updated. Solicitor Kline offered that the Board should set a schedule for updating the codes. After discussion, it was decided that the codes should be reviewed every year for substantial changes and if there are any, then General Codes will be used, if not, the process will be contracted the following year, thus insuring that the codes are updated every two years at a minimum.

Supervisor Howell expressed his thanks to (outgoing Supervisors) John Ackerman and David Hoff for running for office and in particular for their years of service to the community. Howell said that in the two years he witnessed, the Township made significant progress in bringing a lot of professionalism to the office/procedures, a director of finance was hired, and the director of personnel position was improved - all things in which they were involved.

Chairman Hoff announced that this was his last meeting and that he was very happy. He said that he was on the Board for 12 years and spent a total of 25 years serving the township in various capacities. During that time, he said, he "met a lot of incredible people." He said that these people are truly committed to Forks. Hoff said that his time was a learning experience and that he enjoyed. He hopes that Erik (Chuss) and Bob (Egolf) find it enjoyable as well. Hoff added that he feels good "about where things are at" now and he thanked his family - especially his wife - for putting up with his township time. (appplause)

Supervisor Miller reported that winter sports are "half started" and that the majority of the 25 teams will start playing in January (through March). He added that the Community Center is busy seven days a week.

TREASURER'S REPORT - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public - see the Township calendar for dates and times)

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the committee had not met but that she had a report from the Fire Department. Nicholas reported that up through November, the FD went on 527 calls. Of that number, 430 were in Forks, 52 were to calls in Stockertown, and the rest were miscellaneous. She thanked the FD for their work.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - absent, no report.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no committee report - see Supervisor Comments above for the park sports/activities news.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - no report
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Hoff - reported that the committee met and discussed what they had been working on for the past two years. He thanked the committee - Tim Weis, Barb Bartek, Jim Farley, & Rick Schnaedter - for the tremendous amount of work they did and for the lively discussions. Hoff said that he enjoyed his time on the committee.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - said that in addition to the items the Board had in front of them, he and Finance Manager Farley will be meeting with EZ Micro and the existing IT service provider to start the transition. Schnaedter said that the it is a long, cumbersome process and that Farley has done a good job "mapping out" what needs to be done. Schnaedter added that both parties have assured their cooperation.

Schnaedter also said that he received an invitation to participate in the Municipal Leaders Workshop at DeSales University on January 25th from 7:45 AM to 2:30 PM. He said that he will be attending and that he will give a registration form to any of the Supervisors who want one. Nicholas asked that he send her an email.

Nicholas asked Schnaedter about the bandshell information that was in the packet. She said that one had no prices and another had questionable acoustics. Schnaedter said that this was preliminary information - a first step - and that he intends to have the companies make a presentations to the Parks & Recreation Committee. So far, the low end bandshell costs $53,000 - plus construction. Nicholas asked to be notified when the presentations are scheduled.

ENGINEER'S REPORT - no report.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - informed the Board that he received a letter from officer Jeremy McClymont dated 12/17/07 offering his resignation effective immediately. It was accepted in a 4:0 vote.

Kline also reported that officer Ernest Fimiano - who was charged with speeding on Route 80, refusing a breathalyzer test and who was suspended without pay - has filed for unemployment compensation. The hearing is coming up in January and the Township will contest the case.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Adoption of Ordinance #308 - Chapter 12 Fire Department Job Qualifications - Kline said that this was properly advertised. The Board voted 4:0 to adopt the ordinance.

Penn's Ridge PRD - Developer's Indemnification Agreement for Phases 13 & 14 - Kline explained that this agreement allows the developer to begin work on the infrastructure for phases 13 & 14. He said that everything is signed and that the escrow is posted. The vote was 4:0.

Award Bid - VISTACOM Audio/Visual Communications Systems - Zoning Officer Weis said that everything needed for the installation is already in place and that there will be no additional charges to the township for the installation and equipment. He added that the monitors will be 17". Nicholas said that she expected a presentation to the Board. The vote was 3:1 with Nicholas voting nay because she felt that she did not have enough information.

Job Descriptions - Changes in Positions - This was a discussion item only. Schnaedter said that in 2006 the Administrative Assistant's job description indicated that she was to act as Secretary to the Board of Supervisors. Howell expressed his concern about the "production of minutes." He suggested that the Finance & Administration Committee explore ways to keep the minutes in-house. Nicholas agreed. Hoff said that Bartek had been doing the minutes for over 20 years and in that time her job responsibilities expanded to the point where she can no longer do them. Nicholas asked that dates be added to the job descriptions so that scheduling reviews will be easier. Schnaedter said that a procedure is in place for annual job description reviews.

Resident Sandy Hanks asked if a draft version of the minutes could be put on the township website before they are approved by the Board. Howell explained that the review of the minutes is an official function of the Board. Kline agreed and added that the minutes become public records once they have been approved by the BoS. He said that if information was put out and subsequently corrected by the Board, it could cause people to become upset. Hoff added that it only takes a word to change the entire meaning of something.

The new Board will make a decision on the production of the minutes and until then, (beginning Jan 08) Barb Margolese will write the minutes.

Employee Manual Discussion - Proposed changes from 2003 manual (Updated) - Hoff said that the Schnaedter and Bartek worked hard on the new employee manual revisions. Howell asked how the manuals will be disseminated and was told that meetings will be held with employees to explain the changes. The employees will then sign-off. Schnaedter said that the revision to the arbitration policy was reviewed by Kline. The new manual was approved in a 4:0 vote.

FTEMS Financials/Breakdown of intentions to spend $20,000 earmarked in 2007 budget - Hoff reported that the Board received the November financial report from Forks EMS along with a letter requesting payment of the budgeted $20,000. Nicholas detailed the debt to Suburban at $17,550 and said that $12,450 of that is over 60 days. She also said that $1,820 is owed to Medic-9. Hoff said that the letter indicated how the money would be spent and that $6,420 would go to workers benefits, $3,080 to auto/building insurance, and $10,500 to Suburban.

Howell said that the letter stated that November was one of the better months and he asked Mr. Keifer (President of the Forks EMS Board of Directors) about the changes in the escrow item from October to November. Howell said that it decreased from $18,000 to $4,000. He asked if the numbers represented subscription funds, in particular, the $10,000 in subscription funds collected in November. Keifer said that they did and that those funds as well as funds from the line of credit were used to pay payroll, tax withholding, and employee benefits. Funds from medical services were used to pay bills.

Keifer added that as of November the squad is all caught up with back taxes to the State and local authorities and now only owe Federal taxes. The squad had hoped to receive a $15,000 State grant for payroll and employee benefits but it is delayed because of the tax arrearage. (The grant was awarded by Representative Grucela's office.) Keifer also said that "there is nothing written in stone that everything must be divvied up 1/12 per month. The squad will be having a "bucket drive" this weekend, they are still selling the Forksopoly games, and they are in the midst of a second mailing to residents who have not yet paid.

Keifer said that they are asking for the $20,000 to pay bills. Howell asked if every EMS squad in the region depends on donations to pay salaries? Keifer said, "Yes." He added that "everything is guesstimates" since the number of calls cannot be predicted.

Keifer said the financial report he gave the Supervisors has yet to be approved by the EMS directors.

Hoff said that in his opinion, there is not enough call volume in Forks to support a business (an EMS squad is a business.) He said that the release of the $20,000 has not been approved because the Board is looking for financial stability. Hoff said that he does "not want to send the money into a black hole that it just can't be recovered from." He said he would not recommend to the current BoS anything other than paying Suburban for the services they have provided to the Township thus far. And, he added that the money (in the budget) is intended to be used to make the squad a better squad and not just to keep it alive one more month.

Township resident Nicole Alexander offered that because of the squad's financial irresponsibility, many residents will not donate. She said that the BoS should shut down Forks EMS and bring in Suburban.

Nicholas thanked the Forks EMS members for all their hard work trying to put the company back together.

Howell said that he has spoken with Suburban and they are not making a plea/request for the funds from the Township. They simply ask that their debt be honored first. Howell recommended carrying over the $20,000 to 2008.

The vote to carry over the money to 2008 and, if it is disbursed, that Suburban be paid first, passed 4:0.

NEW BUSINESS

Northampton County Farmland Preservation - Act 4/HB 87 - Kline provided East Allen Township's ordinance for the Board's review (as a sample ordinance) and suggested that Maria Bentzoni (of the Northampton County Agricultural Land Preservation Board) be invited before the Board to explain Act 4. Kline said that it involves approvals by three different taxing bodies - the county, the school district, and the township. He also said that "it seems to be permanent" and, Kline added, "Forever is a long time." Kline said too, that at this point in time he is not aware of any farm in Forks that has been preserved through the county. The vote was 4:0 that Ms. Bentzoni be invited to address the Board. Schnaedter will contact her.

Final Adoption - 2008 Budget - The budget was adopted with a 4:0 vote. Forks residents will face a 1/2 mil property tax increase. This represents a 10.8% increase. (read Madeleine Mathias, Morning Call, 12/24/07 for more on the budget.)

2008 Committees - Our new Supervisors-elect, Erik Chuss and Bob Egolf, came very close to flipping a coin to see which committees they would be on in 2008. They came to an agreement before the toss we were told. The 2008 standing committees will be chaired by the *first name listed (one year assignment) and the second Supervisor will be on the committee for two years - in their second year, they will chair the committee.

  • Public Safety: *Chuss & Howell
  • Public Works: *Miller & Chuss
  • Parks & Recreation: *Howell & Egolf
  • Community Relations: *Nicholas & Miller
  • Finance & Administration: *Egolf & Nicholas

Hoff asked that the chairperson of each committee talk to the members and settle on meeting days/times so that only one advertisement need be published (to save money).

Nicholas said that there is no real structure for the committee meetings but she thought that notes of the meetings should be e-mailed to all Supervisors and that agendas should be available three days before the meetings. She also said that both Supervisors should decide the dates and times of meetings and that the schedules and agendas should be on the website. Nicholas thought that the meeting times should be at hours when the public can attend. She was told that the meetings are on the website. As to agendas, they are often changed up to the last minute. Howell suggested that Schnaedter could perhaps create some uniform standards.

Plaques presented to outgoing Supervisors - Miller presented Hoff with a plaque for his 25 years of service. He said that Hoff began as a baseball coach, that he coached basketball, he was President of the Athletic Association, and that he was President of the Recreation Board - all before his twelve years as a Supervisor. Miller also had a plaque for John Ackerman (absent). Miller said that Ackerman was born in Forks and spent most of his life in Forks as an active farmer and successful businessman - who has "also given 6 years of his life to the Township." Miller thanked both men on behalf of the Board of Supervisors, the staff, and residents of Forks for their dedication and years of service to Forks.(appplause) Hoff said that it's "been a fast 25 years" and that he was glad to be able to participate in all the changes. He wished Erik (Chuss) and Bob (Egolf) the best of luck and his hopes that things go well for them.

There was no Executive Session and the last meeting of 2007 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, December 16, 2007

Round 18 - Kings Mill/KMRD - Zoning Challenge Hearing - December 17

The Kings Mill - KMRD - zoning challenge hearing resumes on Monday, December 17th at 7:30 PM. This will be the 18th session of the on-going legal case between the developers and the municipality. Forks Township’s legal council has indicated that they have only three more witnesses to call, which could mean only three more sessions before the Zoning Hearing Boards votes!

If you want to refresh your memory about the issues faced in the hearings, the FAC website has a dedicated Kings Mill page.

The sessions are held in the Municipal Building meeting room and begin at 7:30 PM. Residents are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

BoS Meeting 12/6/2007

Forks Township's Supervisors discussed a range of topics, not the least of which was the EMS request for the budgeted 2007 funds. Read JD Malone (Express Times) for more. For the rest of the meeting, read on. (Six items are to be added to the December 20th BoS meeting agenda. The date, December 20th, is in blue so that the items will be easier to follow.)

SUPERVISOR COMMENTS

Supervisor Ackerman remarked that the new issue of the Forks Quarterly contains an error. He said he didn't know who wrote the piece that said that the 2007 Comprehensive Plan had been adopted but it has not been adopted. It is a work in progress.

Supervisor Nicholas requested that the entire text of the Zoning Hearing Board reports be included in the Supervisors' packets. Currently they get only the first page. Zoning Officer Weis will be asked to do that. Nicholas also requested that the Northampton County information included in the packet be posted (or linked) on the Township website. Township Manager Schnaedter will see that it happens.

Nicholas noted, too, that the Supervisors received a letter from Stockertown (to the Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority). Supervisor Hoff said that the Township requested the letter, at the advice of Forks' EAJSW representative, Henning Holmgaard, so that (engineer) Fred Hay could review it. Hay explained that he will develop parameters for the Board's consideration.

Nicholas asked, too, that Act 4 (Northampton County Farmland Preservation) be included on the December 20th meeting agenda and that, for informational purposes, ordinances and resolutions be posted on the Township website for 30 days.

Supervisor Miller reported that winter sports are in full swing. The first wrestling meet is this Sunday. There are 30 basketball teams and two or three more coaches are needed. He asked for volunteers.

TREASURER'S REPORT - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public - see the Township calendar for dates and times)

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that the committee discussed the Fire Ordinance; it is an agenda item. The committee also discussed CPR training for staff. (Township Manager Schnaedter will look into the cost of CPR training and when it could be done.) Nicholas also said that Forks EMS financial reports were reviewed and that Forks EMS asked her to bring the subject of the EMS money in the 2007 Forks budget to the Board for discussion. Supervisor Hoff explained that $20,000 is in the 2007 budget and that this will be an agenda item at the December 20th meeting. Supervisor Howell asked if the request from Forks EMS was in writing and Nicholas said that it was not. Howell asked that it be in writing and that the letter discuss how the squad intends to disburse the money. Hoff instructed Schnaedter to write a letter to the squad requesting that the information be provided by the 17th - so that it can be included in the Supervisors' packets for the meeting on the 20th. Supervisor Ackerman said that he thought the Board of Supervisors should decide where it (the money) goes or should pay bills directly.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the committee held its last meeting of the year two weeks ago. He added that since the last meeting, the new salt bin was installed. Also, he said that there was a sewer main leak last weekend and that the "guys" did a good job taking care of it. DPW Director Roberts said that in addition to the sewer main break, the crew has been busy with leaf collection. The leaves are finally off the trees and the department has logged 565.5 hours on leaf pick-up - in November. Roberts also said that the DEP and EPA have approved demolition of the house on the corner of Newlins and Richmond. The asbestos (a small amount in the basement) will be removed on December 19th, the air quality tested, and then the house can come down on December 20th.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no committee report - see Supervisor Comments above for the park sports/activities news.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - no report
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Hoff said that the committee met on November 28th and the items discussed - IT support, audio/visual systems, and the employee manual - are on the agenda.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - had nothing to add to his written report. Nicholas asked about the two job descriptions (in his report) and said that she was not aware that the Board had discussed them. Schnaedter said it is his understanding the job descriptions have been an ongoing topic for two years. To that Hoff stated that there was no change. Nicholas said that there is a realignment of duties and she would like it added to the December 20th agenda - for discussion. Again, Hoff said that there was no change and that currently the jobs are "taking place" as described. He said that when the Board voted to change Barb's position (to HR Manager) that "Debbie took over some of those responsibilities right then." Nicholas said, "Okay, if no one else cares, fine." Howell said that he does care and commented that the Board's meeting minutes will no longer being prepared in-house by staff, but by the same person who is contracted to do the Planning Commission minutes. Howell further noted that the PC minutes in the Board's current packet were from the November 8th PC meeting. He asked that the minutes be prepared by in-staff people so that the expense of using outside persons can be avoided. Howell also noted that he would like to have the minutes sooner so that items on the agenda that are referred from the PC are known to the Board before those items appear in front of them for discussion. He asked that the issue of minutes be discussed at the next meeting and that Schnaedter explore other alternatives to producing minutes - preferably in-house.

ENGINEER'S REPORT - Hay - agenda items only.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - agenda items only.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Forks resident Sandy Hanks asked Police Chief Dorney if PA State law gives pedestrians the right of way where there is a hash-mark across the road? Dorney said that it is a newly passed law. Hanks said that she witnessed vehicles not stopping for a runner at the crossing on Zucksville Road (from the Community Center). Hanks said that the crossing needs signage. Howell offered that the Comprehensive Plan subcommittee report indicated that all the recreation path/trail crossings will be reviewed and signage will be recommended. Dorney said that he will look into the new law and that he thought that hash-marked crossings with yellow signs indicate that motorists must stop for people on the path. Dorney added that in the specific area that Hanks mentioned, signs are a good idea. Nicholas observed that there are four speed limits on Zucksville - from 45 to 35 to 25 to 35. Dorney noted that this is a question for PennDot.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Forks IT Support - Award Bid - Finance Manager Farley said that the Finance & Administration Committee reviewed the five bids and recommended EZ Micro Solutions for the next three year contract. This was approved with a 5:0 vote.

Audio-Visual Systems Proposal - Board Room / Award Bid - Farley reported that Vistacom was the only bidder ($12,363.30 to install the projector and hardware). Nicholas asked about the length of the project, the sizes of the screens, and the number of screens. She said that the proposal states that the owner is responsible for conduit, paths between the devices, and drilling holes in the dais. She noted, too, that "minimal feedback" is mentioned but the amount of "feedback" is unknown. Also, she asked about warrantees. Because of all the unknowns, it was decided in a 5:0 vote to table this item until the December 20th meeting when Zoning Officer, Tim Weis, will be in attendance. Also, a spokesperson from Vistacom will be invited to do a presentation.

Ordinance 306 - Local Services Tax / Adoption - Kline said that this was properly advertised and ready for adoption. Effectively it is a name change from the EMS Tax to the Local Services Tax. The amount remains the same at $52 per year for employees working in the Township. It was approved in a 5:0 vote and will be effective on January 1, 2008.

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution for (6) Street Lights / The Estates at Bushkill Creek - Hay reported that the lights have been inspected and everything is in order. He recommended Board approval. The Board agreed. The vote was 5:0.

Resolution for (15) Street Lights / College Park Development - Hay reported that the lights have been inspected and everything is in order. He recommended Board approval. Howell asked if the lights are all the same style as the rest of the Township lights and Hay said that they are. Hay added that Riverview is the exception (in fixture styles). The vote was 5:0 in favor of the resolution.

Employee Manual Discussion - Hoff asked the Board to review the changes (all are highlighted) in the manual and suggested that any questions be addressed to Schnaedter and Bartek (since they worked on it). Some of the changes are mandated by changes in State and Federal laws and others because of contract agreements. Discussion and action will be added to the December 20th meeting agenda. Howell asked how the manual will be disseminated and was told that it will be distributed to employees and that they will sign that they have received it.

Advertise Fire Department Ordinance - Nicholas reported that the Public Safety Committee has reviewed the ordinance and that it is in front of the Board for comment and reviewl. Nicholas noted that there is some confusion as to the setting of rates vs. the timing of the annual budget. Hoff explained that the IRS provides the reimbursable mileage figure (this year it is $.505/per mile) and that FEMA provides the maximum (reimbursable) idle time figure as a guideline - although the FEMA maximum does not have to be used - it can be less. Kline asked if the rates will always be available in January (before the re-organizational meeting) and Hoff said that the IRS rate will be. Hoff also said that this is the first time the ordinance has been updated in eleven years and that the Township has changed a lot in that time. Some of the changes include changing the line officer service requirement from three years to five years - but with prior experience, eligibility can be shortened to four years. Ackerman said that he wanted a copy of the old ordinance to compare with the new one. The Board voted 4:1 (Ackerman) to advertise the ordinance. It will be discussed and voted on at the December 20th meeting.

Executive Session - called by Supervisor Nicholas to discuss a personnel issue. No action was taken.

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, November 18, 2007

BoS Meeting 11/15/2007

Forks Township's Supervisors probably did not set a record for short meetings but they came close with this night's 45 minute session. The local papers did not report on it. In fact, they were not represented at the meeting at all. Absent also were Chairman David Hoff and Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas.

SUPERVISOR COMMENTS

Supervisor Miller reported that of the two Forks football teams that made the championship rounds last weekend, the peewee team lost to Palmer and the midget team beat Palmer. "So we have a championship midget football team this year," he said. Miller also said that basketball sign-ups are just about over and that there will be 25 teams. Practice starts this weekend.

TREASURER'S REPORT - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 3:0 vote.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public - see the Township calendar for dates and times)

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the committee met two weeks ago and discussed ongoing projects - including Newlins Road and the traffic light at Meco. Of the Meco/Sullivan light Ackerman added that "not everything is ready to go yet." Ackerman also said that leaf pick-up continues and that the leaves are still falling and may be down by next weekend.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no committee report - see Supervisor Comments above for the park sports/activities news.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - no report

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - said that he provided the Board with a written report. He had nothing to add to it.

Supervisor Howell said that the Board received a letter from Suburban EMS that listed the monies owed (to Suburban) by Forks EMS at approximately $19,000. Howell explained that Hoff requested this information at the Public Safety Committee meeting last week. Howell added that either at the next Public Safety meeting or the next Board of Supervisors meeting there may be an answer as to when this amount will be paid.

ENGINEER'S REPORT - Hay - agenda items only.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - informed the Board that the Letter of Credit (LC) for the Sullivan Trail Business Park (property is on southeast corner of Uhler Road and Sullivan Trail) expires on November 24th and that there is a large amount of work still to be done - $150,000 worth of items. Hay agreed with Kline that the best path is to give them another 6 months to complete the work. Kline said that if, by November 19th, the LC is not extended, he requests permission from the Board to draw on the LC (before the 24th expiration date). The Board voted 3:0 to authorize drawing on the LC if necessary.

Zoning Officer Weis said that there were two bid openings this week (the computer IT system and the interactive display system) and that the bids are being reviewed by staff. A report will be made to the Board.

Supervisor Howell asked if a demolition date has been set for the house on Newlins/Richmond. DPW Director Roberts said that there is a small amount of asbestos in the basement and the DEP has requested more detail. He expects an answer in 15 days.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Dominic Pettinelli of Marigold Drive expressed his gratitude to the Forks EMS, the Forks Police Department, and to Suburban EMS for the successful at-home delivery of his son John Dominic (Jack) on September 6th.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Resolution for (6) Street Lights & Resolution for (3) Street Lights / The Preserve Development - Hay recommended that the Board pass both resolutions as everything is "ready to go." The Board did that with a 3:0 vote.

Ordinance #307 - Realty Transfer Tax - Kline explained that this ordinance is to authorize the PA Department of Revenue to collect Forks' share of the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) in instances when the State finds that the value of property has been misrepresented. The 2% RTT is shared as follows: 1/2 goes to the State, and the other half is split evenly between the school district and the local municipality. The ordinance was properly advertised. This passed with a 3:0 vote.

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution for (6) Street Lights / Riverview Estates Phase 3a - Hay explained that this applies to the single family homes north of Winchester and south of Newlins East (from Broadway to Iron Lane). This passed with a 3:0 vote.

Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority - Wastewater Flow Monitoring & Inflow/Infiltration Study Agreement - Hay told the Board that this was previously approved and Kline said that everything is in order. The study is to find out how much groundwater is going into the sewer line/system - because treating storm water reduces the plant's available capacity. It passed with a 3:0 vote.

Patriot Village Subdivision - Developers' Agreements - Kline said that all was in order - the executed agreement, the letter of credit, and the certificate of insurance. This passed with a 3:0 vote. The developers can now draw on building permits.

Authorize Advertisement / Board Vacancies - (2) Planning Commission, (2) Zoning Hearing Board, (2) Recreations Board, (1) Vacancy Board - The Board agreed (3:0) to advertise the openings and set the close of business on December 17th as the application deadline. The vacancies will be advertised in both the Express Times and the Morning Call. The deadline allows time for interviews prior to the last BoS meeting of the year. The new Supervisors will be invited to attend so that they are "up to speed" when they vote to fill the positions at the BoS re-organization meeting in January.

Forks Community Recreation Center - Employee Rate Schedule - Miller said that the township recognizes the benefits of exercise and good health for its employees and proposed that the sign-up fee for (new members only) employees and volunteers be waived and that they pay the same rates as Township residents for use of the Community Center. This passed with a 3:0 vote.

Weyerhaeuser Site Plan - Fort James III - Steve Pany, engineer for JG Petrucci presented the preliminary land development plan to the Board. Pany said that this is the first for the site and that it (lot 17) is a 30 acre parcel. There will be 12 acres of outside storage and 25 employees (to start.) The number of employees may double "if business is good." Pany said that although most of the company's products will be brought in by rail (3 boxcars and some flatcars), there will be 10 trailer loads of plywood delivered by truck per day and they expect to ship out 25 tractor trailer loads of products per day to retail vendors. This is strictly a wholesale company. The 100,000 square foot warehouse building will be sprinklered. They will store their own fleet of 25 trailers onsite (half of them under a canopy.) The township water quality ordinance will be used in the site's stormwater management plan. There will be one detention basin onsite and several infiltration basins around the perimeter of the site for volume control. Lot 17 (Weyerhaeuser) will be responsible for the maintenance of the emergency access road on lot 17. There will be added fire hydrants - per the fire marshal's comments. The products that will be brought in, stored, and shipped out are truss joists, glue laminated lumber, and micro-laminated lumber - all for residential construction. There will be some cutting (of product) done on the site. The periphery will be open for a small emergency vehicle. Kline stated that the Planning Commission recommended conditional preliminary plan approval based on Keystone's letter of 11/2/07, the fire chief's review letter, and a plan note specifying that the lot owners are responsible for emergency access road (west to Kesslersville Road) maintenance. The road to lot #1 will be constructed to public street standards. The lot owners are also responsible for snow plowing and debris removal. The Board approved the preliminary land development with a 3:0 vote.

Public Works - 5 Year Plan - Ackerman made a motion to accept the plan (that the Supervisors received in their packets). Howell said that the plan detailed a $1 million five year capital equipment replacement schedule and he did not consider it to be a 5 year plan. He said that there was no mention of projects, organization, staffing, and there was no review of buildings and grounds. Ackerman said that the rest "will be coming" at the next meeting. Howell said that he thought it should be discussed all at once because 5 year plans should be discussed as a whole. He said he didn't want to approve over $1 million for capital equipment when the plan for the whole department is not complete. Howell also said that with two members of the Board absent, he would not vote on a partial plan. Ackerman withdrew his motion and said that he will have the complete 5 year plan ready for the next Board meeting. It was tabled until the December 6th meeting with a 3:0 vote.

Riverview Estates Phases III & IV - Revised Phasing Plan - Hay said that the residents of Riverview in the area between Winchester, Newlins, and Broadway want their roads paved. This is just to move the line on the plan so that it can happen. The vote to approve was 3:0.

The Preserve - Revised Phasing Plan - Hay said that this was just moving the line on the plan so that all the roads south of Heather Lane can be paved. Phase I includes the pond on Heather Lane and Heather Lane is the construction entrance for Phase II. Zoning Officer Weis added that Old Mill Road will be open all the way through! It was approved 3:0.

Tentative Adoption of 2008 Budget - The tentative budget was adopted in a 3:0 vote. It will now be on the township website for residents to see. Final approval is planned for the December 20th meeting. Had the tentative budget not been approved this night, it would have to wait until the December 6th meeting, and then it would have to be advertised for 20 days. Also, it would not be on the website until after it received tentative approval. It would then be adopted at a special meeting of the Board - after Christmas.

Fort James III - Indemnification Agreement - Kline said that the developer wants to begin the infrastructure improvements and that everything is in order - the indemnification agreement is signed, the money for the escrow account is posted, and the certificate of insurance has been received. This passed with a 3:0 vote.

There was no Executive Session and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Thank You From David Billings

FAC received this note of thanks from Forks Supervisor candidate David Billings. He asked that we share it.

"I wanted to take a moment and express my appreciation for all the people who voted for me in the General Election. I am very humbled!

It was an honor to meet all the wonderful people of Forks Township and discuss the future of our community. Many people have asked whether I am going to stay involved in township activities. The answer is yes!

I truly believe we shaped the debate about our future. I will continue to advocate for true open government, lean spending, and green spaces. As I have stated, these ideas are not just campaign slogans, but a new and better way to manage our township.

In the coming months, the township is facing many critical issues that shape our future. We will be updating the Comprehensive Plan, approving the 2008 budget, continuing the Kings Mill litigation, and making appointments to the Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Board.

It is very important to stay involved in township decision making and speak out on critical topics. Only together can we do better!

Sincerely,

David Billings"

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chuss and Egolf - Winners in Forks!

The unofficial tally is in and Erik Chuss and Bob Egolf are to be the newest Forks Supervisors. Congratulations to both fine candidates. You worked hard and long to gain the trust of Forks voters.

The four Forks Supervisor candidates waged some of the cleanest campaigns ever seen. It was truly a race among the good guys. It's too bad for Forks Township that only two candidates could win.

To see the unofficial tally, click here. To read JD Malone's (Express Times) after election interviews with Erik Chuss and Bob Egolf, click here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

BoS Meeting 11/1/07

Forks Township's Supervisors discussed both the (unapproved) bikepath on Winchester Drive and a 1/2 mil tax increase on this night. Chairman David Hoff did the briefing on the tentative 2008 budget and is the one who broke the news of the probability of the first Forks Township tax increase since 1997. Read JD Malone (Express Times - 11/3/07) and Tom De Martini (Morning Call - 11/2/07) for more. For more on the bikepath, read JD Malone (Express Times - 11/2/07).

SUPERVISOR COMMENTS

Supervisor Nicholas reported that she received an invitation for the Supervisors to the Eagle Scout award (program.) The event is for November 24th. The invitation is on the table in the Supervisors' room. Nicholas said that she cannot attend and if no other Supervisors are planning to attend, she will send the letter that she normally sends (to the troop.)

Supervisor Miller said that the Bushkill Stream Conservancy has completed tree plantings in the restoration area. The group put in 100 plus trees as well as bushes. This weekend they will finish the mulching and in the spring, they will expand the meadow area.

Miller reported that fall sports are winding down and that the soccer tournament is in Moore Township this year. It will be back in Forks next year. He said that two of Forks four football teams have made it to the playoffs in Palmer Township - the first round is this Sunday. The championship is next weekend. Preparations are underway for winter sports.

TREASURER'S REPORT - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote.

Standing Committee Reports (meetings are open to the public)

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - said that there is a meeting planned for Tuesday, November 6 at 5 PM. Forks EMS is on the agenda and they will, time permitting, also continue their review of the Fire Department Ordinance. Police Chief Greg Dorney said that the police department gave out 2000 lollipops in 30 minutes (on Halloween). He added, "That's a lot of children."
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that there will be a meeting on Tuesday at 7:30 AM. He asked the Board to go over the 5-year plan prepared by DPW Director, Mark Roberts, so that action can be taken on it in the near future. - Roberts reported that leaf collection will continue into what looks like a late fall. The "salt building" has been removed (by staff) in preparation for the new one - due to be completed the 3rd week of November. The crews have been busy with a couple of sinkholes in the park. It took nine yards of FlowFill to fill one of them.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no committee report - see Supervisor Comments above for the park sports/activities news.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - no report
  • Finance & Administration - Chairman Hoff - reported that the committee has reviewed some "streamlining" changes to the GL (general ledger), reviewed the auditors recommendations, and continues to review the employee manual. The next meeting is November 14. The December 26 meeting has been canceled. Nicholas asked Finance Manager Jim Farley to go over the changes. She thought that policy changes needed Board approval. Hoff said that there are no policy changes - only administrative changes. Farley explained that the streamlining is for required reporting to the State. The utilities fund has been divided into a capital fund account and an operating fund account and some balance sheet accounts are being consolidated.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - reported that the staff is bringing the WWII veterans' memorial plaque from the Historical Society and will be putting it in the lobby in a secure spot. The Board will be consulted on the location before it is permanently mounted. Schnaedter also said that the Kiwanis Club wants to do their annual tree lighting on December 2nd at 7 PM. Supervisor Nicholas advised Roberts (new DPW director) that the road crew puts up the lights and that the bandshell will need electricity. Supervisor Howell asked if the Kiwanis were going to do a winter clothing drive again this year. Schnaedter replied that they are asking for donations of stuffed animals. The police department will be accepting stuffed toys. The Board approved the date/time of the tree lighting in a 5:0 vote.

ENGINEER'S REPORT - Hay - gave the Board a plan that he prepared of the proposed recreation trails for the Riverview area. Discussion of the bikepath was moved to the UNFINISHED BUSINESS section of the meeting.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - reported the good news that Forks Township and Forks police department have been dismissed from a "prisoner's civil rights action" filed by Stanley Styers (sic). Styers was convicted of DUI and filed a federal action naming Forks Township, Northampton County, Forks police department, Plainfield Township, the officers from involved from both Forks and Plainfield police departments, two judges, prosecutors, defenders... "He was a very unhappy man," Kline noted.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Kevin Schulte (sic), six year resident of Forks, addressed the Board and expressed thanks to the roads department fixing Mitman Road. He thanked the fire and police departments for keeping "us" safe. Schulte said that Forks is the finest township he's ever lived in as far as safety and security are concerned. And, he asked the Board to terminate the employment of officer Fimiano. Schulte said that Fimiano's behavior - driving that fast - can kill families. He also urged the Board to vote "no" on the Marshfield project. Lastly, he suggested an answering machine for Supervisors. Nicholas volunteered that her Township cell phone does that and she said that her cell number is listed in the Township directory on the website.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Winchester Drive Unapproved Bikepath - Kocsis Property - Hay began by describing the map he prepared for the Board. He explained that his field decision to extend the bike bath from the old railroad line trail to Broadway was done for safety because people are walking in the street on Winchester Drive. Hay said that he was thinking in particular of the people who live on the north side of Winchester.

Nicholas said that he made a decision that should have been made by the Board. Hay said that "constructability issues" can't wait two weeks (until a Board meeting.) Hay said that the Township Manager (Cathy Kichline) told him to do it - in 2003. Nicholas said that he did not have the right to take that decision away from the Board.

Hoff said that certain things should come back to the Board, and "this may have been one of them," but not every issue on a construction site should come back to the Board. Ackerman offered that this should have come before the Recreation Board. Hoff noted that Winchester is a major east/west corridor and that there is a safety aspect. Kline asked if there are sidewalks in Phase 3 (answer - "no"). Nicholas made a statement that as an elected official she is upset that her vote was taken away. Hay said that he was not trying to usurp her authority. He was trying to do what he "thought was the safe and right thing to do."

Sue Kocsis (the property owner whose yard was dug up) said that it can't be a safety issue since the people from Iron Lane have to walk all the way down to Broadway in the street. If this is a safety issue, the path should have at least been continued all the way to Iron Lane, approximately 1/4 mile. She said that the path should be on the south side of Winchester so that it connects to other the other Riverview paths.

Ms. Kocsis said that she also took great offense that she was not notified. She said it goes nowhere and devalues her property. Ms. Kocsis said that she just wants her dirt and grass put back.

Hoff said that sidewalks should have been approved at the beginning.

Sandy Hanks (resident and appointed Elected Auditor) said that she wholeheartedly agreed with Sue (Kocsis) and wondered if there was a mistake being covered up.

Jim Wideman (candidate for Supervisor and former Planning Commission member) said that he saw two issues. The first that the rec path is a major issue currently being discussed for the new Comprehensive Plan. He said that it is wrong for individual staff to take a "carte blanche attitude" and do what they think should be done just because the machines are there. Wideman said that this is major negative change to an established resident's property. The second issue is that the path should be on the south side of Winchester (going west) because the land on the south side of the street is relatively flat and it would connect to other paths. The properties on the north side have sloped yards.

Nicole Alexander (member of several Planning Commission subcommittees) thought that this was a violation of the Sunshine Act and that such a significant decision should have been brought to the Board for approval.

Ackerman made a motion to return the property to grass. In discussion Howell stated that he didn't want to plan the bike path 75 feet at a time and that the Board should decide on all of Riverview now or it should go back to the Planning Commission. Howell noted that the PC has the multi-use trail recommendation from the Recreation and Trails subcommittee. He made an all inclusive motion to Table (that is table and send it back to the PC for a recommendation on all of Winchester Drive).

Erik Chuss (Chairman of the PC and candidate for Supervisor) wondered how it work since the Comprehensive Plan will not be finalized until March.

Vito Tamborrino (Planning Commission and member of the Recreation and Trails subcommittee) said the subcommittee spent some time riding the trails and in their report it's clear that the recreation/riding trails are one of the biggest problems. The paths are a "slew of paths" that do not lead anywhere and should be tied together. He recommended that the issue go back to the PC and and that the PC tie it to the new Comprehensive Plan.

The vote was 3:2 to table - Hoff and Ackerman were the nay votes. Sue Kocsis will get her grass back immediately. Kline noted that the Board should keep in mind that the developer (Strausser) built all the required paths. New/additional ones will be at the Township's expense.

NEW BUSINESS

Ordinance No. 306/Local Services Tax - Kline explained that the State Legislature authorized the Emergency & Municipal Services Tax (EMS) tax of $52 per year per employee in Forks (and in all municipalities that adopted it). This ordinance is to change the name of the EMS tax to the Local Services Tax. The name change has been authorized by the Legislature because people assumed that the money went to ambulance companies. It does not. The State has changed the withholding from annual to weekly at the rate of $1/week. Employees earning less than $12,000/per year are exempt. The authorization to advertise passed in a 5:0 vote. It will be advertised three times.

Ordinance No. 307/Realty Transfer Tax - Kline explained that this ordinance is to authorize the PA Department of Revenue to collect Forks' share of the Realty Transfer Tax (RTT) in instances when the State finds that the value of property has been misrepresented. The 2% RTT is shared as follows: 1/2 goes to the State, and the other half is split evenly between the school district and the local municipality. The authorization to advertise passed in a 5:0 vote. It will be advertised one time (because it not a new tax).

Weis Market/Conditional Use - Decision of BOS - Kline presented a new "brief" of the Weis Market Conditional Use hearing for the Board's review. Judge McFadden remanded the first brief back to the Township for more detail (in the appeal of the conditional use by Mr. Gingold and the Residents Who Care). The motion to authorize the Chairman and Secretary to sign the decision passed in a 5:0 vote.

Award Bid - Demolition/Building at Richmond & Newlins Roads - The seven bids received ranged from a low of $12,900 to $35,612.62. The bids were opened at a public meeting on October 22nd. Camelot Excavating & General Contracting LLC of Belvidere, NJ was the low bidder. The vote was 5:0 to award the contract to Camelot.

2008 Budget - First Draft Submission - Hoff said that there had been three budget sessions. He said that all department heads were consulted and their requests were reviewed. As currently submitted the 2008 budget totals $7,242,842. Hoff said that most of the Township's expenses are "somewhat fixed." The budget includes some capital spending:

  • from the Fire Department 5-Year Plan - radio upgrades, apparatus, turn-out gear, and the fire training tower
  • from the Police Department 5-Year Plan - three replacement patrol cars, furniture and fixtures, and a captain position
  • for the Community Center - new fitness equipment, computer replacements, and additional light poles
  • for the Municipal Complex Sullivan Trail entrance and in front of the Municipal Building - lighting
  • from the DPW 5-Year Plan - a replacement for the 1953 grader

Other needed items include a Microsoft Site License and complete server replacement, an air conditioner upgrade at the Community Center, and fire, alarm, and video surveillance equipment (also at the Community Center). And, recommended for review in the future is a new public works building.

Hoff said that there is an option in the budget to borrow $1 million (over 10 years) to replace all the old equipment. The bond payment would be $127,000 per year. It would be offset by the $110,000 expected from the Local Services Tax (formerly known as the EMS Tax). This would make the bond cheaper on an annual basis. The Township would use years 11-20 of the Local Services Tax, to accrue funds for future needs.

Because of the downturn in the housing market, the "expected fees" budget item was reduced by 18% (in 2007.) In fact, the decrease was 50%. The deficit was covered by funds accrued for it. For the 2008 budget, the fee expectations have been lowered an additional $450,000.

Hoff explained too, that the Township must budget for 15 months of expenses because money doesn't come in until March or April. Therefore, a 1/2 mil (or 10.7%) tax increase is proposed. It will bring in $275,000. The last increase was in 1997 and before that, 1993. The Board will tentatively adopt the budget at its November 8th meeting, it will be advertised on November 20th, and will be accepted at the December 20th meeting.

Website Maintenance Package Proposal - New Arrival Studios - Schnaedter asked the Board to accept the proposal from New Arrival Studios (the current provider of design and maintenance services). Schnaedter said that the Community Relations Committee endorses the proposal and that at $300/mth it provides greater flexibility. Nicholas added that pricing for website additions on a stand alone basis were quoted at $2,000 and that "Bob has been training people for free for years." New Arrival Studios was awarded the contract in a 5:0 vote.

Executive Session - was held at Miller's request to discuss a personnel issue. No action was taken and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Who will get your votes on Tuesday?

In less than one week - on Tuesday, November 6th - you will be making important choices at the polls. Your votes for two Supervisors will decide the path of Forks for the next six years. Just two of the four candidates will be elected Forks Supervisors.

Some voters have met all four candidates and already know who will receive their votes. Others have not yet decided. FAC has tried to make it easier for you. If you are among the undecided, please check out the following resources on the candidates:

  1. Lehigh Valley League of Women Voters 2007 Election Guide
  2. F.A.C. Candidates Page
  3. F.A.C. Candidates News Page
  4. F.A.C. Candidates Blog
  5. Billings 2007 - Blog
  6. Egolf 2007 - Blog
  7. Wideman 2007 - Blog

This is an important election for Forks Township. Two current Supervisors are being replaced. Four good candidates (from among your friends and neighbors) are vying for the two vacancies. These are tough choices. You will do all of us a service if you go to the polls as informed voters.

In the May Primary, two of the six candidates lost by only a few votes - proving that every vote really counts.

Don't stay home on Election Day, November 6th -- vote for Forks╩╝ future.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BoS Meeting 10/18/2007

Forks Township's Supervisors were prepared for a lengthy discussion of the Forks EMS squad's financial reports. They were not prepared for discussion of the new recreation path installed just last week by Strausser Enterprises - along Winchester Drive and apparently going nowhere! Read JD Malone's coverage of both the EMS and the Strausser bikepath issues (Express Times) and Tom De Martini's (Morning Call) coverage of the EMS discussion.

SUPERVISOR COMMENTS

Supervisor Ackerman reported that he attended the Two Rivers Council of Governments (TRCOG) meeting on Wednesday night and that there were two big issues. The first was the "multi-comprehensive plan." Ackerman said that two of the member municipalities are definitely in favor of the plan, two (Bethlehem Township and Glendon) are definitely opposed to it. Easton is doesn't think it will sign on but is waiting for the November election and its new mayor to decide. Freemansburg is a maybe and West Easton has not started talking about it yet. He reported, too that representatives from the Nazareth COG were there to explain how they went about forming their plan. As to the plan, Ackerman said that it is voluntary. Each TRCOG member does not have to sign the agreement. However, if a municipality does sign then its zoning will operate under different rules - the rules of the new plan. Ackerman added that he's not happy with what he heard because a lot of the (nine) municipalities have not yet considered it and are holding off until the final plan is completed in April or May before making a decision. The next meeting is in January and a new representative from Forks will attend (Ackerman's term is over at the end of December). Ackerman added that Bethlehem Township's definite "no" is because it is pretty well "developed out" and sees no benefit from it.

The second big issue is the Mutual Aid Agreement. Ackerman said that two municipalities have signed it and that Solicitor Kline has reviewed it and is satisfied with it. He said that the TRCOG wants a letter from Forks by the end of this month. (It is on the agenda.)

TREASURER'S REPORT - Secretary/Treasurer Howell detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the next meeting is scheduled for the first Tuesday of November at 5:00 pm. Nicholas reported that the Forks Fire Department, as of September 2007, has answered 360 calls in Forks, 42 in Stockertown, and 36 in other municipalities. Fire Chief Bryan Weis said that there is a township-wide burning ban in effect because of the drought - until further notice. Also, Weis presented the township with a $15,000 check from the Community Fire Company. It represents the payment due for year ten of their 10 year agreement with the Township.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that the TRCOG has requested $2,000 from Northampton County for a yard waste study - to try to figure out how to have a pick-up spot for yard waste. DPW Director Roberts reported that leaf pickup is just starting. Currently one truck is going out a day but in a few weeks, it will be "going strong." Nicholas asked if leaves for collection are to be left along the road edge or actually in the road. Roberts said that the leaves should be left near the curb edge (not in the road) and that leaves in the road cause drainage problems. Ackerman requested that this should be a notice on the township website. Nicholas said to add (to the website) that there are to be no basketball nets in the roads - winter is coming and the snow must be plowed. Roberts commended the Parks Department for the landscaping done around the new municipal sign. He said that they did a terrific job and that it looks great.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no report.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - said that he has received many positive comments about the new municipal electronic sign as well as many suggestions for what should be placed on it. He expressed his thanks to the public works department and to Township Manager Schnaedter for getting it done as quickly as they did.
  • Finance & Administration - Chairman Hoff - reported that the committee discussed the budget as it pertains to finance and administration and presented it at this week's budget hearing. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 3:00 pm.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - reported that he, Supervisor Miller, and Zoning Officer Tim Weis met with school administrators about a "number of issues" and in particular the school bus routes. The officials were unaware of the routes being used and thought it was because of the school construction. He and Weis then met with the transportation managers who assured them that 1/2 of the buses will come off the Mitman Road route. Nicholas said that the Board wanted all the buses off of Mitman Road because of the curves. Schnaedter said that they indicated that they are not able to do that.

Schnaedter reported, too, that bids are due October 22 for demolition of the house at the Richmond/Newlins intersection, and on November 13 for the interactive display system (smart board) for the meeting room and for the computer system (information support technologies). Nicholas asked that the smart board be tilt-able so that the meeting room audience can see it. Weis said that that can be looked at during installation but it was not in the original specs.

ENGINEER'S REPORT - Hay - agenda items only.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - reported on two decisions from the "Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County in the Weis Market cases." The first was in the matter of Scott Gingold's challenge to the zoning ordinance 298 (which allows a grocery use in the Economic Center - EC.) Judge McFadden upheld the Forks Zoning Hearing Board's decision and "denied and dismissed the appeal." The appellant has 30 days to decide whether or not to appeal. If there is an appeal (to the substantive challenge to the ordinance), the case will go to the Commonwealth Court.

The second case, the appeal (by Gingold and others) of the conditional use approval by the Board of Supervisors (BoS) was sent back to the BoS for "more detailed opinion" on the reasons for its decision. The court will then decide if there was sufficient evidence to support the Board's decision.

Kline also reported that KMRD's (Kings Mill) subdivision challenge (the by-right plan rejected by the Board as taking too long) is on the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas argument list for December 4. No judge has been assigned yet. A decision should come in the early months of 2008.

Howell thanked Kline very much and said that the Township was "represented quite well."

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Sue Kocsis of Broadway Road told the BoS of issues she has with the new bikepath on Winchester Drive - currently being put in by Strausser Enterprises. She asked if the bikepath had been approved by the Board and if so, she asked for copy of the plans for it. She asked why she was not informed by the Township that it was going to be installed. To find out what was going on, she had to stop a bulldozer and ask the operator what he was doing digging up the lawn. It cuts through her yard (in the right of way) and edges her farmland. She also questioned the width of it. Hay said it was to be 8 ft wide. Kocsis said that parts of it are 12' wide.

Kocsis said that she wants the work stopped until she sees the "approval" of the bikepath. She said that the bulldozers cut into the tree row along her farm. She showed photos to the Board of one of Strausser's bulldozers carrying off cut tree roots and as well as photos of other tree and root damage. Kocsis said, "It's ironic that we are suing a developer for cutting down trees and this same developer was allowed to do this destruction to this treeline." She wants the corner restored (since the new path connects to nothing) and stated that she has tried to "keep some of the country in Forks Township" and part of that is the tree line down Winchester Drive. Kocsis added that some of the trees will die because of this "destruction." She asked for a written report (by the Solicitor) detailing the Township plans for the corner.

Hay said that Strausser had BoS approval to do the path from Danser Road to the Township (old railroad bed) right-of-way. Hay said that he thought that continuing the path through to Broadway was a good idea since it would keep people from walking in the road. He said with it through to Broadway, there will only be a one block gap (from Iron Run to Broadway) where people have to walk in the road. Nicholas remarked that "it doesn't go anywhere." Hay said that it gets people up to Broadway, a less heavily traveled road than Winchester. Weis noted it was probably a safety issue.

Kocsis asked who will maintain the bikepath. She said that with the leaves and the walnuts falling it's already covered. She said, too, that because of the trees, the path should not have been put on that side of the road.

Hoff said that he wants to see a plan at the next meeting and that public works should hold off from doing the macadam on it (the part from the nature trail to Broadway.)

This will be on the November 1 agenda.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Forks EMS - Financial Reports - Hoff said that the EMS May-September financial statements were received (as requested by Solicitor Kline by letter). Forks EMS president, William Keifer, apologized to the Board. He said that he misunderstood and thought that the financial reports were due quarterly and not monthly. He said that due to illness he missed the last Public Safety Committee meeting and had wanted to "sit down to create a relationship with the township and the squad." Keifer said, too, that talk of finances is a "sore subject" for emergency squads. He said that the squad is dragging the old debt with them.

Keifer praised the work being done by the squad's new billing company and said that so far $253,000 has been billed. Of that, $135,000 has already been collected. However, he added, the billing company only pays them once a month. The squad, he said, is in a "critical time" of its year - the subscription drive which just started in September.

Keifer said that the subscription drive monies cannot be spent immediately as they are to be used 1/12 per month. The fundraisers, in particular the Forksopoly game, have been successful. All of the slots on the Forksopoly board were sold to township businesses within two weeks and some of the businesses have offered to hold fundraisers for the squad. Forksopoly will be available for sale in a few weeks.

"I feel we're doing a great job... and we haven't asked for or received anything from the Township," Keifer said. He added that as a non-profit agency, the squad does not have to end the year with a profit.

Keifer asked for a private meeting in the next couple of days to discuss and document the squad's financial statements. He said that the employees and the current bills are being paid. He added that on November 9, Cory Dailey will be sentenced.

Hoff said that the dedication of the squad was not in question but expressed doubt about its financial future. Hoff said that the Board must be sure that the residents are served and that it is important that Suburban (the Advanced Life Support - ALS - provider) be paid. Hoff said that it is his opinion that Forks cannot support a stand alone EMS squad.

Keifer said that a check was sent to Suburban for $3600 and that they are still owed $8,000. He explained that money from calls does not come in right away. Keifer said that last year the squad raised $90,000 to $95,000 from the subscription drive and so far this year, $52,000 has come in as well as another $10,000 in donations. The squad, the Board was told, has handled 750 calls since April and has one truck on duty around the clock every day.

Ackerman said that he heard that the directors are not informed of the squad's financial situation. Keifer said that that was not true and that a financial report submitted by Mr. Kuhn is submitted and approved by the board at every meeting. They are told that they may have details of any budget item if they want them.

Nicholas asked what happens to the balance of the subscription money (only 1/12 is used per month) if the squad closes. She was told that it will be refunded to the residents.

John Kuhn, CPA for the squad came to the lectern and asked how the newspaper got copies of the private financial statements. He said that they were private documents - each page has "for internal use only" on it. Howell said that he gave them to the reporters. Hoff said that documents given to the Board of Supervisors are public documents. Kline cited the right-to-know law - that the documents are available to the public on request - and said that there is a "fine line" when the documents are from a non-profit. He added that it is the Township's responsibility to see that top quality ALS and BLS service is available to the citizens of Forks. If due to finances, these services cannot be provided, it is a concern of both the BoS and of the general public.

Hoff told Keifer that a private meeting is impossible and if it were possible, the discussion would still have to come back to the BoS in a public meeting for a decision.

Kuhn said that he can't answer some questions because of meetings with the IRS - the final meeting was this morning - and he objected to using the figures in public discussion. Kuhn said that the statements should not have been handed out the the general public. Howell told Kuhn to address his comment to him and not to the Board.

Howell said that Forks EMS has an open seat at the Public Safety Committee meetings and that a Public Safety Committee representative (Nicholas) has attended several of the EMS board meetings. The Public Safety Committee meetings are advertised (public) meetings. He said that the Township "bends over backwards to do its business in the sunshine." Howell said that he expected the EMS to come prepared to discuss the financial reports and asked, "When can we ask pertinent questions?"

Kuhn asked Morning Call reporter, Tom De Martini, to give back the financial statement. De Martini refused. Hoff then requested that they take their discussion out of the meeting room. Kuhn and De Martini complied and left the room.

Hoff said that it's a major concern that the ALS provider be paid. Ackerman asked the BoS why it was not demanding financial statements from Suburban EMS and Barry Alberston volunteered Suburban's audited statement.

Miller said that both Mr. Kuhn and the Forks finance manager be at the Public Safety Committee meeting. It is set for November 6 (Election Day) at 5:00 pm. Keifer asked that the Supervisors write/email/phone their questions to him. Keifer was asked to bring along a list of officers and board members.

Brian Pearson, owner of Mobile Repair Service in Easton and a Forks resident, told the Board he bent over backwards to take care of the re-formed squad's ambulance. He said it was in "rough" shape. Pearson said that he needs to pay his bills in 30 days and in June, the EMS checks stopped coming. He finally called an attorney after getting no response from Mr. Keifer or the EMS squad. He took them to court and no one from the squad came. He was granted a judgement for $3,000. He asked Keifer, "Why?" - Keifer said that a check for $1,000 went out last week. Pearson has not yet received it.

Amy Richard of Stockertown Borough Council asked that the statements be provided to Stockertown and she asked why no subscriptions have been sent to Stockertown residents. She was told that the statements will be given to the Council and that subscriptions to Stockertown residents were sent in September and that money was coming in from Stockertown residents. Richard said that she knows no one who got one.

Ordinance 304/Amendment to Chapter 159 - Dumping & Littering - This passed in a 5:0 vote. There was no discussion.

COG / Mutual Aid Agreement – Emergency Public Service Agreement - Nicholas said that she did not want to put her name to a document that wasn't in its final form. Ackerman said that he had a copy of the final document and thought that it had been distributed to the entire Board. Kline said that the document he had and that he reviewed had mark-ups showing all of the changes in it and that it is legible. The fact that there was no duration or method of termination detailed in the agreement did not trouble Kline who said that without one, one simply does not show up because one is "undermanned." Ackerman said that with this document, the Township will be paid from PEMA when it helps other municipalities during emergencies. It was not paid for any of the work done (for other municipalities) during the flood cleanups. This passed 4:1. (Nicholas voted nay because the document was not in its final form.)

NEW BUSINESS

Non-Uniform Pension Plan - Excess Interest Designation - Farley explained that the Board needs to decide what to do with the surplus interest earned by the plan. The Board voted 5:0 to reinvest it in the municipal account.

Fort James III - Major Subdivision - Final Plan - Ackerman recused himself because some of the land involved in the project was his. Steve Pany, engineer for JG Petrucci, reviewed the project. He said that Fort James III encompasses 120 acres. The main entrance is to be Braden Boulevard at Uhler Road. Braden will terminate in a cul-de-sac at lot 17. Flooding on Kesslersville will be relieved.

Nicholas asked about residential areas next to the property. Pany said that the Ackerman property will have a 50' buffer around it. Howell asked if the name of Braden will be changed since it no longer goes through to Kesslersville Road. Weis suggested naming it Braden East and the road connecting Kesslersville to Sullivan Trail, Braden West.

Howell asked about the trees on the stub road, Brennan Way and was told that the trees will remain. He also asked if trucks will be restricted on Glover Road. Weis said that there will be a "no left turn for trucks" sign. It's expected that only employees (and only 10% of them) will use the stub road.

Kline said that the Planning Commission (PC) discussed several things including having Braden dedicated to the Township all the way to Kesslersville. The road for lot one will be paved to Township specifications so that if Norfolk Southern (railroad) allows the rail crossing, the road will be ready. Lots 1, 17, and 18 will have maintenance responsibility for the roadway. Kline said that that he thinks these should be added conditions of approval.

The plan passed in a 5:0 vote subject to the PC conditions and to Hay's letter. The Weyerhauser development project will come before the Board next month.

Public Safety Communications Repeater - Fire Chief Bryan Weis said that space on the tower will be provided by the tower's owner, Industrial Communications (and the owner of Industrial Communications is a forks resident) at no cost to the Township. At Nicholas' request, Bryan Weis will get that promise in writing. The repeater will cost $5495. It is "tower specific" in that no other equipment can be used there. The repeater will expand emergency communications coverage to problem (coverage) areas of the Township, in particular, Route 611. The purchase was approved in a 5:0 vote.

There was no Executive Session and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

BoS Meeting 10/4/2007 - Kings Mill Discussion And Vote

Notes of the Kings Mill discussion at the 10/4/2007 Board of Supervisors meeting follow:

BEFORE DISCUSSION

Resolution # 071004-1 – KMRD, L.P. Litigation – Suspension of legal proceedings - Before starting discussion on this agenda item, Hoff clarified that the Township has not entered into any discussion or settlement with KMRD. He said, too, that the Board has no idea what KMRD "would like to propose other than a suspension of the hearing until they can make a presentation to the Board." The agreement on the agenda says that the Board "will suspend (the hearing) under certain conditions."

Howell questioned the statement "until they make a presentation to the Board?" Howell said that the thought that Kline had been asked simply to determine the ground rules for discussion. Howell said that he had no idea that a presentation had been discussed.

Kline explained the background: The KMRD partnership is composed of attorney Dennis Benner, his partner attorney Piperato, Zawarski builders, and Maloney builders. The developers have filed four different lawsuits.

KMRD has control over 545 acres in the Farmland Protection District (FP) and wanted to build a medium density residential development (a by-right plan because it conformed to 2001 zoning - in place at the time of filing - weeks before the 2006 zoning was adopted). The Township denied the by-right plan because the Township felt that the developer was "dragging its feet." KMRD appealed directly to the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County. Kline referred to this as Case #1.

Case #2 is the substantive challenge to the 2006 zoning ordinance currently in process before the Forks Zoning Hearing Board. KMRD alleges that the 2006 zoning ordinance contains provisions that are illegal and therefore not enforceable.

Case #3 is a procedural challenge to the zoning ordinances adopted in 1986, 1988, 2001, and 2006. This challenge is made possible by two recent PA Supreme Court decisions. This will go before the Forks Zoning Hearing Board.

Case #4 is for a conditional use permit under the 1983 zoning ordinance. It is for multi-family housing in the FP district. This hearing will be before the Board of Supervisors. In essence, KMRD says that since (see Case #3) the 1986, 1988, 2001, and 2006 ordinances are invalid, the conditional use permit should be reviewed under the 1983 ordinance, the one that allows them "to do what they want to do."

Kline said that a month or two ago, he was contacted by KMRD to inquire of the BoS if it would entertain any kind of proposals to resolve the litigation. Because it was litigation, Kline presented it to the Board in Executive Session. He said that the "sense of the Board" was that they were willing to listen to what KMRD had to say - without commitments.

Kline explained further that he communicated to the developer that a majority of the Board was willing to look at what KMRD had to offer as long as there was a "cease fire" - that is, a general cessation of all litigation while the parties talked. Attorney VanLuvanee wrote letters to the BoS and to the ZHB which arrived on 9/19/07. The BoS declined to vote on the request because it was not received in time for it to become an agenda item for public discussion at the 9/20/07 meeting. Thus, the ZHB, at its October 1st session of the KMRD zoning challenge, was the first to discuss and vote on the KMRD request.

KMRD was advised by Kline that a resolution would be on the 10/4/07 agenda. The resolution has several parts:

  1. The Township agrees to suspend all hearings and proceedings.
  2. No rights are waived.
  3. Either party has the right to restart the hearings/proceedings with proper notice.

By way of additional comment, Kline said that (to his knowledge) no proposals have been submitted to the Township by the developer. He added that this is very complex because it involves 545 acres and a very detailed SALDO and a very detailed Zoning Ordinance. It is not something that can be worked out in a week and would likely not be before the Board before January, when the new Board will be in place.

James Wideman (resident, Chairman of the Farmland and Historical Subcommittee for the Comprehensive Plan, former member of the PC, and candidate for Supervisor) asked if the Board normally asks the Solicitor to draft a resolution without a public vote? Kline said that the resolution to be discussed had to be very clear. Howell offered that the resolution was simply prepared as a guide for discussion.

.......... BREAK ..........

Miller began this session by making a statement that he never had a meeting or phone call from KMRD regarding anything. He said he had no idea why they are requesting a cessation and suggested that they may or may not be having financial problems - he didn't know. He thought the Township would save a lot of money since it wouldn't have to pay the attorney.

Nicholas said that she, too, has not talked with anyone from KMRD. She said she knows nothing of KMRD's plans and that she first heard about it from Kline in Executive Session. Ackerman, too, said that he has had no contact with them in any way, but that he's "an open minded person and willing to listen." Howell said that he has no reason to talk with KMRD and if the majority of the Board wants to suspend the litigation, Kline will be very busy as the communication link between the parties.

AUDIENCE COMMENTS

  1. Erik Chuss (resident, Chairman of the Planning Commission, and candidate for Supervisor) - began by getting on his "soapbox" about density. He felt that what happened at the ZHB was a very serious breach of protocol and that it leads to the implication that the BoS is willing to compromise. The Planning Commission has been hard at work on the new Zoning Ordinance, the SALDO, and Comprehensive Plan update and a settlement in this case will change everything since whatever is decided will apply to the entire FP district. Chuss said, "They started this. We need to finish it." He said, too, that agreeing to a compromise will have "severe and grave consequences." He cannot see any justification for one more house than the zoning allows in the FP. - applause
  2. Sharon Davis - said that she agreed with Erik Chuss' statement and added that she spent the summer as a volunteer working on a Planning Commission Comprehensive Plan Farmland and Historic Preservation Subcommittee. She did it because she cares about the community. She's spoken to many in the Township and they all have one voice on KMRD - "defend our zoning." She thought that with the real estate market in a slump the developer wants a break from having to spend money. - applause
  3. David Billings (resident, Chairman of the Recreation & Trails Subcommittee for the Comprehensive Plan, and candidate for Supervisor) - spoke as a parent of school children to the dramatic impact that Kings Mill would have on our community and the costs involved for the school district ($45 million), roads, and other infrastructure improvements that would be needed. He said that he believed the current zoning ordinance to be defensible and that Forks will prevail in court. He requested a roll call vote of the Supervisors. (Read the full text of Billings' comments here.) - applause
  4. Nicole Alexander - told the Board that if they settle now, they set a precedent. She said that this should be fully litigated because if it is not, a future Board will go through this again when some other developer comes before them with a plan for the FP. Setting a legal precedent now will define to future developers what they can and cannot do. She urged the Board "to continue the litigation and set this precedent because it's never been more important to save our farmland." - applause
  5. James Wideman (resident, Chairman of the Farmland and Historical Subcommittee for the Comprehensive Plan, and candidate for Supervisor) - said he spoken very strongly on this issue on many occasions. He said that Forks zoning is enforceable. He said, too, that there is no reason to doubt a decade of zoning work. Wideman urged the Board to maintain the zoning. He cited the costs of staying the course at around $20 per household (based on 5000 houses and $100,000 in costs). The future costs of a compromise will be much, much higher - possibly doubling school property taxes (per the EASD). Wideman urged the Board to "stay the course, make the hard decision, and defeat this resolution." - applause
  6. Robert Egolf (resident, Vice Chairman of Zoning Hearing Board, and candidate for Supervisor) - said that he was speaking only as a private citizen in asking "the Supervisors to uphold the unanimous decision of the Forks ZHB to reject KMRD's request for a continuance." He read from the the zoning ordinance's purpose - "to promote, protect, and facilitate public safety and general welfare by providing standards..." He said, too, that Forks attorneys have just started. He asked, "Have you ever heard of a game being suspended because one team is afraid it will lose?" Egolf said that the laws shouldn't be changed "to suit anyone who wants to overload our roads, overcrowd our schools, overrun our open space, and over-burden our tax base." - applause
  7. Louis Moyer (resident and member of the Zoning Hearing Board) - said that he was speaking as a private citizen and limited his comments to what was in the local newspapers. He said that as proposed, Kings Mill would add 17,000 cars per day to the roads, over 6000 students to the schools, and thousands of calls to EMS. He urged the Board not to bow down to these developers because if they do, a militia will be needed to stop more developers from hammering at the Township. - applause

SUPERVISORS + MORE AUDIENCE COMMENTS

Hoff said that the word "compromise" had not been used by the Supervisors. They are talking about an open dialogue and he too, firmly believes that the zoning is enforceable. He said that expensive litigation is not a reason to stop. Hoff also said that he was elected for a 6 year term, not a 5 year and 9 month term, and he's going to fulfill it.

Ackerman clarified that there is only one preserved farm in the FP and that FP means Farmland Protection not Farmland Preservation. He said that it was done by design to protect the farmers from the citizens. Ackerman said that he'd like to see what KMRD has and to tell them what "we want." He said that if the Planning Commission had spoken up early on when asked by Kings Mill what they (the PC) would accept, this wouldn't be going on now.

Chuss said that the Planning Commission did speak at the time. They told KMRD that the PC wanted what was allowed, a by-right plan. - applause - Wideman, a member of the PC when this first came before them, backed up what Chuss said, that the by-right plan would have been acceptable.

Howell noted that there is no motion on the floor. Wideman asked to take a poll of the Board as to how much the Board would be willing to go outside of the current zoning? Hoff said that there will be no polls and no decisions. Hoff said, "Why would we offer the developer any idea?" He added that the resolution is just to suspend the hearing in order to open a dialogue.

Miller said that they were not changing zoning and there there is no compromise before the Board.

By way of clarity, Howell said that if discussions are begun and the presented plan doesn't conform to the zoning, a curative amendment will be needed - that is an amendment to the zoning ordinance. The Act 537 plan would have to be changed also. Kline remarked that if the proposal is determined to be in the best interest of Forks, then the form of the settlement agreement may require changes to the zoning ordinance.

Nicholas said that she's been approached by many people from other townships, including those on school boards, about the increase to school taxes. She said that "if one person from every household in the EASD comes to the next meeting, there will be a gridlock of people trying to get to the building. It will be national news." Nicholas added that she feels the zoning ordinance can be defended in the courts. - applause

Ackerman made the motion to accept the resolution. Hoff seconded it.

SUPERVISOR DISCUSSION + MORE

Howell said that "this decision is a lay-up" and that he never thought it would come to this, that is, a discussion of what they want. He said that KMRD submitted a plan under the 2001 zoning and then "fumbled around" buying time so that they didn't have to pay the farmers (yet) for the lands under contract - all are subject to getting final zoning approval. Forks has created a Maginot Line along Newlins Road - above Newlins, no water and no sewer. And, because public sewer and water are the first items on the developers wish list, it is a regional issue. Howell said that he attends meetings in Plainfield, LMBT, and UMBT and they all wonder what Forks is going to do. He added that areas around cities in Colorado and around cities in England have kept their rural character by denying water and sewer. Howell said, "That's the formula, that's the ticket, and that's what we should do."

Howell also said that he's enjoyed working with David (Hoff) and John (Ackerman) over the last two years but he asked to let the decision be determined not by the current Board but by the future Board. There are only six meetings to go in this year, that is six possible Executive Sessions. Election Day is 33 days away. Howell asked that the Supervisors-elect be allowed to speak. Howell said, too, that he thinks Dennis Benner and his partners are "intimidators." Howell said that as a business man, he loved negotiating when he had leverage and that without the township's case being fully presented, the township has no leverage. "The timing is atrocious."

Hoff said that the Township is not losing anything by waiting six months. He said he will not abstain from voting. Ackerman said that he will not abstain either.

Howell said that a delay will lose momentum and in the law business, momentum means a lot. He added that he'd like to take his chances with the Forks ZHB and the appeal to the court. When the court gets it, there will be no witnesses, only the initial argument before the court. The cost of that is minimal.

Chuss reiterated that the Planning Commission needs direction. He said he was not speaking at a candidate but as a person who's put a lot of time into this. Hoff said that he agreed that all four of the candidates spoke as residents of the Township and not as candidates. He added that he can't guarantee what the papers will print.

William Wallace (candidate for Northampton County Council) asked if the litigation would impact the operation of KMRD should it be purchased by another entity? He wondered if the new, larger entity would be able to continue the suit. Kline said that it would likely be carried over to the new company. Howell said that this was an interesting point since, if changes in the ordinance are made for KMRD, it doesn't stop them from not developing the land and selling it instead.

Howell asked if the candidate for Mayor of Easton had anything to say. (R-Gary Bertsch was in the audience.)

Nicholas stated that the Sewer Authority should not have been abolished. She said that it wrote a letter to the Board against sewers in the FP.

Robert Kimmel, a 30 year resident of Forks, asked the obvious: "Why wouldn't we just allow the litigation to continue and talk to KMRD?" Howell said that Mr. Kimmel raised the perfectly obvious suggestion that has "eluded everyone except me and Mr. Kimmel." Kline said that there's nothing to prevent the Township from saying "no" that it will not cease the litigation and at the same time entertain a dialogue. - applause

Kimmel said that that would send a "strong and clear" signal that the Township will not be closed minded and that this is what "we" want. - applause

Alexander said that a strong signal is sent if the Township stands by its litigation. It says, "our zoning rocks." To back off, sends an indirect message that "maybe our zoning isn't as strong as it could be."

Hoff suggested that in view of recent court decisions, the courts cannot be trusted. Alexander countered that the courts are very prone to protecting farmland and open space at this time.

Kline said that he is disturbed by two recent court decisions, Glen Gery vs Dover and Luke vs Cataldi (sic). In the first, the Supreme Court changed the 30 day rule for challenge procedures to any time frame (thus the procedural challenge by Kings Mill). In the second case, the PA Supreme Court changed the look-back period for conditional use challenges from 30 days to as far as one wants. Kline said that he cannot predict how judges will vote down the road.

Wideman asked if Forks wasn't setting a dangerous precedent in negotiating with KMRD. Wideman added that in doing this, he (Kline) feels that there is some procedural mistake over the last decade. Wideman said that he agreed with Kimmel in that, if KMRD has a proposal, it can bring it to the Board at any time. Wideman said that they (KMRD) are asking the Township to compromise.

A roll call vote on the motion was taken:

  • Ackerman - Yay
  • Nicholas - Nay
  • Howell - Nay
  • Miller - ...on the fence ... NAY!!! - and the room broke into applause!

Hoff said that the motion was defeated 3:2. He also said that the Board did the right thing by not voting after the Executive session on September 20th. That, he said, threw the ZHB a little out of whack, but he felt it was the right decision.

Kline said that the Township will be at the 10/15/07 zoning hearing to continue its case. Applause!