Sunday, April 22, 2007

BoS Meeting 4/19/2007

On Thursday, April 19th the Board of Supervisors, among its actions, voted to approve the final land development for Weis Market, changed the use of the word "ordnance" for the Stryker Brigade, adopted a new, and more restrictive, stormwater management ordinance, awarded a contract for the purchase of a replacement security camera, instituted a new sports impact fee, and raised the sewer rates! Please read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) for more on the Weis Market and more on the sports impact fees. (Please accept our apologies in advance for any misspelled names that follow.)

Supervisor Comments

Supervisor Ackerman announced that he and Supervisor Howell attended the (Two Rivers Area Council of Governments) COG on Wednesday night. Under discussion was a COG joint appeals board in case problems with "zoning, electrical, plumbing, or whatever." Ackerman said that Bethlehem Township has one - a five member board composed of people with electrical, plumbing, etc. backgrounds - and has indicated that they (Bethlehem Township) is agreeable to Forks using it "probably for a small fee." Ackerman also said that the COG is going to ask the member municipalities if they want a joint comprehensive plan committee. Lastly, Ackerman said that Bethlehem Township bought a "tub grinder" (sic) for recycling all kinds of debris and expects to put in use soon. Ackerman asked Solicitor Kline if he and attorney Monahan (sic) if they had reviewed the COG's bylaws. Kline said that they had and had made a few suggestions that he thought were instituted. Ackerman said that the changes were apparently received but not instituted and that the bylaws are being reviewed now.

Supervisor Nicholas welcomed Boy Scout Troop 29 who were in attendance to work on their "Citizenship In The Community" badge. Nicholas also said that she attended the Eagle Board of Honor for Trevor Caplette. In addition, Nicholas asked if an inexpensive picnic table can be purchased for employee use. It is being done.

Chairman Hoff said that the Board received a letter of resignation from Les Ottenwalder of the Planning Commission. He said that Ottenwalder is retiring from his job and moving out of the area. Ottenwalder's last PC meeting will be on May 10th. The Board agreed to advertise the vacancy both in the newspapers and on the township website. Letters of intend will be accepted by Township Manager Schnaedter until May 31st. In other correspondence, Hoff said that the Board received a letter from Thomas Romhardt (sic) who asked permission to retrieve his family cornerstone from the township property on the corner of Newlins and Richmond Roads. Permission was granted. There was also a letter from Dan Fazekas, President of the Forks Fire Company, asking to allow use of the fitness center by the volunteers. His request was passed on to two committees, Parks & Recreation and Public Safety.

Zoning Officer Weis reported that he, Chief Dorney, a contingent of Forks police officers, and some residents attended the funeral of FBI agent (and Forks resident) Barry Bush in Harrisburg. Weis reported that several thousand law enforcement officers from around the country were there.

Supervisor Don Miller reported that the Recreation Board is planning to replace the park exercise equipment and the parks workers are continuing work to replace all of the baseball infields. Miller said too, that the recreation program is growing and there are more teams. As an example he said that last year there was only one lacrosse team and this year there are four. The land (10 acres) near the airport will soon be graded for more fields.

Standing Committee Reports

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Nicholas said that the committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday. She reported that she's heard from Mr. Kiefer (Forks EMS) and that after two weeks in operation, the squad is doing well. They will report on their progress at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman said that everyone is looking forward to the start of the new Public Works Director on April 30th. He reported that surface milling continues and that barricades were set up for last week's flooding. The next committee meeting will be on May 1st.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - Miller gave no committee report. His reports on Sunday night's Recreation Board meeting and park/sports activities have been moved to Supervisors' Comments above.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - No report.
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Hoff reported that the committee met on April 11th and that work on the purchase order procedures continues. Schnaedter has staked out the sign board site and safety committee meetings will begin soon.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter provided the Board with a written informational report. He said that he is continuing to look into a webcam as well as a public access channel for meeting broadcasts. Nicholas asked if he'd talked to "Bob, who does our website." She said that Bob has information "for us" too.

Engineer's Report - Fred Hay asked to put the blinker light for the Bushkill/Arndt intersection out to bid. The plans are signed. This passed in a 5:0 vote.

Solicitor's Report - Karl Kline reported that the Department of Community and Economics Development has given approval for the firetruck PEMA loan. Kline noted that he will need representatives from the Township and from the volunteer fire company for the actual settlement with the State. Kline also reported that the Zoning Hearing Board voted to uphold the the Board's decision to enact Ordinance 298. He said that this decision will probably be appealed.

Comments from the Public

  • Richard and Carol Baranowski (sic) who live near the (former) Friendly Tavern and the Palmer (through Forks) bike trail said that their property was taken from them (by Palmer Township) because they used the wrong paperwork. They reminded the Board that they, along with their neighbors and attorney, appeared before the Board in 2005. (See BoS Meeting 3/15/2005 - agenda item "FORKS RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY PALMER TWP. PROPOSED BIKE PATH.") The Baranowskis said that Forks was notified of the Palmer rails to trails plan in 1998 but no one told them. They have built there for 28 years ago. They asked the Board who they should call when there is a problem like when the tree fell from the Palmer property onto theirs. They called Palmer and a crew was sent to cut up the tree but not take it away. Palmer told them to call their homeowners insurer. Their property was hit with paintballs by someone on the trail - again they were told (by Palmer) to call their homeowners carrier. They told of the damage to the environment caused by the Palmer workers, especially to bird nesting areas. The Baranowski's had photos for the Board of the Bushkill Creek before and after Trout Unlimited moved the creek back 30 feet. They said that they have now been flooded four times.
Hoff said that Schnaedter had been out to look over their property. Kline explained that what took place was eminent domain. At one point, the Township considered buying the rail-bed but decided against it because of the liability of the include rail trestle. Palmer bought it had to prove clear title to get grant monies. The residents hired an attorney and lost. Palmer now has secured grant funding and is proceeding with the rails to trail project. The Baranowskis were advised to contact Forks police for any criminal activities that occur on/to their property. Dorney said that he would pass this on to his officers. The DEP has jurisdiction over what happens in the creek. The Baranowskis were also told that Hay did not have to see their site before they brought in their own engineer, Lou Ferrone.
    • Tom Gillan (sic) also spoke to the flooding and bike-path issues that he has faced as a resident near the Bushkill Creek and the Palmer bike-path. He directly asked the Board for help, for protection. He said that runners on the path make obscene gestures to his little girls. Nicholas asked if Palmer was going to put up a fence. Gillan said that that would exacerbate the flooding problems, that there is no room for one, and that the bike-path is in the flood zone. He said that the creek is now eating the bank away. He added that they now have rats and never did before. Howell asked Schnaedter to discuss this with Palmer and that Palmer belongs to the Two Rivers Area COG. Gillan said, "Help us." He hopes that Palmer will buy him out.
    • Joseph Henry of the Arndt Road/Bushkill Park Drive intersection told the Board of a "cancer-ed out" tree in his yard that needs to be removed. He doesn't have the money to cut the tree himself. Howell asked if the tree was a "clear and present danger to the power lines?" Howell said that they might do some "significant pruning" for him. Henry said that he had spoken to Met-Ed and was told that they would do nothing. Howell then suggested that he speak with his homeowners insurer as they might find that cutting the tree before it caused damage would be better than paying for the damage later. Henry said that he would contact his insurer.


    RESOLUTION #070419-1/REVISED FEE SCHEDULE ADOPTION - Weis said that the fees schedule was complete. Nancy Bonfanti, of the Athletic Association, expressed her concern at the brand new sports impact fee of $20 per child per sport. She said she emailed Farley and Miller to make her concerns known. She said that the AA was not informed and she was unsure if the website could be changed in time to accommodate the form changes. She was assured that it could be done. Bonfanti said that the new fee means that she will be paying $360 for her three children to play sports and she hoped that the Township would institute a family plan. She also said that the AA donates $15,000 per year to the Township and last year donated $30,000. Hoff told her that he was President of the AA when the fees were first instituted and that things have changed since then. Now the Township employees are taking care of the fields and facilities and that costs more money. Miller said that the AA imposes the fees and that up until now, the Township has not had fees. Farley detailed some of the costs to the Township and Miller said that he would be willing to work out a special rate - after the vote. The fee schedule (for all Township fees) was approved in a 5:0 vote. Read more in

    Courtney Lomax's Express Times article.

    POSSIBLE USE OF RECYCLING BUILDING FOR SIGN ROOM - Ackerman explained that the bids to insulate the building where too high. The plan was scrubbed.

    MET ED RESOLTUION/STREET LIGHT ACTIVATION - RIVERVIEW ESTATES DEVELOPMENT, PHASE 3A - Weis said that this resolution was strictly for street lights. Hay said that Phase 3 is half built out. The lights are for the safety of the residents. The resolution was approved 5:0.

    SECURITY CAMERAS - Schnaedter received three bids for the camera/installation. The one from Fox Bros, at $6,000 was the highest. The other two were close and after discussion, the Board, in a 5:0 vote, awarded the contract to Hi-Tech (sic) Security - at $3675.. The Hitachi camera that they will be installing is a newer model than the one offered by ICU (bid $4075.)

    CROP FARMING LEASE - REMAILY TRACT - The Board voted 5:0 to sign the 2 year lease with the Rinadis.


    FORKS COMMONS/WEIS MARKET/FINAL LAND DEVELOPMENT PLAN - LOT CONSOLIDATION PLAN - After discussion about the Planning Commission recommendations to require that the rooftop HVAC system be unseen from a distance of 1/4 mile and that the gas station traffic be one way, the Board voted 3:2 to grant conditional approval. The conditions include the PC recommendations and the engineer's letter. Ackerman and Nicholas cast the nay votes. Ackerman explained that he liked the plan and that the Township needs another grocery store but he is not happy with the Sullivan Trail changes. Nicholas asked Kline if the appeal in the courts should impact this vote and was told that the Township must take action because the "clock is running." Kline further explained that the developer understands that they are proceeding at their own risk and is also planning to intervene in the appeal(s). Attorney for the developer, Jim Preston, that he believed the appeal is an attempt to delay the process, hoping that the developer will go away. Hoff read a letter from attorney for the appellants, Gary Asteak, that the appellants object to this agenda item. Ackerman noted that he received lots of phone calls and that most were in favor of the store. He added that when he explained his reasons for objecting to it to the callers, they then were "on the fence." Howell said that the right-in/right-out must be submitted to PennDot for approval. Please read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) for more on the discussion.

    ORDINANCE NO 302/STORM WATER MANAGEMENT ADOPTION - The ordinance was adopted in a 5:0 vote.

    ROUTE 611 CONSTRUCTION EASEMENT - Sal Panto, representing Strausser Enterprises, appeared before the Board at Ackerman's invitation to explain the progress on the Route 611 project. Panto said that Board help to get a construction easement from Mr. Soda would not be necessary, that he met with him last week, and things are positive. Panto said that with the DEP modification of the permit, construction could start in 45 to 90 days.

    STRYKER BRIGADE ARMORY/CLARIFICATION OF APPROVAL TERMS - Mark Austin, representing the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs of the Pennsylvania National Guard, explained that when the document granting conditional approval arrived at his office for signature, the word "ordnance" was noticed and a dictionary was consulted. He asked that the word be changed because by definition "ordnance" means ammunition, weapons, and military equipment. The wording was changed to read that no live ammunition will be stored on-site unless there is a State or National emergency event. The Board voted 5:0 to accept the changes.

    SEWER RATE INCREASE - Hoff explained that Farley did an analysis of a recent back billing by the EAJSA for 2004 and 2005. The bill was in excess of $100,000 and was a result of an audit that showed that Forks was being billed for the wrong percentage of use. Forks uses 17% of the sewer plant capacity. The rate charged is $180,000 over what the Township budgeted. As a result, sewer fees to residents must be increased from $20 for the 1st 8 units of use to $25. In addition, the charges over 8 units will increase approximately 25% from $3.60 to $4.58/unit. Farley said that 1/3 of Forks residents are being billed at the base rate only so the impact to them will be $5 per Quarter. The new rates will be in effect with the July 1 billing. An additional back billing for 2006 is expected. Farley recommended that the Township look at the EAJSA expenditures. It was noted too, that the Forks representative on the EAJSA, Henning Holmgard, read the sewer authority the riot act about not performing its audits in a timely manor. The rate increase was approved in a 5:0 vote.

    TOWNSHIP DROP OFF MAIL BOX - Nicholas said that the new mailbox is filled up and that things are getting wet. This was referred to the Finance Committee for a recommendation.

    RIVERVIEW ESTATES/CONDITIONS OF TIME EXTENSION/RESOLUTION NO. 070419-2 - This item was tabled after Kline said that he sent a courtesy copy to Strauser's attorney and that the attorney could not be at tonight's meeting. It will be on the May 3rd agenda.

    EXECUTIVE SESSION - There was an Executive Session to discuss the non-uniformed employees contract negotiations as well as the uniformed employees contract. The police department contract is up for renewal this year. No action was taken during the executive session. There was a discussion after the session about the (non-agenda) Municipal Complex sign for Sullivan Trail and no action was taken. 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.

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