Sunday, April 08, 2007

BoS Meeting 4/5/2007

The April 5th Board of Supervisors’ meeting, although not long, was important. Mr. Mark Roberts was appointed to the position of Director of Public Works and the Board accepted a bid of $20,000 for the old backhoe! The Roberts appointment was covered by Courtney Lomax (Express Times). Supervisor Miller announced that the Forks Township Community Center is hosting the "Downtown Easton Business Fair" on Saturday, April 14th from 10:00 - 4:00. (There is nothing on the Township calendar about this event!) Miller said that there will be about 30 Easton businesses participating. He hopes that Forks will turn out to support them.

A moment of silence was held for (Forks resident) FBI agent Barry Bush who was killed in Hunterdon County earlier in the day. Read Courtney Lomax (Express Times) for more.

Supervisor Comments

  • Supervisor Howell said that the Board received a letter from Anthony Branco, chairman of the (recently revived) Northampton County Council Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Branco indicated that he hopes to hold public meetings in each of the districts in the County. Forks Township will not host the first meeting. Forks is in District 2 along with Easton, Glendon, Palmer, Stockertown, Tatamy, West Easton, Williams, and Wilson and one of them will host. More details to follow when they are known.
  • Supervisor Nicholas reported that she attended the EMS Open House as did Supervisor Ackerman on April 1st. She expressed congratulations to them. Nicholas also reported that Community Days is scheduled for September 15 & 16 and that the committee is seeking a volunteer secretary to attend its (six Monday night) meetings and take minutes. The committee is also looking for volunteers to work at Community Days. Interested parties should contact her or Sue/Harry Bennett. Nicholas said that her special project for Community Days will be organizing a "battle of the bands" and that a band shell doner is needed. She has a couple of bands interested and she noted that the music will be appropriate and will have no vulgar language. Nicholas said too, that she presented Troop 29's newest Eagle Scout, Michael Brodniak with a certificate from the Board at the Troop’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony.
Standing Committee Reports

Public Safety (Supervisor Nicholas) - reported that the committee held two meetings and that their number one priority is updating the EOP (emergency operating plan.) She thanked "Adam from Lafayette" for helping out.

Public Works (Supervisor Ackerman) - said that he, Rick Schnaedter, Fred Hay, and Don Miller get an update from Hay on upcoming projects including going out for bid on Newlins Road W work. Ackerman said that the work on Zucksville should wind up on Monday and that they will begin "milling" the roads in upper township. Some patching has been done also.

Parks & Recreation (Supervisor Miller) - no committee report.

Community Relations (Supervisor Howell) - reported that the committee met once since the last meeting to discuss the new community guide. They hope to have a more expanded map integrated with the bike/recreation trails. The size and definition discussions are ongoing. Schnaedter reported that the Quarterly should be going out to residents within a week of the Easter deadline.

Finance & Administration (Supervisor Hoff) - said that the committee met on March 28th and that they have resurrected the sign board installation. The project has been given to Township Manager Schnaedter. Also, Hoff reported that discussions with T-Mobile regarding their request to install a cell tower in Forks Community Park (between the parks garage and the old Laneco property) are ongoing. It will be 150 feet in the air. Hoff said that it’s still in the "information gathering stage." Hoff said too, that Schnaedter has been assigned to the newly reactivated Safety Committee. Discussions of the purchase order policy and bidding process continue.

Township Manager’s Report (Richard Schnaedter) - reported that he is gathering representatives from the Township’s departments for the newly resurrected Safety Committee and that one of its first items will be the manual and a facility tour to identity hazards. Schnaedter talked also of the Municipal Complex punch list provided to him by the staff. On it are the leaking roofs and the sign in storage. The general contractor will be coming to the Township to locate the installation site for the sign. Nicholas asked that the areas around the leaks be checked for molds/mildew and that the inconsistency of the heating system also be checked. Schnaedter said that the roofer is due in within the next two weeks and that the heating contractor was on site two weeks ago.

Engineer’s Report (Fred Hay) - Agenda items only.

Solicitor’s Report (Karl Kline) - reported that the Township has been sued 2 more times - in the last week. A suit has been filed against the Conditional Use granted to Weis Market by the Board of Supervisors at the February 15th meeting. The other suit is by the Kings Mill developers who disagree with the Board’s ruling to reject the by-right plan they presented under the old zoning. In one case the Township is being told it is too easy on developers and in the other, too tough. Kline added that the Township will continue to defend both cases.

Comments from the Public

  • Sandy Hanks (Forks resident and appointed member of the Board of Elected Auditors) - told the Board of a Morning Call article that discussed the Borough of Emmaus and its decision to use a webcam at its public meetings and to make the videos available on its website. Hanks thought that Forks should do the same and that the cost would be around $1000. Nicholas commented that the Forks’ website could handle it and that she already made inquiries. Hanks also told the Board about the new sign that is in front of the Firehouse building. She said that it is very close to the road and because it is solid at the bottom, it makes exiting from Richard’s Drive-in very difficult. The Board will have Zoning Officer Weis look into it.

REVISED FEE SCHEDULE/ADOPTION - After discussion and questions by Nicholas and Howell, this item was tabled in a 5:0 vote until the next meeting on April 19th. There were "question marks" on the schedule and the Board learned that brand new liquor licenses are not charged fees by the Township (per the PLC).

POSSIBLE USE OF RECYCLING BUILDING FOR SIGN ROOM - Ackerman said that he did not have all the figures yet and asked that this item be tabled. It was - in a 5:0 vote.


APPOINT PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR - Ackerman said that there were 28 applicants for this position. The field was narrowed to 7 and then to 4 and Mark Roberts was offered the job. He accepted. He was there for the 5:0 vote. Roberts will begin his new post on April 30th at a starting salary of $59,000. After a three month probationary period, he will be eligible for a $1500 increase. In 2007, he will get two-weeks of pro-rated vacation as well as all other benefits that Township employees receive. Roberts has 30 years experience as a township public works director and retired from New Britain Township (Bucks County) two years ago. Since then, he worked as equipment manager for a construction company. He chose to return to township work.

ESTATES AT STEEPLECHASE NORTH - WERKHEISER HOMESTEAD AGREEMENT - Kline explained that the Werkheiser family and the Township entered an agreement in 1975 stipulating that there were to be no improvements (road widening and curbing) to Church Lane (bordering their property) until their home was no longer occupied by a member of the Werkheiser family. Ackerman added that in exchange for the agreement, the Werkheisers donated the right of way on the south side of Church Lane. Neither the Township nor Zawarski was aware of the agreement when the plans for the development Steeplechase North were okayed and now trees are in the way. According to Hay, Zawarski has given the Township $28,168 for future improvements. The Township will honor the 1975 agreement with the Werkheisers. It was approved in a 5:0 vote.

ORDINANCE NO. 302/NEW STORMWATER MANAGEMENT ORDINANCE/AUTHORITY TO ADVERTISE - Kline said that the Federal government is pressing for all States and municipalities to tighten up on their stormwater plans. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission drafted a model ordinance. It took them two years. Both Lehigh County and Northampton County have signed it. And, the DEP wants all municipalities to adopt it by the end of April. It will revise Chapter 163 of the Forks Ordinance and was tightened even further by Keystone Engineering. Hay said the ordinance follows Act 167 and that his office made it even more restrictive - prohibiting building in the 100 year flood plain and requiring that developers "look downstream" all the way to the confluence of the Bushkill or the Delaware. Authority to advertise the ordinance was approved 5:0.

FORT JAMES III/STREET LIGHTING - Hay said that he met with Petrucci and Met-Ed last week and that Petrucci wants the utilities for Fort James III to be above ground. It’s less costly. Petrucci also wants to put their own special lights on the utility poles and Met-Ed will only enter into a maintenance agreement with the Township and not with a developer. Met-Ed charges $12/mth per light ($260/month - not counting increases) and the fees would go on forever. Hay recommended against it and said that the lot owners should have to individually own the lights. Nicholas said that she wants the utilities underground. There was no vote.

ADOPTION OF ESWA BACKFLOW PREVENTION PROGRAM - This was tabled in a 5:0 vote. Hoff said that he wants someone from the Easton Suburban Water Authority to attend a workshop with the Board at 6:30 PM on May 3rd before the regular meeting to explain the program. Schnaedter was asked to arrange it. The ESWA has asked that an ordinance be adopted but provided no sample.

MET ED RESOLUTION/STREET LIGHT ACTIVATION - RIVERVIEW ESTATES DEVELOPMENT, PHASE 3A - Tabled (5:0) until Tim Weis, Zoning Officer, can be in attendance.

SECURITY CAMERAS - Nicholas said that ICU checked the camera in the parking lot and that the wires were blown out (since last July’s power hit). The estimate is $4075 and Kline said that because it is more than $4000, the Board must get three bids (by telephone). Ackerman asked if the repair might be covered by insurance. Schnaedter will call the Township’s insurer. Nicholas also said that it probably will cost $1000 to fix the DVR. If that is near the cost, Schnaedter was told to get it fixed. The security camera wiring was tabled in a 5:0 vote.

RENEWAL OF CROP FARMING LEASE - Miller explained that this is the land at the corner of Newlins and Richmond that the Rinaldis have been farming. Ackerman said that because the Township has been dumping leaves there, the soil has become acidic and the Rinaldis must treat it with lime in order to farm it. The lime takes a year to become effective and the Rinaldis would either want the Township to pay for the lime or to give them a 2 year lease. He added that the DPW is getting bids to level the farmland near Lafayette’s land. Miller said that there are no plans for the land either this year or next and that Hay’s office is doing a topo map so that they can begin planning. The rent is $55/acre for the 53 acres or $2915 per year. Howell asked when the house on the property will be leveled as it is a safety hazard. He was told that the fire department will be done with its training exercises there this summer and that Schnaedter will get bids to raze it. Miller asked to put in the agreement that if for some reason the Township breaks the farming lease (and notifies the Rinaldis by March 1, 2008), the Rinaldis will be reimbursed for the lime. This passed in a 5:0 vote.

AWARD BID FOR USED BACKHOE - The only bidder for the used backhoe was Plasterer Equipment. Their bid was $20,000. (Note: It equaled the price they offered for the backhoe as a trade-in when the Township purchased the new one.) The bid was accepted in a 5:0 vote.

EXECUTIVE SESSION - An executive session was held to discuss the non-uniformed employee contract negotiations. No action was taken after the session.

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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