Sunday, October 07, 2007

BoS Meeting 10/4/2007

Forks Township's Board of Supervisors got to the business of the Kings Mill agenda item rather quickly. The meeting room was near capacity. The Board gave the people a chance to speak, a motion was made, discussion followed, and then the vote. The Board, by a margin of one vote, agreed to disagree with the motion put forth by Supervisor John Ackerman and seconded by David Hoff, to offer an indefinite continuance (a time out) of the Kings Mill zoning hearing while a settlement is discussed. Please read JD Malone (Express Times) and Tom De Martini (Morning Call) for more. More notes on the meeting follow.


Supervisor Howell was happy to report that the Rest In Peace (RIP) signs that had disappeared from the Strausser-cut maples on Old River Road have been found by the DPW. He said that he had a permit for the signs and that they will be returned to him tomorrow.

Supervisor Miller reported that they are half-way through the fall season for football and soccer - both will finish in the first week of November. Sign-ups for winter wrestling and basketball are in progress. He noted too that the Girls Varsity High School Basketball League with its ten teams, generates income for the Township.

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 - stated that the committee needs the promised monthly financial reports from Forks EMS. None have been submitted since June. A representative from Forks EMS was a no-show at the Public Safety meeting. Solicitor Kline will send a letter to the EMS requesting a presence at the next BoS meeting (October 18) as well as a financial statement. The statement must arrive in time for inclusion in the Tuesday BoS packets.

Nicholas said that the fire department is going to purchase a "repeater." Fire Chief Bryan Weis described its function as allowing the fire, police, and EMS to communicate independently of the 911 system (if needed) during emergencies. It will be mounted on the Paxinosa tower and provide township-wide range. The cost is approximately $5,000. Weis also reminded everyone of the Fire Department Open House scheduled for Saturday, October 6th from 11-4. He said that there will be fire truck rides for the kids, demonstrations of vehicle rescues/fires, tours of the facility and the equipment, and more.

Nicholas said, too, that Police Chief Greg Dorney will purchase a computer that will allow victims of domestic crimes to be processed in Forks instead of being taken to the Northampton County Courthouse. It will keep the officers in Forks and be less stressful for the victims as well.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Ackerman - said that there was no meeting this week and that the committee's next meeting is Tuesday. DPW Director Mark Roberts summarized the work on Glover Road (pipe installations in preparation for paving, grading, and roadside swales) and he said that leaf collection will begin in a few weeks.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Miller - no committee report. See Supervisors Comments above.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Howell - said that the upcoming edition of the Forks Quarterly is being done completely by Township Manager Rick Schnaedter. Schnaedter is to meet with the publisher/editor tomorrow. Howell said, too, that the committee met with the website consultant this week and that one of the significant website enhancements will be an interactive calendar. Other improvements to the site will include menu and navigation changes to make getting to content easier.
  • Finance & Administration - Chairman Hoff - said that the committee discussed budget items as well as ongoing projects (the server and the employee manual.) At the meeting next Wednesday, they will discuss the 2008 budget for the office and for zoning.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER'S REPORT - Schnaedter - announced that the Two Rivers Council of Governments (TRCOG) will meet at the Wilson Borough Hall on October 17th. On the agenda is a "mutual aid agreement" and discussion of a "regional plan." He also said that the new municipal sign on Sullivan Trail is installed. It will be partially landscaped this fall. Schnaedter also said that in the winter there will be a new Community Guide (including a large map of the Township and contact information) mailed to each household.

Ackerman, Forks' primary representative to the TRCOG, asked the Board for instructions regarding the regional comprehensive plan. Howell, also a Township representative to the TRCOG, said that Lafayette College, Representative Bob Freeman, and others are asking for the Township's "leanings." Hoff said that the Board needs more information than what has been proposed. Both representatives will attend the meeting with "open minds" (per the Board.)

ENGINEER'S REPORT - Hay - agenda items only.

SOLICITOR'S REPORT - Kline - said that the agreement to purchase 150,000 gallons/day of sewer capacity from Wilson Borough has been signed and that the first payment (for 37,500 gallons) has been made. Kline also said that former employee Sean Shupe (sic), who was terminated for cause, has requested arbitration in accordance with the employee manual.


Ordinance # 305 – SALDO/Adoption - Kline reported that this was properly advertised, reviewed, and fine tuned by the Planning Commission. Hay requested that a line be added that states that plans must be also submitted in Autocad format. Kline said that "requiring a piece of information in an additional format" is not a material change to the ordinance and thus can be added without re-advertising and re-submission to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (for comment.) Howell asked if the Kings Mill partners can include this SALDO adoption in their procedural lawsuit and Kline said that, because of two recent court decisions, they can go back 50 years - and yes, they can include this. Howell then asked Kline if a resolution could be crafted that would include a broad range of submission requirements. Kline said that it needs to be in the SALDO. The SALDO was approved in a 5:0 vote.

COG / Mutual Aid Agreement – Emergency Public Service Agreement - The Board had only a crossed-out and scribbled-on version for consideration. Hoff said that it was his understanding that the agreement would allow the Township to be reimbursed from PEMA and FEMA. Ackerman said that there has to be a separate agreement with each municipality. Howell said that he thought this was to be a comprehensive agreement that all would sign. Nicholas said that she would not vote unless there was a final copy. This was tabled 5:0 pending receipt of a final copy of the agreement.

Ordinance 304/Amendment to Chapter 159 - Solid Waste of Township Code - Kline explained that the Township receives money from the State based on the amount of recycling that it does and that the State now mandates littering and dumping language in the ordinance. This amendment would add the necessary State approved language. Because this was just added to the agenda, the Board had no copies in their packets for review. It was tabled in a 5:0 vote.


Resolution # 071004-1 – KMRD, L.P. Litigation – Suspension of legal proceedings - The lengthy notes of this discussion are posted above. See Bos Meeting 10/4/07 - Kings Mill Discussion and Vote.

The Greens @ Two T’s – Application for Review of Sketch Plan - Lou Ferrone, PE for the project sent a letter to the Board asking that Supervisor Howell recuse himself from any projects involving Ferrone. Apparently Ferrone, as Chairman of the Easton Parking Authority is being sued by the Riverkeepers (a national organization) to which Howell belongs. Kline explained that it was not a conflict of interest as there is no financial interest (for Howell or his family) in the outcome of the Two T's project. It was decided that Howell could render a fair and impartial decision and that recusal was unnecessary. Howell said that he contributes to many national organizations and that he is not suing Ferrone.

The Board was shown a sketch plan for an age restricted (55+) mobile home park on the 16 acre site of the current Two T's driving range. The owner, Tom Detzler (sic), explained that he is saddened by this decision but cannot find a workable solution since neither Jacobs Farm nor the pipeline company will give him an easement to install higher nets (he already purchased). He further explained that the higher nets are not guaranteed to keep the hard hitting drivers from hitting the homes in Jacobs Farm with golf balls and the only solution he can see is to build what's allowed in the EC1 zoning district, mobile homes - 45 of them.

All existing trees and tree rows will stay or be transplanted to other portions of the property. There are 300-500 specimen trees. The miniature golf course, the club house, and the pro-shop will remain. Hay commented that this project should have access to Sullivan Trail and not be reliant on access to Kesslersville Road. A Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) will be necessary.

Kline said that the Planning Commission recommended that the BoS assist in any way it can to get the necessary easement to keep the business in the township. He felt that doing additional "jawboning" is about the only recourse the Township has since eminent domain is not appropriate for private use. One more attempt will be made to convince the parties that a driving range is preferable to more houses.

Met Ed Resolution – (6) new Street lights /The Preserve Development - Hay asked that this be tabled. He said that there are nine (9) lights out. The request to table passed 5:0.

Penn’s Ridge / Ph. 13 & 14 – Final Plan Approval - In discussion of this final plan, the Board learned that two school bus stops have been added to the interior of Penn's Ridge and that the recreation path behind phases 9 and 11 is complete. These phases represent the end of the Penn's Ridge project: 102 condominiums, 62 townhouses, and 40 flats will bring the total residential build out to 540. The final plan was approved in a 5:0 vote.

Police Collective Bargaining Agreement - This 18 page agreement was negotiated by Kline and Schnaedter with the police collective bargaining unit. Schnaedter reported that the agreement is for a five year contract beginning on January 1, 2008 and that the first three years contain rate adjustments to bring the officers' pay to parity with neighboring departments. It also contains clarification of over time for court appearances and supervisor pay rates for corporals and captains.

Kline said that the police department gathered comparative rates for other departments which showed that Forks full time officers are paid $5,000 to $8,000 less than their peers. Discussions began in April or May. Kline noted, too, that the bargaining unit handled the negotiations in a very professional manner and that the department sought accreditation on its own.

In summary, the contract provides for 4% increases in all five years as well as the additional increases in the first three years to make up for the shortfall. There are no changes to the shift differential, nor to the medical & benefits provisions. There are provisions for allowing the use of compensatory time instead of standard overtime. The Board approved the new contract in a 5:0 vote.

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC (NOT AGENDA ITEMS) - Resident Sandy Hanks asked about the Township's agreement with RCN and why her neighbor was told that it will cost $1100 to bring the cable to her home when it's already across the street. Kline instructed Schnaedter to inquire into it.

There was no Executive Session and the meeting was adjourned.

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