Sunday, April 13, 2008

Planning Forks' Future - PC Style

At the Planning Commission (PC) meeting on April 10th, in addition to the projects on the agenda, several non-agenda items of interest were discussed:

  • Solicitor Karl Kline reported that the Township was advised today that the challengers (Scott Gingold and the Residents Who Care) have dropped their appeal of the Township's granting of Conditional Use for the Weis Market.  Kline said that he expects to see some Weis Market site "action" in the next 30 to 60 days.  Read more in both Madeleine Mathias' (Morning Call) and JD Malone's (Express Times) articles.
  • PC Chairman Dean Turner asked Kline for an update on the BoS discussed farmland preservation November ballot referendum.  Kline explained that the Supervisors will have to adopt an ordinance in order for the referendum to get on the November ballot.  He said, too, that there are two ways to fund it, one through incurring debt (borrowing outright to buy land/development rights) and the other via tax increase.   There are three types of tax increase that can be used:
    • Real Estate Transfer Tax - Kline said that this does not appear to be open to the Township because of the way the money (2%) is shared.  The State gets 1/2 and the Township and EASD each get 1/4.  In order for this to work, the Township would have to get the EASD to take less. 
    • Earned Income Tax
    • Real Estate Property Tax
  • The next steps for the Comprehensive Plan were discussed.  Planner David Billings presented the PC members with a proposal to fine tune and enhance the current Comp Plan draft before its submission to the BoS - "based on our needs and with a vision to the future."  He said that the courses he is taking (required of all new PC members), have afforded him the opportunity to meet planners from other communities as well as see other comp plans.  Billings also said that he took the public input from the PC hearing to heart when crafting his proposal. Planner Vito Tamborrino said of the proposal that it is "food for thought - for the workshop on the 22nd."  Turner said that moving the plan forward will be discussed at the workshop.  Read Madeleine Mathias' (Morning Call) for more details.
  • Larry Kitson, Forks resident, commented on the Comprehensive Plan as a policy direction for future changes.  He suggested that the draft be amended to include a baseline water table.  The quality of the ground water and creek waters should be documented.  The wording added should protect the water table.  Kitson said too, that the building slowdown is an opportunity.
  • Jim Wideman, resident and former PC member, suggested an idea for Town Center Boulevard.  He said that there is excess parking for the strip malls on both sides and that this excess parking could be scaled back to open up Town Center to more retail stores.  His vision would be to cut out the through street and reroute the traffic into and out of both strip malls (where the entrances/exits are now) and to use the closed roadway as a pedestrian friendly area with more shops and a village atmosphere.  He compared what it could look like to the improvements made to the Lehigh Valley Mall and to the Promenade Shops.  Wideman said that the new area would have nicer architecture and would be an incentive to Giant and Falk (the owners of the strips.)

Among other things, the PC intends to review the process (going forward) for the Comprehensive Plan at its April 22nd workshop - 7 PM, Municipal Building.  If you have concerns or issues with the plan, this is the meeting to attend.

The project agenda items have been updated on the FAC Projects page.  Please read Madeleine Mathias' (Morning Call) article for more on the Stryker Brigade agenda item.

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.

No comments: