Sunday, May 04, 2008

BoS Meeting 5/1/2008

Regular Meeting (agenda)

The Board held a workshop at 6:30 PM to walk the municipal grounds and look at the security camera locations and the recommendations for changes. 

At its 2-1/2 hour regular meeting, the Board of Supervisors (BoS) considered a variety of topics, from agenda items to basketball hoops blocking sidewalks in the Penn's Ridge neighborhood to Lafayette College's Lauren's First & Goal Football Camp traffic needs.  (The Morning Call's Madeleine Mathias was there.  Please read her 5/5/08 article for more on the meeting.)

Supervisors' Comments

Supervisor Chuss raised two issues: 

  1. He asked the Board to consider sending a petition of support for the Stockertown bridge. He said that some Stockertown residents want the bridge replaced and he feels that a bridge there would be beneficial to Forks as it would alleviate some of the traffic from the west and south at the Uhler/Bushkill and Uhler/Sullivan Trail intersections.  Howell asked what Stockertown Borough's opinion is.  Chuss said that informally he believes that PennDOT is recommending a foot bridge.  Egolf questioned that and said that he was under the impression that PennDOT was recommending a regular bridge.  Nicholas said that she would like to see cars through there.  Howell remarked that a petition/letter from the Board would be somewhat premature since it is an issue that they (Stockertown) have before them and that they have not sought to discuss it publicly.   Township Manager Schnaedter offered to contact PennDOT and Stockertown to get the status of the bridge (and any link-up with the recreation path system) and will report back to the Board at its next meeting.  (For background on the Stockertown bridge issue, see the April 25, 2008 Express Times editorial.)
  2. Chuss asked the Board to consider sending the draft Comprehensive Plan to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) now - while it undergoes editorial review by the PC.  He said that although he missed the first 45 minutes of he April 22nd (PC) Planning Commission Workshop discussion, he felt that there were no substantial changes to be made to the plan, only editorial ones.  Chuss said that the LVPC does not review editorial changes.  Howell said that he thought it premature for the BoS to get active in the process since it is before the PC.  He added that it is a rather substantial thing and it is not on the agenda.  Nicholas said that she doesn't want it to go anywhere until it has been changed.  Chuss noted that the since BoS will review it and since a public hearing will be held, there will be opportunity to make changes.  He also said that in the last 16 months (that the plan has been in development), there has been ample opportunity for input and comment and that the Township is incurring charges by the consultant (URDC).  Chuss said that by delaying the approval process a disservice is being done to the residents and to the people who have put in so much time on the plan already.  Nicholas offered that Bob (Egolf) brought up a good point (at the PC workshop) about something ("goals") that is not in the plan that should have been in it and she does not think that it's finished.  Howell said he was at the meeting (PC workshop), that he did not see a sense of urgency, and that the PC will set up an ad hoc committee and that the Supervisors are invited to send in comments.  Chuss said that he was told at the meeting (PC workshop) that there would be no substance changes.  The changes would be all editorial.  He urged that the process be expedited and not delayed for 3-4 months.  Chuss made a motion to add the Comprehensive Plan Distribution to the LVPC for Review as agenda item #5 under new business.  There was no second and the motion failed.

Supervisor Miller announced that in addition to the "Mad Science for Kids" summer program, there will also be computer classes for all ages.  "Computertots" is for ages 3-6 years and "Computer Explorers" is for ages 6-12 years.  There will also be a course for adults and senior citizens.  Details can be found at the Community Center and at its Programs web page and will also be in the June newsletter.

Supervisor Nicholas reported that she and Supervisor Chuss recently met with the Lehigh Valley Airport Authority. The airport has received a PennDOT $500,000 grant (that they must match) to replace its four "hodgepodge" office buildings with one new one. The authority wanted Nicholas and Chuss to know that it is just an idea at this point and that there are no plans to expand the airport.  Nicholas said that she advised the authority that they must submit plans to the Township in the normal fashion.

Nicholas also commented regarding agenda items being added after the Tuesday deadlines.  She said that when things are added after the deadline, the supporting documents are not included in the Supervisors' packets and thus, the Supervisors are not prepared (to discuss the added items at the meeting) nor is the public informed of what's actually on the agenda.  She said that there had been an agreement that if an item concerned the PC, that the PC minutes would be included in the packets.  In particular, she noted the Barry Miles Minor Subdivision agenda item.  All Board members were in agreement with Nicholas on this issue.  Solicitor Kline said that the PC did approve the April 10 minutes at their April 22 workshop.  Chuss had a copy of the April 10 PC approved minutes and copies were made for distribution to the rest of the Board.

Treasurer's Report - Egolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 5:0 vote.  The current outstanding debt is $7,875,858.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - noted that the May 6th meeting is canceled.  He will be at a business meeting and Fire Chief Bryan Weis will be on vacation.  He reported the following:
    • Kline will update the status to the emergency services tower in his report.
    • The Police Department (PD) furniture installation has not begun.
    • The committee will review Chief Dorney's anti-speeding program at its June meeting.
    • Forks EMS squad is making its payments to Suburban and keeping up with current obligations (to Suburban).  Two payments have been made.
    • Chuss made a motion made to add the audio/visual camera update as an agenda item under OLD BUSINESS.  It was seconded by Egolf.  In the lengthy discussion, Nicholas stated that she is against the plan as proposed because it involves removing all the cameras from the Fire Department building but not from the interiors of any other Township buildings.  She said that the Fire Department building has a lot of very expensive equipment in it and that lots of people come and go and not all are fire fighters.  She also said that the plan does not have enough information and does not show any of the cameras inside the Community Center.  She believes all the cameras should be on the plan.  Nicholas said that this decision shouldn't be rushed since a mistake was made the last time and it cost thousands of dollars.  Howell said that he attended the Public Safety Committee meeting where the plan was explained and that the consultant said that there are a lot of redundancies and external cameras will show any breach of the building.  Egolf suggested adding the notes from the 6:30 workshop to the plan and then sending the amended plan out to bid.  Resident Amy Lohmann said that since he (Chuss) feels very strongly, she felt the item should be added to the agenda.  It was added to the agenda in a 5:0 vote. 
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that there has been no meeting yet this month.  
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - had no report other than an agenda item. 
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the next meeting is scheduled for May 12th at 6 PM.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the committee met last week and completed a review of the 2007 budget analysis prepared by Finance Manager Farley.  They looked in particular at line item overages.  Egolf thanked Farley for preparing the report and leading the committee through the review.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - reminded the Board about the TRCOG E-Cycling event at the EAHS on Saturday, May 3rd from 10 AM to 2 PM.  He said that there is a small fee involved to recycle old computer screens, copiers, fax machines, microwaves, etc.

Schnaedter said that Lafayette College is hosting its regular charity event, Lauren's First & Goal Football Camp at Metzger Field (June 1) and is requesting the Board's authorization. 

Chuss said that last year traffic was an issue with the overflow using the airport authority, the Township, the Eagles and the Forks Diner parking.  He thought that someone from the Township should work with Lafayette to mitigate the problem and that the college should be encouraged to provide more onsite parking. 

Weis said that the ordinance for more than 500 people at an event calls for layouts of the plan, parking, and sanitation facilities.  Howell thought that this was more like a football game and is consistent with REM district activities and that Kline can explain if the ordinance applies.

Kline said that Ordinance 211 (from 1991) was written after a gentleman came to the BoS and asked to use Bushkill Park for a rock concert with over 1000 expected attendees... "like Woodstock," he said.  That request led to concerns about planning and controls for outdoor amusements like liability insurance, food service, sanitation, and traffic problems.  The ordinance does not apply to the regularly continuing operations of a for-profit amusement park nor does it apply to programs by the college community if they are standard practice.

Weis said he was looking for guidance.  Dorney said that in the past Forks PD worked with the college's public safety department.

After more discussion, it was decided that Schnaedter and Weis will draft a policy for events such as this and present it to the Board for consideration.

Miller remarked that this is a great event and a first class operation (complete with porta-potties) - on Lafayette's 300 acres.  The coaches are allowed to park on Forks property.

Engineer's Report - agenda items only.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that he and Chief Dorney have been working on revisions to the memo of understanding between Forks PD and the EASD school police.  The memo details under what circumstances Forks PD will become involved in proceedings in the school and when the school police, who have full police powers, should handle matters themselves.  The document has been sent to the solicitor for the EASD for review.  After the EASD agrees to the memo, it will go next to the Public Safety Committee for review.

Kline also said that the contract for the emergency services training facility was sent to the winning bidder (in Kansas) and has been signed and fully executed.  The company is ready to start building.  There is an up front payment of 25% due now. 

Comments from the Public (non-agenda)

  • Amy Lohmann from Chestnut Lane in Penn's Ridge asked the Board's help with portable basketball hoops blocking sidewalks - forcing her to walk in the street with her young children (two and five years old).  She would like the hoops placed in the driveways and not on the sidewalks.  She also said that the kids playing in the street cannot be seen by drivers making the turn or backing out of their driveways.  Ms. Lohmann added that the kids are disrespectful and curse at her.  She said too, that a basketball court won't stop the problem.

Nicholas said that she totally agreed that the basketball hoops are a hazard.  Lohmann said that a town in New Jersey has enacted an ordinance and is fining (warning first) those not in compliance.  She said that she has information on that ordinance if the Board would like to see it.  Ms. Lohmann added that two other towns in PA have adopted similar ordinances.  Miller thought that Forks has an ordinance going way back in years and that he recalls the Township cutting down a basketball hoop - with a torch.  Nicholas asked that Kline look up that ordinance and if there isn't one, draft one. 

  • Roxanna Keller of Chestnut Lane in Penn's Ridge said that her own kids cannot play in their yard because of the 20 kids that sit on the sidewalk using bad words.  They cursed at her husband in Spanish. 

Howell suggested that the ordinances be examined for both on street and for sidewalks and to see what must be done legislatively to correct the situation.  And, he asked that staff call the developer to see if there is a space to retire all the hoops for kids to go there temporarily. He said that later on the agenda, there will be discussion of improvements to the play area in the community park - a first stage.  The second stage in the park improvement program will be the designation of three to five neighborhood parks. 

Howell said that Penn's Ridge is the most dense of all the Township's neighborhoods.  A mini-park there is a priority for the Parks & Recreation Committee.  Ms. Lohmann said that that will not take care of the issue and if there is no ordinance, there needs to be one, one that can be enforced. 

Kline said that he will research the ordinances.  He added that as long as you have kids and summer and portable basketball hoops, the problem will continue.  He said that he doesn't think there is an ordinance (he will check) but he does think there is a policy about public streets.  And, if there was danger, obstructions were not to be allowed.  Kline said that he doesn't think there was much concern about sidewalks (when the policy was developed.)  "Sidewalks are for people to walk on..." and are not to be obstructed.  He will report back at the next BoS meeting.

Chief Dorney said that there are 19 hoops on the sidewalks in Penn's Ridge and that under the criminal code, obstructed passageways includes sidewalks.  However, he said it's difficult to enforce because a magistrate may not consider it an obstruction if one can just walk around it.  He added that the police should be called for disorderly behavior (the swearing).  Lohmann said that she's had the police at her house three times over this problems and that the officers have always been "so kind" and that they always understand the problem.

Nicholas said, "We need to do something we can enforce."

Lohmann asked if she should continue coming to meetings to in order to see what the Township will do and Howell said that it will not be an agenda item but will be part of Kline's report at the next meeting. 


Audio/Visual Camera Update (Erik Chuss - added during Public Safety report) - Chuss stated the background - that department heads reviewed their facilities and made recommendations for camera coverage.  The recommendations were "run by" the PD and the RFP (request for purchase) was formulated.  The original camera plan was internally focused and the new plan is now external. 

There was a lengthy discussion about removing all the internal cameras from the Fire Department building.  Howell said that the consultant recommended moving them to the perimeter of the building so that everyone leaving and entering can be seen. 

Resident Sandy Hanks asked what the cost of keeping the cameras would be?  She wondered if the issue is "what is going on in the building."  (Tim) Weis said that all the interior cameras are aimed at doors.  With cameras on the outside, doors as well as the building exterior will be covered. 

Nicholas said that one of the cameras was covered (over) by a department head.

Chuss made a motion that the proposal as written be let out for bids.  Egolf seconded.  In discussion of the motion, Farley said that he hasn't seen the proposal and asked that in view of past experience/expense, that adequate surge protection be included.  Nicholas reaffirmed that she does not want the cameras removed from the Fire Department.  She also said that the department heads of today may not be department heads next year. 

Resident Charlotte Salkin thought that technology goes out of date so quickly that perhaps the BoS should wait.  Chuss explained that it is difficult to "hit the technology target." 

Howell added that cameras will be installed in the community park for 24/7 external coverage.  Nicholas said that she has no issue with adding cameras, just with removing them. 

In a 4:1 vote (Nicholas cast the nay) the Board approved sending the proposal out to bid. 


Forks Twp. Community Park-Recreation Equipment Capital Purchases (Don Miller, Director of Parks & Recreation) -Howell said by way of introduction that the Parks & Recreation Committee, Don Miller, the Recreation Board, and Mark Roberts (DPW Director) spent a lot of time evaluating the capital assets in the park in order to determine what should be fixed and what should be replaced. 

Miller said that the playground equipment in the community park was installed over 20 years ago and is deteriorating.  He said that the groups evaluated equipment ranging in price from $9,000 to $170,000 and settled on a system from Miracle Recreation Equipment Co., a vendor approved in the PA COSTARS program (formerly the "piggyback program") for $42,000 (after discounts and before installation).  The total installed price is $56,688.  The equipment is 50% bigger than the existing equipment and provides 20 different things for kids to do on it.  One part of it serves the needs of kids 2-5 years old and the other part serves the needs of kids 5-12 years old.

Miller said too, that the merry-go-round bearings are bad and parts are unobtainable.  A new one will cost between $3,000-$4,000.  An approved vendor will be selected from the COSTARS list. 

Other needed park items include a dozen picnic tables, park benches, and a replacement adult fitness station.  The benches and tables are made by prisoners (PA State Prison).  The old cost of the picnic tables was around $250; Miller is not sure what they cost this year.  The current cost of the benches is $175.  The benches and picnic tables made by the prison, can be purchased without bids as long as they cost less than $4,000.

Adult fitness equipment vendors are also on the COSTARS list.

Farley reviewed the Miracle Recreation Equipment Co. installation contract and gave it to Kline to review.  At issue is the "prevailing wages" municipality requirement. Farley thought the price may change slightly because of that.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the playground equipment, a fitness station, and a carousel from the PA COSTARS program. 

Resolution #080501-1 DEP Resolution for Lisa Bodnar existing home septic system (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline briefed the Board on the history of this property.  He said it is on Route 611 and was damaged in the floods.  The house has been completely rebuilt but has a failing septic system.  The DEP requires a Township resolution in order to approve the proposed "stream septic system" that Ms. Bodnar needs to install in order to occupy her house.  Kline said that in effect, the resolution is changing Act 537 for one house.  Nicholas asked who tracks the system and was told that the system is in fact a "package treatment plant."  Egolf questioned revising Act 537 for one house and asked Kline if the Township will be setting a precedent.  Kline clarified that it is on a case by case basis and that the system Ms. Bodnar will be installing is more modern and more expensive than the old, failed system.  Egolf then asked if there is a hardship involved and was told that without the new system, Ms. Bodnar cannot live in her house.  The vote was 4:1 with Egolf casting the nay vote. 

Barry Miles Minor Subdivision (Keystone Consulting Engineer) - Ryan Christman from Keystone Consulting Engineers spoke to this plan for a lot line adjustment and the PC condition that there either be a plan note stating that the site will be connected to the public sewer or that a sewage planning module be submitted.  Christman said that Mr. Miles is prepared to add the plan note that the site will be connected to public sewer.  After discussion about this being a subdivision on paper only, Howell asked about the status of "Lower Road" - a road named on the map but not built.  Kline said that it's been on the map for over 21 years and that since it's never been opened, the land reverts back to the adjacent properties - from the middle of the road on each side.  There were two votes, the first to accept the waivers as detailed in the Keystone review later of April 7th and second to approve the subdivision subject to the sewer condition (and to Keystone's review letter).  Both motions passed in 5:0 votes.  Mr. Miles thanked the Board and then asked for an itemized statement from Keystone.  He said that the review fee was more than he paid his engineer. 

Approval of AA/Forks Recreation Registration Fees (Don Miller) - withdrawn.

Executive Session - None.

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