The May 8, 2008 Planning Commission (PC) meeting was not the expected session, at least not in the first eight or so minutes. Click here for the Agenda. This was the night that the ad hoc committee of three planners was to be created - and charged with the mission of compiling the editorial suggestions/comments from the other planners and from the public and performing a unifying edit to the draft Comprehensive Plan. Those in attendance expected this.
Before the official start of the meeting, while the PC members and the audience waited for missing planner Dan Fazekas, a call was made to Fazekas by Zoning Officer Tim Weis. Mr. Weis' cell phone was on speaker. (Paraphrased:) Weis asked Fazekas if he was coming. Fazekas asked... to what? Weis said... to the Planning Commission meeting. Fazekas replied that he was not coming to that.
Planner Georgeann Wambold was not in attendance either. Her absence seemed expected as no one said that they were waiting for her, only for Fazekas.
Also, before the gavel start of the meeting, Weis made copies of the 4/22/08 workshop minutes for those PC members who did not have them with them and/or who did not receive them via email. (The minutes were not included in the PC meeting packets.) These were the minutes the PC was to approve by vote at the beginning of the meeting. Tamborrino, who had received the minutes (via email) earlier in the week, had one minor correction to offer. The minutes (available online) were approved unanimously. (Please see the FAC blog post for additional details of the 4/22/08 workshop discussion/comments.)
Chairman Dean Turner opened the meeting with an apology to the Ramblewood residents who came to the 4/22/08 workshop to voice their concerns about the Ramblewood extension mentioned in the draft Comprehensive Plan. Turner said that the PC spent too much time "bickering" and thus did not allow enough time for a "productive discussion." - "We cut them short too much." Turner noted that the PC will try to be more attentive in the future to the input offered by residents.
The next item on the agenda was listed under REPORTS: EDITORIAL COMMENTS FOR COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. Turner asked Township Manager Schnaedter, the PC members, and Solicitor Karl Kline if they had received any comments or had any input. Each said "no" except planners David Billings and Vito Tamborrino. Billings said that he had emailed his edits/input to Turner earlier in the day. He offered a printed copy to Turner. Turner declined the offer indicating that the email was sufficient.
And, then Tamborrino offered his "comment." He said that he wanted to reverse his vote from the workshop motion that created the extra four weeks to gather, compile, and edit the Comp Plan. Tamborrino said that "in light of what he'd been hearing over the last two weeks... the opinions of Supervisors and such," he'd like to change his vote from the last meeting. He then made a motion that the Comp Plan be "put over to the Supervisors in its present form" so that they can begin their part of the process. Tamborrino added that he felt it (the Comp Plan) was going to get bounced back to the PC anyway and that the content and meaning are there (in the Plan). He said, "I don't want to waste any more time on this." The motion was seconded by Planner John Castrovinci.
In discussion of the motion, Billings said that the PC needs to understand that its "job is to oversee the preparation of the Comprehensive Plan." He said that "it's not to send a draft... not to just pass it along." He remarked that they are being asked to vote on a Comprehensive Plan that they have never seen a final draft of... and it's beyond his comprehension how they can vote on something they have never seen. He felt that the PC should be voting on the version that the Supervisors will see and not on a draft with additional comments by URDC.
Tamborrino said that "the content is there and although it may not look pretty, the meaning is there." He restated that because he thinks it will be bounced back to the PC, he wanted it to get there (to the BoS) so that they could make their comments and send it back. And, again, he stated that he didn't want to waste any more time... "to make it look pretty to be sent to them and just be chewed up and spit out back to us."
Billings said that he didn't think it was a waste of time and he quoted from the draft Forks Comp Plan:
"Some of the greatest responsibilities of a Planning Commission include to oversee the preparation and implementation of the Comprehensive Plan and the preparation of Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance revisions."
Turner offered that it has to do with their understanding of the process, that is that they were charged by the BoS to put together a plan, solicit public input, hire a professional (to guide the process), put together something for the public hearing... "We've done all that." Turned continued that it then goes to the BoS who mulls it over and holds a public hearing and at that point, it is in its final form.
The vote on the motion to pass the draft Comp Plan in its present form on to the Board of Supervisors was 4:1. Billings cast the nay vote.
Turner offered a website link for anyone who wants to learn more about what the MPC and the State of PA have available for municipal planners. There are booklets available for online reading (the files can be opened and saved to your computer) and for purchase as paper copies.
The other agenda items, all projects, are updated on the FAC Projects page.
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.