Sunday, June 22, 2008

BoS Meeting 6/19/08 & BoS/Recreation Board Joint Meeting

Joint Workshop

Board of Supervisors & Recreation Board - 6:00 PM

Many aspects of the Neighborhood Parks Proposal and other recreation topics were discussed including: 

  • Speeding on Penn's Ridge Boulevard.
  • PennDOT's monkey wrench that has slowed down progress on the Meco/Sullivan traffic signal - they may require extra lanes.
  • PennDOT's refusal for a four-way pedestrian crossing button at Meco/Sullivan (to stop traffic in all directions at one time). 
  • The Township-wide recreation survey that was done several years ago. 
  • A bridge to cross Sullivan Trail qualifies for State funds because it is greenway space - it will connect the recreation path to Bushkill and cross a State highway.  A grant application has not yet been written.  The estimated cost is $300,000 and a grant would pay for one half of it.
  • The Recreation Board Five Year Plan is almost complete and the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee asked to be briefed on it at their next meeting (June 26th - time to be announced see the Township Calendar- either evening or early in the AM).  Jeffrey Bader heads the Recreation Board Five Year Plan committee.
  • Gollub Park is almost ready.  Lacking are map stations, signage, picnic tables, and recycling bins. 
  • Recreation Board meetings are open to the public.  They welcome resident input. 

The Recreation Board said that it has also been working on plans for parks and that the standing committee proposal is very similar.  They have asked for time to take it back to their members to explore the similarities and differences.  They will meet again with the Supervisors to review their results - watch the Township calendar for dates and times

Read Chris Knight (Express Times) for more on the Board of Supervisors and Recreation Board joint meeting.

Regular Meeting (agenda)

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisor Remarks

  • Supervisor Nicholas presented a special plaque to boy scout Sterling Pennington of Troop 29 for his impressive and successful Gollub Park project.  Scout Pennington is working towards his Eagle Scout badge.  He already has 31 other badges.  Slides of the work before, in progress, and completed were shown.  He thanked everyone who helped, especially Evan Benz, Nick Tarsonnelli (sic), the United Way, the Teamsters, Easton Block, and DPW Director Mark Roberts.

Nicholas also thanked Troop 29 for being very supportive of Forks Township.  She said that they camp out at Forks Community Days and help clean up afterwards. 

  • Supervisor Nicholas reported that she received a phone call from Windmill Horse Farm.  The farm wishes to have horses at Forks Community Days.  They would be penned and petting would be allowed.  Supervisor Howell noted that horses are part of our rural heritage.  Solicitor Kline said as long as the area is safe for the horses and for the people petting the horses (they may bite), and that plans are in place for cleaning up afterwards, the Board can allow them.  A motion was made to allow Windmill Farm to bring horses for Community Days.  It passed 5:0.  Nicholas will notify the farmer.

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 $7,857,956.  Resident Sandy Hanks asked for clarification on the Liquid Fuels debit item and was told by Township Manager Schnaedter that it was not money for the purchase of fuel but money received by the State (based on Forks' miles of roadways) and is earmarked for roads or capital equipment.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - said that the next meeting is set for July 1st at 5 PM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported the the new playground equipment installation is complete.  It only took one week and the end result it that "we can't pry the kids off of it."  "They love it."  
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - reported that there was a 6:00 PM workshop with the Recreation Board on the topic of the Neighborhood Parks Proposal.  He said it was a very positive meeting and represents an initial step - a new beginning - with the Recreation Board.  Additional meetings will be scheduled right away in order to continue to review park needs "before summer is away from us."  These open-to-the-public meetings will be listed on the Township calendar.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that the committee discussed looking into different vendors for the Forks Quarterly.  The current edition should be "in our hands in a few days."  The committee is also gathering user opinion on the municipal phone/voicemail system.  It ill be discussed further at the next meeting.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - said that the committee met on June 11th and that Matt Miller has been certified for residential building inspections.  He extended congratulations to Matt Miller.  Egolf also reported that an Economic Development Standing Committee is a "work in progress." 

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reported that he has spoken with colleagues from other municipalities about basketball backboards and other obstructions in the rights of way.  He said that municipality will ask that they be removed and if they are not, the public works department confiscates them.  Schnaedter said that he spoke with the police department, with staff members from public works, code enforcement, and with Solicitor Kline and recommends a similar policy for Forks - as complaints are received.  Schnaedter said that Forks already has street right-of-way language in our existing ordinance.

Schnaedter re-acquainted the Board with the 2003 feasibility study for a new public works garage.  He also said that he requested a fee schedule.

Schnaedter said too, that due to a resignation, there is a vacancy in code enforcement for a part-time clerical/reception person - who can help out in the rest of the municipal offices.  The position is for 20 hours per week and a new person would start (according to the collective bargaining contract) at 80% of the wage last paid.  (The wage will rise to 90% after one year and to 100% of the current scale after two years).  Egolf said that this person will be a help with the new document management system.  It was decided that a "temp" would not be suitable as there is much to learn to be cross-trained.  A motion was made to advertise and hire for this position.  It passed 5:0.

Schnaedter mentioned a memo about a recent problem with the Meco Road sewer.  He said that he will update the Board as more information becomes available. 

Engineer's Report - agenda items only - Howell asked about the Meco light and was told that they (Keystone) are waiting for final drawings from PennDOT.  Howell said that it was brought up by residents at the earlier joint meeting and the in intersection was cited as a popular crossing to the recreation path.  He asked that the Board be brought up to date at the next meeting or before via email.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported on two litigations:

  1. KMRD has filed an appeal (large file) to the Zoning Hearing Board rejection (large file) of their procedural challenge.  It will go before the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas for a decision.
  2. The ongoing substantive challenge before the Zoning Hearing Board will continue on August 4th.  "With a little bit of luck that will be the last hearing on that matter."

Kline also reported that the bond closing on the $1 million for DPW capital projects is set for July 9th. 




Forks EMS Donation Request (Erik Chuss) - Chuss asked that this item be tabled because Mr. Keifer did not get the (unapproved or approved) May EMS financial statement to the Board in time for inclusion in the Tuesday packets.  The May (approved) statement was received at the beginning of the meeting.  Howell asked that a copy be made and forwarded to Finance Manager Farley so that he can prepare a consolidated statement for the Board's review.  The motion to table and place the item on the July 3rd meeting (under unfinished business) passed unanimously.

Neighborhood Recreation Parks (Parks & Recreation Standing Committee) - This item was withdrawn because it was already discussed in the Parks & Recreation Committee report (above).

Center for Animal Health & Welfare Agreement (Rick Schnaedter) - Schnaedter reported that the main change in the revised contract before the Board is that the Township is responsible only for stray cats (and dogs) brought in by the animal control officer or by police officers.  He said that Hanover Township signed the identical contract. 

Nicholas asked if the animal control officer picks up cats and was told by Schnaedter that he does not as a rule but on occasion he does - when they are injured or perhaps attacking young kids - depending on the circumstance.  Twelve cats were picked up by the animal control officer last year.

Howell asked if an individual traps a feral cat can he still bring it in to the Center as part of the trap/spay/neuter/return program?  Schnaedter said that this is still okay and that the animal will be returned to the person who brought it in.  Resident Jim Wideman noted that the ears of feral cats are clipped by Center so that the Center and individuals know that the cat has already been through the neuter/spay program and returned to the wild. 

Howell expressed his thanks to resident Beth Adoni who brought the unsigned contract issue to the Board.  The motion to sign the amended contract passed unanimously.

Purchase Approval - Dell Laptops (Finance and Administration Committee) - Egolf explained that the Finance & Administration Committee is trying to cut back on the Township's use of paper and copying time, particularly in preparing the BoS meeting packets, and therefore has been looking into the purchase of laptops for the Supervisors.  Farley got prices for laptops - using the government account at Dell.  The price range for five Supervisors' laptops runs from $3,500 to $4,500 (Vostros with Windows XP Professional).  There will be another $500 spent in adjustments to the wiring in the Municipal Meeting Room.  Supervisors have tried using their home PCs and had problems because of the new server.  The ancillary costs are not to exceed $2,500. 

Chuss suggested that since his company is moving to VISTA that it be considered for these laptops.  Egolf said that the Dell representative does not recommend VISTA and Nicholas added that neither does the person who installed the new server.  Nevertheless, the committee will investigate the VISTA v. XP issue further before purchase.

The authorization to purchase was approved unanimously.

Award Bid - Community Center HVAC (Keystone Consulting Engineers) - There were three acceptable (per specs) bids received - for the Community Center air conditioning/heating.  The low bidder was Hannaberry HVAC at $161,040.  The other two bids were for $237,000 and $238,000.  Kline said that because the Township waived the requirement for a bid bond, each of the bidders "had an equal chance and everything is in order."

Chuss asked about the funding and Howell said that it is coming from capital improvements money from developers. 

Nicholas asked if there is a contract or just a proposal as she would like to review it.  Keystone said that it was included in the bid spec.  Kline said that the "acceptance of proposal," if tied to the bid spec, is a contract.  He will make sure the contract conforms to all of the specifications.  The vote to accept the Hannaberry HVAC bid was unanimous. 

After the vote, Miller said that the old equipment - the two heaters - are in good condition and will be perfect for the new DPW garage.  The three year old HVAC equipment from gyms #2 & #3 will also be recycled. 

Sullivan Trail Business Park Improvements - Invitation to Bid (Keystone Consulting Engineers) - Klein explained the recent history of drawing on the Sullivan Trail Business Park developer's letter of credit in order for the Township to complete the municipal improvements to the site.  He said that Keystone Engineering was preparing bid specifications for the work to be done.  Kline added that the Board also received an email from Mr. Goffredo requesting to address the Supervisors at this meeting. 

Mr. Goffredo appeared with his new counsel for this matter, Nick Noel (sic).  Goffredo told the Board that up through the April approvals for lots 5A and 5B and his appearance before the BoS at that April 3rd meeting, he thought that he had satisfied the Board and that any issues with the detention basin were being resolved by Keystone Engineering.

Goffredo said that he hoped he didn't have to go to court.  He maintained that the detention basin was constructed in accordance with the design provided by the engineer from Merchants Bank.  He added that his surveys show that the basin was constructed "within reason" of the design intent.  Goffredo said that the site contractor was Haines & Kibblehouse, Inc and that they performed the work per the plan approved by the Township.

Goffredo said that he wants to correct site deficiencies to the satisfaction of the Township and of Merchants Bank.  He asked for the opportunity to continue discussions.  He offered to replace the letter of credit in any amount the Township Engineer recommends.  He also asked that money drawn (on the letter of credit) be returned. 

When asked by Howell about the veiled threats of a lawsuit, attorney Noel replied for Goffredo and said that it is not a threat - "It's just reality."  Noel said that there was a procedural problem with the way the letter of credit was called (at the May 15 meeting) and despite Mr. Goffredo's angst, he is offering to replace the letter of credit.  Noel said that he thought that legal fees and interest can be avoided.  Howell noted that he didn't think that Mr. Goffredo wants to pay interest on the letter of credit either. 

Goffredo asked Howell why he is angry and Howell replied that it is because Merchants Bank is not getting any satisfaction.  Goffredo said that he has not received one complaint from them - and not one written notice of deficiency from Keystone on the detention pond nor anything from the Township Solicitor. Keystone's engineer said that there have been a few punch lists. 

Kline stated, "I am pleased that we finally have Mr. Goffredo's attention - in this matter with completing these municipal improvements."  He said that this is the first time in the last 22 years, save for when one developer went bankrupt, that the Township has drawn on a letter of credit from a developer.  Kline said that in all discussions since last November, it was made clear that the November letter of credit extension was going to be the last extension.

Kline added that there was no agreement in April that the Township did not want the work to be completed and that completion of the municipal improvements was a condition of the approval for lots 5A and 5B - before building permits can be granted.  At final plan approval that condition was removed by the Board because of the drawing on the letter of credit. 

Kline said that over six years, he can see no reason why the improvements have not been completed.  He added that the major concern now is the wearing course on Braden between Sullivan Trail and Merchants Bank.  The bank has been open for two years.  Kline said, too, that the detention basin is improperly installed, contains standing water, and is a health and safety concern.  He said that flow channel is flat and that there is a potential for mosquitoes and West Nile virus. 

Kline continued that because Hay was not present, it would be appropriate to table this agenda item.  Hay will be meeting with Goffredo's engineer, Jeff Ott, next week.  Kline said that he has received letters from Merchants Bank and that maybe the reason Goffredo hadn't was because he's "blown them off" with their other complaints.

Kline closed by saying that "the objective here is to provide for the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of this community."   He said that "these things have to be done and done within a definite timetable set by the Township."  Kline said that he and Hay will be working on these things with the developer and that he will report back to the Board at the next meeting.

Goffredo said that the Township wasted money watering the newly planted trees on the site because the landscaper is bound to maintain the trees.  Howell said that he asked that the trees be watered because they were wilted and that they were planted in 95 degree weather.  Goffredo countered with, "If the tree dies, he's going replace it.  That's what his contract says." 

Nicholas said that she voted to draw on the letter of credit because she has been listening to Kline and Hay say that the punch list items are being ignored - ever since 2006.

The Board voted 5:0 to table this agenda item until July 3rd. 

Noel asked that the fees for Keystone's preparation of the bid specs be halted.  Kline agreed that this was reasonable.

Kline reminded Goffredo that the shouldn't think that the Township will give the letter of credit money back so that it can just "hope" that the work will get done.  It will not be like it was before. There will have to be deadlines before the Township will consider returning the money and getting a substitute letter of credit.

EASD Paxinosa School Addition - modify school bus access condition (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that "no school buses on Arndt Road" is a condition of approval for the EASD Paxinosa proposal.  The EASD objected to what looked to them to be a total prohibition of any school buses on Arndt Road.  At a meeting with the EASD, Miller, Schnaedter, and Kline the following agreement was worked out:  "Developer agrees that there shall be no Paxinosa School and Shawnee School bus traffic on Arndt Road between North Trail and Echo Trail..."  The developer is the EASD and the buses coming from the west will enter the campus via North Trail and those coming from the east will use Echo Trail.

A motion was made and seconded to accept the revision to the conditions.

Egolf asked about school buses on Mitman Road to Wagoner.  Egolf said that Mitman is not designed for school buses and that there will be a serious accident one day on that hill and that there is a near miss there daily.  Kline said that it was discussed but the school does not think it's a problem.  Egolf said that in his capacity on the transportation sub-committee for the Comprehensive Plan, he learned that the original agreement (for Shawnee) was that the buses would use Bushkill Drive to Arndt Road.  He added, "We are on borrowed time on that hill and the school district knows it."

Kline suggested sending a letter to the EASD urging them to cease using Mitman.  He said that this is the time of year they are working out the bus routes for the new school year.  Egolf again stressed the seriousness of the Mitman Road route and said that he couldn't believe that they were concerning themselves with 40 buses passing on a stretch of Arndt Road instead of with the Mitman Road safety issue.

Miller said he agreed 100% and that when Shawnee Middle School was being discussed, the school brought up bus routes and said that there were to be no buses on Arndt Road.  Chuss said that he recalls that buses on Mitman were absolutely discussed (Planning Commission) and that representatives from the district said that buses would not use Mitman Road - although, he added that there is no EASD commitment in the documents.

Nicholas said that she was at the meeting and EASD said that they would not use Mitman Road but would use Bushkill to Arndt.  She added that school buses cannot stay on their own side of the road to navigate the curves on Mitman.  

A vote was taken on the acceptance of the revision to the conditions for bus traffic on Arndt.  It passed unanimously.

Next, Howell suggested that the BoS form a very strong resolution about buses on Mitman and that the resolution be placed on the next BoS agenda.  A motion that Kline craft a resolution in the strongest terms to induce the abandonment of Mitman as a bus route and to have the buses use Bushkill to Arndt was made and seconded. 

Former Supervisor John Ackerman suggested that it include the words "trucks and buses are prohibited from that stretch."  Kline noted that State standards for weight and safety must be followed before traffic can be limited on any road. 

The vote authorizing a resolution was 5:0.

Another motion, to authorize Keystone to review Mitman from Bushkill to Wagoner - to examine the road, the curves, the incline, the width, etc. with recommendations for restrictions for purposes of safety - passed 5:0.

For more on school buses on Mitman Road read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call).

Comprehensive Plan Discussion (Erik Chuss) - The BoS received their copies of the draft Comprehensive Plan in their Tuesday packets.  Email sent by Schnaedter advising each Supervisor that the copies were in the Municipal Building never made it to them as their email has not been working. 

Chuss said that he was impressed by Mr. Schmehl's work and that he reviewed the new draft.  He said that the changes are marked and it only took him about 45 minutes to review them.  He said he also took another 45 minutes to go through the entire plan again.

He recommended that it be forwarded as soon as possible to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission for comment(s) - a review process that can take up to 45 days.  

Chuss also suggested a joint meeting with the PC to review the draft.  And, when Howell said that he would like a generous amount of time to review the draft and to see if his comments are in it, and if not, an opportunity to submit his comments, Chuss called it a "stall tactic on this Comprehensive Plan."  Chuss said, "I think you owe it to the people who have invested a tremendous amount of time and done a fantastic job, to move this along as expeditiously as possible."  He said that the changes are noted and that if anyone had a comment, they should have saved them.  He added that he saved his and looked to see if they were in the plan.

Howell asked if Nicholas' comments were in the plan and Chuss said that they are.  Howell said that he has been making comments all along and that they are written. 

Ackerman said that each committee member should get a copy so that they can read it and see if they have changes.  He said that he would like a copy to review. 

It was also suggested that the draft plan be uploaded to the Township website for public review. 

Chuss' motion to send the draft to the LVPC died for lack of a second.

Chuss' made a second motion, to hold a joint BoS/PC workshop at the end of the regular PC meeting on July 10th to review the draft Comprehensive Plan and then to place the plan on the July 17th BoS agenda.

Howell asked that copies of the sections be made available to the sub-committee members.

Egolf suggested that email notification to the sub-committee members be sent asking them to request a copy of their section so that it can be prepared for them to pick-up.  He said that he thinks everyone should be notified that the latest version is available. 

Dean Turner (PC Chairman) asked what the purpose of the workshop will be?  Howell said that it was just as Chuss' motion stated, to review the draft Comprehensive Plan.  Chuss suggested that submitting comments in advance might be helpful.

The motion to have a joint meeting at the end of the regular PC meeting on July 10 and to add the Comprehensive Plan to the July 17 agenda passed 5:0.

Chuss noted that if the Comprehensive Plan goes until August before the Board votes on it, the soonest it can be enacted is fourth quarter 2008.

Stryker Brigade Combat Team - Developers Agreements - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that the developer's agreements are in order but unlike most, the Township signs these first.  The State signs second.  The agreements were accepted in a 5:0 vote.  Kline noted that there will be a pre-construction meeting on Wednesday at 9 AM.

Executive Session - There was no executive session and the meeting was adjourned.

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.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

PC - Always a Surprise - 6/12/08 Meeting

Municipal Meeting Room After what proved to be a relatively short main meeting with only two somewhat minor agenda items under review, the Planning Commission, at the request of Chairman Dean Turner, held an Executive Session.  No announcement of the topic(s) to be discussed out of public view/earshot was given.  "Staff" was explicitly excluded.  Neither the Zoning Officer (Tim Weis), the Township Engineer (Fred Hay), the Township Manager (Rick Schnaedter), nor the Solicitor (Karl Kline) were invited to participate.  They were at the main meeting.  Mr. Weis who was acting as recording secretary in the absence of Barbara Margolese, was asked to be sure the building would be (self) locked when the PC adjourned. 

Turner said that no action would be taken by the PC and the seven planners moved to the Supervisors' room - for a private discussion. 

It is unusual for the Planning Commission to do this.  In nearly five years of Township meeting observations this is only the second Planning Commission private session we can recall.  The other was on January 27, 2008 when the planners were charged with recommending PC candidates to the BoS.  The candidates were evaluated in private.  The recommendations were announced in public. 

For reference, see PA Open Meetings/Open Records, The Sunshine Act and the Right to Know Law.  The allowed reasons for Executive Sessions and the procedures involved begin on .pdf page 45 (document page 40).  Executive session minutes are not open to the public but must exist.

In an announcement (before the surprise Executive Session) was the fact that at this moment, there are no developer plans in the pipeline to come before the PC at its July meeting.  That may change of course, but it is fair warning that the scheduled July 10th 7 PM meeting may be canceled.  Please check the official Township calendar before braving the July heat to make a trip to the Municipal Building.

And, just in case you were wondering how the agenda items fared, both the lot line adjustment and the minor subdivision were given conditional approval in 7:0 votes.   The projects move on to the Board of Supervisors in July.  See the FAC Projects page for updates.

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.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

BoS Meeting 6/5/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

This night's 3-1/2 hour long session was held in the meeting room, with the air conditioner off for most of the night.  The discomfort level did not shorten the meeting.  The Board did vote on a part of the last agenda item of the night, the Neighborhood Recreation Parks Proposal, to donate $10,000 of recreation capital equipment funds to the playground drive headed by parents of Forks Elementary School.  This school playground is open to the public during non-school hours and its fields are used by the Forks Athletic Association.  Read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for details of this Board action.

For more on the Center for Animal Health & Welfare contract status report read Chris Knight (Express Times) and for more on the Neighborhood Parks Proposal read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call).

Public Comments (non-agenda)

  1. Beth Adoni - spoke to the (as yet unaccepted by the Center for Animal Health & Welfare) animal control contract.  She said that she has only positive things to say about the center.  It is a no-kill shelter and it spayed/neutered more than 3000 cats and dogs last year - at no charge.  Ms. Adoni said that she believes that 100% of residents with animals would be extremely upset if the Township opted for an agreement with another organization (rather than the no-kill Center).  The Center has extended the contract signing deadline to June 15th.  Supervisor Howell said that until the issue appeared in this meeting's packet, the Board was unaware that there was a problem.  He added that Township Manager Schnaedter would be discussing this in his manager's report.
  2. Brett Morrow - alerted the Board to a problem in his neighborhood involving a resident parking (and running) his Easton Auto Body flatbed on the street.  The truck leaked oil on the street.  Morrow said that the leak is a potential DEP issue.  He also said that he thought the problem of diesel engine noise may have been taken care of;  (Zoning Officer) Tim Weis spoke to a neighbor this morning and police officer Rowden spoke directly with the resident.  Weis said that Forks ordinances prohibit the overnight parking of vehicles over 14,000 lbs on Township streets.  They can be parked overnight if garaged.  Howell asked about regulations for boats and RVs.  Weis said that (depending on the size) up to two recreation vehicles are okay (unlicensed) as long as they are covered (tarp) and/or garaged - and not on the street.  If they are parked on the street and licensed and registered, there is nothing the Township can do about it.

Supervisor Remarks - none

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 $7,857,956.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported on the committee's June 3rd meeting:
    • The modular furniture for the Police Department will be installed on Monday and Tuesday.  The old furniture is earmarked.
    • The anti-speeding program will launch in the next few weeks.  The committee is looking into signs for high speed areas, an electronic speedometer sign, and continued enforcement.
    • Township Engineer Fred Hay is working on the foundation plans for the emergency services training tower.  The final plans have been received.  Site preparation should begin shortly.
    • All Supervisors who have not yet done so are required to take a NIMS training class (online).
    • The fuel budget for emergency vehicles is being reviewed.  The costs are over budget so far but look manageable.  According to the law, vehicles must not idle for more than 20 minutes.
    • William Keifer, President of Forks EMS addressed the Board to ask once again for the funding budgeted in  2007 ($20,000).  He said that the Forks squad has an agreement in place with (Palmer) Suburban EMS - the $10,000 payment already made, additional payments on the 15th of the month (on the old balance), and keeping current on new billings.  Subscriptions account for most of the money needed and the squad's new subscription drive will begin in 75 days.  Keifer said, "Now is the time that we can use our funding."  They are "dealing with" the new diesel fuel costs and would like the Township's support.  Chuss asked the Board if they wished to deal with the EMS request this night.  Howell said that because it's a financial matter it should be an agenda item.  Nicholas agreed and added that the Board needs time to prepare.  Chuss asked that this be added to the June 19 meeting agenda. Howell asked that the squad send its latest financial report to the Township by 2:30 PM Tuesday, June 17th so that it can be placed in the Supervisors' packets.  Keifer agreed although he said that the statement is normally approved at their Tuesday evening meeting.  It was suggested that the unapproved financial report be sent and that Keifer call the Township on Wednesday to confirm that the statement was approved by the EMS board.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported that the road crew is spraying weed killer along guardrails and around signs, the roadway into the Community Center has been widened, the storm drains at Klein's Road are under repair, and roads throughout the Township are being patched and swept.  The banks at Ayers Road and Richmond Road are being cut in order to improve visibility.  Stumps that interfere with road bank mowing are being pulled.  The demolition of the main play structure (in the park) is nearly complete - in advance of next week's delivery of the new equipment.  Nicholas asked about Valley View Road (the emergency road into Gollub Park).  Miller said that the road crew is working on it and it should be completed by the end of next week.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - reported that the play lots are on this night's agenda and that the bid opening for the Community Center air conditioning system will be next week.  He added that the new air conditioning will make the Community Center gym more usable and therefore more profitable. 
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that at the committee's 6 PM meeting on Monday, the Forks Quarterly will be discussed.  In particular, the committee will talk about getting a new vendor since Hometown Press has been consistently late. 
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the new server is up and running but not everyone is getting email yet.  The committee is continuing its work on document management and storage.  Nicholas asked about "going paperless."  Egolf said that Finance Manager Farley is taking the next steps.  He explained that the Board gets a stack of papers every week and that they are talking about being as paperless as possible - thereby saving trees and "entering the 21st century."

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter announced that he spoke with Hometown Press and that the Township should have a proof (of the next Forks Quarterly) by Monday.

Schnaedter reported that the Supervisors had a copy of a letter from the Center for Animal Health & Welfare (in their packets).  It was received on Tuesday and says that the contract is the same as last year's and is for cats and dogs and cannot be altered. 

Howell said that he voted to exclude cats (the vote was 5:0) with the understanding that there would be an alternative way of dealing with them.  He said that he had no idea that his vote was to opt out of the spay and neuter program.  Howell added that he thinks Forks should join with Easton and other communities to renegotiate the contract "and become a humane township while taking care of stray cats and dogs otherwise we will have no contract." 

Schnaedter said that since Tuesday he contacted approximately ten surrounding municipalities and learned that some have signed the contract while others are going to another county.  And, yet two others told him that the Center was "not allowed to not accept dogs" - if they are brought in by a bona fide agency.  He will look further into that claim. 

Howell asked Beth Adoni (see above Comments) if the contract was only dealing with feral cats.  She said that the Center offers free spaying and neutering for stray and feral cats as well as low cost spaying and neutering for household cats.  Ms. Adoni said that she is not affiliated with the Center and that her knowledge comes from using their services.  She said that the Center will take orphaned kittens and does not discriminate against cats.  She said that the Center offers many services and all they ask is a per animal fee of $50.  "The taxpayers of this community who have cats have the same right to know that their cat is going to be safe if it gets out."

Farley offered that in 2005 the contract allowed only Township police or the animal control officer to bring animals to the shelter and both cats and dogs were included.  In 2006 the contract allowed residents to bring animals to the shelter.  Farley said that there were many more cats brought to the shelter in 2006 with one household alone (in a six month period) responsible for bringing in 23 cats.  He said that it's possible (but not certain) that the cats belonged to the household and the (then $40 per animal) costs were borne by Forks taxpayers.  Farley said the cats were then, as part of the trap and neuter program, returned to the residents who brought them.  He said that a problem he sees is how to control that the same animals are not brought in several times. 

Ms. Adoni suggested that the Township amend the contract in the only place the center will allow, that is, restricting who can bring animals to the shelter to Forks police or the animal control officer.

Howell asked Schnaedter to find out from the Center exactly what the Township options are regarding the financial obligation and the duties of the Township.  Please read Chris Knight (Express Times) for more on the Center for Animal Health & Welfare contract discussion.

Engineer's Report - Hay - reported that he spoke with the traffic engineer responsible for the Meco/Sullivan Trail signal and he has not heard from PennDOT.  Hay will try to contact the permit director on Friday.  Also, his office is putting together a bid package to go out to contractors - for the Sullivan Trail Business Park work - it should be ready in the next week or so. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that over the last few weeks, he and Hay were busy dealing with some problems with developers:

  1. The Weyerhaeuser land developer started work on the detention ponds and swales without the final approval of the Northampton County Conservation District of the erosion and sedimentation plan.  A notice of violation was issued by the Conservation District and a meeting was held with the developer, the Conservation District, Keystone Engineering, and DEP.  The developer took the position, "Better to do something and ask forgiveness than it is to ask for permission in the first place."  Kline said that normally the Township is willing to work with developers who are on a tight schedule, even if they do not have all the outside agency approvals, by scheduling a pre-construction conference - with the understanding that the developer cannot start without those approvals. The Township will not do that this time.  The outside agency approvals must be in hand before the pre-construction conference.
  2. The letter of credit $179,000 balance for Sullivan Trail Business Park was drawn on because of incomplete site improvements.  Klein said that he met with Hay and that Keystone is now working on the steps necessary to complete the municipal improvements.  Some of the existing tenants in the park, including Merchants Bank which has been open a long time, have been upset by the lack of improvements, including the lack of a "wearing course" on the road.  Klein said that this will be done this year.
  3. The third and final arbitration hearing for the billing dispute with Strausser Enterprises is scheduled for June 26th.  At issue are engineering invoices.  The Township Engineer's office must do inspections when a developer is working on a site's municipal improvements - to insure that the roads, stormwater system, etc. are properly installed.  The developer is billed for the inspections.  Mr. Strausser is contesting Hay's billings for that.


General Obligation Bond (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  The low bidder for the Department of Public Works $1,020,000 capital equipment purchase(s) was PNC Bank at an "all in" interest rate of 3.93% for 10 years.  The draft ordinance (#310) was reviewed by Kline and the Board voted 5:0 to approve the ordinance and 5:0 to award the loan/bond to PNC. 

The proposal was sent to ten bidders and the interest rates varied to as high as 5.89%.  The loan closing is set for July 9th.  The annual debt service will be $122,963.63 with the first payment being made from the Liquid Fuels account.  Annual principal payments will be made in July and interest payments will be made twice a year.

Kline explained the process as (1) seeking bids, (2) obtaining bids, (3) recommending how to proceeds, (4) creating and passing an ordinance, and then (5) getting approval from the Department of Community & Economic Development.

Gary Pulcini (and his company) was the financial advisory and Michael Gault (sic) of the Kings Drive law firm (?) was the bond counsel.  Kline said that the Township used the Pulcini company for the last bond issue and was very satisfied with their work.  Kline also said that that was his first introduction to Internet bidding (for bond issues.)

Weyerhaeuser Land Development - Developer's Agreements (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  Kline reported that he had the land development agreements. that the funds for the escrow account are in place, and that the letter of credit for $776,812 has been received.  He told the Board that all was in order and they voted 5:0 to accept the agreements. 


Sullivan Trail Business Park - Daycare & Office Buildings (Tim Weis) - Kline explained that the developer was given preliminary conditional approval for the minor subdivision (lot 5 into lots 5A and 5B) by the Board on April 3.  He said that the developer is now seeking approval of the land development plans for lots 5A and 5B.  The Planning Commission recommended conditional approval based on Keystone's May 2nd letter. 

Nicholas commented that it was her understanding that plans were not to come before the Board unless the Board was provided with the minutes from the Planning Commission - in advance.  She then asked if about sidewalks and the parking lot and asked if they will be shown on the plan.  They are part of the conditional approval. 

Howell said that Nicholas' comment about agenda items was "well taken" and an administrative matter.  As such he asked that Weis work with Dean Turner (PC Chairman).  Weis said that he will at least provide draft minutes in the future. 

Hay said that one of the Keystone (letter) comments was no longer valid - that no utility work be done on the site until the Merchant's Bank pond is done - because the Township will now be doing the work.

Terry Faul, attorney for the developer (Goffredo) said that his client did not approve of the action taken by the Board at its May meeting - the vote to draw on the letter of credit to complete the municipal site improvements.  He explained that his client had an arrangement with First National Bank of Palmerton to extend the letter of credit.  He requested that it be reinstated and that the bidding process be avoided. 

Kline reminded Faul that the first approvals were in 2001, the subdivision agreement was executed in 2002, and six years later, Merchants Bank does not yet have a paved road in front of it.  "That's outrageous."  The Township has worked with and spent time with the developer.  "The time has run out."  Kline said that the Township was given no choice.  Kline sent a letter to attorney Faul reminding him that 2-1/2 years had passed since the first building permit was issued and in the agreement, the developer had two years after the issuance of the first permit to get the other improvements done.  "The developer is clearly in default of the agreement." 

Howell stated that, as far as he is concerned, the Board would not revisit the authority given to Kline to draw on the letter of credit.

Kline noted that the the condition requiring that all of the municipal improvements be completed (per the Keystone letter) before a building permit can be issued has been removed (because the Township is to do the work using the money drawn on the letter of credit.) 

The vote to conditionally approve the final land development plan (for lots 5A and 5B) was 5:0.

Stryker Brigade Combat Team Facilities - Final Plan (Tim Weis) - Chad Lello of Pennoni Associates represented the Stryker Brigade project before the Board.  He asked for final approval based on the May 8th Planning Commission recommendation.  Lello said that as of yesterday, all outside agency permits have been received. 

Lello said that the project originally before the Board two years ago was a much larger project.  Because of cost considerations, the project scope was reduced. 

The Board did not have the PC minutes and did have the final plans.  Howell said that he thought it "pretty sloppy" and said it was the Township's fault, not the Stryker Brigade's.  Nicholas made a motion to table and it was seconded by Egolf. 

In discussion, Chuss said that he would be willing to "entertain a review" although this is the first he's seen of the new site plan. He said that it would require "faith in the Planning Commission" and that he had the minutes from the PC meeting and he didn't see any major issues. 

Kline said that the plans were submitted in a timely manner in order to get on the PC agenda and tonight is not the developer's fault.  He added that they are anxious to get the project going. 

Lello said that the ground breaking was held last week.

The vote to table was defeated 2:3 (Nicholas and Egolf - aye and Miller, Chuss, and Howell - nay).

Hay explained to the Board that the new plan does not differ substantially from the original one, that it's just a smaller scale. 

Lello reviewed the differences for the Board.  Access to the road through the driveway with the adjacent property is the same.  The project has been reduced to one building and no longer crosses the swale.  There will be one detention basin - suitable for a 100 year storm.  No storm water infiltration will be provided due to the karst topography.  The parking area will be crushed stone.

The waivers recommended by the PC include an exemption for the slope of the detention basin (acceptable because there will be no children on site).  The PC also included the Keystone review letter as a condition of the approval.

The vote to conditionally approve the new final plan was 5:0.

Paxinosa Elementary School (Tim Weis) - The final plan (an addition which will include two classroom pods of six classrooms each, a cafeteria, and additional administration space) was conditionally approved subject to Keystone's May 2nd review letter in a 5:0 vote.  The EASD will be funding the escrow account and paying the sewer fee, but will not be subject to the capital improvements fee.

Discussion included child security in getting to the cafeteria (resolved in the design) and sound issues with the new HVAC units.  The Board was told they would be smaller and quieter and that the old units will also be replaced with the more efficient, smaller ones.  Before the certificate of occupancy is issued, the units' noise level will be tested. 

The total additional area will be 30,000 square feet.

The new entry area will be in the front instead of where it is now, in the center.  People coming to the building will go right to the administration area and not further into the building to get to it.  The school will get a new playground, with both hard and soft play areas, and primary access from the cafeteria.  There will be an underground storm water detention pond with an irrigation system.

Miller mentioned the fact that the school buses are not using North Trail as was agreed when the Shawnee project was approved.  The  representatives promised to raise this concern with the EASD.  Miller said that there must be something put in writing, a guarantee, that the buses will not travel on (from the west) Arndt Road and will use North Trail.  Kline suggested that the Township could stop every bus and give every bus a ticket - make it illegal in some way - perhaps limiting the weights on Arndt.  Kline said the EASD "will get the message in short order."

Adjustment to Township Fee Schedule - Pages 3 & 5 (Tim Weis) - Weis explained that the fee schedule is reviewed and adjusted annually.  This year's changes, approved unanimously, include:

  • Sports registration sign-up - Township fees - were $20 per child/per sport - are now:
    • for the 1st child - $20
    • For the 2nd child - $15
    • For the 3rd and more - $10
  • Electrical inspections:
    • Single family dwelling from $125 to $150
    • Residential building addition/renovation from $75 to $100
    • Building service from $50 to $75
    • Swimming pool - above ground - from $50 to $85
    • Swimming pool - in ground - from $100 to $150
    • Hot tub/spa - from $60 to $85

Forks Township Resolution #080605-1/Acceptance of Mort Drive (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline reported that the Mort Drive cul de sac (leading to Tioga Pipe off of Kuebler Road) has been inspected and approved by Keystone Engineering.  The deed of dedication is in place.  The Board accepted the road in a 5:0 vote.

Fort James III - Tri-party Agreement and Indemnification Agreement (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - This agreement was approved unanimously.  Kline explained that the developer (JG Petrucci) must run a sanitary sewer line to the Fort James III industrial park under the Norfolk Southern rail lines and Norfolk Southern has very stringent rules for what goes under their lines.  An agreement is necessary between Norfolk Southern, the Township, and the developer.  A second agreement - holding the developer responsible for the installation, indemnifying the Township, and specifying that the developer will perform maintenance for five years - was also approved unanimously.  Before the vote, Nicholas asked about the tri-party agreement stipulation that the Township is responsible for what happens under the line.  Kline explained that Norfolk Southern has thrown every possible contingency into the agreement and that the Township in turn, (in the two-party agreement) has given that liability to the developer.  Hay will be inspecting the line as it is installed and has said that after five years (the length of the agreement), nothing is likely to happen under the rail line.

Neighborhood Recreation Parks Proposal (Parks & Recreation Standing Committee) - Howell detailed the proposal for three neighborhood parks (at Penn's Ridge, Vista Estates, and Ramblewood) and three satellite parks (enhanced - Braden Air Park, Lafayette/Meco, and Gollub Park) as well as a Township contribution for new park equipment at Forks Elementary School.  He explained that growth in the Township has created new neighborhoods and that neighborhood parks will relieve some of the stress on the main Community Park. 

Egolf explained the process used to develop the proposal.  He said that the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee used surveys (talking to people) regarding the need and feasibility, they received a letter of support from one of the neighborhoods, they worked with DPW Director Roberts to determine the best sites, and they conferred with Community Center Director, Don Miller, on equipment selection.  Egolf added that they did quite a bit of "homework" to come up the proposal - in an attempt to serve all areas of the Township.

Howell noted that equipment on the list is not from any particular vendor.  The prices come from the State COSTARS list.  The Township will ultimately go with the best prices and use volume purchase discounts.  He said that tonight the Board is not approving the specifics, but the concept and the anticipated capital expenditures.

Howell reviewed the proposed equipment for each park and said that two of them, Braden Air Park and Lafayette/Meco will get restroom facilities.  He said that the restrooms at Braden are particularly important since it will help Miller to rent the facility making it an income source for the Township.  For the Lafayette/Meco park, the sewer and water will come from the stub line that Patriot Village installed for that purpose.  For the proposal the committee used ready made restrooms from Modern Concrete (a Forks company).  Nicholas asked to see drawings.  Howell said that he would get some for her. 

Nicholas expressed a concern about sand boxes.  She said that in neighborhoods with a lot of cats, sand boxes often become litter boxes.  Howell explained that they will be above ground, pre-fabricated, and represent a modest item that is easily monitored and is first on everyone's list.  He said that toddlers love to get dirty.  He added that this is not the final selection of equipment.

As to the donation request from the parents group of Forks Elementary, Howell said that the EASD elementary school budgets do not provide replacement playgrounds.  (The Paxinosa School is getting a playground because it is part of the funds approved for the expansion.)  Howell said that the school playground will be available for public use dawn to dusk - whenever school is not in session. 

Linda Hill, playground committee chairwoman for the Forks Elementary School parents group, addressed the Board regarding the committee's request for a $10,000 donation towards new equipment.  The EASD has given a $10,000 donation. 

Ms. Hill said that the playground will be done in two phases, the first will cost $40,000 and the second $16,000.  To date, the committee has raised $34,800.  The play equipment for phase I has already been ordered.  Phase II will have swings, climbers, activity panels, and other essentials.  There will be equipment for special needs children as well.  Installation is included in the prices. 

Nicholas asked about donations to non-profits, since the Township is holding back the EMS funds.  She thought a donation for playground equipment at the school would "open the floodgates."  Howell explained that the money is from the dedicated recreation account, funds collected from developers and not from the taxpayers, and that the EMS money is in fact taxpayer dollars.  Howell said, "Forks Elementary is in our Township and we have an active recreation program supported by developer fees."  He added that he visited the school playground and the existing equipment there is terrible.

Chuss said that he donated.  The Forks Athletic Association gave $500. 

It was decided to split the donation vote from the neighborhood parks proposal and to vote on it.  Farley asked that the Township check be payable directly to the vendor and not to the school district so that the funds can be attributed to a capital purchase. 

The vote to give $10,000 for phase I of the playground equipment at the school was 5:0.  Please see Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for more on the playground donation.

The Board turned the discussion back to the Neighborhood Parks Proposal.  Nicholas asked to see drawings of the restrooms and Chuss said that the Recreation Board should have reviewed the proposal before it came to the BoS.  He said further that he thinks this is premature because the Comprehensive Plan has not yet been approved and it (the Comprehensive Plan) contains a significant recreation section.  Chuss' other concern was that this is not part of the overall recreation plan for the Township "which is in the Comprehensive Plan and which is also to be implemented by the Recreation Board."

Howell remarked that he didn't think the Recreation Board would be implementing the expenditures of these monies and that this is a BoS decision.  He noted that the Recreation Board five year plan has not yet been seen by the BoS.  Miller said that the old one exists - even if no one knows where it is - and that the Recreation Board is finishing up the new one and it should be presented to the BoS shortly.

Miller said that he supports the (neighborhood parks concept) and believes that the Recreation Board would also if they were "pulled in" to the planning.  Nicholas suggested a Board of Supervisors work session with the Recreation Board before the next Supervisors' meeting on June 19th. 

Chuss said that spending money on "this" when the Comprehensive Plan calls for other expenditures (trails, bandshell, etc.) might make the Comprehensive Plan projects undoable.  He said he wasn't sure why this was before them now and he feels that the BoS must move forward with the Comprehensive Plan.

Nicholas remarked that summer is here and that some of this should be done now.  She made a motion for a 6:00 PM, June 19th workshop and that Neighborhood Parks Proposal be on that night's BoS agenda.  In discussion, Chuss remarked, "Why do we have have a Recreation Board?  This is their job."  He said that they have raised concerns with him and that they've never seen the proposal.

Howell said that this is a good time for the Recreation Board "to bring their ideas to the table."

The motion passed 4:1.  The dissenting vote was cast by Chuss. 

Please read Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) and Chris Knight (Express Times) for more on the Neighborhood Parks proposal.

Executive Session - The session was held to discuss a personnel matter.  Henning Holmgaard, the Forks representative to the EAJSA attended.  No action was taken during or 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.