Sunday, July 20, 2008

BoS 7/17/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

The severe thunderstorm did not stop the Forks Board of Supervisors (BoS) from meeting.  In fact, the Municipal Complex generators were field tested and they do indeed work!  As expected, the EMS (emergency service) discussion and resulting decision took up the lion's share of the evening agenda.  For more on the EMS issue read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call).

Public Comments (non-agenda) - Tony Nauroth of the Express Times introduced himself and said that the will be "covering Forks Township for... ever." 

Supervisor Remarks:

  • Supervisor Howell said that the Board received a very nice letter from Judge Freedberg regarding the Board's Resolution honoring him (at the last meeting) on his appointment to the PA Superior Court.  Howell said that he's sure that Judge Freedberg, a Forks resident, will still be available to swear-in future Forks Supervisors. 
  • Supervisor Chuss noted that there were no copies of the three firefighter bills that are before the PA legislature in the Supervisors' meeting packets. Township Manager Schnaedter will get copies for the next meeting and endorsement of the bills will be an agenda item at that meeting.  Nicholas requested that if the bills are lengthy that they be sent to the Supervisors earlier than 8 PM on the Tuesday before the meeting.

Treasurer's Report - In the absence of vacationing Treasurer Egolf, Supervisor Miller detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote.  Miller said that the Township's current outstanding debt is $7,840,041.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting.  He said that both the Express Times and the Morning Call wrote about the "Slow Down" signs and that there has been a positive initial response.  Within three days of the articles, 51 of the 100 signs were distributed.  Chuss added that the police will also be taking "other measures to control speeding in the Township."  The signs are going fast - so far, added Howell, 70 signs are out.  Howell mentioned that there was a letter to the editor from a Forks resident regarding the signs and that the $600 cost for the signs came out of the Police Department publication budget.  Howell said that he feels they are a great benefit to the community and he encouraged all those who want one to fill out the short application at the police department.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - said that the committee met last week.  He updated the assembly on current topics of discussion including:
    • Patching Township roadways as needed.
    • Curbside weed control program.
    • Preparing, grading, paving, road bank mowing, and cleaning catch basins (as needed).
    • Street lights as needed.
    • Repair and maintenance on all DPW trucks.
    • Work on Forks Elementary School ball fields.
    • Widening of the Community Center main parking lot.
    • General cleanup around the Township.
    • Watering trees.
    • Cleaned the springhouse grounds.
    • Assisted the Police Department in the furniture removal.
    • 73' ft of the Meco Road failing sewer main repaired.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - said that there was no meeting since the last Supervisors' meeting and therefore no report.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - said that they met on Monday and reviewed the Forks Quarterly to be sure that articles will be submitted on time and that the next issue will be in time for Forks Community Days.  Nicholas said too, that the committee discussed the "answering system" and are looking into making it better.  Also being explored is some kind of information booth at Forks Community Days.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - absent - Finance Manager Farley said that there was a meeting to discuss ongoing issues.  No report.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reported that he, Chief Dorney, and Miller met with two representatives form the school district's transportation department.  The district maintains that the high number of buses on Mitman Road was due to school construction and that in the future bus use of Mitman will be reduced by 50% - in the afternoons during the school year.  They told the Township that that is all they can do based on schedules.  Nicholas asked why just the afternoons since the mornings are also a critical time - that's when everyone is going to work.  Miller said that the school district representatives allege that their hands are tied by school schedules (getting from one school to another) and that they must use Mitman.  The times that school starts are set by teacher contracts.  Nicholas said that it will be worthwhile to look into this because the safety and welfare of the kids are what's under discussion and the schedules seem a "little bit too tight for safety reasons."  Their job is to deliver the children safely to the schools and home again. She suggested that the school district be called and that someone else be found to talk to about this.

Schnaedter also reported that he attended the Two Rivers Council of Governments (TRCOGS) meeting last night where the yard waste assessment study was discussed.  He will provide the Board with copies of their findings.  Schnaedter said that the TRCOGS is looking at a regional recycling program for yard waste. 

Engineer's Report - Hay - reported that the agreements for the Community Center HVAC contract will go out tomorrow.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that the Strausser arbitration has been decided in favor of the Township to the tune of $64,483.45.  Strausser has 60 days from June 10th to make the payment.  And, in addition to that, Strausser is required to replace the balances in certain accounts.  Kline said that if he does not make the payments, he will be asking for permission to sue Strausser - once again.

Kline also reported that he, along with Hay and Keystone staff have been working "quite extensively" with Goffredo's engineer, Jeff Ott, regarding the municipal improvements to Sullivan Trail Business Park.  Kline said that he put together a resolution and circulated it to the BoS and to Goffredo's attorney.  Kline requested that this be added to the agenda under old business.  He said that because of delays getting information, he was not able to get the resolution to the BoS in time for inclusion in their packets.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Levi Matyus Eagle Scout Project - Lions Park at Bushkill Drive (Don Miller, Supervisor) - This agenda item has been rescheduled because Levi Matyus was unable to be at tonight's meeting.  He is working with Miller on a project at Lion's Park.  Howell said that he and Miller met with Matyus, his father, and public works and worked out what has been done so far.  This is a work in progress and Levi Matyus needed an approval (but not a BoS action) so that he could go to next step.  Howell said that Matyus was given tacit approval.

Resolution 081717-1 - Sullivan Trail Business Park Improvements - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  Kline paraphrased Resolution 080717-1, a draft of which was sent by email to the Board before tonight's meeting.  He said that on 8/2/2001 the Sullivan Trail Business Park was granted conditional final plan approval for the subdivision.  On 8/1/2002 the subdivision preliminary agreement was executed.  That agreement stipulated that all the site's municipal improvements must be completed within two years of the issuance of the first building permit - that first permit was issued on 10/24/2005.  At this time, all but two lots are sold and the Weis Market construction will be starting next spring.  The municipal improvements which were to be finished by 10/24/2007, are not completed.

Kline said that because of deficient conditions and after numerous meetings with the developer, Goffredo, and staff, the Township authorized drawing on the developer's letter of credit.  Those drawn funds ($179,866.74) were put in a separate, interest bearing account.  The Township then began work on the deficiencies.  The developer has since requested to complete the improvements himself. 

The Resolution states that the Board is willing to give the developer "one final opportunity" to do that, per terms set forth in the Resolution.  The developer must: 

  • fully complete the detention pond (as described in Exhibit A - prepared after extensive discussion between the Township engineer and the developer's engineer, Jeff Ott)
  • fully complete the (Keystone Consulting Engineers) punch list (as described in Exhibit B)
  • install the wearing course on Braden Boulevard from Sullivan Trail to the western edge of Ian - to accommodate the traffic to/from Merchants National Bank.  (The entire business park paving is not to be done at this time because of future construction.) 

All punch list items must be completed by Labor Day (9/1/2008).  Also, a new irrevocable letter of credit (for $189,000 which includes a 15% maintenance security) must be in place by September 1 and be valid for no less than one year.  The new letter of credit is the amount expected to be needed to complete the balance of the paving. 

If everything is completed by Labor Day, the Township will give back the original letter of credit drawn funds ($179,866.74) plus any accrued interest.  If all the work is not done, the deal is off and the Township will use those funds to get the work done.

Nicholas asked Farley how much taxpayer money the Township has already spent on the extra time for the solicitor and engineer.  Farley said he didn't know but could do an analysis of the time spent.  Nicholas said that she would like to know and that she didn't think that taxpayers should have to pay for this work.  Kline explained that there are certain things in which the Township must engage as a "cost of doing business" and that a developer's money cannot be used to pay for enforcement actions against a developer but only for actually getting the work done.  For example, the Township cannot use Strausser's money to sue Strausser. 

Kline said, too, that the developer can get the work done without paying prevailing wages but the Township cannot.  In order to do the work, the Township must draw up specs and go out for bids.  This costs money.  And, he added, that the Township must insist that developer must get 100% of the work done as "time has run out." 

Chuss made a motion to approve the resolution.  It was seconded by Miller.

In discussion, the attorney for the developer, Nick Noel (sic), said that he received the Resolution this afternoon and is in agreement with the overall goal and the concept and, he said, the developer intends to meet the deadline.  However, he does not agree with all the "whereas language."  He said that it is "opinion and hyperbole."  Noel added that he does not agree with the history (as recounted by Kline and contained in the Resolution) either.  But, he noted that the figures seem in the ballpark although he and his client have not seen the calculation.  Hay said that the 2001 numbers were revised with 2008 prices plus 15%.  Noel said that he had not received the two attachments (Exhibits A & B) noted in the Resolution.  Kline gave him copies.  Hay said that no items were added to the punch list (Exhibit B).

By way of clarification, Noel said that he assumed the 9/1 date, as long as the work is done and is accepted by the Township enginee, triggers the maintenance agreement (with the Township).  Kline said that he was correct and at that point in time, everything except the last wearing course should be completed.  When asked about sewers, Hay said that they have been in so long, they are not a problem and are not an alleged delay to paving.  Kline said that the bone of contention is the repair to the detention pond. 

Goffredo addressed the Board and stated that the "whereas and history are rather far from accurate."  He said that the Weis property was conveyed over a year ago and that the perception that so much is yet to be done is unfair.  It is clear that for the last two years he has been stymied from completing the improvements - except the detention basin.  Goffredo added that "the changes that we have embraced today are clearly constructive changes..."  He said that he will try to get the contractor to accept the changes but "if I have to throw money at it do get it done..."  Goffredo said that he would like to see the numbers, as he may adjust them up or down, and he will get together with Hay's office (for that purpose.)  He added that he would like to have the letter of credit prior to 9/1/2008 so that there is no question and it is not an issue. 

The vote on the motion was 3:1 with Nicholas voting nay and stating that the numbers stay the same.  Kline said that this is not a negotiation and that the numbers are a reasonable estimate by the Township Engineer and the Resolution  stands as it is. 

Discussion of EMS Services & Designation of Forks Township EMS Providers - (Erik Chuss, Public Safety Committee) - Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Madeleine Mathias (Morning Call) for coverage of this 2 hour discussion. 

NEW BUSINESS

Authorization for the purchase of Police "interim evidence locker" (Erik Chuss, Supervisor) - Chuss explained that the Police Department (PD) modular furniture bid came in under budget.  The installation is not complete.  Phase 1 is done and phase 2 will be completed after the PD re-accreditation in September.  Schnaedter said that of the $46,163 budgeted and approved for the furniture, $44,013 is allocated.  (Update 8/10/08:  According to Chuss at the 8/7/08 BoS meeting, this figure includes the evidence locker purchase.) Chuss said that he looked at the locked cabinets that are currently being used.  They become filled.  An evidence locker would allow the evidence to go directly into the evidence room and not into a cabinet in the wall. Installation would not be a problem.  Chuss made a motion that the remaining furniture budget be used for the evidence locker and that the contract be given to Diversified Storage Solutions for $6,912.87.  Nicholas seconded and the motion passed 4:0.

Fire Company Contribution Agreement (Karl Kline, Solicitor) -  Kline explained the agreement:  The Volunteer Fire Company of Forks Township agrees to pay $25,000 to the Township in 2008 and $15,000 per year from 2009-2018.  This money is to be placed in the Township general fund.  In turn, the Township agrees to place an amount greater than or equal to the Fire Co. contribution as a yearly budget amount in the Fire Replacement Fund account.  Kline noted that to act responsibly, it is likely the Township will set aside more than that amount.  Also, the Township, as owner of the assets (the equipment) also agrees to maintain standard owners liability insurance and to hold the Fire Company harmless for equipment purchases.  In the future, the agreement can only be modified in writing and must be signed by both parties.  Kline said that he spoke with Farley about it and that Farley said that it meets the auditors' requirements.  The agreement represents a $175,000 commitment from the Volunteer Fire Company to the Township.

Nicholas said that she did not understand why the agreement contains language that the Township budget at least that amount since the Township always puts aside more than that.  Kline explained that since the money is going into the general fund, the Fire Company simply wants to be assured that at least that amount of money will be available in the future. 

Nicholas asked that the language be changed from "Fire Replacement Fund" to account #411.700, Capital Purchases - the general ledger account associated with the Fire Replacement Fund.  After more discussion everyone was okay with that change and the agreement was passed in a 4:0 vote.

Establish Ad Hoc Comprehensive Plan Review Committee (C. David Howell) - Howell said that at the joint workshop with the Planning Commission (PC) there was a consensus to establish an ad hoc committee to review the current Comprehensive Plan draft and submit suggested changes to Urban Research & Development Corporation (URDC).  The resultant draft will be subject to both PC and BoS approvals. 

The composition of the ad hoc committee will be two members from the PC (the chair being one) and two members from the BoS (again, the chair is one).  There will also be an alternate from each board.  Howell motioned to establish the six member committee consisting of four voting members and two alternates.  It was seconded by Nicholas. 

In discussion, Chuss reiterated his objection, made first at the workshop, to the "subcommittee" and said that it is his feeling that an expert was hired to guide the formation of the Plan and that same expert has been defending Forks Township for the last 18 months in the KMRD hearings.  Chuss added that there were 30 to 40 residents involved in the Plan as well. 

Chuss said that he objects to a four person committee re-doing the expert's work.  He said that for his money, he'd take the Plan that Mr. Schmehl wrote and not the one that will come out of the non-expert committee.  Chuss called this a "recipe for disaster... when people start questioning the experts..."  He said that he does not want to be part of the committee nor does he want to support it in any way.

Nicholas said that it is not her intention, nor anyone else's on the BoS, to prevent Charlie Schmehl from fixing/writing the Plan.  She said that the committee will just "guide him through it."  She added that she thought "Charlie was trying to accommodate a lot of people with a lot of things."  Nicholas said that there are things in the Plan that she does not want in there - referring to "dog poop."  She said too, that Mr. Schmehl has written very good Plans for other municipalities and she wants this one to be one she can be proud of. 

Howell said that he has visited the City of Bethlehem's website and that it has an interesting Comprehensive Plan survey to gather public comment.  He said that there will be an enormous amount of public input and that URDC is doing Bethlehem's Plan. 

Chuss suggested that the chairmen of the BoS and PC not be involved in the ad hoc committee.  To that Howell noted that it is hard to take a suggestion from him when he's condemned the entire process. 

Resident Sandy Hanks said that she was at all the Comp Plan meetings and kept hearing Mr. Schmehl say that he could put in anything up until the last day.  She said that he really took it to heart and put in every comment.  Ms. Hanks added that there were a few (items) she knew of that she didn't think should be included.

PC Chairman Dean Turner said that discussion of the structure of the ad hoc committee has always included the two chairmen - then two others and two alternates. 

Howell said that he has already received an email from a resident who wanted to know where to send his eight or nine "bullet points."

Miller added that he was at the workshop and it was agreed that the chairmen of both Boards were to be on the ad hoc committee.

The vote to authorize the formation of the committee was 3:1.  Chuss cast the nay vote.

Egolf (absent) notified Howell via email that he would like to be on the committee.  Nicholas volunteered to be the alternate. 

Dean Turner (PC) informed the BoS that Vito Tamborrino and David Billings are the PC volunteers.  (FAC has since learned that Tamborrino will be the primary member and Billings will be the alternate.)

Howell said that he and Turner will meet informally to set up the plan/schedule.  The BoS and PC will be advised of when the first meeting will be held.

Executive Session - An executive session was held to discuss a potential litigation.  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.

1 comment:

The Monitor said...

It should be noted that during the discussion to establish an ad hoc committee to review the draft Comprehensive Plan, Supervisor Erik Chuss spoke with a regretably uncivil tone of condemnation. The best interests of the Forks Township did not seem to be at heart. In deed, his tone of arrogance insinuated an unfulfilled personal agenda.