Sunday, August 24, 2008

BoS Meeting Notes - 8/21/08

Regular Meeting (agenda)

This night's business portion of the Board of Supervisors meeting, although it had no "new" or "old" business on the agenda, did last for 1-1/4 hours.  The main topic was, once again, Forks EMS.  Please read Douglas Brill (Express Times) for more on the EMS discussion. 

Public Comments (non-agenda) - Harry and Sue Bennett, co-chairs of the Forks Community Days festivities, extended invitations to "everyone" to attend this year's Forks Community Days.  It is set for September 20th and 21st in the Forks Community Park.  The Bennetts said that they especially hope that the Supervisors will attend.  This year's features include:

  • Fifty vendors
  • Two horses - for petting
  • Tethered balloon rides (weather permitting)
  • Classic cars
  • Battle of the Bands
  • Fireworks
  • A dump tank (by the Forks Athletic Association)
  • A train layout in the Community Center atrium
  • Log cabin tours, demonstrations of antique equipment, quilting, and woodworking (by the Forks Historical Society)
  • Hay rides (by Pitchfork Nursery)
  • Landscaping exhibits
  • Food vendors including three new ones - Fat Daddy's, Ms Steaks, and Big Woody's

Supervisor Howell expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Bennetts who, he said, "have worked their hearts out."  He said that he hoped they have enough energy to do this again next year. 

The Bennetts said that they enjoy doing it and although they do not have a lot of volunteers, their small core uses a team approach.  Harry Bennett lauded the help of the Supervisors and was effusive in his praise for DPW Director Mark Roberts and his ability to get things done.  He said that they start work in February and finish in September and "the two days of the show are what I get my happiness out of... I see the young children and their parents and the smiles on their faces... and the elderly people, they have smiles.  That's what it's all about."  Sue Bennett said that a friend of hers who volunteers at the State Theater told her that children there were asked what the best part of their summer was and one child said, "My days at Forks Community festival."

DPW Director Mark Roberts and Township Manager Rick Schnaedter will continue to provide assistance.  The event will be advertised on the Township website and in news releases to the Morning Call and the Express Times.

Supervisor Remarks: None

Treasurer's ReportEgolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote (Supervisor Nicholas was absent).  The Township's current outstanding debt is $7,820,936.

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Chuss - reported:
    • The emergency services tower project is waiting for final approval of the foundation plans.  When they are approved, bids will be sought. 
    • The agreement between the Fire Company and the Township has been signed and Chief Bryan Weis presented the Township with a check for $25,000.  Chuss noted that the check is a major milestone in the efforts to build the tower.  He added that he appreciated the work of Chief Weis and Kline and everyone else involved in the agreement.
    • Regarding the Express Times article about the passing of a Forks resident and the quoted Forks EMS (FEMS)comments, Chuss said that it was an "inappropriate and irresponsible piece of journalism."  Chuss said that he got a call a little after noon on Friday and that the incident happened on Wednesday.  He spoke with both Police Chief Dorney and Barry Albertson of Suburban EMS (SEMS) and believed it to be a non-issue as the response was handled well within established guidelines.  He said,too, that he spoke with a representative of the deceased's family who appreciated learning "the facts of the case" although he was still upset that it was published in the newspaper.
    • Regarding other EMS issues in particular the a letter of clarification regarding ALS (advanced life support) and BLS (basic life support) and the upcoming subscription drives, SEMS has its information together but  the FEMS drive is on hold. 
    • Albertson gave an update on the outstanding FEMS debt and said that the second agreement for payments has not been met - SEMS has received no payment.  The total now owed is $14,362.50 (this figure includes the old monies owed to Medic9, now a part of SEMS).  Albertson said that SEMS financial director has tried to contact FEMS but has had no response.  The SEMS board of directors met last night because of the newspaper article.  Albertson said that Chuss called him and he told Chuss that there had been an ALS call in Forks three minutes before the call described in the paper.  The Tatamy truck responded to the first call and the Palmer truck was on its way to Forks when the second call came.  He said that on issues like this, either SEMS or the EMS Council should have been called to look into it.  The EMS Council would have done it quickly and it never would have made the newspaper.

Chuss said that the newspaper misreported and took things out of context.  The call came in at 7:28 AM and 28 minutes later, at 7:56 AM the patient was at the ER.  The Forks PD arrived at the home first and began administering CPR - one minute before the SEMS unit arrived.  The patient was treated, loaded, and taken to the hospital in 28 minutes. 

Howell asked where FEMS was and noted that "their allegations were literally despicable."  Albertson said that FEMS was at a Stockertown incident and he didn't know if they had more than one truck.  Fire Chief Weis confirmed that FEMS' primary truck was in Stockertown.

Howell asked Albertson how how many police departments he works with.  The answer was seven to nine.  Howell asked if they all have "first responder training."  Albertson said that most do and that SEMS will help them get "their AVs."   Chief Dorney said that Forks officers are all trained beyond "first responder" and that there are AVs in every vehicle. 

Chuss asked about outstanding taxes owed by FEMS to Forks.  Farley said that the EIT for first and second quarters is unpaid ($777 and $761) and that the LST (Local Services Tax) is also unpaid for both quarters ($92 and $92).  Farley said that Forks' EIT officer contacted the FEMS accountant, John Kuhns, and was told that FEMS did not have the money and that they are also behind in State and Federal taxes.  Farley pointed out that the law says that when one withholds money from paychecks to pay taxes, one is required to submit it or to put it in escrow if one does not have enough to cover it.  Also owed to the Township and unpaid are utility bills for the first two quarters of 2008.  The total owed to Forks is $1980.81. 

Howell said that this is all he's thought about since the story appeared in the Express Times and that he does not fault the reporter or the editorial stall.  He said that the story did not appear out of thin air and that there had to be an "initiating party."  He thought the reporter did a good report and he "found Mr. Keifer's remarks despicable of the worst order."  Keifer made the innuendo that it could be resolved - by amending Forks' relationship with SEMS and so that they can again answer calls with them.

Howell added that the Township permitted FEMS to be the provider of BLS on the condition of financial security.   "Poor finance equals degrading service... that's a mantra in any business."  Howell said that financial statements have been requested for the last three months and that FEMS is delinquent in providing them.  Howell said too, that the Township got a courtesy letter from the Office of the State Fire Commissioner advising that FEMS has been sent 35 delinquency letters for loan #22786 and that it is heading for default.  The letter was also sent to Representative Grucela and to Senator Wonderling in the hope that it would generate some responsibility.  Howell suggested that FEMS will be encouraged (by the State) to apply for a grant and so it can turn around and pay off the loan.  Taxpayers get hit twice.

Howell recommended that FEMS be placed on "credit watch" and that the Township more closely monitor their financial status.  He said that FEMS should present a business plan to retire the debt and show that they can operate in a manner to maintain their trucks and equipment.  "If they can't do that, " Howell said, "then, we have a very serious problem."

Chuss wondered if the Township can legally request this.

Kline noted that FEMS had both BLS and ALS and when it closed, the Township was left in a situation where it immediately had to get a replacement.  FEMS problem was not service but financial.  When FEMS restarted it asked to be the BLS provider and the Township agreed.  Now there are a lot of warning signals and the Board must make the best decision for the residents.  Kline said that they are a private organization and they can refuse to provide the information but that wouldn't be professional.  The Township has the authority to decide, though, who is the the appropriate ALS and BLS provider and the Township has the perfect right to ask for the information.

Howell said that the Board should put FEMS on a "credit watch" and make a demand for financials and a business plan that demonstrates that it can become viable - or wait for the inevitable.  The credit watch is to elevate concern and is the beginning of a process - and "we are down to the 9th inning."  He said that he has heard that there have been more resignations from FEMS board and that they may no longer have a quorum.  Howell said that the organization has built a wall around it. 

Chuss said that he's requested financials and that since the July 2nd BoS meeting, he has not heard from Keifer.  Keifer has not attended Public Safety meetings since then either.

Egolf suggested that notifying them that they are on watch may not influence them much - "since we are dealing with a dysfunctional organization."  They should be told that there are consequences if they do not comply - that the BoS will remove their status as the Forks BLS provider.

Chuss suggested that Schnaedter send a firm letter.  Howell said that Kline should review it.

Egolf made a motion to notify FEMS that they are being put on financial watch and that the Board wants an immediate response with financial records and a business plan September 2nd.  Chuss seconded.

Resident Thomas Humcheck (sic) said that he made phone calls after seeing the sign on Sullivan Trail in front of the FEMS building.  He said that he's been a resident for 10 years and has a sick wife and problems with his kids.  He's paid FEMS and willingly belonged to both Forks providers for a number of years.  He said that he doesn't care who he pays, he needs somebody there.  He needs the protection.  He said that he came to the meeting to see what's going on.  Howell told him that the BoS is sending a straightforward, fact based letter clarifying EMS in the Township and stating that both volunteer service organizations will send subscription solicitation letters.  Howell said that he wants to include the subscription amounts of each organization in the letter.  

Chuss said that residents shouldn't worry, 911 calls will be answered.  The newspaper article showed a good response time.  SEMS has a truck stationed in Tatamy.

David Billings (PC) asked what happens if FEMS does not respond.  Howell said that he'd like to think that won't happen but that he wasn't sure how the Public Safety Committee will handle it.  Billings said that consequences (that they will be removed as the BLS provider) should be stated in the FEMS letter.  Howell said that the letter will refer to the financial watch, the items required for presentation, and the delinquencies.  It will also ask for positive steps to remain viable and it will remind them that they are "an at-will provider."

The vote on the motion for financial watch and a demand for financials and a business plan by September 2nd was 4:0.

Egolf noted that it is "very, very important" that the letter go out to Forks citizens "pronto."  It is important they "know that they are covered and what they are covered for."

  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported that the new paver arrived yesterday and that the road crew paved "at the Community Park and a couple of parking lots" today and are pleased with the new equipment.  Miller also reported that ten new prison-made picnic tables are due to arrive tomorrow.  He added that they are "top quality" tables.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - said that the committee will meet next Thursday at 4 PM.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - absent. 
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - reported that the committee met on August 13th and "covered many, many things" - chiefly - performance evaluations for department heads.  Egolf will provide updates as work on the evaluations progresses.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that the Supervisors' packets contain the guidelines for "feasibility of new facilities" which were provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  Schnaedter and Miller will meet with a Department representative on September 12th.  Schnaedter said that there is grant money available for a project of this "size and caliber."  (Note:  Schnaedter did not say what the project is.)


  • Schnaedter reported that Township business forms are still in the planning stages.  He will give more information to the BoS as work progresses. 
  • Finance Manager Farley and he are continuing work on the "public documents policy." 
  • A list of surplus equipment that is advertised for bids was provided to the BoS.  The equipment "has outlived its usefulness to the Public Works and Police Departments."  The deadline for receipt of bids is August 28th.
  • And, the part time office position has been filled.  Carolyn Foucart (sic) was selected from the 80 applicants for the slot.  She begins work on August 25th. 

Howell asked Schnaedter if he would be willing to act as the Township Document Officer.  Schnaedter said that he would.  Howell explained that under the Right To Know Act, each municipality must designate a Document Officer to receive and process all requests for documents.  Farley and Schnaedter will draft the document request protocol.  Schnaedter was appointed Document Officer under the Right To Know Act in a 4:0 vote. 

Engineer's Report - Hay - gave an update on the power pole at Frost Hollow and Winchester and its impact on sight distance.  He said that the weeds were the problem, not the pole and both he and Zoning Officer Tim Weis contacted Strausser to cut them, but in the meantime, the Forks DPW had already done the job.  Hay said, too, that he has contacted Met-Ed for a price to move the pole and a time frame to move it. 

Hay reported also on the Meco/Sullivan intersection.  He said that he spoke with Mr. Leiser and discussed the relocation of his driveway.  He said that Mr. Leiser wants the Meco driveway but also wants to keep his Sullivan Trail driveway.  Hay recommends that that not be an option.  Hay gave Mr. Leiser the form that PennDOT needs signed, he set up using Jan at the Police Department to notarize the form, and he asked that Mr. Leiser call him when it's done and he will take care of getting it to PennDOT.  Howell said that a lot of people will be pleased to have the Meco Road traffic light before Christmas.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported on the Sullivan Trail Business Park.  He reminded the Supervisors that they adopted a resolution at the July 17th BoS meeting that allowed that the developer (Goffredo) must have all the municipal improvements done by September 1 in order to see the return of the letter of credit money ($179,000) taken by the Township.  In effect, the developer had six weeks to get everything done.  Kline said, "It is now August 21 and he has not done a single thing other than write a letter to say that well maybe there will be bad weather and I won't be able to get it done by September 1."  This has been the best August weather that Kline has seen in many years and the developer now has only 10 days to complete the work.  Kline requested that this be put on the September 4th agenda.

Kline also reported that Henningsen Cold Storage has requested a Conditional Use Hearing which he originally thought could be heard (by the BoS) on September 4th if the Planning Commission (PC) reviewed it at their August 26th workshop.  However, the PC has agreed to review the Crayola solar park plan so that Crayola can be before the BoS on September 4th.  The PC will review the Henningsen land development plan at its September 11th meeting.  A motion was made to hold the Henningsen Conditional Use Hearing at 6:30 PM before the September 18th BoS meeting.  The motion passed 4:0.





Executive Session - An executive session was requested by Chuss to discuss a legal question.  The session lasted over an hour.  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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

PC - Color it "green" - Another first!

On August 14th the Forks Planning Commission (PC) got its first look at a "combined preliminary plan and land development" for a solar power generation facility (a solar park) that Crayola hopes to construct just north of its Church Lane headquarters and plant.  

The presentation by Fotowatio representatives was well received.  According to the company website, Fotowatio was formed in 2004 in response to the Kyoto Protocol and is one of Spain's leading promoters of renewable energy.

The Crayola solar park will occupy 16 acres of a 128 acre parcel.  The panels themselves will be six feet high and the park area will be surrounded by fencing.  An existing tree line will prevent it from being seen from the street.  Planner Castrovinci suggested lighting so that the police can see in the area at night.  There will be a 24 hour security guard as well as security cameras.

The panels do not reflect light - they absorb light - and will not be a problem to the airport - or to the neighbors.  Two adjacent property owners were there, Tom McInerney and George & Rachel Hoagland, and both endorsed the project fully.  They said "yes" to fencing and "no" to lighting. 

The 16 acre footprint will involve minimal land disturbance.  The solar panels are supported by poles.  The holes for the poles are 12 inches in diameter and 48 inches deep.  Grass will be planted beneath the array.  Trenches will be dug for the wires.  There will be a 40 ft x 70 ft platform for the converter/inverter (DC to AC). 

The panels make no noise.  "They just sit there and generate electricity," said Johann Scheidt of Fotowatio.  The plant will generate about 20% of Crayola's needs - three megawatts.  Any excess will be sold to the Met-Ed power grid.  In fact, the PC was told, Met-Ed embraces Crayola's plan since it will generate electricity during peak hours and will take Crayola off of the grid.

Fotowatio asked that the PC add this as an agenda item to its August workshop so that the plan can then go to the Board of Supervisors for consideration/approval at its September 4th meeting.  Normally the PC does not consider plans at its workshop. 

The reason for the rush?  Federal Energy Tax Credits expire on December 31, 2008 and in order to qualify, the facility must be in operation by then.  The Planners were told that without the tax credits, Crayola will not build the solar park.  The entire project will take approximately two months to construct. 

Solicitor Karl Kline noted that a "utility generating facility" is a permitted use in all zoning districts.  Planner Vito Tamborrino said that if the PC approves solar, it means only solar.  Kline clarified that the approval will be just for a particular use and that windmills would require another plan.  In fact, he added, the (new in 2006) Zoning Ordinance has no regulations for windmills and solar panels and needs to be updated.

The PC voted 5:1 to add this solar plan to its August 26th workshop.  Tamborrino cast the nay vote saying that he would like more time to consider the plan.  Engineer Fred Hay said that he will email the review letter to the Planners. 

Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Tom Coombe (Morning Call) for more.

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, August 10, 2008

BoS Meeting Notes - 8/7/2008

Regular Meeting (agenda)

The local press chose not to send reporters to this night's Forks Board of Supervisors (BoS) meeting.  Its short agenda promised a short meeting.  It was not.  Once again, EMS was a major focus as the Board discussed the best way to inform Forks residents of their 7/17/08 decision to designate Suburban EMS (SEMS) as Forks' ALS (Advanced Life Support) provider.

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none.

Supervisor Remarks:

  • Supervisor Howell said that the Board received notice from Easton Mayor Panto's office that there will be a ceremony honoring EASHS outstanding graduates/athletes in Center Square at 1 PM on Saturday.  Howell said that honoree Jarred Holley is from Forks Township.  Resident Sandy Hanks offered that Chanelle Price is also from Forks.  Howell said that he would check this out as the notice he had stated that she is from Palmer.  (Update:  Both Chanelle Price and Jarred Holley are indeed from Forks Township!)

Treasurer's ReportEgolf detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting. The debits and transfers were approved with a 4:0 vote.  The Township's current outstanding debt is $7,822,214.

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 met on August 5th.  Items discussed include:
    • The Police Department (PD) re-accreditation is going well.  A mock assessment is scheduled for September 17th and the formal assessment will take place the week of October 27th.
    • All 100 of the anti-speeding signs have been distributed to residents.  In fact, they all went out in the first week that they were available and there have been requests for more signs.  Chief Dorney said that they have been placed where they are the most effective.  He said that other municipalities have found that they have more success with fewer rather than more signs.  Dorney added that the purpose of the signs is not to litter the Township with them.  So far, seven signs have been stolen and 11 have been vandalized.
    • The evidence locker is on order and should be in place for the PD re-accreditation review in October.
    • The PD has been working with the Shawnee School police in preparation for the start of fall classes.  Three thousand students are expected to be on the campus.
    • The PD youth academy, held the week of July 26th was very successful.  Dorney said that there was a lot of positive feedback from the kids and their parents.
    • The fire tower core borings are completed and bids are being sought for the building foundation.  The building should be completed by the 12th (no month indicated).  Driveway plans are being explored.
    • Fire Chief Bryan Weis said he will have the signed final copy of the Fire Company agreement at the next BoS meeting.  Chuss said that the $25,000 check (towards the tower) will come then also.
    • Barry Albertson of Suburban EMS (SEMS) was at the August 5 committee meeting.  Forks EMS (FEMS) was not represented.  FEMS has still not paid SEMS. 
      • Notice has been sent to the Northampton County 911 Center of the ALS provider change.  (FEMS is still the BLS provider.)  The changes were "invoked" on July 25th and to date support has been good and there have been no real issues.
      • Chuss suggested that the BoS explain the EMS situation to Forks residents via the Township website.  He said that he thought it would help explain to residents why they are getting two different subscription requests.  FEMS is expected to send out its subscription requests in the next few weeks.  SEMS does not ordinarily send theirs until January but will try to get them out to Forks residents before November. 
        • Howell suggested that care be taken to present the EMS situation in "a factual way because of the difficulties the two providers have had with one another."
        • The subscription amount to be requested by FEMS is unknown.  Albertson, present at this meeting as well, suggested that the FEMS amount should be less than last year since it will not be shared with SEMS.
        • SEMS ALS subscription amounts are:  $25 for individuals and $35 for a family.  (When both ALS and BLS are provided, the charges are $35/individual and $45/family.)
        • Howell asked Kline whether it is the responsibility of the municipality or the EMS provider to make the service announcement.  Kline offered that he thinks the Township should not be in a situation to tell either body whether they should write a letter or what they should put in the letter.  Kline said that the Township should let residents know to expect two bills, one from FEMS and one from SEMS.  A subscription payment to FEMS will not cover services provided by SEMS.  Kline cautioned that the Township tread lightly and not take sides.  Kline said too, that a notice laying out the facts should be on the Township website and that there should also be an article in the next Forks Quarterly and/or a full letter to the entire Township.  Howell suggest a press release also.
        • Albertson said that there will be a lot of confusion this year and that perhaps Supervisor Nicholas' suggestion at the last meeting would help, that is that the Township use the $20,000 set aside for EMS in the 2007 budget to cover residents' subscriptions (to SEMS) for the balance of this year.  Albertson stressed that he is not asking for that money.
        • Kline said that he thinks "there's a very serious misconception with the public about what this Board did at the last meeting."  They think that the BoS stripped FEMS of certain rights.  In fact, what the BoS did was to, in effect, send one ambulance instead of two on emergency calls and that this needs to be made clear to the public. 
        • Howell stated that it is incumbent on the Township to explain exactly what EMS service is in its letter to residents.  The letter will clarify the situation and will benefit both EMS services.  Howell suggested that the EMS funds be used to pay for the mailing.
        • Albertson offered that the SEMS subscription notice going out to Forks households will not contain a letter "bashing the other guy" but will be a straightforward explanation of what the subscription is and who SEMS is (a history). 
        • Georgeann Wambold (PC) said that a letter is definitely needed as she has attended meetings for the last year and although she understands the situation, "people are going to wonder where the money goes."  She thought the letter should be very detailed since a lot of people think the BoS undermined FEMS.
        • Fire Chief Weis said that the number one question to answer is what ALS and BLS are - a heart attack (ALS) vs. a broken arm (BLS).
        • Reta Howell (resident) said that people will want to know why a BLS subscription costs twice as much as an ALS subscription (note:  rates for FEMS are unknown at this time but were $65/$75 last year.)  To that Kline added that the BoS letter should tell people what the amounts of the subscriptions are so that people can make their own decisions.
        • It will take more than a month for SEMS to get everything in order to send out subscription letters to Forks households.
        • Howell asked Chuss to let FEMS know that a letter (from the Township) is going out.  Kline said that information is need from FEMS as well - in particular, when they plan to send their subscription notices and what their rates will be?
        • Howell suggested that the PA EMS Council language be used for definitions.  Albertson said that which service (BLS or ALS) is dispatched is determined by questions asked by the 911 center. 
      • Chuss made a motion to direct Schnaedter and Kline to draft a letter (for BoS approval) providing a description of ALS and BLS services, the situation regarding the providers of these services in Forks, and information about each of the provider's subscription programs (when and how much).  Egolf seconded. 
      • Sandy Hands (resident) asked Albertson what the ALS response time will be.  Albertson said that the peak call times in Forks are between 5 PM and 7 PM and SEMS will have a unit floating in Forks between those hours.  At all times, a unit is stationed in Tatamy.  Patients are taken to the LV hospital of their choice unless it's an emergency requiring an ER doctor, then they are taken to the nearest ER - or to St. Luke's for trauma and LVH for burns. Also, if a BLS ambulance is dispatched and ALS is needed, the BLS ambulance should "load and go" and call for assistance to an ALS provider to meet them on route to the hospital.
      • Georgeann Wambold asked what happens if FEMS closes its doors.  Howell said that they are required to inform the Township and the 911 center that they are no longer providing service.  Ms. Wambold asked what happens to the subscription money paid to FEMS and Howell said that they are free to allocate it in any way they wish.  Forks Supervisors have no say in how they spend their funds.
      • The vote to approve the drafting of a letter of explanation to residents was 4:0. 
  • Public Works - Supervisor Miller - reported that the committee had not held a meeting since the last BoS meeting.  He did fill everyone in on what the DPW has been doing in the park:
    • Widening the park parking lot for safer and easier traffic flow.
    • Installing underground electric lines for use by the Community Day vendors.

Howell said that a Hillside Avenue resident inquired about paving work and he talked to DPW Director Roberts last week about putting the schedule for road paving on the Township website.  It will be done and residents will be directed to the website for paving information.  Solicitor Kline asked if nearby residents were notified personally when paving was going to take place and was told that they are. 

Resident Dick Wambold said that the Met-Ed pole at the bottom of Winchester Drive and Frost Hollow should be moved because it obstructs the view of drivers attempting to turn left from Winchester.  They cannot see a car that's coming south on 611 and turning right onto Frost Hollow.  Kline said that Frost Hollow is owned by the State and Winchester by Strausser. 

Engineer Hay noted that Strausser graded the land around the pole without a permit from PennDOT and that the work by Met-Ed to move the pole is to be paid for by Strausser.  Kline said that the Township has pleaded with Strausser, talked with him, and almost "called him bad names" and nothing has made him move forward with the work there.  The Township has been trying to force Strausser to get a PennDot permit for the intersection improvements and the work on 611. 

The Township cannot accept the road (Winchester) until Strausser completes the work.  He has no escrow money with the Township for moving the pole or for the 611 improvements.  Without the intersection improvements completed, Strausser cannot move forward with phases 5, 6, and 7 at Riverview.  If the pole came down in a storm, Met-Ed would probably put it where it belongs.  Kline suggested that maybe if the Township put some branches on the pole Strausser will think it's a tree and cut it down. 

Georgeann Wambold asked who would be sued if there is a fatality there?  Kline said that Strausser and PennDOT would be sued.  Kline said that he and Hay will look over the intersection and make a recommendation for some kind of action. 

Egolf offered that "we need to take action and let people know that Forks Township means business.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Howell - announced that the committee will meet on Thursday, August 14 at 4 PM.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Nicholas - absent.  Township Manager Schnaedter reported that the Supervisors have a proof of the Fall Quaterly in their mailboxes.  If approvals are forthcoming by the next committee meeting (Monday), Schnaedter expects to meet the 9/1/08 deadline for residents to receive their mailed copies.  There was discussion about adding an EMS article but it is too late.  Schnaedter said that July 11th was the deadline for articles. 
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Egolf - announced that the committee will meet on Wednesday, August 13 at 5 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter was asked by Howell about the tree grant issue (in his written report).  Schnaedter said that he just received it a few days ago and August 11th is the deadline for the fall planting.  The text acknowledges the lateness of the mailing and states the most people will be looking for a spring opportunity.  There are criteria that must be met if the Board wants to proceed and Schnaedter will prepare a report what that entails if the Board wants (to proceed with the application.)  Howell asked if the grant was just for trees on public land and if it is limited to certain types of trees.  He wondered if the grant could be used to fill in some of the arboretum.   Schnaedter said that a committee must be established to make recommendations.  Howell offered the Parks & Recreation standing committee and there were no objections.

Engineer's Report - Hay - reported that the fire tower bids will go out as soon as the foundation design is received.  Hay said too, that there was a pre-construction meeting for the HVAC installation in the Community Center.  There's a six week turnaround once the major equipment is received.  The installation will be quicker now that the sports are out of the gyms.  Chuss asked about the light at Meco/Sullivan.  Hay said that he and Schnaedter met with PennDOT and that the issues of Mr. Leiser's driveway and the street alignment were discussed.  Hay sent an email to PennDOT stating that the alignment is off by only two feet and that straightening it would mean taking out Karl Miller's daughter's bushes and fence - both of which are a good barrier for traffic. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - Agenda items only.


EASD - Paxinosa School Addition/Developer's Agreements - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline reported that the agreements have been signed by the EASD and that the money has been posted for the inspections.  There will be no letter of credit because of the EASD taxing powers.  Everything is in order and the agreements were accepted in a 4:0 vote.


Volunteer Fire Fighters' Benefits - (3) House Bills/Consideration for Endorsement - (Erik Chuss, Supervisor) - Chuss recommended that the BoS send a letter to all of Forks State representatives in support of the three bills before them, SB131, SB132 and SB1169.  Chuss explained that the bills provide benefits to PA volunteer firefighters.  He said that it is difficult to recruit and retain volunteers.  One bill provides up to $500 in tax credits, another pays 50% of state university tuition (or the equivalent amount at a private college), and the third allows up to $5,000 in tax credits to employers of volunteer firefighters who allow their employees to answer calls during working hours.  There is also a provision that allows municipalities to issue up to $400 of EIT credit to volunteer firefighters.  Two of the bills involve no costs to Forks residents. 

Chuss added that volunteer organizations are a tremendous asset to a community and that to have a paid firefighter staff of six (10 percent of our volunteers), could cost more than $1 million.  Chuss motioned that Schnaedter draft a letter to our State representatives in support of these bills and of others like these.  Miller seconded.

Howell said that Nicholas brought to his attention that there are different criteria for determining who is and who isn't a volunteer in the three bills.  Chief Weis said that extensive records are kept detailing training hours, certifications, and ancillary calls - down to the minute.  The local chief certifies that an individual meets the criteria.

Chuss noted that the criteria for volunteers is a little different in each of the bills and that all could pass.  Weis said that it (the different criteria) can be worked out and that he clearly supports all three bills.  He said that the goal to retain and the incentive to recruit firefighters "hits that mark." 

The vote was 4:0 to send the endorsement letters.

Executive Session - An executive session was held to discuss litigation and a personnel matter.  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.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kings Mill Zoning Hearing - Round 23 - August 4 at 7:30 PM – Will it be the last?

August 2006 is when the KMRD challenge hearing began - and what a long hearing it has been.  With the August 4th session, the end will be in sight.  In fact, it may even be "the end."  It is only fitting that the hearing ends in August - 24 months later! 

The KMRD challenge alleges that the Farmland Protection (FP) zoning regulations are "arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional" and that the Township fails to allow enough space for mobile home parks and multi-family dwellings.  The pressure on our town has been constant - for two full years.  And, as promised in 2006, Forks has not caved.

What to expect at Monday's session:

  • Additional cross-examination of the Township's final witness by the appellant attorney.
  • Testimony from an as yet unidentified rebuttal witness.
  • Cross-examination of that unidentified witness by the Township's attorney.

What may also occur:

  • Summary arguments by both sides.
  • A vote by the Zoning Hearing Board.


  • If another session will be needed before the Zoning Hearing Board renders its decision.
  • If your opinions will be heard.

If you want to watch the hearing wrap up, plan to attend Round 23 this Monday, August 4th - 7:30 PM - in the Municipal Building meeting room.  You may not get another chance!