Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BoS Meeting Notes - 5/7/2009

Regular Meeting (agenda)

Public Comments (non-agenda)  - none

After a mid-meeting interview, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the appointment of attorney Joseph Rizzo to fill the unexpired term of John Castrovinci on the Forks Township Planning Commission.  Mr. Rizzo has been a Forks resident for the last nine years.  He is is a practicing attorney in PA, NJ, and NY.  His specialty is construction law.  He wishes to use his skills to serve the community - on the Planning Commission.

The Board learned that Suburban EMS is moving its ambulance from the firehouse to its new location, in the Faith Lutheran Church's newly acquired (former) Forks EMS building.  The move could happen as early as the middle of next week.

And, the proposed new public works garage (and the five-year DPW plans are to be presented to the Public Works Committee at its 7:30 AM meeting on May 12th and again to the Finance and Administration Committee at 5 PM on May 13th.  These meetings are open to the public.  A public workshop - to review the proposed garage and the five year plans - is scheduled for 6:30 PM on May 21st (before the regular BoS meeting).

Supervisor Comments

  • Supervisor Nicholas - said that Boy Scout Thomas Marino is going for Eagle Scout status and as his project he would like to fix-up the old slab where the Paxinosa Inn was once located and put in a picnic table and a small pavilion.  Howell said that the hotel slab is privately owned.  He said that there is an old pavilion (with a concrete slab) in Gollub Park.  Nicholas said that she will meet with Marino and visit the site to find out exactly where he is considering.  Howell suggested that DPW Director Roberts go along as well.

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 Township's current outstanding debt is $8,327,748. 

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Howell - said that the committee's next meeting will be on May 19th at 8 AM. 

Howell added that the former Forks EMS garage and land have been sold to Faith Lutheran Church and that a one year renewable term lease has been signed between the church and Suburban EMS.  Suburban will clear leased area of all the non-essential equipment, Suburban will bring in communications equipment and begin using the building.  That may be as early as the middle of next week.

Deputy Chief of Forks Fire, Chuck Chapman (corrected 5/16/09) announced the First Annual Fire Department Golf Tournament to be held at The Club at Morgan Hill on May 15.  There is an 9 AM shotgun start and breakfast, lunch and the use of a cart are included in the $85 registration fee.  There will be prizes.

  • Public Works - Supervisor Chuss - reported that there has been no meeting since the last BoS meeting.  However, some work has been done in the interim on the proposed new public works garage.  The next meeting is May 12th at 7:30 AM when Township Manager Schnaedter and DPW Director Roberts will make a formal presentation of the proposed public works facility.

Schnaedter said that he and Roberts will be reviewing three of the five year plans (already before the Board) and the plans' capital projects.  They will review the 2002 Feasibility Study as it "pertains to a public works facility," the proposed locations of the garage, bond rates "for refinancing our current municipal facilities," and a sketch plan.  They will do another presentation for the Finance and Administration Committee on May 13th at 5 PM.  Chuss added that the plan will then be to go out for bid for an architectural design.  Schnaedter said that that would be at the next BoS meeting unless there are some objections.

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Egolf - said that there has been no meeting since the last BoS meeting.  The next is scheduled for 6 PM on Monday (May 11th). 

Nicholas said that she met with CMX a few weeks ago about the amphitheater.  She will get sketch plans of a less costly bandshell for review by the Board.

Chuss asked about the grant status (for the amphitheater).  Schnaedter said that the Township's 2009 appropriations grant was turned down and that the amphitheater was a "long shot."  Congressman Dent is looking for economic opportunities and the bandshell was not viewed as such.  The grant application for 2010 is for the public works facility - another long shot but the plan will include energy saving items.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Miller - reported that the committee's next meeting is May 11th at 5 PM.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Nicholas - said that the next meeting is next Wednesday (May 13th) at 5 PM.  The public works proposals will be presented by Schnaedter and Roberts.  Howell noted that between the Finance and Administration and the Public Works Committee meetings almost all of the Supervisors (including the Treasurer) will have had an opportunity to hear the proposals.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - said that his report covered the proposed public works facility and it was discussed earlier in the meeting.  Nicholas asked that the Supervisors be given the plans for the garage before the meeting.  Schnaedter said that they are rough sketches and added that he has been given a tour of the new facility in Williams Township and that the Williams Township Manager is available to give a tour to any Supervisors who may want to see the facility.  Schnaedter asked that they let him know if they would like to go.

Chuss said that according the minutes of the last meeting, a 6:30 workshop (before the May 21st meeting) was scheduled to go over the four 5-year DPW plans - public works, parks, sewer, and facilities.  He suggested that it may not be necessary since it is being presented to two committees and can be reviewed by the Board during the regular meeting.  Chuss said that he is looking for approval of the plans at the first meeting in June.

Howell said that "the public works project is very important to the community, it's got a high price tag..." and that it is appropriate to have the scheduled workshop.  It gives members of the community an opportunity to ask questions.  The process for approval can occur within a reasonable time after that.  Since what will be discussed is very serious, "a period of public comment and information is necessary."  Howell added that the workshop has already been advertised.

Engineer's Report - Hay - agenda items only.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - agenda items only.


Police Department Ductwork Remediation Bids – Rejection of all bids (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that this action on the ductwork was tabled at the April 16th meeting.  The bid package was prepared by Cornerstone Consulting Engineers & Architectural, Inc. of Allentown.  Mark Metzgar is a principal there.  There was a bid tabulation sheet. 

A total of eight companies submitted bids ranging from $8,640 to $23,550.  Mr. Metzgar reviewed the bids and found a lot of defects in them.  Seven of the eight bidders failed to provide proof of acceptable waste disposal methods and other shortcomings. 

Metzgar recommended awarding the bid to the #3 bidder. 

Kline said that if seven out of eight bidders fell short in two different ways that there was something amiss in the communication of what needed to be included in the bid.  He said that basically the project is just cleaning out the dust and mold that is in the ductwork and the material can just be "thrown in the waste bin."  There is no necessity for hazardous waste disposal.

Kline recommended rejecting all the bids and since two were under $10,000, the Township can elect to solicit telephone bids.  The law says that at least three bids are required by this method.  He recommended that as second step, Roberts should solicit three telephone bids.  The contract can then be awarded at the next meeting. 

Howell asked how many bid packages sent by Cornerstone are still out on other projects.  He said that this is the second time that they have failed "to adequately describe the work."  Howell said that he would like the Finance and Administration Committee to look at the "whole bid process" and the possible centralization of it in order to "avoid screw-ups" in the future.

Roberts said that the old style ductwork needs to be removed to be cleaned.  Also, quite a bit of it needs replacement.

Nicholas asked how much was paid to Cornerstone to make the bid package.  Howell said that he doesn't think the Township knows what the bid process costs and that is why he thinks it should be reviewed "to get a handle on who is going to do the bidding; who is going to manage the process."

The motion to reject all bids was passed 5:1. 

Kline noted that everyone should be treated equally and be bidding on the same thing. 

The second motion to have Roberts solicit "telephonic" bids for the cleaning and remediation of the Police Department ductwork and to report back to the Board passed 5:0.


Henningsen Cold Storage / Land Development Plan – Final (Tim Weis, Zoning Officer) - Weis said that the Board has seen this plan earlier - when it was before them for Conditional Use.

Project Engineer Steve Pany reviewed the building phases and size.  Phase one will be a 157,000 square feet building (including 9,000 square feet of office) with 21 loading docks and parking space for 21 trailers.  There will be additional parking for 65 cars.  Approximately 30 employees are planned for phase one.  At full build out, there will be 90 employees and 92 parking spaces.

Phase two will double the building size and phase three will bring the total building size to 450,000 (plus) square feet of refrigerated warehouse.  It is to be rail served. 

Pany showed the details of the site's stormwater management; There will be infiltration beds and infiltration basins around the site.  There will be buffer landscaping with evergreens on the Braden side and evergreens on the berm along Kesslersville.  The Kesslersville swale is between the road and the rail line.

Pany said that Henningsen agrees to all the Keystone Engineering review letter items.  The emergency roadway to Kesslersville from the cul de sac will be maintained by the owner of lot 17.  Originally, the owner of lot 1 was to maintain it.

Kline said that Petrucci now indicates that Weyerhaeuser (the company on lot 17) is responsible to maintain the emergency access road.  Kline recommended getting a signed agreement for that responsibility and in fact, he sent a draft agreement to Weyerhaeuser but has not yet heard back from them. 

Before the motion and vote, there was discussion of the brightness of the lights at Weyerhaeuser (lot 17) and it was recommended that the Henningsen lights be aimed down.  Weis said that he contacted Weyerhaeuser and that they have agreed to shield the lights on their building.  He took readings and the light brightness is within the zoning requirements.  According to Pany, Weyerhaeuser needs the bright lights for its outside night shift workers.

The vote was 5:0 to approve the final plan based in the engineer's review letter and the condition that lot 17 will maintain the emergency access road.

Easton Area Joint Sewer Authority Update (Henning Holmgaard, Liaison to EAJSA) - Holmgaard reported that on any given day the sewer plant processes 1 million extra gallons.  This extra is in the sewer system but is of unknown origin.  Last August a study was instituted by the six member municipalities - Easton, Forks, Palmer, West Easton, Tatamy, and Wilson - to learn where the extra flow originates.  

There was no rain in August 2008 so the study was undertaken in March and April of 2009.  It was originally to be funded by the EAJSA members.  However, Easton wanted it funded as a capital project by the Authority and "that was the only way we could get it done.  Easton decided not to participate (in the second round).

Some preliminary results have been given to Township Engineer Hay.  Holmgaard said that Forks will have some problems because of the old clay pipes from the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Old Mill and Heather Lane area.  He recommended that when the study is completed that Forks fix its problems. 

Holmgaard also recommended that Forks reinstall meters in the five old meter pits (coming out of Forks).  The meters will cost $50,000 a piece to retrofit and reactivate.  "...the price of this stuff is going sky high."  The Delaware River Basin Commission has recommended a $30 million (low end price) retrofit to the sewage treatment plant.

Holmgaard said, "We better be very sure that whatever we pay is what we are sending down there and as long as we are sending rainwater and all that stuff, we really don't have a leg to stand on."

Hay said that the Township did the first round of the study last year and that the TV camera found many problems.  Currently the Township is working its way through the system to correct those problems.  Right now the Township's sewer plant charges are prorated based on water meter readings.  With outflow meters, it could be measured on actual flow.  He said that Holmgaard is right that Forks could save money over the life of it.  Holmgaard said that right now we are paying for 200,000 gallons a day.

Nicholas asked, "How can Easton say they are not going to do it?"  Holmgaard replied that Easton has six votes on the board.  He added that Supervisors should come to a meeting - to hear him screaming about it.  The meetings are every third Monday at 6 PM.  The next is on May 18th.  It will be over by 7 o'clock "because everybody needs to go home and eat dinner."

Howell asked, "Didn't the DRBC Effluent Quality Control" raise the standards of sewerage systems?  Holmgaard replied that the output from the plant passes through copper and that is very bad.  The Authority has voted to go along with the new regulations but the regulations have not been formalized yet.

Holmgaard said that the small plant in Milford, NJ is going to spend $6 million on upgrades - they have only 700 customers.  "You can figure out what that's going to cost," Holmgaard said, and added that it is "deadly serious that we do this."

Finance Manager Farley said that Forks has only one vote on the Authority but Forks contributes 16% of the total plant costs.  When the relationship started, Forks population was much smaller.  He offered that it is a "representative government" issue.  Easton has six of the votes on a Board of twelve.

Holmgaard said that Easton operates the plant.  It is leased to the Sewer Authority.  It costs $4 million a year to do the treatment and run the plant.

Planning Commission Update (Dean Turner, PC Chairman) - Turner began his report by thanking Virginia Jackson, Sue Kocsis (candidate for Elected Auditor), and John Ackerman for their help gathering information and in discussions with the Planning Commission (PC).  He said that the PC was asked by the BoS to discuss and give an opinion on moving forward with an open space ballot referendum - one that would be funded by increased taxes.

The PC began discussions, reviewed materials provided to them, and decided to have discussions with large property owners.  It "reached out" through Ms. Kocsis, a farmland owner, to start the process.  She and John Ackerman produced a map of the Township showing the lands owned by KMRD (either under contract or planned for sale) outlined in red, preserved land (in the northern portion of the Township) in green, and land being farmed (and that the owners want to keep in farming) in orange.  Turner apologized that he didn't have the chart with him.  It is being scanned by Planner Carl Dicker to make copies for the PC.  Copies also will be forwarded to the BoS.

Many of the owners of the land outlined in orange, already have made private arrangements, such as trusts, to keep their land in farming.  Overwhelmingly these farmland owners are not interested in any kind of Township involvement and "nobody wants taxes raised."

The PC recommended to the Board that it not go forward with a referendum.  However, Turner reported, the PC does recommend that the Board "form an exploratory committee made up of independent members of the community" to look at other options for creative funding (for farmland preservation.)    Turner said that the PC "strongly recommends" that this committee look at rezoning land along Uhler Road into EC land (Employment Center).  He said that would open the land up to industrial use.  The PC also urges that the Township help support the effort for a Route 33 interchange at Tatamy which would help the industrial area traffic flow.

Chuss commented that some of the farmers he has talked to are still interested in preserving farmland.  Turner said that those who are interested in preserving their land (the Kline and Brown properties) are preserving their land.  Others are just interested in maintaining their farms and farming.  The committee recommendations (for creative funding) would be in addition to those suggested in the draft Comprehensive Plan.

As to the zoning change recommendation, Turner said that the committee should look at it and recommend which lands to change.  The objective would be to prevent more housing in that area of the FP (Farmland Protection). 

Turner offered that the PC has discussed the possibilities of having solar and wind farms in the FP.  This would keep houses out and the land preserved.

Howell asked, that "assuming farmers do not want Township involvement in their lives and the management of their property," why raise money through alternate means such as grants?  He asked, too, that if the land will not be preserved in the traditional way by purchasing development rights, what would the money be for?  Turner said that the farmers with KMRD contracts have farms that are intended for sale and if KMRD goes away, that 500 acres of farmland would be available for sale.   At $100,000 an acre, that would be $50 million.  Turner noted the Township's budget is much less than that.

Howell said that there is land in Forks being farmed by farmers from other towns.  The land is owned by people who want to keep their land in agriculture.  He suggested that it would be nice if some of the required open space in developments abutted farmland, effectively doubling up the open space.

Howell thanked Turner for his report and for all the work that went into it.  He suggested that there is more fact finding to do and that perhaps joint workshops would be a good place for more discussion.  He thought that revisiting some of the farmers would be beneficial as well to help figure out "what we are doing." 

Turner offered that other things being discussed by the PC include putting together solar and wind energy ordinances, historical ordinances to help preserve some of the Township's remaining structures, updating the master plan to connect the recreation paths, a systematic review of the Town Center District, water quality as it relates to existing wells and water supplies, and once the Comprehensive Plan is approved, the PC will look at the SALDO and zoning.

Off topic, Turner asked the Board for a courtesy copy of the plans for the proposed new public works garage.  He said that the MPC does not require PC review of Township projects but in the past, courtesy copies have been provided for PC review.  Schnaedter said that PC input will be wanted and as soon as a site is selected, the PC will be included.

Interview Planning Commission Candidate (C. David Howell, Chairman) - Attorney Joseph Rizzo, the sole applicant for the Planning Commission unexpired term vacancy was interviewed at this point in the meeting instead of in a 7 PM workshop at the beginning because, although the workshop was scheduled, no one confirmed with Mr. Rizzo that he could be available at the earlier time.  He could not.  He was giving a final exam to his history students at Raritan Valley Community College.

Mr. Rizzo has been a Forks resident for the last nine years and has watched with intense interest the immense growth in our town and especially the competing interests involving residential property, commercial property, farmland, and land preservation. 

Mr. Rizzo is the father of two small children and is a practicing attorney in PA, NJ, and NY.  His specialty is construction law.  He wishes to use his skills to serve the community - on the Planning Commission.

Mr. Rizzo is also a part-time history teacher at Raritan Valley Community College.  He says he does that "for fun."  He will be getting yet another degree (this December) from East Stroudsburg University - a Masters in Political Science.  He has finished his course work and is finalizing his thesis.

He said that most of his legal work is in New Jersey and he foresees a very low probability of conflicts.  Mr. Rizzo said that he would have no problem recusing himself if conflicts do arise.

Appointment to the Planning Commission (C. David Howell, Chairman) - In a 5:0 vote, Forks resident, attorney Joseph Rizzo was appointed to fill the unexpired term of John Castrovinci on the Forks Planning Commission.  The motion was made by Egolf and seconded by Nicholas.

Executive Session - The session was for a litigation matter.  After the session, the Supervisors voted 4:1 with Egolf casting the nay, to accept the settlement reached between the Northampton County Real Estate Tax Assessor's Office and International Women's Apparel, Inc (Uhler Road).  The company filed an appeal of its 2009 RE taxes.  The agreed to settlement will reduce Forks' tax revenues by $1,200 per year.   

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.

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