Sunday, September 20, 2009

BoS Meeting Notes - 9/17/2009

Regular Meeting (agenda)

At 6 PM, prior to the regular meeting, Supervisors met with representatives from CMX for an update on the Site sketch - Forks amphitheater amphitheater design project.  The Planning Commission and Recreation Boards were invited.  One planner was there representing the Planning Commission.  There were no representatives from the Recreation Board in attendance.  Supervisors Miller and Egolf were, due to illnesses, also absent.

Please read Tom De Martini, Morning Call for more on the CMX discussion.  Click on the image to the right to see the site sketch plan.  The Planning Commission is expected to review the project at its September 22nd 7 PM workshop. 

Public Comments (non-agenda) - Scott Renigar of Newlins Road West questioned the Board about a lot line adjustment that was approved by the Board in 2008 (see BoS Meeting Notes 7/3/2008) and that has yet to be completed.  He wants to know why, after a year, it has not received final approval. 

Kline said that final approval was given subject to signing a storm water easement because the property is in the 100 year flood plain.  Kline said that at the time, the flood plain map showed the flood plain going through Mr. Renigar's house.  Mr. Renigar said that Mr. Christman (from Keystone Engineering) took it upon himself to move the line through his house.   

Mr. Renigar said that he built his house in 1987 and it has never been flooded.  His engineer is Steve Turoscy, Jr. of Lehigh Engineering Associates who told him that it is not illegal but it is unethical. 

Kline said that he was waiting for the revised plan (with the 100 year flood plain improvements) to send to Mr. Renigar for signature.  He said that he will follow up tomorrow with Mr. Renigar's attorney. 

Mr. Renigar said that in order for the lot line adjustment to be approved, he and Mr. Hall must sign over all rights to the land to the Township.  He wants to expand his driveway and the agreement states that he cannot change the grade of the property or plant a tree.  On top of that, the Township wants $1 for the easement. 

Kline said that one of the conditions of approval was that the stormwater easement be executed.  The plan changes (with the Newlins/Sullivan improvements) reduce the size of the flood plain.  Kline also noted that it is a violation of Federal law to build in a flood plain.  One cannot even plant a bush. 

Mr. Renigar said, "I've lived in the Township for 22 years and this is how I am treated."

Supervisors' Remarks:  none

Treasurer's Report - Chuss detailed the debits (cash paid out) since the last Supervisors' meeting.  The debits and transfers were approved with a 3:0 vote.  The Township's current outstanding debt is $8,166,582. 

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

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Howell - reported that he missed the last Public Safety meeting.  Schnaedter reported that the committee reviewed agenda items and should have a status report at the next committee meeting on ordinances needed for graffiti and for nuisance vehicles.  Howell asked about the intersection work and additional traffic signage needs (stop signs and cross walks) for Penn's Ridge and Schnaedter said that until the recreation area is completed, a "solid idea" of the traffic volume is unknown.  Chief Dorney reported that plaintiff Jose Cancio has released both Forks Township and Officer Matthew Balodis from his lawsuit.  (See Bos Meeting Notes - 9/3/2009 for more on the lawsuit.)
  • Public Works - Supervisor Chuss - reported that the committee met on September 8th and discussed the next steps in the DPW garage project.  The draft contract has been submitted for BoS review.  Also discussed were sewer drainage issues and the Sullivan/Newlins culvert.  The next meeting is October 13th at 7:30 AM.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that the committee met on September 14th.  She said that the Board had copies of the AA (Athletic Association) bylaws which now state that annual (non-profit) tax filings are part of the Secretary's job.  Also, Nicholas said that background checks are done for all coaches.  The committee will talk about changing the AA fees for sign-ups.  Also discussed were:
    • The Recreation Board reports that sports are under budget.
    • The basketball and tennis court refurbishing will take place after Community Days.
    • The five acre park parcel was just surveyed and grading should start shortly.
    • The amphitheater was discussed as was the Penn's Ridge basketball court fence.
    • Forks wrestling coaches want to use the wrestling building for free clinics from May to September on Saturdays from 3-5 PM.  The BoS was asked if Don Miller was to handle this request or was the Board to do it?
      • Howell suggested that it be put on the agenda after a formal, written request is received.  He said that this is an item for administration research and that Schnaedter and staff should review it and come back to the BoS with a recommendation.
      • Chuss asked why this has come to the Board.
      • Schnaedter said that he will set up a meeting and make a report.
      • Kline offered that whoever is raising the issue should put something in writing.  He noted that a written recommendation from Miller is part of his job.
    • Two "young gentlemen" came to the Parks & Recreation meeting and requested a skateboard park.  Nicholas said that they had researched it and had estimates of insurance costs and had spoken with a builder of skateboard parks.  The committee suggested that they get signatures proving that there are a large number of kids who want a skateboard park.  Nicholas noted that the kids did their homework and that the five year plan is in development.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Miller - was absent - no report.  Howell said that he got the latest copy of the Forks Quarterly in the mail.
  • Finance and Administration - Supervisor Nicholas - reported that two of the committee's topics are agenda items, the budget and the employees' pension.  The committee discussed adding emergency contacts to the website and swine flu and sick time.  The new insurance rates should be known by the end of the month, in time for the budget meetings.  The Board has also received a copy of the 2008 audit.  Nicholas added that monthly finances are on track.  Howell asked why the Stockertown fire contract is taking so long since Public Safety has reviewed the history and made its recommendation.  Nicholas said that she doesn't agree with the five year term and intends to discuss it in committee in November.  Howell said that waiting until November is too late since most of the budget meetings will be done by then and this is an important budget item.  Nicholas said it will be added to the next agenda.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter - reported that he received an email from URDC's Charlie Schmehl in response to the letter sent after the last meeting.  He asked for direction from the BoS.  Howell said that URDC is now willing to either go outside the company or to give the editing of the Forks Comprehensive Plan to a staff member.  He suggested that the letter from the gentleman who critiqued the plan draft be given to URDC.  It was decided that Schnaedter will meet with Mr. Schmehl and present the critique letter in person.  A completion date will be requested.

Schnaedter reported also that the Request for Qualifications for a municipal engineer are posted on the website and were advertised in the newspaper. 

Schnaedter said that he gave the Board a copy of news article about a PA township receiving underwriting from a local bank for its summer concert series. 

Also included in the Board's packets was a copy of the bylaws of the Business & Commerce Association of Forks Township.  They had a "kickoff" luncheon this past week and submitted their bylaws to the Board for discussion at the next BoS meeting.  The Township will become a member of the new association and was given credit for promoting it with its breakfast a year and a half ago.  Howell added that the luncheon was well attended and almost every "heavy hitter" in town was there including Victaulic, Crayola, Weyerhaeuser, Henningsen Cold Storage, and most of the banks.

Engineer's Report - Hay - absent - no report.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that Forks is in year three of a four year process of buying sewage capacity from the Borough of Wilson.  One more payment is due and that will complete the purchase of 150,000 gallons per day of capacity.  See BoS Meeting Notes 9/20/2007 for background.


CMX Presentation – Proposed Amphitheater (Bonnie Nicholas, Supervisor) - Nicholas said that the amphitheater project will be before the Planning Commission at its September 22nd workshop and will be an agenda item at the October 1st BoS meeting.


Street Light Resolution - Towne Centre at Sullivan Trail (Mark Roberts, DPW Director) - Roberts said that this is a standard resolution for the 15 new street lights at Towne Center.  The lights run from behind Ace Hardware to the Goddard School.  The 18 month maintenance period begins with this 3:0 unanimous approval.

Street Light Resolution – Riverview West Ph. II (Mark Roberts, DPW Director) - This resolution is for four streetlights to go in service and it was approved 3:0.

Department of Transportation – Winter Salt Contract (Mark Roberts, DPW Director) - Roberts said that the contract is with the PA Department of Transportation and runs from 2009-2014.  It allows the Township to be paid for the maintenance of State roads and covers Knox Avenue, Sullivan Trail, Frost Hollow Road, Arndt Road, Kesslersville Road and Bushkill Drive.  The cost is $63,498 and represents an increase of $10,000.  The contract was approved in a 3:0 vote.

International Women’s Apparel, Inc. - Settlement of tax assessment appeal (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that International Women's Apparel, Inc. filed a property tax appeal with Northampton County.  The company alleged that it is over assessed.  The appeal has been reviewed by the chief Northampton County appraiser who has recommended a reduction in the assessment.  All three taxing bodies, the County, the Township, and school district must agree.  The annual tax payment reduction to Forks will be $1,202. 

Farley said that he learned "indirectly" that the Forks' tax collector has received a bankruptcy notice from the parent corporation of the company.  Kline said that a tax lien has priority even in bankruptcy and suggested that the assessment reduction be approved subject to whether the bankruptcy has an impact on the settlement.  The vote was 3:0.

Follett Corporation – Settlement of tax assessment appeal (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that Northampton County has okayed an assessment reduction.  The decrease in tax revenue to Forks will be $2,500 per year.  Kline offered that some of the industrial park buildings are "getting up there in years" and some have physical obsolescence and some have technological obsolescence.  The vote to approve was 3:0.

2010 Budget Calendar (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Farley presented the Board with a proposed budget calendar.  It follows the same meeting schedule and pattern as the last four years.  Submissions from department heads and contracted professionals are due by October 9th.  There will be a pre-BoS meeting at 6:30 PM (October 1st) to discuss capital projects.  After that, there will be work-sessions.  November 15 is the rough draft date with November 19 as the tentative adoption date.  Final approval of the 2010 budget is set for December 17th.  The calendar was approved with a 3:0 vote.

2010 MMO Pension Obligation (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Farley reported that Act 205, the Municipal Pension Plan Funding Standard and Recovery Act, requires that pension obligations for the next year be anticipated and projected by the end of September.  The estimate was approved with a 3:0 vote.

Agreement for Architectural Services – Kimmel Bogrette not to exceed $19,800.00 (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - This was put on hold until after the Executive Session.

Executive Session - There was an executive session to discuss litigations and a real estate matter.  No action was taken during the Executive Session.  After the session, three votes were taken. 

The first was a unanimous 3:0 vote to hire Kimmel Bogrette for the DPW garage architectural services. 

(Updated:  9/23/09) The second, in another 3:0 vote, was to authorize Solicitor Kline to send a letter to the attorney for Gary Strausser and Strausser Enterprises mandating that the agreed to escrow accounts for Riverview Estates be replenished from their current $0 amounts to the the required $250,000 by September 30, 2009. 

And, the third was to authorize another letter by Solicitor Kline to the attorney for Strausser that advises that the long ago agreed to terms and deadlines (for submission of final plans) of the Riverview PRD (Planned Residential Development) have been exceeded by 3-1/2 years for phases 5 & 6.  If the 2007 draft of the agreement is not signed by the developer (and the escrow accounts replenished) by September 30, 2009, the Township may take whatever actions are deemed necessary.  The vote was 3:0.

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