Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 BoS Re-Org Meeting and Regular Meeting - Notes


Prior to the start of the BoS Re-Organizational meeting, (newly sworn-in herself) Magisterial District Judge Jackie Taschner was kind enough to come to Forks to swear in our two newest Supervisors - Michele Rogers and David Billings, our new Tax Collector - Anne Bennett-Morse, and our newest Elected Auditor, Sandra Hanks. 


Every second class township is required to meet on the first Monday of the new year (unless if falls on January 1st) to re-organize and to elect a chairman, a vice chairman, and a secretary/treasurer.  This year the Board, did just that, it elected officers and voted on positions and appointments - although some were not unanimous and some were accomplished in exceptionally faster than normal re-org meeting speeds.   (See Bill White - Morning Call - for Northampton County Council Sunshine Act rule bending.)

For 2010:  

  • Chairman - Erik Chuss - Nominated by Egolf/seconded by Rogers - 4:1 Billings cast the nay.
  • Vice Chairman - Michele Rogers - Nominated by Egolf/seconded by Chuss - 4:1 Billings cast the nay.
  • Secretary/Treasurer - Robert Egolf - Nominated by Rogers/seconded by Chuss - 5:0.

PNC Bank and PLGIT were voted in as depositories for Forks Township. Signatures of either two Supervisors or one Supervisor and the Township Manager are required for withdrawals from accounts including from the general fund, the utility fund, the escrow account, the tax account, etc.

  • Township Manager - Rick Schnaedter
  • Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer of the General Fund - NONE
  • Township Solicitor - Karl Kline ($150/hr - up from $145 last year)
  • Alternate Township Solicitor - Steve Goudsouzian ($150/hr - up from $145 last year)
  • Solicitor for Zoning Hearing Board - Michael Shay
  • Engineering Firm - Gilmore & Associates - 3:1:present (vote withheld)
  • Township Engineer - Scott C. Muller - Gilmore & Associates 3:1:present (vote withheld)
  • Auditing Firm - France, Anderson, Basile & Company, P.C.
  • Earned Income and Local Services Tax Collector - Mary Ann Kessler
  • Assistant Collector - Carolyn Bucar
  • Business Privilege Tax Collector - Sandi Rossi

The 2010 meeting schedules for the Board and the Planning Commission were set. The Board of Supervisors will meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:30 PM with a possible third meeting (if necessary) on the fourth Thursday. Thirty or 60 minute workshops may be scheduled before or immediately after the regular meetings.

The meeting schedules for the Standing Committees (of the BoS) were established as follows:

  • Public Safety - second Wednesday - 7:15 PM - Egolf is the senior member 
  • Finance & Administration - second Wednesday - 6:00 PM - Billings is the senior member 
  • Community Relations - second Monday - 4:30 PM - Chuss is the senior member 
  • Parks & Recreation - first Wednesday - 6:00 PM - Rogers is the senior member 
  • Public Works - second Monday - 7:30 AM - Howell is the senior member 

All meetings will be held at the Municipal Building.

The Planning Commission will meet on the second Thursday at 7:00 PM and the workshop sessions, which will be treated in the same manner as regular meetings, are set for the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:00 PM.

PEMA’s Emergency Operations Plan was re-adopted.  It is unchanged from last year.

More appointments:

  • Emergency Management Coordinator - Richard Bassett
  • Assistant Emergency Management Coordinators - Tim Weis & Bryan Weis

The Board authorized payment of routine bills that may have penalties or interest if they are not paid before the next BoS meeting.

The Municipal Building's daily hours (open the public) were set at 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Office employees’ hours range between 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM.  Hours for the Director of Public Works and for Public Works employees can vary from the standard hours (due to inclement weather, etc.)

Yet More Appointments:

  • Fire Chief - Charles Chapman
  • Deputy Fire Chief - Dan Dawson
  • Zoning Enforcement Officer, Building Code Official - Tim Weis
  • Flood Plain Permit Officer - Scott Muller - Gilmore & Associates - 4:1 (Billings cast the nay)
  • Assistant Zoning Officers - Matt Miller & Loretta Fuehrer 
  • Sewer Enforcement Officer - Scott Muller - Gilmore & Associates - 4:1 (Billings cast the nay)
  • Electrical Inspectors - Keystone Electric

The wages & benefits packages of both the uniformed (police) and non-uniformed employees were re-affirmed.

The following appointments was made:

  • Vacancy Board - David Hoff - one year term - (incumbent and only applicant - no interview)

The Zoning Hearing Board will meet as needed on the second and third Mondays at 7:30 PM.  (Zoning Hearing notices are advertised on an individual basis.)

Lastly, these appointments were made:

  • Board of Supervisors' Voting Representative at PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) Annual Convention - Rick Schnaedter
  • Principal to attend TRCOGS (Two Rivers Council of Governments) quarterly meetings - David Howell
  • Alternate to attend TRCOGS - Bob Egolf




Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisors Comments - Egolf welcomed the new Supervisors, Billings and Rogers, and told them that they will enjoy the experience.  Chuss agreed with the sentiment.

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 $7,738,560.

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Egolf - said that there have been no meetings since the last BoS meeting and the next meeting will be on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:15 PM.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - reported that the first meeting of 2010 will be on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 AM.  DPW Director Mark Roberts announced that Sean Quick and Terry Hoff (sic) have taken and passed the National Certified Playground Safety Inspectors Test.  The certification expires in three years - when they can be retested.  They will make recommendations on repairs/replacement of all playground equipment.  Egolf suggested that a letter of congratulations be sent from the BoS.
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - skipped over by the chair- no report. 
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the next meeting will be this coming Monday at 4:30 PM.  He went on to say that in the past the primary responsibility of the committee has been the newsletter and the township map.  Chuss suggested that the committee's focus might be expanded to include the establishment of a (citizen group) Forks Township arts council.  This would be structured like the Forks Historical Society and entail:
    • Identifying township artists and promoting their works.
    • Placing sculpture, artwork, and memorials in parks and municipal buildings.
    • Identifying acts and events for the bandshell.

Howell offered that he is on the Board of ACE (Arts Community of Easton) and there are a number of members who are residents of Forks.  He suggested that Forks residents who are members of ACE would probably like to participate (perhaps as a Forks subcommittee of ACE.)  ACE wields influence in the region and that could be beneficial for Forks.  The major mission of ACE is arts education and it is a non-profit with grant programs.  Chuss said that it will be talked about at the "subcommittee."

Chuss then said that he would like to bring the newly formed Forks Business & Commerce Association under the chair of the Community Relations Committee.  He said this move would allow different members of the Board to participate in the organization. 

Howell explained that both he and Township Manager Schnaedter are members, however, it is not a Township group, it is a private group.  It is the association's board and he is a board member.

Chuss argued that he wanted the position to rotate.  Again, Howell explained that it is not an appointment by the Township but a term appointment per the the association's bylaws and rules.  He added that he and Schnaedter helped to found the group and that is why he was selected for their board (for this year.)  It is in a sense, an honorarium.   

Howell said that in 2006, when his standing committee structure was accepted by the Board, there was a sixth committee, the Economic Development Committee.  It was not put into place at that time because it was a difficult task to design a committee that would not be part of the rotation.  He said that should the Forks Business & Commerce Association be tucked in anywhere it should be in the Finance & Administration Standing Committee.

Howell offered that the association is to help bring businesses to Forks and to help sponsor events within the community (ie. in the amphitheater).  Chuss insisted that the association should be under Community Relations.  Howell said he didn't understand the problem since he is on both the association board and the Community Relations Standing Committee. 

Chuss asserted that he has been involved in economic development since 1993 and knows people in the group and will get in touch with them himself...

Howell reminded Chuss that the association has only been in existence for two and a half months and has a constitution and bylaws.  Chuss said, "They chose you?  I thought we chose you."  Howell again told him that "they" nominated him.  He asked what the problem is.  Chuss said he disagrees that Howell should serve his full term on the association board.  Chuss said, "They don't dictate to us.  We tell them who we will assign and allow everyone on the Board an opportunity."  Howell said that they may do that at the Township's suggestion but "they have spoken for the first year."

Schnaedter said that at an association executive committee meeting Howell was elected to sit on their executive board but that in terms of attendance, any Supervisor can attend the meetings.  He further explained that the Township is not guaranteed a seat on the executive board.  Chuss followed with... "So they dictate to us who is going to be on their economic... inaudible?" 

Schnaedter offered to provide the Board with another copy of the association's bylaws.  He said they have only had two meetings so far.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said that the next meeting will be on January 13th at 6 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter announced that the Forks Quarterly has won a PSATS second place award - for the second time in three years - in the 42nd Annual Township Citizens Communication Contest.  He thanked the staff for their assistance and participation in earning the award.

Also, Schnaedter said that he has received a request from Bob Reagan of the US Census Bureau for an out of the way spot in the Community Center to put a table and a few chairs where residents' questions regarding the 2010 census can be answered.   There will be a notice on the Township website.  There were no objections by the Board.

Engineer's Report - Muller - had no report.  He said that he has been working with Keystone Engineering and Township staff.  Billings asked if he was up to speed on any projects including those on tonight's agenda.  Muller said that he was not.  Billings said that he is disappointed that Muller did not "jump in" earlier.  Howell remarked that he is disappointed that he (Muller) was not at any of the recent Planning Commission and BoS meetings. 

Schnaedter said that he advised Muller that it was not necessary for him to be at any earlier meetings because Keystone was present. 

Kline noted that catching up will be a daunting task and he compared it to taking a drink from a fire hose.  Some of the projects started in 1999 and have a long history. 

Egolf said that he was pleased that Kline said that as he wanted Muller to know that this was not a contentious Board.  He added that the Township does not want cursory work... it wants "full depth" and that's what he thinks the Township will get.  He welcomed Muller to his new position as Township Engineer. 

Chuss asked Muller if he will look at the public works garage project in the next couple of weeks and provide any thoughts he might have.  Schnaedter said that he told Muller that until the Township gets the next phase from Kimmel Bogrette, there is nothing to review.  Muller was already given a copy of the sketch drawings. 

Muller said that he has indeed been working in the background. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported on that on December 21, 2009, the PA Commonwealth Court validated Forks Zoning Hearing Board's decision in favor the of the Township and against KMRD in its Procedural Challenge of Forks zoning ordinances.  KMRD has 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.  If appealed, the State Supreme Court may or may not agree to hear the case.

Read the decision here - large file.   For more details read these articles:  Tony Nauroth -
23rd - Express Times and Riley Yates - December 24th - Morning Call.

The KMRD Substantive Challenge, the one that alleges that Forks zoning is discriminatory, is still in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas.




Bethlehem Army Reserve Center - tabled previous meeting (Tim Weis, Zoning Officer) - For a full hour the Board asked questions of the Army Corps of Engineers and members of the Reserve Center who were present.  Not everyone was on the same page much of the time. 

Supervisors Howell and Billings asked about things that have concerned residents - traffic, live ammunition, solar panels, parking, use of the facility, number of employees, plans for future helicopters, types of vehicles, new hires from Forks, taxes, recreation fees, emergency plans, water recycling, etc. 

The Army Reserve's plans call for the use of humvees on Township roads, no live ammo (but weapons), garage space for trucks and equipment, unheated storage, a 32 foot anti-terrorism set-back, an assembly hall, two stories, no solar panels, no water recycling, etc.  There will be 22 full-time employees and the site will not be manned 24/7.  It will house Bethlehem's Wilson Kramer Army Reserve Center and a maintenance shop.  The move is part of BRAC, the federal Base Realignment and Closure program.

It will be built to LEEDS silver standards but, because of the cost, not certified. 

So far, no contact has been made with Police Chief Dorney to devise an emergency action plan.

The Army Corps has indicated that it intends to use infiltration for returning storm water to the ground.  Kline said that per the October Keystone review letter, approvals by outside agencies are needed as is a hold harmless clause regarding the infiltration drainage.  Kline said that beneath the site are Karst limestone formations and since that is like having Swiss cheese underground, flooding that Karst limestone with water is not a good idea.  It is asking for sinkhole trouble.  The public sewer line runs nearby but not through the area where voids have been found. 

On top of adding the Karst warning, the Keystone letter recommended signature blocks and that the LVPC add signatures to the plan. 

In discussion of possible economic benefits, Howell noted the extraordinary amount of tax exempt property already in Forks Township.  There are three cemetery associations, four churches, two elementary schools, Lafayette College property, LV Airport property, the Stryker Brigade, all the Township owned land, and the largest middle school in Pennsylvania.  He said that although two years ago, he voted "yes" for the Stryker Brigade, he was going to vote "no" now because he thought that this project is not giving back to the community. 

There was a question about whether or not the recreation fees that all other developers pay will be paid by the Army.  Howell suggested that if they are not paying the recreation fee, that they at least volunteer a stipend to the Township.  They will not be hiring residents, they will not be buying diesel fuel here (we have no dealers), they will not being paying local taxes, but they will hire a catering service to do their meals, and they will be using our infrastructure and emergency services.

The vote to approve the lot consolidation (two lots are needed) and the vote to approve the land development plan both passed 3:2.

Please read Christopher Baxter (Morning Call) and Tony Nauroth (Express Times) for more details. 

Alfero Construction Company Land Development (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Mr. Nick Alfero told the Board that there was a miscommunication and that he was not aware that his land development project was previously on the agenda for the PC or for the BoS.  His contracted engineering firm, RT Consulting & Engineering, did not let him know.

He said that he was born in Forks Township and lived here for a time as well.  In fact, his company started in Forks Township.  His project will move the Alfero Construction Company back to Forks - on property it owns on Kuebler Road. 

Kline said that generally the issues cited by the Township engineer are resolved before projects are presented to the PC and the BoS so as not to waste time.  In this case, there was no response from Alfero's engineer to Keystone's letter.  Because of this and because the (planning) clock was running, both the PC and BoS had to reject the land development project in order to avert "deemed approval."

Dean Turner, Planning Chair, added that there was no presentation to the PC of the plan and therefore no explanation of what Mr. Alfero wanted to do in Forks.

Mr. Alfero said that he has new drawings that should satisfy all of the deficiencies cited in the Keystone letter.  It was decided that he will redo his plan submission as a brand new submission and once again pay the fee ($150).  Kline advised him to be certain that his engineer attends the PC meeting and addresses any and all review comments promptly.

Resolution # 100104-1 & 100104-2 – Waiver of employee contributions to pension plans (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that the Township auditors (France, Anderson, Basile & Company, P.C.) recommend doing this annually as opposed to doing multiple years at a time.  One resolution is for the police department in 2010 and the other is for the non-uniform employee pension plan for 2009 and 2010 (since it was not done last year.)  The police department contract expires in 2012.

Billings made the motion to pass the resolutions and Howell seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

Scheduling of candidate interviews for Boards and Commissions - After much discussion, the Board settled on Tuesday, January 12th at 7 PM for the Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board candidate interviews. 

This will get candidates for the PC chosen before the PC runs into quorum difficulties.  The PC has a seven member board with three openings.  Should they hold a meeting before at least one of the seats is filled and one current member is unable to attend, the meeting would need to be cancelled for lack of a quorum.

On January 21st, at 6 PM prior to a regular BoS meeting, the Board will interview candidates for the Recreation Board. 

The hope is that members will be chosen the same night as the interviews.  Schnaedter will notify the applicants of the interview dates and times.

All interviews are open to the public and will be held in the Municipal Building meeting room.

Executive Session - Held for personnel and litigation reasons.  No action was taken during or after the session and the meeting was adjourned. 

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

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