Sunday, January 31, 2010

BoS Meeting Notes - 1/21/2010

Recreation Board Interviews & Appointments - 6:00 PM

After the BoS Recreation Board candidate interviews concluded, an Executive Session was held.  Supervisors emerged and voted 5:0 to reappoint John O'Neil.  They then voted 3:2 (nays by Chuss and Rogers) to appoint Beverly Dalrymple, a new face.  Ms. Dalrymple brings support for neighborhood parks as well as for varied programs for adults and for non-sports-minded children to the Recreation Board mix.  Recreation Board appointments are  for five year terms.

Regular Meeting - Agenda

On this night, Supervisors learned that KMRD has filed an allowance for appeal to the PA Supreme Court in their oft-denied Procedural Challenge, that One Truth Church wants to rent monthly space in the Community Center for worship services, and that the amphitheater project has been sent to the new Township engineer for review. 

Also, the Board finished filling all appointed board and commission vacancies.  The 3-1/2 years in-the-making-Comprehensive-Plan-update was moved one step closer to adoption with the scheduling of a public hearing for February 18th.  And, refinancing of the bond will save money and pay for the new public works garage.  The contract for engineering/architectural services was approved.

Public Comments (non-agenda) - none

Supervisors Comments 

  • Supervisor Egolf said that on Tuesday night he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Bushkill Stream Conservancy.
  • Supervisor Chuss announced that he was invited (at the last minute on Thursday night) to attend a (Business Network International) BNI International meeting.  This group of regional owners and business managers meets weekly at Riverview and mostly shares information and leads, gives testimonials to each other, and has a networking focus.  Chuss was asked if Forks Township would like to send a representative.  Dues and other membership requirements apply.  When Chuss receives the information he will see that Supervisors get it for review.
  • Supervisor Billings said that Senator Mensch's staff will hold office hours twice a month in the Forks Community Center beginning February 2nd from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. 

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 $7,737,126.

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Egolf - said that the committee met on January 13th at 7:15 PM and that it was a good meeting.  A lot was done.  Chief Dorney and and Zoning Officer Weis will take a look at the Old Sullivan Trail traffic problem created when parents pick-up and drop-off their children at the Y daycare. They will report back to the committee.  Also, Monday, August 2nd from 6-8 PM is National Night Out and Chief Dorney suggested that it might be a nice time to kick off the formal opening of the bandshell - a community event.  Bryan Weis sat in for Rich Bassett.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - reported that the committee has one agenda item tonight and will next meet on the second Tuesday in February at 7:30 AM. 
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - said that the committee met on January 6th and talk was in generalities but with the change in Recreation Board membership "we'll have different perspectives and  will pinpoint a clearer direction for this year."  
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the committee met on January 11th and discussed Forks Community Days and an issue regarding the dates.  If they are the dates normally selected the event will be September 18-19.  It was suggested that the Community Days Committee decide which days it prefers.  However, at this point no one has stepped up to volunteer to coordinate the weekend.  The Forks Business Association may become the coordinator.  Schnaedter said that the association will make a formal presentation at the February 4th BoS meeting.

Chuss said that the draft Forks Quarterly went to the publishers on the 11th and that proofs should be back for review in a few weeks.  He added that Schnaedter has suggested skipping an issue of the Quarterly (last year there were only three issues) and replacing it instead with an updated Township map and a calendar.

The committee is also discussing the Township website and content updates, real time updates, and Webcasting (of BoS meetings).  Chuss said that technology has changed since the last time Webcasting was explored.  It may be feasible now.  The website content manager will be consulted.

Chuss said of the possible creation of an arts council that "instead of picking a date and wondering if people will show up," information flyers and signup sheets will be placed in the Community Center and in the Municipal Building.  An announcement will also go on the website and the newspapers will be contacted to see if they are interested in running a story on it.  He said that it will not be limited to painting and sculpting but will include culinary arts, gardening, landscaping, music, and coordinating the amphitheater schedule.  "It will be up to the group."

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said that the committee met on January 13th and financial reports were discussed.  Finance Manager Farley updated the Board on the preliminary year end figures.  He reported that 2009 revenues are on target with projections, in fact they are over by $12,000 and expenses are $434,000 lower than were budgeted.  There will be additional audit entries (like depreciation) that will take away about 1/2 of the surplus.  Coming into 2010 "the surplus is where we want it" at more than $500,000.  Farley congratulated all the staff for their efforts to "aggressively" find the best bargains when purchasing and for "looking for opportunities to stretch a dollar." 

Billings said that (bond) refinancing is on tonight's agenda as is the agenda setting policy and a goal setting session.

Billings reported that currently there is no Community Center rental policy.  The committee will update the current rental application and has asked PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) for a sample rental policy.  It arrived late today and will be distributed to the Board for review.  At this time, One Truth Church wants to rent space monthly in the Community Center for Sunday services but without a rental policy in place, no action can be taken on its rental request.

Billings also reported that the amphitheater drawings have been sent to Township Engineer Muller.

TRCOG (Two Rivers Council of Governments) has asked if Forks Township wants to participate in a  cable franchise agreement survey.  They are exploring a regional aspect and need Forks' response by February 15th.  This will be an agenda item for the next meeting.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that he had nothing to report since all of his items had been covered.

Engineer's Report - Muller filled the Board in on what he had been doing since the beginning of the year.  He said that he reviewed several lot grading plans as well as some final grades for building projects.  Braden Airpark is under review and has been before the Planning Commission (PC).  The Dietzler minor subdivision plan presented to the PC has been withdrawn. 

Regarding the Meco/Sullivan traffic light, there is a meeting scheduled for Thursday with the engineer for the project, Verizon, PennDOT, and Schnaedter - "to push it forward and get it done."  Muller said that having everyone in a room together will eliminate the "he said/she said."  Muller hopes to report in a month or two that it is ready to go.

As to the new public works garage, he said that there is not a lot to review (from an engineering standpoint) yet.  He  noted that it looks like the garage is being sited to allow for more use of the land in the future.   

Solicitor's Report - Kline - reported that KMRD has indeed filed "a petition for allowance of appeal" to the PA Supreme Court - of the Commonwealth Court's ruling against their Procedural Challenge to Forks Zoning ordinance.  KMRD had 30 days to do this after the December ruling.  It remains to be seen whether the PA Supreme Court will take this case on their docket.  The court will decide if there is significant Statewide significance.  Kline said that he expects to learn in 30 days if the court will agree to hear it.  

He reminded the Board that the Substantive Challenge is still in the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas.  (This is the challenge alleging discrimination in the Zoning Ordinance.)

Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Tom De Martini (Morning Call) for more details.

Misc:  Chuss asked about the Lafayette contract for the wrestling building.  Schnaedter said that (Community Center Coordinator) Miller sent it over late this afternoon and that he was merely advising the Board that he had it.  Kline said that a copy was sent to him as well and he has questions since the Lafayette College Wrestling Club is not the same as Lafayette College.  He will call Miller for more information. 


Appointments for various Boards and Commissions - After last week and this week's candidate interviews, Chuss announced the following appointments:

  • Planning Commission - Vito Tamborrino (4 yr), Joseph Rizzo (4 yr), and Robert Rusnak (Billings unexpired term)
  • Zoning Hearing Board - John Pappas (5 yr)
  • Recreation Board - John O'Neil (5 yr) and Beverly Dalrymple (5 yr)


Proposal & Contract for Architectural & Engineering Services (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - James Bogrette made a presentation to the Board of the second step in the public works garage process, the tightening of the numbers on the master concept plan (now deemed a schematic plan) - and the engineering services.  He said that now a high level of detail is needed to start defining every bit of the project and its unique features - the green roof and landscape architecture.  He will put together a RFP and invite a select group of firms for bids.  This will take it through more site and land development and the firms, who have worked with Kimmel Bogrette before, will understand their intent and not panic and overcomplicate it. 

Mr. Bogrette said that he has three names for mechanical and structural work and will share them with Schnaedter in order to be as transparent as possible.  Kimmel Bogrette proposes to work hourly on Phase 3 with a not to exceed number in place, billing only for what it takes and if it takes more time, the cost would be on Kimmel Bogrette and not on the Township. 

Howell remarked that this is his first time going through a project of this type and that the narrative is very well laid out and very clear.  He is looking forward to the relationship.

Egolf asked if there would be geological testing of the land.  He was told that it would absolutely be done and the estimated cost is between $8,000 and $14,000.  It will be done sooner rather than later.  Kimmel Bogrette recently went through this with Hanover Township and got really competitive bids, all within $600 of each other.

Chuss noted the costs to be $284,000 with $45,000 to $55,000 in engineering and geotechnical fees. It is in line with the anticipated costs. 

Kline asked if that included the search for voids given the karst topography.  He was told that there will be eight to ten borings near the building site and more where there will be heavy loads (like the salt storage area) and heavy equipment (like trucks) along the driveway.  They will also discover where the water table exists on the site.   

Billings asked for explanation of the "not to exceed" number in the construction contract.  Expected is $35,000 to $55,000 for construction administration for architectural services.  The bottom line is that if it is exceeded it becomes Kimmel Bogrette's risk. 

Howell questioned site visits at appropriate intervals.  He wondered if they advise townships to hire a person who does more micro-management.  Mr. Kimmel said that "when the building emerges out of the ground," they are on site frequently and will be there as the ebb and flow of the project requires.

Kline offered that the Township had a "clerk of the works" for the Municipal Building.  Egolf wondered if a construction manager should be hired and who is ultimately responsible?  Mr. Kimmel said that Kimmel Bogrette is ultimately responsible for the Township to get the building that is designed, specified, and purchased.

Schnaedter said that a clerk of the works is not needed since he, DPW Director Roberts, and Township Engineer Muller will be on site on a regular basis.  

Egolf said that staff told him that the Municipal Building construction far exceeded the budget.  Schnaedter noted that he attended the PSATS program, Facilitating the Facilities, and how important it is not to just hand a project over to someone.  It is important to have the right people and adequate oversight. 

Kline's recollection is that the Municipal Building came in pretty close to budget but did go into the contingency.

Farley said that a full reconciliation was done and that the old Supervisors thought the total campus project was over budget.

Kimmel & Bogrette's track record is below 1%.  They are very proud of that.

Howell made the motion that the proposal and contract for architectural and engineering services be approved at a not to exceed number of $408,000.  Rogers seconded and it passed 5:0.

Please read Tony Nauroth (Express Times) for more.

General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2010 (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Gary Pulcini, the Township's financial consultant, provided a booklet to the Board showing bond interest rates for the last year as well as a time and event schedule and detailed numbers.  

Assembling information started the week of December 20th and on January 3rd more was received.  On January 14th, the first draft of the POS (Preliminary Official Statement) was distributed and some comments have already been received.  A second draft will be distributed tomorrow.  There will be comments on the second draft the week of the 24th.  Comments are due on the Notice of Sale on February 2nd.

On February 4th the Board will be asked to a resolution approving the sale of the Township's 2003 bond - and paying off the 2008 loan - and authorizing moving forward with rating agencies, etc.  The rate will be locked in on the night of the 18th, the date of the bidding.   The auction is done online through MuniAuction.

Supervisors were told that this is a great time to be doing a project as the rates are low.  In fact, on October 1, 2009 they were the lowest they had been (3.94%) in the last 40 years.  Rates are currently at 4.31%. 

The anticipated savings from the refinancing of the old debt is $391,198 and $12,658 in the refinancing of the 2008 debt.  The old debt will pay off the new debt.  All will be paid off in 2027. 

Howell asked about the PEMA loan.  Farley said that Forks is carrying three PEMA loans and that is the maximum permitted.  This will eliminate the oldest (and lowest at $16,000) one.  When the financing is settled, there will be a new PEMA loan at 2% a new fire truck. 

Howell made a motion to approve the General Obligation Bond Series of 2010 process.  It was seconded by Billings.

The motion passed 5:0.

2010 Goal Setting Session (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that goal setting came up at the Finance & Administration Standing Committee meeting some time ago and the committee was in support of doing it.  A session was held in January 2009 and was run on a Saturday by Lafayette College at a cost of $65/hr with a not-to-exceed amount of $1,000.  He said that he was looking for the Board's direction as to whether or not it should be run by Lafayette College this year or done in-house.

Chuss said that last year's session at 6 hours was long.  He suggested that last year's unaccomplished goals be put on a list and that Supervisors and staff meet one evening for two hours.  Schnaedter said that providing the new Supervisors with a list of last year's goals with a commentary of "where we are on those" will streamline the process considerably. 

It was decided to have the session on Monday, February 8th at 5 PM.  Dinner will be provided and because Lafayette College is "independent," it will be asked to lead the session - at their current rate of $65/hour.

Board Agenda Policy (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter said that a document has been drafted for Board consideration.   It is designed to give better direction to the professional staff in the procedures for preparing agendas.  It also says that documents should be delivered to the Manager's office in a timely manner for inclusion in Supervisors' packets.

Chuss asserted that the chairman is to set the agenda and run meetings.  He asked Rogers to confirm this (from her Supervisor course training) but she could not.  Schnaedter said that the document should have a provision that the agenda should be prepared in consultation with the chair. 

Billings asked Kline about the chairman setting the agenda since he could not find anything in the code about it.  Any Board member can add to the agenda as long as it conforms to the timelines.  He said that he spoke with PSATS and was given the advice to "make it an open process."  Howell said that actually the proposed agenda policy does intimate open/equal access.

Chuss declared that he does not want to be accused of not fulfilling his duties as chairman. 

Howell said that in conversations with PSATS last year "that every Supervisor has equal access to the agenda."

Egolf said that a procedure was wanted and now as a policy it needs a number.  Schnaedter will give it an internal number and will develop/write the procedure details to go with the new policy.

Howell made a motion to accept the meeting agenda policy.  Rogers seconded.  The vote was 5:0.

Comprehensive Plan (Dean Turner, Planning Commission) - Turner thanked the Board for filling the Planning Commission (PC) vacancies so that there was a full board for the January 14th PC meeting. 

Turner reminded the Board that the Comprehensive Plan was tabled at the December 3rd meeting so that all Supervisors could have a chance to review the changes that come about from the BoS public hearing.  The updates/changes were documented by Charlie Schmehl (URDC) and delivered to the Board on December 3rd. 

Turner said that the PC would like to get the Comprehensive Plan approved in the early part of the year so that the PC can make the necessary changes to the SALDO and the Zoning Ordinance in 2010.  It is a long process.

Kline noted that if the changes to the Comprehensive Plan are substantial that the Board of Supervisors must hold a public hearing and then vote.  It was decided to have the public hearing in February.  Kline will publish the legal notice which must be posted for two weeks.  Also, the public must be able to look at the final document.  Zoning Officer Weis said that it is on the Township website and in the Municipal Building.

Turner then shared his exasperation at a this "update" process that started in the Fall of 2006 - that is 3-1/2 years  - and when on the BoS agenda it is always the last item and is continually postponed.  He said that he has a life and that this is interfering with that life.

Chuss said that he still objects to the Town Center density in the Comp Plan.  Howell explained that the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) was put in the plan as a defensive move, a way of bulleting proofing the Township further from developers' density challenges.  It is a "silver bullet" that is needed. 

Egolf said that the Board should look to Dean who has been at this for 3-1/2 years.  He noted, "The thing is out of diapers, is potty trained, let it have a life of its own."

Howell made a motion to provide within the Comprehensive Plan higher densities in the TC district with the use of TRDs as recommended by the ad hoc committee and a hearing date of February 18th at 6:30 PM prior to the regular BoS meeting.  Billings seconded and it passed 5:0.

Executive Session - Held for personnel and potential real estate purchase 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.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

KMRD appeals Commonwealth Court ruling - Procedural Challenge

KMRD has filed an appeal of the Commonwealth Court ruling last December that upheld the Northampton Court of Common Pleas decision that upheld Forks Zoning Hearing Board's decision - in the KMRD Procedural Challenge.  This is the challenge that originally alleged that Forks did not follow proper procedures in adopting its zoning ordinances - all the way back to 1983 and therefore they should all be thrown out and KMRD should be allowed to build under 1983 rules.

KMRD had 30 days from the December 21, 2009 ruling to file their appeal to the PA Supreme Court.  There is no guarantee that the court will agree to hear the case.

Please see Tony Nauroth (Express Times) and Tom De Martini (Morning Call) for more.

Recreation Board appointments

Reprinted from the FAC website:  On January 21st, Forks Supervisors interviewed three candidates for the two open spots on the Recreation Board.  A fourth was interviewed on January 12th.  Two were incumbents and two were new faces.  After an Executive Session discussion, Bev Dalrymple and John O'Neil were appointed to the two open five year slots.  

Mr. O'Neil is a re-appointment and Ms. Dalrymple is a new face.  She brings support for both neighborhood parks and varied programs for adults and non-sports minded children to the Recreation Board mix. 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board appointments

Reprinted from the FAC Website:  The Board of Supervisors held applicant interviews for the openings on the Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Board on Tuesday, January 12th at 7 PM in the Municipal Building.  Reappointed to the Planning Commission were Vito Tamborrino and Joe Rizzo.  Newly appointed was Robert Rusnak.  John Pappas was reappointed to the Zoning Hearing Board.  He was uncontested and therefore not interviewed.

Recreation Board candidate interviews will be held at 6 PM on Thursday, January 21st prior to the regular Supervisors meeting.

All meetings are open to the public.

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.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Elected Auditors - Set Supervisor 2010 Rates

Reprinted from the FAC website:   On January 5th, Forks three Elected Auditors met in private for 10 minutes with Township Solicitor Karl Kline. Afterwards, they held their re-organization meeting, elected a chairperson, and discussed and set the 2010 wages for Supervisors who are employees of the Township.

This year's working Supervisors are Robert Egolf, Secretary/Treasurer of the Board of Supervisors and Michele Rogers, part time Community Center monitor. 

There were questions about job descriptions and whether to freeze the rate of Ms. Rogers and thus there was considerable discussion.  But because other part time monitors are getting a 4% raise it was decided to give her the same negotiated 4% increase - taking her rate from $12.16 to $12.64/hour.

Mr. Egolf's annual pay is to be the same as last year at $2,271.  The Elected Auditors have the option of holding an additional meeting should Egolf's duties be reduced.  Currently, he signs checks and attends the Finance & Administration Committee meetings.  Other Supervisors also sign checks - without additional pay.

The Elected Auditors are Sandy Hanks, Chair, Sandra Wideman, and James Craig.