Friday, February 26, 2010

BoS Meeting Notes & Comp Plan Public Hearing - 2/18/2010

Public Hearing - Comprehensive Plan - 6:30 PM

The final public hearing on the three-years-in-the-making, Forks Township Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) was short and sparsely attended.  Two Supervisors were absent.

Charlie Schmehl of URDC, the consulting firm that guided the Planning Commission (PC) in the Comp Plan's development, summarized it as a "set of policies for the future development and preservation of the Township over the next 15 years."  It helps to support Township development regulations and provides policies for natural feature preservation, agricultural preservation, facilities and services, transportation, and contains ways to carry out the plan.  

It is the result of the work of the Planning Commission and of citizen committees who met in workshop sessions over the course of three years.  There are no changes in the Township's zoning map and there are minor revisions of zoning and SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance).  The new Comp Plan recommends that more attention be paid to the FP (Farmland Protection District) with agricultural preservation given a higher priority, that the TC (Town Center District) be made more pedestrian friendly, and that trails continue to build on what has already been done.  It also contains recommendations for traffic improvements and for economic development. 

Per the MPC (Municipalities Planning Code) Comprehensive Plans are non-binding and cannot be used to challenge actions of townships.  In simpler terms, a township can use it to defend itself but it cannot be used to attack it.

Solicitor Kline explained the process further saying that the PC held a public hearing.  The BoS held one on December 1st and because some significant changes were made, this night's hearing was being held.  This meeting was advertised as was the possible adoption of the plan at the regular meeting that follows the hearing.  Kline said that the Comp Plan was sent to the LVPC (Lehigh Valley Planning Commission) and the Township received favorable comments.  In accordance with the MPC, the plan must be adopted by ordinance.

Dean Turner, PC Chairman, asked if the Township has an electronic version of the Comp Plan so that it can make copies as needed?  Schmehl said that a "cleaned-up copy with the adoption date" in both electronic and paper formats will be provided to the Township. 

The vote to approve took place during the regular meeting.

Supervisor Howell asked Mr. Schmehl about the soon to be on the agenda, solar ordinance.  He wanted to know if there were any incentives (for commercial applicants) for changing the parking space formula if charging stations are provided in parking lots.  Mr. Schmehl said that as long as there is a "basic bare minimum of parking," the Township can have any type of incentives it wants.  He talked about Allentown's incentive for bike racks (one bike rack = one less parking space) and about California's incentives for solar panels over parking lots as "a very good use of land" since it does not increase impervious surface requirements and it provides shade for cars.  There can also be increased impervious surface incentives with minimum LEED certifications. 

Kline asked if LEED "certified" would be required or would LEED "qualified" be okay since LEED certification is costly and some architects are saying that they will design to LEED but not apply for it.  Mr. Schmehl replied that that is an alternative however, sometimes they say they will build to it but do not. 

Regular Meeting - Agenda

On this night, Supervisors unanimously approved the long awaited Comprehensive Plan, agreed to sign on the dotted line for restructured bond financing, and heard from a resident who wants new, professional management at the Community Center.

Approval of Minutes

The approval of the minutes from the February 4th meeting was tabled in a 4:1 vote with Billings casting the nay.  There were many "corrections" by Chuss including his first where he alleged that Ms. Sandy Hanks (who filed a document request and was given only one of the documents requested) said that she got all that she requested.  She was at this night's meeting and told Chuss that he was wrong and that she did not get the documents she requested and that instead he told her to file another request.  Chuss argued with her and said that she shook her head "yes" when asked.  Again, she said that she did not.  Undeterred, Chuss continued with more "corrections."  Egolf made a motion to table the approval until March 4th in order to make the corrections.   Rogers seconded.    

Public Comments (non-agenda)

  • Gretchen Gerstel - resident - read a statement in which she called for the Township to employ a professional in Community Center management, in particular a college graduate with the "latest know-how" who can handle its three-quarters of a million dollar budget.  She suggested that the $60,000 expense of the current manager is enough to attract a dynamic person from outside the Township.  Ms. Gerstel said that the Supervisors need to engage in "anticipatory thinking."   She said, "As important as 'hanging on,' is knowing when to let go."  After Ms. Gerstel finished her statement there were no comments from the Board.

Supervisors Comments 

  • Supervisor Rogers thanked DPW Director Mark Roberts and the public works crew for the great job they did clearing the roads after the last storm.  She said that they were in her neighborhood at least five times.  Township Manager Schnaedter said that since Roberts was not at the meeting, he would tell him for her.
  • Supervisor Billings said that he sent Roberts an email thanking him for the great job that his crew did.  He told of attending an "elected officials forum" today.  It was hosted by Senator Mensch and Tatamy, Forks, and the City of Easton were there.  The next one is in April.  Billings found the discussion fascinating.  One bill mentioned would allow municipalities to use radar guns for speeding.  Also, attendees were told that there is a lack of grant funding in the PA 2010 budget and that grants will be few and far between.  There was discussion of Act 47 in the City of Easton and Lehigh Valley gambling money distribution. 
  • Supervisor Egolf said that he thought it important to get township managers to forums like that since they have their "finger on the pulse."   Billings said that he will send a request to Mensch. 

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 $7,724,347.

Resident Sandy Hanks asked about the transfer of $27,079.29 from Recreation Land Acquisition to the General Fund.  She said that fund transfers have been ongoing since November and amount to $365,000.  Finance Manager Farley said that the money is from developers for recreation development.  The fund does not have a checkbook and in order to pay bills money must be transferred to the general fund.  This money is being used to pay bills for the refurbishment of the tennis and basketball courts as well as various other BoS approved projects.  

Standing Committee Reports:

  • Public Safety - Supervisor Egolf - said that there was no meeting because of the snow.  The next will be on Wednesday, March 10th at 7:15 PM. 
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - reported that the next meeting is March 8 at 7:30 AM.   He added that Supervisors have copies of an exchange of emails from citizens and merchants concerning snow removal on Braden and Ian - neither of which are dedicated (to the Township) roads.  A discussion of what policies are in place to deal with requests like these will take place at either Public Safely or Public Works meetings.  Also, Howell said that there was a letter from the Vista Estates Homeowners Association with their opinion of the public works garage and its possible impact on their neighborhood.  He said that the Association has been in contact with himself and Billings.  The committee will respond to the Association.

Schnaedter said that Kimmel & Bogrette will meet with staff at a rescheduled "kick-off" meeting on February 22nd at 1 PM.   It was postponed from last week.  New designs for the placement of the public works garage will be shown and the engineer will be introduced.  Also, staff will see new ideas for the heating system, the electric, and the mechanics.  

Egolf said that the PC received a (public works garage) report from Zoning Officer Weis.  A formal presentation of the new designs will be given to the PC at a later date.  Planner Vito Tamborrino said that Weis was to pass on the PC comments to Schnaedter. 

  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - said that the next meeting is March 3rd at 6 PM.
  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the committee held a brief meeting on February 8th prior to the goal setting session.  They discussed:
    • The newsletter. 
    • Website is to be monitored for content updates - if any are missed, inform "staff."
    • Ten people have signed up for the arts council and there are 10 days left in the sign up period.  The kick-off meeting will likely be in March in the Community Center.  There will be refreshments.
    • Community Days was not discussed due to lack of time but the committee does want to ensure that Mr. Lokitus of BCAF (Business and Commerce Association of Forks) talks to the Bennetts about taking over the reins.

Dean Turner (PC) asked if the goal setting session was a public meeting and if the goals will be made public.  Chuss said that it was a public meeting and that the Board will get copies of the goals.  He said that he was unsure if they will be available to the public. 

Schnaedter said that he has a draft of the goals for the Board's review and that after the Board has accepted them, they will be sent to David Woglom of Lafayette College.  He will make a more formal synopsis of the session.  Schnaedter added that the report prepared by Woglom will become a public document. 

Billings requested that the goals document be put on the Township website.  There was no disagreement by the Board. Schnaedter said that last year's document was four to five pages.  It will also be available at the counter at the office. 

The next committee meeting is Monday, March 8th at 4:30 PM.

  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said that the last meeting was snowed out and that the next is scheduled for Wednesday, March 10th at 6 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter said that there has been a difficult time with the newsletter printing company because of trouble getting advertisements.   A copy (of the content as opposed to a proof) has been given to the Board for approval.  It will expedite the process.  Schnaedter remarked that the Crayola article is getting dated - it took place last winter.

A draft copy of the goal setting session has been provided by David Woglom.  Schnaedter asked that the Board review it and get back to him with any comments - so that he can get them back to Woglom. 

Schnaedter reported too, that he received an email from Tim Edinger of CMX.  Edinger said that unless CMX is wanted as construction manager for the amphitheater, its work is done once the bid documents have been reviewed and a contractor recommendation is made.  Schnaedter said that he reviewed the contract signed last July and that it does state that construction management is at an extra cost.  He recommended that the Township and CMX part ways when their part of the project is completed as he feels that staff and the Township Engineer can oversee the project to completion.  Schnaedter asked that the Board take its time to review the email.  He would like to provide an answer to CMX before the March 8th bid opening. 

Billings asked if a problem is found with the bids, will CMX do more?  Schnaedter said that they will review the bids and make a recommendation to proceed or not.  "Anything beyond that is additional cost."  Billings said that he favors using Forks' staff and engineering. 

Howell requested that this be put on the March 4th meeting agenda for "informational purposes."  Tamborrino asked if CMX has "construction administration" in the contract.  He said that if the Township takes over the project and CMX is not handling the construction administration, then the Township has excluded liability of CMX for being responsible for any errors and omissions.  "Construction administration" means basically that CMX has to take the Township's phone calls during construction.  Schnaedter said that full and partial construction administration is listed on the contract as additional services. 

Billings offered to sponsor the agenda item.  Chuss said that "we will work out who sponsors the agenda item."  He thought it should be the solicitor or the engineer.   

Engineer's Report - Muller reported that Alfero Construction's project is now under review.  He said that It was presented at the last PC meeting by engineer Bob Toedter.  It is for a two story office and 24,000 square feet of warehouse for their construction operation - on Glover Road.

Solicitor's Report - Kline - agenda items only.


Ordinance 313 - 2010 General Obligation Bond (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Farley said that the bond auction was today and that there was good news to report.  He turned over the good news announcement to Gary Pulcini (Township financial consultant) and Michael Gaul (Township bond counsel.)

Pulcini said that the auction began at noon and concluded at 12:17 - after three time extensions which were the result of better bids coming in during the last two minutes.  There were five syndicates bidding and a total of 20 bids.  The winning bidder was Roosevelt Cross - representing a syndicate of Payne Webber and others.  Pulcini said that because of the great rate, the size of the issue was reduced from $11,825,000 to $11,300,000.  The rate through 2027 - when the Township will be debt free -  is 3.48%.

The Township's bond rating was upgraded since 2003 from A2 to AA, the same as Northampton County.  The AA rating is "a reflection of the Township's moderate debt load, the professionalism of the Township, and the income levels of the Township."  Pulcini said that through prudent debt management, "the capital plan has increased" and over 50% of the borrowing base is unused. 

Pulcini reviewed the summary sheet of the bidding.  The savings from refinancing the older bond is $734,703.93 and from the newest one, $31,919.16 for a total savings of $766,623.09.  He said that the Township is walking away with a $4.7 (sic - $3.7) million loan for a very low impact - $91,000. 

Kline remarked that the bid was done just before the Fed increased its interest rate today. 

Mr. Gaul presented the ordinance to the Board for their approval and signature.  The ordinance accepts "the proposal to buy the bonds by the underwriter."  It also makes tax covenants to ensure that the bonds are issued as tax exempt; it authorizes compliance with FCC disclosure requirements (to the bond purchaser); and it arranges for the payoff of the old debt.  Documents must be signed by the Chairman, the Secretary/Treasurer, and the Finance Manager.  There will be "a second wave" of documents shortly.

Kline said that he reviewed the ordinance and everything is fine.  It should be adopted tonight.  There is a tight schedule including sending it to the Department of Community and Economic Development for approval - in order to make the March 23rd closing. 

Gaul said that it must be signed tonight in order to accept the underwriter's bid.  He said that the Board has had the ordinance for review for a couple of weeks. The financial details were added today - they were not available until today's bid closing. 

Pulcini said that there is flexibility built in to take advantage of rate decreases - a 10 year part call.  If rates go down, the new money portion could be refinanced immediately.  If rates drop, the "refunding portion" can be refunded in 10 years - with 90 days notice prior to the call date.

Billings made the motion to approve the ordinance.  Egolf seconded and it passed unanimously.  


Resolution # 100218-1 Forks Township Comprehensive Plan of 2010 (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that the resolution is to approve the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan of 2010.  It was drafted by the PC and worked on by many committees.  The PC held one public hearing and the Board held two - one earlier this night.  The hearings and the resolution have been properly advertised.  The motion to approve was made by Howell and seconded by Egolf.  It passed unanimously.   

Howell asked Kline how the Panzini property purchase is progressing.  Kline said that on February 4th the Board approved the signing of the agreement of sale for 708 Zucksville Road at a purchase price of $230,000.  It will be a cash transaction.  The closing will be at the end of March.  The land is adjacent to the Township municipal park and next to another Township owned property (on the east.)  The property has 400 feet of frontage on Zucksville Road. 

Executive Session - There was no Executive 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, February 14, 2010

BoS Meeting Notes - 2/4/2010

Regular Meeting - Agenda

Supervisors learned that young Tyler Swass who made a 911 call that saved his mother, will be honored by the Forks Fire Department with a plaque presented to him at his school in front of his classmates. 

The Board decided to advertise the meeting schedule of the Recreation Board (the third Sunday of the month at 7 PM) since the Recreation Board gets and distributes public money.  Supervisors learned of an open records document request gone awry and Supervisor Chairman Chuss called it (the document request) a "witch hunt."  The public learned that the grant application for designing a park at Newlins and Richmond has been rejected.  The Board okayed the purchase of the Panzini property on Zucksville Road.  It is adjacent to the Township Community Park.  And, all in attendance learned that the Meco/Sullivan traffic light project is proceeding. 

Public Comments (non-agenda)

  • Sandy Hanks - Chairwoman of the Forks Elected Auditors, read a prepared statement to the Board detailing her recent experience with a Right to Know Law document request in Forks Township.  She said that she discovered on the Township website that one of the working Supervisors was listed with a different title than the one the auditors had been given to consider in setting 2010 wages.  The auditors were told that the title and accompanying duties were that of a part-time monitor at the Community Center.  The website now lists the Supervisor as Office Coordinator - not part time monitor.

Ms. Hanks submitted a document request so that she could learn how this title change came about in order to make a decision about whether or not the auditors would have to have another meeting to re-consider the Supervisor's wage in view of the new job title.  Forks Open Records Officer provided her with only one of the documents she requested, a job description for a monitor.  It had an attached post-it note that said the monitor job description was the same as that of part time office coordinator.

Ms. Hanks also received an email from the Open Records Officer denying that there were "... covert plots, secret E-mails or sinister operations that have taken place."  She said that someone wrongly guessed her motives and she referred to this as "extraordinary."  She also quoted from the PA Right to Know Law, " A local agency may not deny a requester access to a public record due to the intended use of the public record by the requester unless otherwise provided by law.”

Ms. Hanks said that she received only one document and no explanation of why the others were not produced.  She assumes that this constitutes a "deemed denial" and may pursue an appeal to Harrisburg.

After Ms. Hanks finished her statement, there was silence in the room.  (See below - Supervisors Comments - Howell - for Board members reactions.)

Supervisors Comments 

  • Supervisor Billings said that the Recreation Board (Rec Board) meetings have not been advertised.  They meet on the third Sunday of every month.  He made a motion to advertise their regular meetings as well as their February 21st meeting as the re-organization meeting - to elect officers. 

Chuss asked if it is required to advertise the Rec Board meetings.  Kline said that the Second Class Township Code says the BoS can establish a Recreation Board.  Forks' Rec Board does handle taxpayer money.  And, although this issue hasn't come up before, in the past, the Township's (paid) auditors have said that they thought they should be auditing the Rec Board. 

The Township gives money to the Rec Board which in turn decides how to allocate it to the athletic association (Forks Township Youth Sports Organization - FTYSO) and other projects.  Kline said that since public money is involved, it is appropriate to advertise the meetings.

The motion included the reorganization meeting of the Recreation Board and discussion included having Solicitor Kline attend that meeting.  Chuss questioned whether or not the Rec Board had already held their re-org meeting.  Howell said that Supervisors haven't seen any minutes from a January meeting.  Rogers said that it was on the schedule at the Community Center and that the Rec Board meetings are advertised on the Community Center electronic sign. 

Howell asked if the Rec Board bylaws have been read by the Board.  He asked too if the Zoning Hearing Board and Planning Commission have bylaws as well.  Kline said that the Zoning Hearing Board is guided by the MPC (Municipalities Planning Code) and technically the Rec Board is created by ordinance and has only those powers delegated to it by the BoS. He said that he has "never seen an ordinance creating the Rec Board" - in the last 30 years nor is there any reference to one in the Township code. 

Supervisors can adopt an ordinance and establish exactly what powers the Rec Board will have.  Then the Rec Board can adopt rules and regulations that are consistent with what the ordinance states.  Howell said that it is the only appointed board in the Township that does not require residency.  He suggested that if the Board is going to adopt an ordinance that it take a look at the Rec Board bylaws and current customs and jointly with the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee, come up with a "reasonably decent ordinance."  Chuss recommended that the issue should be taken up by the Parks & Recreation "subcommittee" and that they should work with the Recreation Board.

The motion was altered to note in the advertisement that if a re-org meeting is required it will take place on February 21.  It passed with a 5:0 vote.  Schnaedter will submit the advertisement and notify the Rec Board.  Kline will send copies of the provisions of the Second Class Township Code that deals with the Rec Board to the BoS and to Schnaedter.

Howell offered a motion to authorize the Parks & Recreation Standing Committee to study, recommend, and discuss an ordinance dealing the the Rec Board and to make a recommendation to the BoS.  This passed in a 3:2 vote with Egolf and Chuss casting the nay votes.

Howell asked a "procedural question" about the fact that the Board was going to allow the Rec Board ordinance issue to go to the standing committee "by consensus."  And, then Egolf and Chuss voted against the motion asking for an ordinance.  Chuss said there was no need for the motion.  Howell said that the Board is asking for an "ordinance" and not just a study or recommendation from the committee and it is appropriate that the Board vote on it. 

Egolf said that he voted "no" because when the Board asks a committee to come up with recommendations, the committee chairman has the responsibility to follow through and to report back to the BoS - and this process works well.  Egolf said that he is afraid that creating an ordinance will come back to "haunt us" and that in the future "every time we ask for something it's going to be in form of an ordinance - and I don't think we're here for that." 

Billings asked if one must be a Forks resident to be on the Zoning Hearing Board and the Planning Commission.  Kline said that he didn't know if the Second Class Township Code requires residency.  He said he will also double check the MPC.  Chuss asked if there was a problem?  Billings said that in the interview process for seats on the PC, the question was never asked of any of the candidates.  Chuss said that the applications have candidates' addresses and it can be dealt with at the time.  Kline offered that having a candidate with excellent qualifications who lives in another municipality and also having a residency requirement could mean "cutting your nose to spite your face."

  • Supervisor Egolf announced that he had a few copies of the very interesting Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Field Guild to Birding and Wildlife.  He said that copies are available and are worthwhile reading.
  • Supervisor Howell addressed Ms. Hanks comments (see above).  He said that he received an email from Ms. Hanks regarding a Supervisor's new title on the website contact page.  He said that he was surprised when he looked at the Township website contact page and has no idea what was done to change the job title nor how it happened nor how/if the Board ever approved it or a $2/hr wage premium over the regular monitor rate.

Howell asked Ms. Hanks about the post-it note on the job description.  She read, "PT CC Office Coordinator falls under same job description as Monitor."  She showed it to Howell who said that the document contains no effective date, no approvals and no indication of revisions.  He said that the others who held this position, Kimee and Carol (no last names given), did not appear to have the role of monitors.  It was a different job, they had office positions and had premium hours (no weekends or evenings). 

Howell said that the job Ms. Hanks wrote about in her email is a different job with different priorities.  It should be approved by the Board.  Howell doesn't think the Board ever approved it nor did they set the wage.  He said that it was likely set by a prior manager and that it is "a matter of custom that Mr. Miller would fill the spot as needed."  If the post-it note is correct then all the monitors should be trained to handle the duties at the desk and the office coordinator title should be discarded.  This way all monitors would do the same thing and there would be no "inaccurate" special position listed on the website.

Howell said that he is "not trying to personalize the argument."  He wonders why Miller needs a person and what criteria is used to chose one person over another especially when that person is an elected official. 

He said that he has never been an advocate of having working Supervisors on board and that he has served in three election cycles and in the first two, has never been able to convince a majority of the Board to define the role of working Supervisors and to define employment and Board restrictions. 

He added that "in defense of Ms. Rogers," he doesn't think anyone has sat down with her to define her role and whether as an elected official, she is a union or an at-will employee - PA law may dictate this.  Howell said that Rogers is likely not aware of restrictions applicable to her role as Supervisor.  For example, the Board meets in Executive Session to discuss personnel issues.  At times, the subject may be the performance of other monitors.  "As a Supervisor-employee-monitor, should she be allowed to join those discussions or even be present at those discussions?"  Should she be allowed to be present or vote when salary rates are discussed for monitors or other Township employees?

Howell mentioned Human Resources Manager Barbara Bartek's role in regard to a working Supervisor - to be sure that the Supervisor is being treated fairly "in relationship to others or vice versa."  He suggested that Ms. Bartek review with Rogers any possible "conflicts of interest and issues of undue influence." 

He said that Miller reported directly to the Township Manager.  This is different now as Rogers reports to Miller.  She has a subordinated role to someone who is not a director or the Township Manager. 

Howell said that he is asking for a simple "rules of the road" policy for working Supervisors.  And, he hopes that by the end of his term, there one is in place.  In fact, he noted, a number of townships have policies or have eliminated working Supervisors as "impossible to regulate or to control."

Rogers said that she takes "it personally."  It is now an issue that a working Supervisor is in the role of office coordinator.  She said that no one has asked her anything.  No one has asked, "What do you do? or What's your day like?  or What hours do you work"  She asked why this is an issue now when it wasn't in the past?

Rogers said that the $2/hr more is not true; she earns what all monitors earn.  She said that the person who was in the role before "may have self imposed" the title of Office Coordinator.  Rogers said that she does what monitors do.  "I do clean toilets on occasion" but not as much now as in the past.  She breaks down and puts up Jazzercise and volleyball nets by herself.  She empties trash and sweeps the floor.  She handles money, receipts, accounting, and does some of the work of both (the late) Bob Kadjeski and Carol Osifchin (former Community Center Office Coordinator) including entering sports sign-ups into the database. 

Rogers said that, as the person affected, she should be but is not included in "the dialog" and is beginning to feel harassed.  She believes this is a trust issue and that she was given opportunities because she is trusted but apparently her peers or other people don't (trust her).  She also said that she has been "the topic of conversation for a while on several minds" but no one has talked to her.

Chuss said that there are two issues, one is open records access.  He got Ms. Hanks email and deferred it to the Township Manager.  He hoped that the job description provided satisfied the request. 

Schnaedter said that Ms. Rogers is a "monitor plain and simple."  He said a secretary put the title on the website because Rogers is doing much of the work that the last coordinator did and because people call and ask for Carol.  Schnaedter said that there were no emails and that he will remove Rogers name and the title from the website.  Ms. Hanks offered that if "every monitor is the same, and they are all monitors," then either all monitors should be listed on the website, or none.

Schnaedter said, "Nothing has changed."  He gave the Elected Auditors a rough description of what monitors do.  The written job description predates him and he has no idea why there were no signatures or dates on it.

Chuss offered that Ms. Hanks, if she feels that information was not provided to her, should submit another Open Records request.  He said that when he read Schnaedter's response, he understood that there was no additional information available. 

(Finance Manager Farley) said that all the job descriptions were done and approved by the Board in the second half of 2006.  Howell said that he thought the Community Center Office Coordinator title and its premium rate should be formally buried.  Rogers offered that she is owed some back income since she was listed on the website as an office coordinator but not paid extra. 

Chuss offered that the Human Resources Manager review and update job descriptions.  He thought, " almost sounds like a typo issue on the website and it's really gotten out of hand." 

Ms. Hanks asked Rogers what the weekly hours are for monitors and what her hours are.  Rogers replied that monitor hours can be as few as 15-20 per week or up to the part-time maximum.  She started to say what her hours are but Chuss cut her off and ended the discussion saying that he has let it go this far and it is not an agenda item and in the future anything like this should be put on the agenda. 

Chuss then said that the second part of his comment is what he sees as somewhat of a "witch hunt."  He said that there are people who do not like Supervisors who are employees.  He said that Howell was one of them.  Howell asked Chuss if he was accusing him of "personalizing" the issue.  He reminded him that in 2004, he didn't even know Ms. Rogers.  Rogers offered that no one knows her now "but you're making all kinds of remarks." 

Chuss continued that "some" people are personalizing this and that there are "hundreds, if not thousands of cases of this in PA."  He went on to say there was an article last summer in a PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors) publication about it (elected officials as employees).  He said that the people who voted her in were well aware of her position (at the Community Center)

This ended with Ms. Hanks asking Chuss to verify that it "was a mistake on the website."  He said, "That's what it sounded like." 

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 has not met since the last Board meeting.  The next is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:15 PM.  Egolf turned his report time over to Fire Chief Charles Chapman who told of the cell phone 911 call made by five year old Tyler Swass and the challenge it presented - a cell phone call does not give a correct address.  The police asked the dispatcher to call Tyler back and to have him go outside and wave down the police car.  Tyler said that no one taught him to dial 911.  He picked it up by watching TV.  Chapman said the Fire Department will go to Tyler's school and recognize him in front of his peers as well as present him with a plaque.  This will help to reinforce a lesson to the kids about dialing 911 in an emergency.  The story went national on CNN.  Tyler is the nephew of one of the Township's firefighters.
  • Public Works - Supervisor Howell - had no report.  Schnaedter said that Kimmel Bogrette will make a presentation (of the public works garage) to the PC at its February 11 meeting.  Egolf asked Schnaedter about something in the Supervisors packets.  Schnaedter said that it was for the goal setting session on Monday and was a status report of what was left undone from last year's goals. 
  • Parks & Recreation - Supervisor Rogers - said that the committee met last night and that there was a request to consider new fitness center equipment.  She said that more information is needed.  Other items discussed include:
    • The athletic association (Forks Township Youth Sports Organization - FTYSO) has a gap in its budget and will provide a monthly analysis of actual versus projected expenses as well as a back-up plan to close the gap. 
    • Dan Martyak, president of FTYSO, was to provide the committee with status updates but it is too much for one person.  Billings offered to help.
    • The five acres fields have been seeded but there are drainage and other issues.  Schnaedter will get updated information. 
    • The tentative completion date of the amphitheater may change to July 1.
    • There will be a $4,100 addition to the Community Park electronic sign on Zucksville Road.  It will identify the Community Park, be placed over the electronic sign, and be burgundy with yellow lettering.
    • New playground equipment is on tonight's agenda.
    • Miller reported to the committee that it is the busy season with basketball and volleyball.  Also, the Community Center has four new employees.
    • The Planning Commission (PC) was there to discuss the recreation paths.  They want to work with the committee, the Rec Board, and the FTYSO to complete the east west corridor, do signage (warning and directional), and to do the recreation master plan including tot lots and parks - everything in totality.

Billings asked if a motion was needed to purchase the new park sign.  Schnaedter said that he had wanted to talk to the Recreation Board before taking it to the Board.

Rogers made a motion to approve the new sign with a not-to-exceed price of $4,100.  Billings seconded.  In discussion, Ms. Hanks asked if it complies with the zoning ordinance for signage.  Zoning Officer Weis said it will be smaller than the one on Sullivan Trail.  Rogers said that it (the topper) is 18" X 112".  Former Supervisor Nicholas said that it is probably too big.

The motion passed 5:0.

Howell asked that all committees copy the Board with agendas.

  • Community Relations - Supervisor Chuss - said that the committee has not met since the last BoS meeting.  The next will be on February 8th at 4:30, just before the 5 PM start of the goal setting session.  Chuss also said that advertisements are posted for the Forks Arts Society at the Municipal Building and at the Community Center - although that one has disappeared.  He contacted the Morning Call and will contact the Express Times to see if they have any interest in the story.  He said he's talked to a lot of people who are very excited about it.  He has fliers for anyone who wants one.  Howell thanked Tony Nauroth for the story in the Express Times on the Forks Quarterly winning second place in the PSATS communications category.  He thanked Schnaedter for being the editor. 
  • Finance & Administration - Supervisor Billings - said the the committee will meet next Wednesday at 6 PM.

Township Manager's Report - Schnaedter reminded the Board of the Monday night goal setting session.  It will start promptly at 5 PM.

Engineer's Report - Muller reported that the meeting with PennDOT, Verizon, and Met-Ed took place and that the Meco/Sullivan light is moving along.  Within the next month there should be some answers.

Egolf asked how much Benchmark will be involved as this continues.   Muller said that their design role is securing the permit.  Egolf noted that the Township has given Benchmark thousands and thousands of Township money and the light is still not where it should be.  Egolf said that his antennas go up whenever he hears "Benchmark."  Muller said that the issue is not all Benchmark.  There is work to be done as no bid packages have yet been put out on the project.  An "aggressive schedule" could have it built by the end of summer.

Howell asked about Town Center 2 starting since he saw a construction trailer at the Met-Ed pole yard.  Zoning Officer Weis said that the trailer belongs to the sewer project.  Howell asked if offsite improvement money could have been paid by Zawarski for the Meco/Sullivan light.  Kline said that the Township cannot require offsite capital improvement money but PennDOT can. 

Solicitor's Report - Kline - agenda items only.


General Obligation Bonds, Series of 2010 (Jim Farley, Finance Manager) - Farley said that at the last meeting, the Board approved the new financing.  Mr. Michael Gaul presented the Board with a "preliminary authorizing resolution" for the 2010 bonds.  This will call the 2003 bonds "conditionally."  A minimum 30 day notice is required.  March 23rd is when the 2010 bonds will close.  The closing on the 2010 bonds will not occur unless the proceeds for redeeming the prior bonds are available. 

The resolution needs to be approved and signed.  Bid night is February 18th. 

Egolf made the motion to approve and sign.  Rogers seconded.  In discussion Billings asked about the "not to exceed" amount of $12.75 million as he thought it higher than before.  Mr. Gaul said that it is normal to set it higher so that it need not be reset when/if the bonds are sold at a discount or a premium.  Of the $12.5 million, $3.7 million is for the public works garage.

This passed 5:0.


Business and Commerce Association Presentation - Forks Township Community Days (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Brian Lokitus, president of the Business and Commerce Association of Forks Township (BCAF) addressed the Board and offered the services of BCAF to organize this year's Community Days event.  BCAF learned that the Bennetts will no longer be doing it.  Mr. Lokitus said that they would organize a committee and use last year's volunteers.  With BCAF in charge, it would insure continuity from year to year.  He said that he would like to make an announcement at the BCAF meeting at Gennaro's next Tuesday, February 9th at 11:30.  

Schnaedter said that the opening for Community Days coordinator has been advertised on the Township website for about a month.  Several people have called and volunteered to help but not to be the coordinator.

Billings asked how it would work with BCAF as the organizer.  Mr. Lokitus said that he envisions a committee of two or more members who will organized and solicit volunteers.  Billings asked if they would be open to athletic association (FTYSO) participation.  The answer was "absolutely" and that BCAF wants to make it an even bigger and more interesting event for the community - possibly drawing people from outside of Forks - to showcase the Township.

Farley said that Forks Community Days is a 501(c)(3) and its charter requires officers names in the charter.  He suggested the BCAF contact the Bennetts to resolve the leadership change.  Farley said that he has helped the organization with its year end financial reconciliations and will "help transition the information over" to BCAF.

Mr. Lokitus said that he is open to being "very cooperative with the township, the community, and the citizens" to make it a great event.  Chuss said he thought it was fantastic and that the details can be worked out later. 

Farley suggested that a joint meeting between the current members and BCAF be held to work out the 501(c)(3) integration details.  Mr. Lokitus asked for a copy of the bylaws so that BCAF can see how integration in accordance with the bylaws can be accomplished. 

BCAF received the support of the Board in its Community Days endeavor.

Resolution # 100204-2 / Deed of Dedication for Heather Lane A and Heather Lane B in the Preserve Subdivision – Phase 1 - (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline explained that this is standard acceptance - the roads have been inspected and approved.  Billings made the motion.  It was seconded by Howell and passed 5:0.

Municipal Park Playground Equipment Replacement Purchase (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter detailed the quotation from George Ely Associates for replacement playground equipment - a three leg 10 ft. high swing set, a three bay six belt swing package, and a powder coated frame totaling $3,023.  Also, there is a "Chipmunk Spring Rider ($915) and a recycled plastic sand box.  The existing equipment was inspected by public works and deemed to be in bad shape with holes and a rotting foundation. 

Howell made the motion to purchase.  Egolf seconded.  It passed 5:0.

COG Cable Franchise Survey Agreement (David Billings, Supervisor) - Billings said that the Cohen Law Group wants to survey municipal members of the Two Rivers COG (Council of Governments) to determine interest in forming a consortium to negotiate a cable franchise.  Right now the law is changing and allows each municipality to have a cable franchise but is strict about negotiation.  Billings said that this survey is just exploring the possibility of interest and no municipality is bound by it. 

Kline said that for the last five years or so the Cohen Law Group in Pittsburgh has indicated that they have special expertise in this area.  They actively solicit municipalities in PA.  At no charge, a municipality will get an oral review of its documents - with the possibility that Cohen may sell services at a later time.  Kline suggested that the Board be careful since Palmer is different than Forks is different than Easton is different than West Easton.  All have different contracts now that probably expire at different times.  It will be difficult to negotiate for an entire COG.

Schnaedter offered that it is a questionnaire that can be submitted with the Board's authorization. 

Howell asked when the first opportunity would be that Forks would incur expenses to the Cohen Law Group.  Billings said that would be when a cost estimate is presented to and accepted by the Township - for negotiating the cable contract.  He offered that the tricky part will be Verizon because it will probably be coming to Forks next year - since Forks fits the "profile."  Forks will have an opportunity to negotiate with Verizon under the 2007 Act.  Howell asked if ATT is coming as well.  Billings said "no."  There was a consensus vote to "take step one" and send in the completed questionnaire.

Real Estate Purchase (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that the Township has been in discussions with the Panzini family over the purchase of their 708 Zucksville Road property.  Currently, Mrs. Panzini lives in the house but must leave soon.  The 1.64 acres is contiguous to the Township park and has about 400 feet of frontage on Zucksville Road.  The Township will pay the appraised amount of $230,000 for the property.  Settlement will be on or before March 31st.  The family has reserved the right to remove the lilacs in the spring and requested that the Township install a plaque on the house referring to it as the Panzini Community House (or similar language).  If the house is torn down, the family requests that the plaque be moved to another location on the property.

Howell asked if the Township has the money.  He was told by Farley that the recreation acquisition fund can be used because the property is contiguous to the park.  Howell asked if the property's zoning had to be changed before the purchase and Kline said no, as long as it is being bought for additional park land.

Egolf asked what the plan was for this property.  Chuss said that there is no plan for the recreation impact fee money as it is.  In fact, Chuss said that the Township's grant application for planning the park at Newlins/Richmond was rejected.  He thought that future recreation plans for both parcels can be developed.  Egolf said that he would feel better if there was a plan, even a simple one, before the settlement date since recreation money is being used.

Kline offered that if a motion is made immediately after the resolution to purchase is approved, indicating that the Township commits to using the land for recreation, Egolf's concern about using recreation funds for the acquisition is satisfied.  Two motions are needed, one to buy the property and one to commit to using the land for park and recreation purposes.

Both motions passed 5:0

Authorization to request bids for Amphitheater (Rick Schnaedter, Township Manager) - Schnaedter asked for authorization to get bids for the amphitheater.  Staff has reviewed the specs.  Bids will be accepted until the bid opening date of March 8th.  The project is now one month behind the proposed CMX schedule making July 1st the new expected completion date.

Howell made the motion to authorize.  Billings seconded. 

In discussion, Chuss said that he has concerns about the cost and wants a five year plan from the Recreation Board.  He said that Schnaedter has offered to run the amphitheater programs in the first year but who will run it in the future?  He thought it premature to move forward.

Billings said that this is just to get bids so that the Board can see what it will cost and that the Board reserves the right to say no.  Egolf said that while chairman of the Parks and Recreation Standing Committee, he struggled with the Recreation Board to get a five year plan.  Progress has been made and the plan is further along than it was last year.   

Howell said that the amphitheater represents a "truly all generational capital improvement for the park."  He said that this is the best time to build it and it will not by financed with taxpayer money. 

The vote was 4:1 with Chuss casting the nay.

Authorization to advertise Solar Ordinances # 313 and # 314 (Karl Kline, Solicitor) - Kline said that the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the Solar Ordinances and no one showed up.  One of the ordinances changes zoning and the other changes SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance).  Both regulate residential and non-residential solar uses.  Copies must be sent to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.  He asked the Board's permission to advertise the BoS public hearing for March 18th at 7 PM, just before the regular meeting where the ordinances will be considered for adoption. 

Billings said that the EASD is conducting a study of putting solar panels in the schools.  He asked if the school district submitted a plan if it would be subject to the ordinance.  Kline said that they would not be subject to the ordinance if they submit a plan before the March 18 adoption date. 

The authorization to advertise was approved with a 5:0 vote.

Executive Session - There was no Executive Session and the meeting was adjourned. 

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