Thursday, March 27, 2008

Forks Township Comprehensive Plan Review

Forks Township residents got a chance to provide input to the Forks Comprehensive plan. About 38 residents reviewed the various township maps (Zoning, Bike trials, land use, etc) and meet the members of the Planning Commission during an open house prior to regular meeting.

The public talked to the Planning Commission members about the proposed extension of Ramblewood to Sullivan Trial. About a third of the audience expressed their concern the proposed extension would decrease their Quality of Life. One resident stated the “Truths of yesterday are not the truths of today”. This is a good thought to remember as the Planning Commission finalizes the Comprehensive plan,

Other residents talked about including a broad vision statement into the plan, implement proposals to increase open space, and adding water table maps.

The Planning Commission will discuss the public input at the April 22, 2008 workshop. The workshop will start at 7:00 PM.

I would to express my appreciation to all the citizens who attended the meeting. I believe that public participation is a critical element for developing a good plan.

If you have any ideas or comments about critical issues facing Forks Township, please share your ideas via our blog.

Get Involved – Every Voice Counts!

David Billings

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Forks Comprehensive Plan – Public Comment

The Forks Township Planning Commission will hold a public comment session for the Township Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday March 25, 2007. The plan can be downloaded at

The township will host an open house from 6:30 to 7:00 PM with public comment starting at 7:00 PM. I cannot stress enough the importance of public input into our comprehensive plan.

According to the Forks Action Committee web site, “the plan update process has been in progress for well over a year. Discussions began in October 2006 and work on it began in January 2007. The PC devoted monthly workshops (on the fourth Tuesday of every month) to it. Residents' input was welcomed and encouraged”.

“Subcommittees (of Forks residents) were formed to tackle four main areas: Transportation, Economic Development, Recreation, and Agricultural/Open Space Preservation/Architectural Review”.

I was honored to lead the Recreation Committee as we developed new ideas for expanding the activities at the community center, developing recommendations for maintenance of our multi-use trails, a strategy to connect all the trails within the township, and participating with other communities to develop a regional approach to multi-use trials.

This meeting is important. Please make plans to attend!

If you have any ideas or comments about critical issues facing Forks Township, please share your ideas via our blog.

Get Involved – Every Voice Counts!


David Billings

Monday, March 10, 2008

Managing Budgets

Here is a question for you. Does a municipality need to adjust to economic conditions after the yearly budget was approved?

Inflation Rate

Let’s review the facts. The inflation rate in the Lehigh was 5.2% in 2007(See Morning Call Article: The price of growth still high in Valley February 19, 2008). The Lehigh Valley inflation rate has exceed the US inflation rate for thee 5th straight year. Some good examples of factors that is the driving force of the Lehigh Valley inflation rate food prices, dairy products, and oil prices.

Housing Market

“The average price of an existing home rose 3 percent to $222,000 in January. In the Lehigh Valley, the price of a newly constructed home with four bedrooms and 21/2 baths rose 28 percent to $495,000 compared to January 2007, according to the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors”. The time to sell a house was 68 days compared to 61 days last year. The number of homes sold last year hit the lowest level since 2001. (See Morning Call article: Ups and Downs in the Valley February 12, 2008). So far, we seem to be to avoid the national housing decline, but it sure seems we have housing issues as sheriff sale’s in the various townships seems to be increasing.


“Unemployment in the Lehigh Valley ended the year at 4.6 percent, as the region added 7,500 jobs during the year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The average of monthly jobless rates during 2007 was significantly lower, at about 4.2 percent, marking a low in March of 3.75 percent” (See Morning Call article: In Fighting Trim February 10, 2008).

Saving our pennies!

So, we seem to have mixed results. As inflation increase, our disposable income is declining. The job market is good, so we can retain some hope for avoiding a local recession. The housing is still hanging on. The key question is for how long. Nationally, we seem to be in a recession with escalating fuel price and further reductions in housing prices.

So what does all this mean? We need to watch our pennies and adapt to a very volatile economy. As our revenue streams decrease, we will need to reduce our expenses in-year!

If you have any ideas or comments about critical issues facing Forks Township, please share your ideas via our blog.

Get Involved – Every Voice Counts!

Sincerely,David Billings