Thursday, May 15, 2008

Proposed Forks EAC Committee Structure

I am recommending the establishment of a Forks Township EAC. The EAC is one of the key recommendations of the Forks Township draft Comprehensive Plan.


Why an EAC? (Source: EAC network)

"By promoting the establishment and support of EAC's across the Commonwealth, the EAC Network is helping local officials to make sound environmental decisions within and across municipal boundaries. Environmental Advisory Councils are appointed volunteers at work protecting the environment through project implementation, site plan and ordinance review, community education and much, much more".

Who are Forks EAC Members? (Source: EAC network)

  • Anyone can apply to serve as a member of Forks EAC.
  • Members are interested in environmental issues, local government, and the welfare of their community.
  • Act 177 does not require that members have a particular area of expertise.
  • According to Act 177, "whenever possible, one member of the EAC shall also be a member of the municipal planning commission."

Proposed Forks EAC Committee Structure

The Board of Supervisors shall appoint a 5 member board to explore all options for the acquisition and/or preservation of open space and improve the environmental welfare of Forks Township.

  • 1 Planning Commission Member (1 Year Term)
  • 1 Recreation Board Member (1 Year Term)
  • 3 Citizens Appointments (3 year term).


The EAC would meet at least once a month with proper public notification and will work closely with the Forks Township Planning Commission. Specifically, the EAC would be charged with the following responsibilities:

  1. Proactively identify and resolve environmental issues, such as clean air, water, open space, beautification of the township, and recommending environmental friendly practices to reduce township costs.
  2. Forks BoS can request the EAC to research and make formal recommendations on environmental issues.
  3. The EAC will proactively present formal recommendations to the BoS in order to introduce legislation.


Get Involved - Every Voice Counts!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Sweet Sounds of the Forks Elementary Orchestras

Just a few nights after the Forks Variety show, we got a chance to hear the sweet sounds of the Forks Elementary School Orchestras and Chorus. The 3rd and 4th grade orchestras played various selection that was suitable for their age and experience. It was great to hear the future leaders of Forks Township enjoy music.

Then the sounds of George Gershwin echo through-out the Forks Gymnasium, as the 4th grade chorus took the stage. Yes, it was show tunes, but to hear our township youth honor our musical past, was very exciting. The kids sang "A Foggy Day",'They Can't Take That Away From Me", "Lets Call the Whole Thing Off, among other Gershwin selections.

Just to get the audience involved, the kids finished with a rousing rendition of "I Got Rhythm", which was quite entertaining.

It was a great night!

Get Involved - Every Voice Counts!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

This is the day where we celebrate a very important person in our lives. Our Mothers.  As one of the coaches of the Forks Ravens 9 to 10 year old girls softball, I get to see our youth in action.  Believe me, our future is in great hands.

The girls are articulate, caring, joyful, great teammates, and they love the game of softball.  Four times a week, I have the privilege of working with these fine young ladies.  They show on a daily basis the values taught to them by their mothers. It is clear these kids have great role models in their mothers.

So, to all the mothers of the Forks Ravens softball team and Forks Township, great job! I hope you have a wonderful day! I would like thank  my wife for all her hard work, patience, and for being a great role model for our kids.


Get Involved - Every voice counts!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My First "No" Vote - What was I thinking!

I have promised to communicate my reasons for voting against any motion before the Forks Township Planning Commission. I believe it is very important our citizens understand any public servant’s rationale for a "no" vote and their motives.

At the May 8, 2008 PC meeting, I voted "no" on a resolution to submit the Forks Comprehensive plan to the Board of Supervisors in its present format. The final vote was 4 to 1 in favor of the resolution. This was my first "no" vote as a member of the Planning Commission.

Just a little context: At the April 22, 2008 Planning Commission (PC) Workshop, the PC voted 4 to 3 to do a final edit of the Forks Township Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission promised to accept additional public input until the May 8, 2008 regular Planning Commission meeting. Then a three person Ad Hoc committee would be formed to make final recommendations to the PC on how to update the plan.

  • Actual April 22 Motion: To have the seven members of the Planning Commission look at the Comprehensive Plan and provide input regarding editing and have these comments ready for the May 8th meeting at which time three persons from the Planning Commission will be appointed to review the comments and make all editorial changes to the Comprehensive plan. The motion was amended to include public comment regarding editorial changes to the document.

During the discussion phase of the May 8, 2008 motion, I expressed my concern about submitting a unedited draft of our Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors and potentially to outside agencies. Second, we were asked to vote on a plan that would be updated prior to distribution to the Board of Supervisors. The actual plan presented to the Board of Supervisors would not have the benefit of a PC review. I closed my remarks with the following statement:

  • Some of the greatest responsibilities of a Planning Commission include to oversee the preparation and implementation of the Comprehensive Plan and the preparation of Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance revisions.

The motion did not take into account the public input that the Comp Plan needed to be updated and a final editorial review completed. Second, the draft plan has all the critical data points, but lacks clear and concise goals and a lacks a vision for our community. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Planning Series #3 clearly states a community should develop a vision for its community. Specifically, the Planning Series says:

  • "Frequently, planning agencies utilize a visioning exercise to kick off a comprehensive planning effort.
    Visioning is a facilitated process by which citizens develop and articulate their preferences for the future of
    their community. A community vision should reflect the thoughts and concerns of the residents regarding
    environmental, social, and economic values, as well as consider future land uses, residents, and the corresponding desires and needs".

Finally, the motion did not identify which version of the draft plan would be submitted to the Board of Supervisors. I must admit, I failed to raise this issue during the discussion of the motion. It was interesting the public was not afforded the opportunity to comment on the motion.

So what was I thinking, as I voted no? My motivation is pure and simple. I believe the Comprehensive Plan was prepared by citizens of our township, with assistance by the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, Township Staff, and professional consultants. We owe it to all the people who worked countless hours to share their thoughts, concerns, passions, and ideas on how to improve our township to produce the best Comprehensive plan possible.

I believe the extra 10 days of review would have produced an eloquent Comp Plan that shows the passion, goals, desire of citizens, and truly articulates the vision of our community.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Forks Elementary School Rocks!

Fork Elementary school has been in existence for over 50 years. This school has been a integral part of our community and has educated over 5 generations of Forks citizens. Today, Forks Elementary school still inspires, educates, and encourages over 520 students to dream about a better tomorrow. Tonight, the Forks Elementary PTA held its annual Variety Show to celebrate this great Forks school institution.

The kids took a trip down memory lane, as they celebrated dance, songs, sitcoms from the 1950's to the present. The kids sang songs from the Beach Boys to Hannah Montana. We witnessed performances of "I Love Lucy" and a "Charlie Brown skit". It was so cool!

The Forks kids parents rocked to the sound of disco (Did I say that!), hit songs from the 70's such as "Car Wash", "Hair Spray", and "The Chipmunk Song". Hey Alvinnnnnnnnn(I could not help my self)! Eighties music fans would recognize classic hits such as "Double Dutch Bus", "Hey Mickey", and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Since this was a kids variety show, we heard a great rendition by Caileigh Rosa of a Disney song from the Pocahontas movie titled "Colors of the Wind".

However, it was the performance of kindergartner Korey Nickson that brought down the house. He sang and dance to the High School Musical movie hit song "Get Your Head In the Game". I never saw such moves and grace from such a young dancer. Great Job!

Now for a special thank you to the Show Director Gwynee Dunne who unselfishly donates her time, talent, and vision for these variety shows for over the past 3 years! This was Gwynee's final performance, as her daughter is moving to middle school next year. You will be missed!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cooking Tonight?

This is a third article in our buy local program series.

We have talked about several businesses in Forks Township, as we encourage our citizens to buy local!

I would like to focus on a web based business. The purpose of this local business is to provide an online restaurant guide for the Lehigh Valley Region started by a Forks Township resident. This is so cool!

According to Michelle Farrell , the Not Cooking Tonight web site has “nearly 8100 restaurants listed and it covers an area of at least 50 miles in all directions of the 18040 area code (East to Jersey, North to the Pocono's, South to Philly and West to Reading). All restaurants have a basic listing for free”.

Farrell said users can search by cuisine, city, Zip Code (and distance from zip code), restaurant name, whether they offer a coupon, meal type (breakfast, dessert, kids menu, etc.), and more . Consumers can also post reviews of the restaurants they've visited.

So, when you are looking for a new restaurant or a cool place to take the kids, visit for great ideas. Additionally, you can even save some money with web based coupons.

Buy local and support Forks Township businesses.

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