Monday, September 29, 2008

What was Congress Thinking?

Normally, I stick to discussing issues that have a direct impact on our lives here in Forks Township.  We just chat about local issues. 

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives shocked and stunned the world by defeating the bailout bill by a vote of 228 to 205.  I have decided to offer a few comments about today's wild and wooly developments.

Did Congress vote in the best interest of Main Street instead of voting for the best interests of lobbyists or for political ideologies? Did Congress vote to maintain the public confidence in our financial institutions and our monetary system?   Did Congress vote to show the world that we can make the tough decision? Did Congress, in fact, do the right thing?

Today, we saw the ugly face of bitter partisan politics .  We saw a Congress turn its back on the American people and showed us how little they care. Today, we saw a Congress that lacks courage and conviction to do the right thing.

I know the bailout bill was not the best solution, but at this time, it was the only solution. The bill contained congressional oversight, tried to limit taxpayer exposure, contained limitations on executive pay, and had foreclosure prevention measures. I believe this is the best political compromise the House of Representatives could muster to help restore the credit market, at least in the short-term. Yes, I would support this bill, as a temporary measure to improve the credit markets.

This afternoon, Wall Street showed us how serious our financial crisis is, as the Dow Jones Average plunged 777 points. Tonight, the U.S. credit market no longer functions properly, as it lacks liquidity to make loans or extended lines of credit to corporations.  Today, millions of Americans lost allot of money. According to, investors lost over $1.2 trillion in market value. Ouch!

It is time for Congress to get back to work for the American people. It is time to “belly up” to the bar and cast a vote for Main Street. Every now and then, a Congressman or Senator must make a vote that is courageous and difficult. The voters may not agree with your vote, but at least they can respect your decision.

So, how did Charlie Dent vote today? U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Lehigh Valley voted nay.  I will let the November election be the judge of the validity of his vote. All I know, we are allot poorer tonight.

Now more than ever, get involved. Every Voice Counts!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Forks Community Days - Just Right

Forks Township held its Community Days last weekend.  The weather was perfect - not to hot, not to cold. The weather was just right.

We had various food goodies, as different food vendors attended the Community Days. I love the funnel cake! We had rides for the kids, while many different bands played through out the day.  Many different non-profit organizations were in attendance trying to raise money for the various Easton High School and Forks athletic teams. The Forks Township Athletic Association even had a coach's dunk tank. 

It was a great event and everyone had a good time!


Get Involved! Every Voice Counts.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

EAHS Natatorium - Decision Day

Tonight, the Easton Area School board voted 9 to 0 to halt all activity on the new pool construction. The school  board did agree to refer the pool issue to the Facility Utilization Committee for future consideration.

I was disappointed in the board decision tonight, as the Easton HS swim team got short changed. The swim team members spoke passionately about the poor condition of the pool and the potential health hazards to the kids. Given the poor condition of the pool, it was hard for the kids to understand tonight vote. The kids just want a safe pool.  Additionally, the pool serves as a classroom for over 3000 students who get a chance to learn swimming skills.

I will continue to work with Facility Utilization Committee and the school board to get a new pool. One final note. I did hear one board member mention renovating the Easton HS  football stadium. Go figure!

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Multi-municipal plans - How are we doing?

In 2000, the state of PA passed Act 67 and 68, which amended the Municipal Planning Code (MPC) to encourage  cooperation between municipalities in developing Comprehensive plans. This approach allows municipalities to share services, transfer development rights between municipalities, and develop land use strategies that make sense.


10,000 Friends of PA, developed and published a Planning Beyond Boundaries series, a guide for local governments that are interested in Multi-Municipal Planing. Additionally, they conducted a 2007 study to determine the effectiveness of ACT 67 and 68. The results of the study are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Multi-Municipal Plan Results

Plan Complete 116
Plan adopt by all participants 110
   Utilized count zoning 3
   Utilized individual zoning 57
   Utilized joint zoning 14
   No zoning/no data available 39
Plan adopt by some, not by others 5
Plan not adopted 1
Plan currently in progress 51
Total Multi-municipal plans 172

Source: 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania: Multi-municipal Planning and Implementation in Pennsylvania (Report Summary)


According to the report, 30% of the state's 2nd class townships are participating in regional planning. This is a good start, as the various local governments start to break down the barriers in developing regional comprehensive plans.  

As our economy woes continue to deepen, I suspect local governments will look to save taxpayer money by regionalizing local services.

Get Involved - Every Voice Counts!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Night of Surprises at the Kings Mill Hearings.


Oh What a night! The King Mills Hearings are close to completion, but not without a surprise witness. The rebuttal witness for KMRD was engineer Charles Unangst.  This is the same person that presented the first Kings Mill development concepts at the August 22, 2006 Zoning Hearing board meeting.

Once again, KMRD attorney John VanLuvanee led Charles Unangst through a series of hypothetical concepts that outlined the proposed development for Kings Mill. Instead of presenting a plan for 3000 homes (1952 apartments, 731 mobile homes, and 359 townhouses), they discussed several scenarios that reduce the number of apartments to 992 and the number of townhouses to 280. Oddly, they also discussed a plan that increase the number of townhouses to 376.  Was this a sneak peek at a proposed settlement?

Then both parties rested their respective cases.  Zoning hearing board Solicitor Michael Shay asked KMRD and Forks Township whether the evidentiary portion of the case was completed?  Both parties answered "yes".

The next steps in this case are now clear. Both parties need to exchange errata sheets and file final briefs by October 7, 2008. Final arguments and a Zoning Hearing Board vote will be held on October 20, 2008 at 7:30 PM.  The public will also get a chance to provide input at the October 20, 2008 hearing.

It is critical we show our support for the Forks Township legal team and send a clear message to the developers.  Respect our Zoning Laws!


Get Involved!  Every Voice Counts!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forks Township Kings Mills Hearing - Round 24

The next round of the King Mill hearings is scheduled for Monday September 8, 2008 at 7:30 PM. The hearing will be held at the Municipal Building meeting room. 

In summary, this is an on-going hearing to hear a substantive challenge to 2006 Forks Township FP Farm Land Protection district regulations. The challenge states the regulations concerning the development of single family detached homes in the FP district are arbitrary, unreasonable, and unconstitutional because effect of the zoning laws discourage a landowner to develop the land with high density housing. The developer (KMRD) wants to built 1,952 condominium apartments, 359 townhouses and 731 mobile homes on 545 acres in new development called Kings Mill.

According to the Forks Action Committee (FAC), several actions may take place tomorrow night.

Monday's Hearing:

  • Township cross-examination of Dennis Glackin, KMRD's first rebuttal witness.
  • Testimony of second (as yet unnamed) rebuttal witness.

What may also occur:

  • Township cross-examination of the second rebuttal witness.
  • Review of the "errata sheets."
  • Summary arguments by both sides.
  • A vote by the Zoning Hearing Board

We are getting close to the closing arguments in this case. It is critical we show our support for the Forks Township legal team and send a clear message to the developers.  Respect our Zoning Laws!


Get Involved!  Every Voice Counts!

Déjà vu all over again (Yogi Berra)

In searching for a way to describe the current situation with the Forks EMS leadership team, the terms "Yikes," "Rats," and "What the Heck," came to mind. I settled on the most apropos - "Déjà vu all over again."

I was unable to attend the BoS meeting. According to press reports, the Forks EMS leadership team was not at the BoS meeting either. What the heck!

Forks Township BoS requested that Forks EMS produce a business plan and current financial statements by Tuesday September 2, 2008. Neither the business plan nor financial statements were sent to the township. Both the Express-Times and Morning Call reported that Forks EMS instead sent a letter to the BoS blaming our supervisors for creating the squad’s financial problems. According to the Morning Call article, "Forks EMS' last financial statement, as of May 31, showed $183,000 of liability and $274,000 of long-term debt." Without any pathway to profitability, any hope for the financial viability of Forks EMS is waning.

I am worried about the situation. Forks EMS leadership has been remiss in not creating a viable business plan, including a way to reduce debt. The EMS volunteers who provide Forks Township residents with quality care deserve better than this. The families and residents of Forks Township deserve better. It is time to act.


Get Involved!  Every Voice Counts!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Way to Go Williams Township!

Sometimes, the right thing just happens.  The stars align, the moon rises, and destiny of a township is revealed.  This may seem a bit melodramatic, but to the Community Activist's who worked long hours to change the form of the Williams Township Board of Supervisors, this statement seems right.

A Northampton County Judge ruled the proposed referendum to add two supervisors to Williams Township three member board could be placed on the November 4, 2008 ballot.  Even though the judge ruled the lawsuit to challenge the referendum was filed one day late, the right decision was made.

Let the citizens of Williams Township decide the structure of their Board of Supervisors. It is the right thing to do!


Get Involved. Every Voice Counts!