Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Fight for the Soul of Town Center

As I wrote in an previous blog, I suspected a new development proposal was pending for the Lanceo property.  Today. the Morning Call broke the story about a new development proposal.

It seems a Dollar Tree and Planet Fitness may occupy a portion of the Old Laneco building.  Right now, the proposed plan will also have a McDonald's as a pad site. This proposal will still leave about 80,000 sq ft to be developed at a later date.

The Metro Commercial brochure shows some interesting facts about our township and the surrounding communities.


3 Miles

5 Miles

7 Miles

08 Population





08 Household






08 Est Avg HH Income





It is no wonder, we are starting to get interest from fast food restaurants.

So, I have a few concerns about the proposed developed as reported by the Morning Call.  First, the new fitness center may draw new customers from the Easton YMCA and the Forks Community Center fitness center. This could mean additional taxpayer money may be needed to fund the Community Center fitness programs. Second, I am really sure a new fast food restaurant will draw business from the local restaurants and could further hurt our local economy. The question is whether the new businesses incremental revenues will offset the loss of revenue from local businesses. 

Finally, I am not sure whether the new business reflect the character of our town center or help Forks Township retain it's unique identity.  Surely, we need to fight to retain our local charm and unique character. 

This is a fight for the soul of our town center and community.

Update #1: I have spend this afternoon talking to people about the proposed Lanco development. Many people believe this is a "net gain" for our community, as it will bring in additional tax revenue.  Allot of the people was hoping for "higher quality" development proposal, but the current proposal is better than the status quo.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Easton Area Races

With the filing date to get on the May 09 ballot, just around the corner, we have seem some interesting announcements in the past few days.

Freewheeling Kerry Myers, a current EASD school board member, has decided to enter the Easton City Council race. He is seeking the city council seat that represents the Easton South side.  Councilwoman Sandra Vulcano representing the South Side will also seek re-election to the city council.  This should be a fun and interesting race!

The Forks Township Tax collector race is heating up, as two political newcomers have announced bids to run for tax collector. Wendy Buchanan, a Democrat, has 23 years of experience with the AT&T Treasury team.  Anne Bennet-Morse, a Republican, has worked in the Forks EIT department for the past six years. So far, no word from the current Tax Collector, June Vail (R), on her future plans.  

Hopefully, we will get the chance to chat with these two ladies on why they are running for office.

Right now, we only have one candidate for two open seats on the EASD school board that represents Region III.  Pam Millen-Eustis has announced her re-election bid for Region IIII school director.  I am hoping we get another candidate or two for this very important seat.

This is a very important election. Please get involved!

Every Voice Counts!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What gives on the old Lanceo Property in Forks?

Just a quick update on the development of the old Lanceo property on Sullivan Trail in Forks Township. One of our citizens was questioning the supervisors about future development of the old Lanceo Property. The discussion centered on the possibility of declaring the old Lanceo property, a "blighted" property, so the township can aggressively purse re-development of the property.

Then the interesting news. The board was asked by the township staff to wait 45 days, before we proceed with any re-development ideas.

Do we have a commercial developer interested in the old Lanceo property?   Do we have a proposal from a developer?My wife is hoping Homes Goods takes a look at the property!

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts!

Regional Comprehensive Plan - Forks Says Thanks, but No Thanks!


At the last Forks Township BoS meeting, the supervisors decided not to participate in the development of a Regional Comprehensive Plan.

The purpose of a Regional Comprehensive plan is to create a common approach to residential and commercial development, traffic management, providing municipality services, and provides the opportunity to reduce overall expenses for the taxpayers.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know I am a big fan of regional cooperation between the various municipalities.  Regional cooperation does not mean we give-up our rights to maintain our zoning laws or determine our future as a township, but it does mean the citizens of Forks Township will have a voice in solving regional issues.

I think our citizens need to have a "seat at the table", when discussing and solving regional issues.  It is only fair!

Let me know your thoughts!

Get Involved. Every Voice Counts!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bushkill Creek Flooding

Last night, the Bushkill Creek Conservancy presented a plan to address the various flooding issues along 14 separate sections of the Bushkill Creek.

The goal of the study is to identify short-term and long-term flooding remediation along the main stem of the Bushkill Creek.  Specifically,the study will accomplish the following objectives:

1. Identify dams or constrictions that raise the water surface elevation.

2. Identify locations to reduce flow rate (water) and increase water storage.

3. Identify locations for sediment load reduction.

4. Identify location of ground water recharge.

The study provided a action plan for the various municipalities to take concrete steps to reduce flooding along the Bushkill creek.  Personally, I was impressed by the study and the depth of the recommendations. This study should serve as an excellent guide for Forks Township to start the discussions to reduce flooding along Bushkill Drive.

Additionally, this study presents another opportunity for the Forks Township BoS to partner with the City of Easton and the Borough of Tatamy to create a long-tem plan to reduce flooding along the Bushkill Creek.  The final version of the study will be completed in the next few weeks.

I hope the township takes advantage of this opportunity!

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts! 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lehigh Valley Zoo Saved

Last night, the Lehigh Valley Commissioners voted 7 to 1 to provide $525,000 in 09 funding and $325,000 in funding for the next 5 years (Express-Times) to help the zoo meet yearly operating expenses.

This is good news, as the Lehigh Valley Zoo got a lifeline from the county commissioners for the next several years.  I was a wee bit disappointed the Zoo leadership did not present a viable 5 year business plan. I am  in favor of local governments helping businesses survive in these turbulent economic times, but the Zoo leadership bears the responsibility of providing a good marketing plan to the public. 

The Zoo financial team should tell us on how we measure financial success and report out against these metrics on a yearly basis.

Get Involved - Every Voice Counts

Time for a Change !

I am pleased to announce my candidacy for Forks Township Supervisor as a Republican in the May 2009 primary.

We continue to face many challenges in our community. As we enter a new era in politics and uncertain economic times, it is critical that we elect leaders who have the courage and leadership skills to create innovative solutions to these new challenges. We need critical public services, updated infrastructure to support our growth, and sound financial policies. We need to continue the tradition of strong athletic opportunities for our children and to develop varied recreational opportunities for our senior citizens. In fact, improving the quality of life for the residents of Forks Township is a key issue facing our community.

My wife, Jan, and I reside in Forks Township with our three children. I am a member of the Forks Township Planning Commission and an active member of the Forks Township Comprehensive Plan committee. I have held various leadership positions in my church, including serving three years on the church Vestry. Currently, I am an executive board member of the Easton Area High School Swimming and Diving Booster Club. I have been active with Easton Area School District Board committees and have been appointed to the 2006 Easton Area High School Local Tax Commission and the 2008 Facilities Utilization Committee that successfully created recommendations to the school board.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Virginia Wesleyan College, an MBA from Moravian College, and attended Northwestern University for additional executive education. My professional career at AT&T has spanned many years, and I have held various leadership positions within the company. I also served with honor and distinction as a member of the United States Navy.

I believe my extensive community involvement combined with my leadership experience uniquely qualifies me as an ideal candidate for change. As your newest Forks Township Supervisor, I will serve with integrity, fairness, courage and concern for all members of our community. I will seek out diverse ideas and opinions to formulate new and creative solutions to our complex issues.

I look forward to creating a new era of leadership and especially to meeting all of my neighbors while on the campaign trail. We will be discussing our future!


David Billings

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Forks Township Day in Court - KMRD Procedural Challenge

Today, the Forks Township lawyer Steven N. Goudsouzian had a chance to argue the township position on the KMRD procedural challenge to all our zoning ordinances back to 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas.

I was unable to attend the oral arguments, but I heard the KMRD lawyers presented arguments about the alleged inadequate public notices regarding the 2006 Zoning Ordinance. KMRD is arguing Forks Township did not provide adequate public notice, therefore our 2006 Zoning Ordinances are invalid.

KMRD and Forks Township will tangle again in court, when oral arguments on the Substantive Challenge to the Forks 2006 Zoning Ordinance are heard. Once again, Steve will do a great job in defending our zoning laws.

Get Involved. Every Voice Counts

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Leader for GOP


On Friday, the GOP elected Michael Steele as the new leader of the GOP. Michael Steele was elected on the sixth ballot. According to MSNBC, Steele states: "We're going to say to friend and foe alike: We want you to be a part of us, we want you to with be with us, and for those who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over."

I do wonder what happens now. Will the GOP seek to include new and diverse ideas within the party platform? Will the GOP recruit new and refreshing candidates? Or will the new leader cater to the ultra right-wing of the GOP?

We shall see.

Get Involved! Every Voice Counts