Penn Forest supervisors reorganize, again
The most animated part of the Penn Forest Township Board of Supervisor's Meeting came during new business. Supervisor Alan Katz made a number of motions, which effectively reorganized the board for the third time this year.
Katz's first motion involved removing Chairman Paul Montemuro from his position in favor of Supervisor Christine Fazio.
"Because we deem it necessary," was Katz's reply when residents in attendance questioned randomly from the floor why Montemuro was being removed.
"Why are you removing him from his position? Did he do something wrong?" asked Karen Wimmer of the Sunrise Ridge section of the township. Neither Katz nor Fazio answered the questions from the floor. At one point Fazio banged the gavel to bring order back to the meeting pointing out that the residents had "no right" to public discussion on the matter.
By the time Katz was done with his motions, Fazio was chairman. Katz retained his position as vice chairman and added assistant road master. Supervisor Warren Reiner was appointed as personnel director in charge of all building personnel. Montemuro retained his position overseeing operation of the transfer station and its employees only because Reiner acknowledged that he did not believe he could do both road master and transfer station.
Katz unsuccessfully attempted to remove Montemuro from his position relative to the park project as well.
Supervisors Judy Knappenberger and Montemuro voted no to all of the changes to the board.
"These changes are the result of the recent primary election," said Montemuro when questioned later about the changes. "There were a number of rumors circulated around the township prior to the election that I was in favor of the Navitat zip line project. The rumors were so extreme that some people were told that I was planning on using my property, which is adjacent to the Deitrick property, to put in a direct access road to the site. These rumors are completely untrue. These statements resulted in my not being re-elected."
In this subsequent discussion Montemuro revealed that he is planning on seeking re-election by running a write-in campaign for the November election.
Another major issue came up in public discussion. Atlantic Wind LLC, a division of Iberdrola Renewables, was present to request a tentative approval for a conditional use permit to install two meteorological towers on property owned by Bethlehem Water Authority Property.
The towers, which are to be 198 feet in height, will be located on either side of Hatchery Road, well away from any residential areas. The purpose of the towers is to collect meteorological data to be transmitted by cellular signal to a central location. The data, which will be collected for 1 to 3 years will then be used to determine if the site is a good candidate for a wind farm.
"We are requesting the board of supervisors grant us their conditional approval before we go before the planning commission at this time," said Denise Yarnoff, the attorney representing Atlantic Wind.
The planning commission has not had a quorum for the last two months, which has delayed Atlantic Wind's project. The planning commission is scheduled to meet on June 5.
The supervisors agreed to the conditional request, provided that the plan receive planning, zoning and building approval. Supervisor Fazio voted no on the motion.
"I don't see any reason not to wait for the planning commission meeting," said Fazio.
Also on the subject of the planning commission, the supervisors agreed to accept the letter of registration from Herbert Green effective immediately. Township resident William Miller was appointed to the planning commission to replace Green. Miller will be sworn in at the June 5 commission meeting. That meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Josiah Behrens, candidate for tax collector, made a request of the supervisors to permit the next tax collector to use the township building for regularly scheduled hours when the tax collector would be present to make it easier for township residents. The supervisors were all in favor of the request. Solicitor Gregory Mousseau was requested to determine what liability issues there might be in complying with the request.
Montemuro and township administrator Cindy Henning have applied for a 902 grant which would allow the township to install and operate three compactors as part of the township's recycling program. The compactors would crush the recyclable refuse into cubes which could then be collected and sold. If this grant is approved it would allow the township to continue to recycle without raising the cost of a garbage permit. The grant decision will be made in February 2014.
The Parks and Recreation Committee has a number of applications received for members. The bulk of the applications received are from people residing below the turnpike. The original plan was to have three members from above the turnpike and three from below it. The supervisors agreed to continue to accept applications through June 14. If they do not receive enough applications from above the turnpike they will chose the members from the applications that they have.
Applicants must pass an Act 34 and PA State Police background check. The township will pay for the background check; however anyone failing to pass will be required to reimburse the township.
The board has still not agreed to sign off on the plans for the traffic signals to be installed at the new access ramps to the turnpike at Route 903. Dan Steele was in attendance representing the PA Turnpike.
Steele explained that the system is being designed to allow for changes in the future if their studies determine that changes to the original plan are needed. The change most discussed was the left turn signal.
At this point the engineers have agreed to add the four-hour battery backup and an override switch for the fire police.
"The turnpike never takes responsibilities for the traffic signals. We design and construct, but the township owns the signal and takes on the responsibility. If in the future there is a need to update or change the system, we have allowed for that. But when it comes to the final say in any design, that falls on PennDOT," said Steele.
Also related to the turnpike construction, there will be a detour necessary at Old Stage Road from Route 534 to Route 903. The detour will start after school lets out in June and will run through November 2014.
The BOS agreed to review quotations for workers' compensation insurance from American Coast to Coast Business Solutions and complete insurance packages from Higgens Insurance.
Due to issues regarding the legitimacy of the person who installed the cameras in the township building and the transfer station the cameras are being removed.
With regard to personnel matters, the township will be hiring three part-time general maintenance employees for the summer at a rate of $10 per hour. It was also agreed that Richard "Smokey" Beers would be promoted to full-time at a rate of $11.50 per hour.