CHESTNUTHILL TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS
ROUTE 715, BRODHEADSVILLE, PA 18322
MINUTES OF MEETING – MARCH 5, 2002
A regular meeting of the Chestnuthill Township Board of Supervisors was called to order at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, March 5, 2002, at the Municipal Building, Route 715, Brodheadsville. Those present were Chuck Gould (Chairman), Maureen Tatu, Mike Possinger, and Attorney Joseph P. McDonald, Jr.
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag was led by Ray Montoro.
Russ Fisher. A septic will be installed at the Park Building. Russ Fisher’s brother, Rick Fisher, is working on the design. Dirt is currently being dumped on the park property for a ball field. The ice rink is being taken out. The Park Commission is currently researching grant opportunities. Mr. Fisher requested that the Park Commission be permitted to bid out for the purchase of equipment for bocce and volleyball. On motion made by Mike, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to advertise for the bids (3-0). Mulch is being dumped for the playground equipment. “March for Parks” will be held at the Romascavage Property on Saturday, April 27. “Art in the Park” will be held at the Park Building on Sunday, July 21 from 12:00 Noon until 4:00 P.M. The Haunted Forest will be held on Friday, October 11; Saturday, October 12; Friday, October 18; and Saturday, October 19. The Christmas Tree Lighting will be held on Friday, December 6 at 6:30 P.M. Mr. Fisher stated that he saw on Channel 13 the other day that there is another website on the Internet being toted as Chestnuthill’s website. He believes this could be bad for the Township because if this other website posts information that is not in tune with the information on the official website, then citizens will be confused and misinformed. Mr. Fisher stated that he would like to have a Park Page linked to the official Chestnuthill Township Website. On motion made by Mike, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to link the Park Page to the Chestnuthill Township Website (3-0).
Paul Heins. Mr. Heins and his wife own Hilltop Health Foods and Organic Oasis. Mr. Heins stated that the Zoning Officer went to Mr. Heins’ home to discuss a complaint received from residents at the townhouses across the street from Hilltop Health Foods regarding their chickens. Mr. Heins claims the Zoning Officer never knocked on the door of the residence and instead telephoned Organic Oasis and told Mrs. Heins’ partner to tell Mrs. Heins to take care of the chickens. Mr. Heins indicated that the Zoning Officer was rude and unprofessional in how he handled this matter. Chuck stated that Mr. Heins’ opinion has been noted but told him that a policy complaint such as this should be made in writing and signed. Then the Supervisors would address the issue with the Zoning Officer at an Executive Session and contact Mr. Heins with the results.
Mike Possinger. Mike stated that he was approached by a resident who suggested that roadblocks be placed at the Romascavage Property. This gentleman took Mike for a ride there and Mike saw all of the trash dumped there, including a refrigerator and a dryer. Mike suggested that cut trees be used to block the property off. Russ Fisher then informed the Supervisors that Girl Scouts and Daisy Scouts are scheduled to pick up trash there on Keep America Beautiful Day. Chuck stated to Mike that he believes there is a witness to the dumping on the Romascavage Property, and more information will follow about this at a future meeting.
John Vinck. Mr. Vinck spoke about sites torn up at Birch Hollow Estates where cable was buried underground in filled holes. He said that he spoke about this at a meeting several months ago and has not received a response. Chuck responded that contractors are no longer charged a flat fee when installing cable. The contractors are charged per artery and a site inspection is performed by the Township Roadmaster. Chuck and Joe McDonald further stated that there is no authority on aerial cable. Aerial cable regulations did not come into existence until the late 1990s, and Joe McDonald does not believe they can be mandated.
Approval of the Minutes.
On motion made by Mike, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to approve the minutes of the Tuesday, February 19, 2002 Township Supervisors’ Meeting (3-0).
Roadmaster Progress Report.
Chuck stated that the public has been presenting a lot of questions to the Township Supervisors regarding equipment recently purchased. Chuck stated that a year ago he sat down with the Road Crew to discuss major road issues. The response made to Chuck without hesitation was the Road Crew’s inability to “finish the job from A to Z.” They could cut shoulders and put down blacktop, but they could not flush the pipes. The State is not able to just bring the necessary equipment up, and a new flusher truck costs in excess of $150,000.00. Joe Weston, the Township Roadmaster, then took over and explained to the Supervisors and the attendees of the meeting how a used flusher truck was purchased for $2,800.00, and $350.00 was spent for a new pump for it. The truck was then rebuilt “from the ground up.” Road Crew members Jim Keiper and Craig Hammerstone worked on its design, coming up with their own concept and blending it with ideas incorporated from information they received from the local fire department. Joe stated that in February 20.81 tons of cold patch were placed on the potholes of Township roads. He invited any citizen with concerns about potholes to call him. He then stated that a 977 Caterpillar Loader was purchased from the Federal Surplus Program for $1,500.00. The machine did not steer properly when it was purchased. One hundred twenty-nine dollars was spent on repairing the machine, not including batteries, injectors, springs, seals, and gaskets. The Request for Bids for the paving of State Turnback Roads has been drawn up and is ready for submission. The crane purchased for the salt shed has already been put to use, and another township has inquired if it can be borrowed for services in-kind. If the Township can repair two to three bridges itself with the use of the crane, the crane will have already paid for itself. The Fire Department has agreed to allow the roadway to go to the back of the Fire Station for access to the salt shed. Maureen asked Joe if any major roads have been taken care of. Joe responded that the shoulders were cut on Burger Hollow and Merwinsburg Roads, and Pheasant Run Road has been paved. Mike added that the State is still working on the bridge removal problem on Jonas Road. Joe also stated that spots on Idlewood Drive that were patched with the Dura Patcher look as good as the day they were patched back in August.
On motion made by Mike, seconded by Chuck, it was voted to send Lorelei Sands, Chestnuthill Township Receptionist, to a seminar in Allentown in May entitled, “Managing the Front Desk” (3-0). Maureen and Mike will be attending the Pocono Mountains Council of Governments’ Annual Dinner on Monday, March 25. Cathy Baker asked if Township Employees could bring guests with them to the dinner this year. On motion made by Chuck, seconded by Mike, it was voted to allow Township Employees to attend with a guest (3-0). The Monroe County Arts Council sent the Township Supervisors a thank you letter for the $350.00 donation. Smith-Barney sent the Township Supervisors information about pension plans. The Monroe County Commissioners’ Office sent correspondence stating that they anticipate $543,000.00 for a block grant program. Projects can be submitted for this grant no later than Friday, March 29. Projects to be submitted will be discussed at the next meeting. The Monroe County Drought Management Task Force is encouraging everyone to be very cautious with their use of water. Monroe County’s water supply is currently 11 feet below normal. The Monroe County Area Agency on Aging was notified that they did not receive a grant for the expansion of the Chestnuthill Senior Center. The State responded to Joan Kresge’s letter requesting that the speed limit be lowered to 35 mph on Route 115 by the schools. The speed limit will be lowered by the State if the Township shows support of this. Dr. Leon Clark questioned if this issue is severe enough to warrant lowering the speed limit, given the amount of traffic passing through that area. Dr. Clark asked if it would not be more credible to expand the school zone. Mr. Heins added that there is the beginning of a drop at the end of the school zone, and it would be a blind drive if the school zone area was extended. He suggested a flashing signal for a warning of the blind area. Mike then stated that the speed limit is 55 mph where one comes out of the school zone by the barn. Mike said there is another blind spot coming off of Weir Lake Road downhill to the right towards Mountain View Circle. On motion made by Chuck, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to send the State a letter supporting a drop in the speed limit on Route 115 by the schools that also includes the suggestions discussed at the meeting (3-0). Joe McDonald presented the recorded deed and insurance policy for the Romascavage Property to the Supervisors. He requested that they be kept in the safest place in the building. Cathy Baker told the Supervisors that the Zoning Officer, Walter Hansen, is working with an outdated software program. Mr. Hansen has viewed a software package that can perform many more functions than the one he currently has. It can generate permits and maps. It can be networked with the Sewage Enforcement Officers’ computer. It can reference permits that were issued several years back. It can identify the status of a property. It can process building permit applications, create and generate financial statements, and create and generate financial reports. If a piece of property is sold to another individual, violations will list under both parties’ names. The cost of the program is $2,940.00. On motion made by Maureen, seconded by Mike, it was voted to purchase this software program for the Zoning Office (3-0).
Orchard View Estates. On motion made by Mike, seconded by Maureen, this has been tabled until the next meeting (3-0).
ESSA/FOP Land Option. Joe McDonald presented the four (4) original signed option contracts that were delivered to him. In December, 2001, the Township Supervisors made a motion to enter into an option to buy 7+ acres of land fronting on Business Route 209 from East Stroudsburg Savings Association. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) intends to build a lodge hall for its membership on this land. If the Township or the Fraternal Order of Police commences construction on the intended facilities within the next five years, they will have purchased the land. However, if nothing has been done with the land by that time, then East Stroudsburg Savings Association would be granted the option to reacquire the land at the same price before it could be sold to anyone else. The total purchase price of the land is $175,000.00, which will be shared equally between the Township and the Fraternal Order of Police. The option runs through May 30 of this year, and a $100.00 consideration fee must be paid upon signing. Ray Montoro inquired as to what prompted the inclusion of the Fraternal Order of Police. Chuck responded that two years ago State mandates were implemented for police coverage/locations, and a site is being scoped out. Mr. Montoro also stated that if Chestnuthill Township were to establish a police department, then the Fraternal Order of Police would be their bargaining unit. Al Bourke stated that the site would be good for the police, but he has concerns about the Township’s last financial statement showing $441,000.00 in debt. Cathy Baker explained that a financial statement shows a “true picture” of what would be owed if the debtor was required to pay the total of everything owed all at once instead of in installments. She stated that there is plenty of cash on hand in the bank to cover this. Chuck further explained that the “true picture” is just a method of doing business. Mr. Bourke then stated concerns about having the police station on a section of 209 that is prone to traffic jams, and he suggested the 45 acres at the Transfer Station. Gary Nasca stated that the ways in and out of 209 need to be fixed. Bob Baker asked that an optimum location be searched for through a traffic study. In response to Mr. Bourke, Mike stated that years ago testing was done on the Transfer Station property to see if a ball field could be set up at the old landfill. Holes were drilled, etc. and there was a problem with methane. The dollar amount to rectify the problem would make it unfeasible. There are no property lines there, and part of the property goes over a big dip down to the Beers property. Dr. Clark suggested that a site already owned by the Township be used for the police station. Mrs. Drake stated that it is important to invest in property here in the Township. Mr. Bourke asked that the document not be signed tonight, as its wording is full of legalese and it should be read slowly and carefully. Chuck responded that the document does not contain much legalese; it is very direct. He read a portion of it aloud. Chuck stated that in five years none of the taxpayers’ money is lost. At worst, East Stroudsburg Savings Association would pay $87,500.00 back to the Township with no interest. On motion made by Maureen, seconded by Mike with the addition to the vote that alternative locations also be investigated, it was voted to sign the option contract (3-0). Chuck stated that as a follow-up he is requesting that Mike and Al Bourke form a Fact-Finding Committee to check into better locations. The committee is being given a six week time frame to accomplish this.
Employee Handbook. Cathy Baker, Dave Johnson, Joe Weston, and Mike Carr (a labor attorney) met and drafted an employee handbook. There currently is no employee handbook, and this would go hand-in-hand with the union contract. The draft will now be presented to the Supervisors for their comments. Maureen stated that the Supervisors will review the draft at the next meeting. Dr. Clark asked if there will be public comments regarding the handbook at the next meeting. Chuck offered to establish a committee of citizens to review the handbook; however, no one showed an interest.
Dura Patcher. Mike stated that he did research on the purchase of a used Dura Patcher. It is his belief that the Township should not purchase a used Dura Patcher; used ones are very used and are not well-maintained. Mike further stated that State contracts start around $33,000.00 and go up to the high 50’s, and the Township would not have to advertise for bids to get a State contract. On motion made by Mike, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to use a State contract for road patching (3-0).
EMS Study. Chuck stated that at the February 5 meeting the EMS Needs Assessment study at .051 per capita was briefly discussed and then tabled. Chuck stated that now, after sitting through a two-hour session with the Ambulance Corps, this now has his support. Dr. Clark inquired as to what the study is needed for. Chuck explained that it identifies the strengths and weaknesses in an ambulance corps. Upon motion by Chuck, seconded by Maureen, it was voted to have Chestnuthill Township participate in this study (3-0).
100 Year Flood Plain. A few months back, Sue McShane requested that the Township Supervisors review the 100 Year Flood Plain Ordinance and perhaps change it. Copies of Ms. McShane’s request were sent to Charlie Schmehl at URDC, Darryl Speicher at the Monroe County Conservation District, Attorney Joe McDonald, the Monroe County Planning Commission, and the Chestnuthill Township Planning Commission. So far the only response received has been from Darryl Speicher. She read his response aloud, which indicated that he would like to see even more strict regulations enacted regarding flood plains. Ms. McShane believes that Mr. Speicher missed the issue at hand: If an entire parcel is in a flood plain it is condemned, and this can have devastating consequences. For example, if a house on a flood plain burned down, it could not be rebuilt. This Flood Plain Ordinance makes certain properties totally valueless. Ms. McShane will resubmit her request to the Monroe County Conservation District.
Financial Statements – John J. Riley, Inc. Cathy Baker stated that she has been looking into the Township consolidating its loans into one tax-free loan or floating a bond. However, the Township does not have professional financial statements, and without these none of the banks the Township has contacted are willing to work with the Township. Cathy got prices from several CPA firms. Cathy believes that the Township should go with John J. Riley, Inc. It will cost $5,000.00 to do a review of the Township’s books, and there is a $2,000.00 set-up fee. If the Supervisors choose John J. Riley, Inc. to perform a full-blown audit next year, it will cost $9,000.00. An audit for the third year would cost $9,500.00, and if the Township signs a three-year contract for all of these services the $2,000.00 set-up fee would be waived. The Supervisors did not believe that they could sign a contract for audits for future years, as requirements need to be published in the newspapers. Cathy stated that the Supervisors can still receive a $2,000.00 fee reduction if they choose at a later date to have next year’s audit performed by John J. Riley, Inc. Dr. Clark asked why the Township was not bidding out for these services. Chuck responded that the Township does not need to bid out for professional services. Cathy added that John J. Riley, Inc. is well-versed in bonds and bond issues. April 16 is the earliest John J. Riley, Inc. can perform the review, and that is if this issue is approved tonight. Upon motion by Maureen, seconded by Mike, it was voted to hire John J. Riley, Inc. to review the Township’s books and create professional financial statements from them (3-0).
Blight Litter Problem. Maureen commented on how guests she had from out of town noticed all of the litter and trash strewn throughout the Township. Maureen is requesting that the Township Road Crew clean up trash off the streets before the PIC Clean Up Day on Saturday, April 6. Mike stated that the Road Crew can call Nancy at PennDOT and PennDOT will provide gloves and bags. On motion by Maureen, seconded by Mike, it was voted to have the Chestnuthill Township Road Crew clean up trash off of the main arteries on a day before April 6 (3-0). Chuck added that Maureen should give any of her public contacts the PIC Committee meeting dates, and Cathy stated that she has gotten several calls from citizens who are interested in the PIC Committee.
Approval to Pay the Bills.
On motion by Maureen, seconded by Mike, it was voted to pay the bills (3-0).
LTS Development, Inc. (118 Lot Major Residential Subdivision). This has been tabled until the March 19 meeting.
Dietrich, Clair E. (Minor Subdivision). This is a sale by Mr. Dietrich of an 85 foot piece of his property, in the 100 Year Flood Plain and abutting a stream, to the Pohocopo Fish Association. There are no new developments and no new sewage testing. The only outstanding issue is it must be signed and notarized by Mr. Dietrich. There are waivers on Wetlands and SALDO. The engineer is satisfied with the technical review. There is a Planning Commission motion to approve by Larry Heckman, seconded by Dave Johnson. This is subject to zoning comments and subject to a Written Request of Waiver of Wetlands Delineation by DEP. (Helen Beers, a Chestnuthill Township SEO, will call Brad Miller.) Upon motion by Maureen on all three waivers and the plan, seconded by Mike, the plan is approved (3-0).
Upon motion by Mike, seconded by Maureen, the meeting adjourned at 9:10 P.M. (3-0).