UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TOWNSHIP
Township Phone 387 Ye Olde Highway Fax Number
(570) 897-6127 Mount Bethel, PA 18343-5220 (570) 897-0108
THE MINUTES OF THE
UPPER MOUNT BETHEL TOWNSHIP
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
MONDAY, July 28, 2008
1. CALL TO ORDER:
Supervisor Nelson called this meeting to order at 7:40 pm. Those present were Chairperson Loren Rabbat, Supervisor Edward Nelson Supervisor Andrew Nestor Jr., Supervisor Judith Henckel, Supervisor Edward Nelson, Supervisor Jerry Geake, Township Manager Maureen Sterner and Solicitor Ronold Karasek. Chairperson Rabbat excused herself at 7:45 p.m.
2. Appoint Recording Secretary - MOTION by Supervisor Geake, seconded by Supervisor Henckel to appoint Melissa Mastrogiovanni as Recording Secretary. Granted. Vote: 5-0.
3. County - Wide EAC Formation - Township Manager Maureen Sterner received information Northampton County regarding this EAC Formation. No action at this time, to be announced at next months meeting for the public.
4. Kovalevich Land Use Appeal - Solicitor Karasek indicated that an appeal has been filed by Kovalevich. It is only at the pleading stage phase as of yet. Solicitor Karasek in his opinion thinks that Kovalevich has merit for his appeal. At the time of the hearing Solicitor Karasek told the Board of Supervisors that his opinion was they should have approved the SALDO Waiver permitting 2 flag lots. Solicitor Karasek’s opinion is that that Upper Mt. Bethel Township should drop their defense to the appeal. The case is weak and would be costly to defend based upon counsel’s recommendation. Public Comment by Charles Kull, he states that Planning Commission also did not recommend the SALDO Waiver. The Planning Commission’s position was that Mr. Kovalevich can make two lots which conforms to the Ordinance. MOTION by Supervisor Nelson, seconded by Supervisor Geake to drop the defense to the Kovalevich Land Use Appeal. After Comments. Vote: 4-1, with Supervisor Henckel voting “NO”.
5. Spillman Farmer - Principal Architect, Salvatore B. Verrastro is present. There was a lengthy discussion as to the progress so far with moving towards the master plan. There was a Planning Session for the feasibility study on June 30, 2008. There were two components to the studies. One was the facility study with the buildings that we have on this property and the other two properties and the other was the Land Development component. Salvatore. B. Verrastro has looked at the Township’s Comprehensive Plan and he would like to have another meeting regarding facilities and present all the drawings and layout options of the facilities. In the master plan, the facilities would move to the Million Dollar site or Eastern Industry site and other alternatives have been discussed. Mr. Verrastro stated that “The Million Dollar property was a gold mine of a buy”.
Mr. Verrastro inquired as to the open space survey results and would like a copy of the results sent to him. Supervisor Henckel said the consultant will send him that information.
Mr. Verrastro asked about emergency management, where that should be located, are they looking to put this on site with the Township Offices on a permanent basis. Mr. Verrastro clarifies where would the emergency management office be. Right now the emergency management office is located in the top file drawer in the Township Office and at the Mt. Bethel Firehouse. Township Manager Sterner indicates that it would be beneficial to have all emergency management information in one location, preferably the Township Office where all our computers and databases are. Supervisor Nestor Jr. thinks in the master plan, Ambulance, Fire Dept. and all safety management for Upper Mt. Bethel should be housed in one facility. Mr. Verrastro indicates that the future of Upper Mt. Bethel Township could include all emergency management teams together. Recreation has been the only connection with Portland up till now, but maybe in the future we can combine other facilities.
Zoning and Planning are one operation right now. If we were a larger community, then the engineering would be with planning and zoning, all centering off the office staff. Mr. Verrastro asks as the Township grows, would we add more Supervisors. According to state code five Supervisors is the max you could have. Would the Solicitor need office space? Right now we do not, only if we would need a Full-time Solicitor in the future. Possibly a paralegal would be needed if our Township grows to 15,000 residents.
Mr. Verrastro realizes that Upper Mt. Bethel would like to stay as green as possible and as cost effective as possible. There is no park and ride in our area, not much bus transportation and areas for biking. Incorporating this is a step towards being green. There is only one farmers market on 611 which is only open on Sundays. The survey results lean towards keeping the area rural.
There are various references in the master plan and comprehensive plan gearing for a Multiple Use Community Center. This Community Center could have multiple uses, indoor recreation for seniors and youth and meeting rooms for various meetings and functions. Supervisor Nestor indicated that 20-25% of our population are Senior Citizens. Supervisor Nelson thinks possibly like a YMCA. We do not have a place for the community to congregate together. Supervisor Nestor says that we need a police department in the long range plan. The State Legislation is faced with the problem with communities like us that receive free state police protection and we are not paying for it. The State is talking about charging communities for state police protection. With the increase of our population we need to consider our own Police Department for the future. On the master plan there is a reference to an amphitheater on Potomac Street. The reason for this location is due to the slope and the view of the Delaware Water Gap. This would have been an ideal location for an amphitheater, but would we consider putting a facility at Eastern Industries now that we have that property. At the present time we do not have any large facility available for the school band or an orchestra to play.
We do not have a public safety director, this issue is null and void being we do not have a police department. We do not need a Health Director either, there is no Health Director even in Northampton County. We do not have a dog pound or animal catcher.
Mr. Verrastro asks what the plan is for the barn on Potomac Street. This has been an on going issue. Some people would like to restore the barn for its historic nature, others would like to tear it down and rebuild a new structure to house equipment. Supervisor Henckel has researched the history of the barn and has all the information.
The Slatebelt Historic Society is a very small group, we do not know how active they are, the church is a focal point on 611. To restore this church costs money and it would have to be maintained.
Supervisor Nelson excused himself from the Work Session @ 8:55 p.m.
The idea of a swimming pool is very expensive and it might not be a viable option for the future. Supervisor Nestor asks how much of the 286 acres can be used for passive recreation. Mr. Verrastro indicates that over 50% of the land, which could include hiking, biking, walking, bridle paths, and a community pavilion with picnic areas. Supervisor Nestor asks if some other entity might want to develop these areas. Maybe some service clubs might be interested. Supervisor Nestor also wants to know would it be possible to derive some kind of revenue from this property and to accomplish what we are seeking to do. Supervisor Geake indicates there are a few parcels that are small buildable lots that we might be able to sell to offset the larger piece of property. Mr. Verrastro comments that he thinks the Eastern Industry Property is a goldmine because Upper Mt. Bethel Township has the opportunity to combine different entities, municipal offices, recreation, community services and a police dept. All these offices could be in one central area. There is access to this site from all different areas, there is a lot of flexibility and opportunity. It is very rare to have a parcel of property in which you can have these entities in one central location. It is a beautiful site it is also similar to a Brownfield, in other words a KOZ. This site is perfect for Township use and they could even move into the house already on the site if needed. We could move only on the first floor, there are a lot of code violations as to the rest of the house. There is also no meeting room space, other than that is has possibilities for renovations. Supervisor Nestor asks if Portland Ambulance Corp. has been incorporated into this site, the Eastern Property location and the master plan. Mr. Verrastro indicates it has been discussed and that is why he had questions as to the emergency management plan. Supervisor Geake indicated before Eastern Industries property, his thought was that the current Township Building be converted into a multi functioning building. Some renovations could be done to make this building a community center, put the ambulance corp. where the Police Department was and then the Township Offices and Road Dept. going over to the other site. As far as a plan in the future, he agrees with some of the ideas of a community center, however due to costs we could make some changes and renovations to the current Township Building. Supervisor Geake also asks that since the Million Dollar property has water on it, would Geo- thermal fall under green. Mr. Verrastro indicates yes it would, that is another advantage of that site.
Supervisor Henckel states there is a conference on 8/16/08 in Lehigh Valley at the Chrin Community Center about starting an initiative here using grasses to make pellets, fuels for schools, transition in using pellet. Could someone from the Township attend as it would help the local farmer.
Another public work session to be scheduled with Salvatore B. Verrastro from Spillman Farmer. Tentative date scheduled for Tuesday September.9, 2008 @ 6:00 p.m.
6. ADJOURN WORK SESSION - MOTION by Supervisor Geake, seconded by Supervisor Judith Henckel to adjourn the Work Session at 9:10 p.m.
No Comments. Vote: 4-0.