Jim Thorpe Planning Commision Meeting (Recap)
June 19th  2007 at the Borough Office.
 
Ben Walbert, Sandy Otto, Joseph Micko, Angelika Forndran, P.E.Attny Nanovic
 
Members of the Summit Hill Borough Council and Summit Hill Planning commission were also present.
 
No minutes from the previous meetings were submitted and reviewed. Commission members did not seem to know where they were.
 
1)      There was general discussion about the need for the Borough to update and develop a new “Comprehensive Plan
a.        The state Municipal Planning code mandates that each municipality have such a plan. The Jim Thorpe Plan was done in 1966 and has not been updated.
 
 “Generally, planning commissions participate in the preparation and development of
comprehensiveplans and review of development proposals. In those preparations, many stakeholders,
communityorganizations, and regional interests must be sought out, listened to, and managed throughout the
process.” (1)
 
           Much of the discussion pertained to the process that the PC will need to follow to complete the plan. The timeline for this has not been established.
At the request of Angelika Forndran, P.E., the Borough had sent out letters to surrounding municipalities inviting them to the meeting. The goal was to see if other municipalities would like to form a joint PC for the Comprehensive plan task. The only municipality to send representatives was Summit Hill.
 
The reason to include other municipalities is two fold:
 
1)      Increase the likelihood that State grant money could be obtained to offset the cost of developing the new comprehensive plan.
2)      Create a better plan that takes into account similar issues in surrounding communities
 
Members of the Summit Hill PC mentioned that they had been told not to apply for any State Grant funds until after Aug.
 
Attny Nanovic mentioned that the make up of the proposed joint planning commission must be established prior to the Grant submission. This means that the municipalities to be included, must be finalized and each municipality involved MUST have an approved motion from it’s governing body stating that it wants to be included in the joint commission.
 
Attny Nanovic mentioned that the normal make-up of a joint commission is one (1) member from each PC involved.
 
The municipalities involved MUST be contiguous
There was general discussion about the municipalities to include
No decision was made, possible municipalities include:
                       Jim Thopre
                       Summit Hill
                        Nesq Twp
                        Penn Forest Twp
                       Coaldale
 
2) There was limited discussion on the proposed “Natural Resource Ordinance” that the PC and Boro are considering.
           I asked Attny Nanovic if this would apply to sub divisions before the Zoning Board or all borough residents, (land owners). He said “as it is written now, everyone”
           Jake Arner again pointed out his concern that the wording, (taken from another municipalities ordinance) was so bad that it did not take into consideration the land owners need for a private well and sewer. This input was provided via a letter from Mr Arners Attny. Attny. Nanovic again mentioned that it is a work in progress. Jake also mentioned that there is no provision for agricultural land use in the proposed ordinance.
Attny Nanovic requested that all suggestions for changes be sent to he and Angelika Forndran.
Jake Arner announced that his Flaggstaff Mntn development would be modified to include the right of way of a few existing bike and hiking trails. Details to follow.
 
A copy of the proposed ordinance can be found HERE
 
3) A presentation was given by Boro Resident  Nancy Zeigler concerning the possibility of an EAC (Environmental Advisory Council) for the Borough of Jim Thorpe.   "Nancy Zeigler" <redhouse27@verizon.net>
 
Nancy reviewed with the commission the history of EAC’s and what their role has become in local municipalities. Nancy mentioned that in Lehigh County, 15 of the local municipalities now have EAC’s . The primary role of the EAC is to advise the local municipality on environmental issues.
 
Nancy mentioned that an EAC must be created by a local municipality and operates as a branch of that government. The members, like the planning commission are appointed.
 
Nic and Eileen east spoke in support of the EAC and municipal involvement concerning environmental issues.
 
The Jim Thorpe PC suggested that Nancy take the issue to the JTBC
 
Below is a recap of Nancy’s presentation
 
Carbon County Greenspace Conservation Update
 
On June 19th, Nancy Zeigler addressed the Jim Thorpe Planning Commission, broaching the idea of forming an Environmental Advisory Council in the Jim Thorpe area. Environmental Advisory Councils are formally appointed committees of local government that serve as advisors to elected officials relative to environmental issues. The range of issues runs from street tree care to audits of local planning laws. 
 Her idea was met very favorably by the Planning Commission; and the Planning Commission suggested that a presentation be made to the Jim Thorpe Borough Council.
 The Carbon County Greenspace group as been meeting regularly to discuss its goals and plan for action to conserve natural amenities which make the Jim Thorpe region a special area. The group met 4 times in the last month and held a workshop for people who expressed interest in a formal group to address some natural resource concerns in the area. On May 29th, Jeanne Ortiz Director of the Environmental Advisory Council Network came to Lehighton to speak about EAC formation and the roles that EACs can play in water resource education, conservation, natural area conservation and in assisting local governments. 
Representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wild lands Conservancy, the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council have made presentations at meetings and plans to work even more closely with state agencies such as the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Environmental Protection to hold informative workshops for the group as well as area residents and municipal officials. Once an initial education process is underway, the group plans to formulate projects to work on for the conservation of the area’s scenic, water and natural resources. 
The group has established a Google Group called Carbon County Greenspace Conservation.  At this point, the group is looking for additional members with varied perspectives to look at the area’s current situation, formulate projects and set the group’s direction. The main focus of the group to this point has been examining the current “viewshed” of Jim Thorpe Borough and searching for existing tools and means to conserve the area’s assets. The group strives to be helpful to local government in planning related projects which the current boards feel they are not able to give ample attention to because of their other demands.   
 
 
 (1) “The Planning Commission in PA” , Governor’s Center for Local Government Services
Department of Community and Economic Development.  Pg 3