POCONO PINES (Tobyhanna Township)— The August work session of the Tobyhanna Board of Supervisors was a ‘practice session’ of sorts.

Beginning in September, the board intends to limit their work sessions to discussions and not for taking official action. Voting matters will be reserved for the regular meetings.

While that distinction between work sessions and regular meetings if fairly uniformly followed by municipalities and public agencies in Pennsylvania, the Tobyhanna board of supervisors routinely took official action at their nominal ‘work sessions.’

The difference has implications under Pennsylvania’s sunshine and right to know laws, with stricter disclosure and public participation rules applying to meetings at which official action is taken.

The newly-applied work session rules had members stumbling a little to refrain from making motions.

They finally gave in when it came to an item requiring township support for the Tobyhanna Volunteer Fire Company’s $1.45 million financing for the purchase of an aerial truck. In consideration of the company’s need for a response prior to the next regular board meeting, the supervisors unanimously passed that resolution.

They also voted to amend the approval of Giant to transfer a liquor license to the store slated to open next year. Giant asked the supervisors to amend the previously-granted approval to include outdoor seating. The motion passed unanimously.

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In other business, the board heard from their auditors. The annual audit was presented to the board and cited no issues with the townships books. Of note, the supervisors learned that they ended 2020 with a $1,000,000 increase in the fund balance over 2019. The auditors said this was largely the result of lowered expenses and slightly increased tax receipts.

The solicitor told the board that he had appealed the Zoning Hearing Board decision of ‘no violation’ with respect to a quarry operation at 339 Sullivan Trail. The judge issued a stay of proceedings in order to allow the parties to attempt a resolution. Coleman said he is meeting with neighbors of the property and then will contact counsel for 339 Sullivan Trail to see if they could reach an accommodation.

Coleman also said he is in the process of working with the fire companies to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding laying out the expectations and responsibilities of the companies and the township.

Supervisor John Holahan discussed the status of his ad hoc committee on short term rentals. he revealed that the committee is considering mandating a minimum two-night/three day stay in the township, among other things. There was also an extended discussion on the importance of enforcement.

In the report from the Council of Governments, the supervisors we told the county was reviewing it’s hazard assessment. The top two threats currently facing the area, according to the county, are flash flooding and the shortages of emergency services volunteers.

The next meeting of the board of supervisors will be a regular meeting on August 16, 2021, at 6 pm. Meetings are conducted live and in-person at the municipal building. They can also be watched online using the GoTo-Meeting platform. Information and a link to view online is on the township webpage, tobyhannatownshippa.gov.