CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The Charlestown Township Board of Supervisors held their 2nd monthly meeting on Monday, February 19, 1996 at the Charlestown Elementary School, Charlestown Road, Devault, Pa.
|John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Michael Churchill, Bud Zeigler, Michael Allen, Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list.|
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 8:07 P.M.
The approval of the minutes of January 15, 1996 was tabled until February 26, 1996.
A joint meeting of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission was called to order.
On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Sauser presented Ray Ott with a Certificate of Appreciation commending his service to the Township as a member of the Planning Commission since its inception, a span of over 45 years. Mrs. Ewald commended Mr. Ott as well, stating that the Township has been fortunate to have him provide a continuity in Township planning. Planning Commission Chairman Michael Churchill stated that Mr. Ott’s contribution to the Township was more than longevity, that he embodied the Township’s philosophy of strategic, cautious growth and careful consideration of all sides of an issue. Mr. Churchill stated that, after he joined the Commission, he learned a great deal from Mr. Ott.
Mr. Sauser moved to appoint Ray Ott as a lifetime ex-officio member of the Planning Commission. Mrs. Ewald seconded, and all were in favor. Mr. Ott graciously accepted.
Mrs. Baldwin thanked Mr. Ott for his part in the founding of the Charlestown Historical Society along with Stinson Markley and Betty Stonorov.
Mr. Sauser offered some background on the Legislative Initiative Grant that was awarded the Township for the purpose of conducting a feasibility study on whether the Stinson Markley barn could be successfully converted into a Township meeting room and office. Originally to be conducted for the Baughman General Store Property, the focus shifted to the Markley barn when the Store property was sold to another bidder at auction and shortly afterward the Markley barn became available for consideration. He stated that 4 interviews with 3 professional restoration architects and one restoration contractor were conducted in executive sessions this past month and that a successful candidate had been selected. Mr. Sauser then moved to appoint Frens and Frens as the firm to conduct the feasibility study. Mr. Kohn seconded, and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser gave an overview of the question of the need for a township office, citing the disruptive noises at the gymnasium adjacent to the school cafeteria where meetings are now held, the lack of accessibility and parking of the present office located in two rooms rented from the Great Valley Nature Center as well as the poor storage conditions for township records. He stressed that no decisions have been made with regard to the need for a township office, and that the study may or may not support one. He invited residents’ participation in the discussion as well as their comments, noting that tonight’s meeting was described in the recent newsletter and advertised in two local newspapers for this purpose.
Mr. Kohn said that when the Markley property was donated to the Historical Society, the Historical Society felt it could make use of the house, which was considered unusable for the township office due to the number and size of small rooms. The Township decided to consider an adaptive re-use of the bank barn. He stated that the Secretary had begun a needs assessment worksheet and that a committee may be formed to expand upon this as well as to survey neighboring municipalities to compare their facilities. Mr. Churchill asked for a description of what the consultant firm will be doing, and Mr. Kohn referred to a Project Description prepared for the interviews of prospective consultants and named several items from it including the development of a site plan, a survey of the barn that will include what would be required to bring it up to Labor & Industry standards, cost estimates for minimal repairs to prevent future deterioration, a survey of the mechanical system conditions, and a sketch plan for conversion into a township office.
Mr. Churchill stated that he felt a committee working with the consultant will be useful and that in addition, it will be important to consider what additional municipal services will be needed as the township grows. Mr. Sauser stated that he contacted the Department of Community Affairs as well as the Pa. State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) for information on developing a municipal office. He stated that the Township has population projection date, and the County can provide longer term projections, for use in the needs assessment.
Bob Wert asked if the feasibility study will indicate what the operating budget will be. He acknowledged that working with the School District to arrange meetings isn’t an optimal situation, but he questioned whether this could be improved upon. He said the school is under utilized and he would like to see more cooperation between the School Board and the Township. Mr. Churchill said that with Great Valley School District’s remodeling plans, perhaps there is a possibility of space for the township.
Mr. Wert strongly stated his concern over the possibility of additional taxes and his belief that government should live within its budget, which he feels would sharply increase with the advent of a permanent township building and meeting hall.
Mr. Wert asked about the possibility of using other township property, such as the parcel at Whitehorse Road and Route 29, suggesting that a joint use be considered with a tenant utilizing part of the space and producing revenue.
Mrs. Ewald stated that the community has a stake in the Markley property through the Historical Society, and part of the focus of utilizing the property is to bring the community together through the Township, Historical Society and Nature Center’s joint uses of it. She said that Frens & Frens has expertise in needs assessment as well as in knowledge of funding and leverage sources and added that Mrs. Baldwin has looked into grants available from the PA Museum and Historical Commission.
Mr. Kohn said the Board’s intention is to keep the public advised and will make the Frens & Frens study available to them.
Mr. Sauser stated that he feels the needs assessment study would focus on near term needs with expansion capabilities. Steve Winckelman questioned undertaking the study of the Markley property when the question of whether a township office is needed has yet to be determined. Mr. Sauser explained that the grant awarded the township was specific to this property, and yet the study will simultaneously address the question of a township office in a more generic sense. Mr. Sauser stated his concern over the question of refurbishing the Markley barn when it is in fact owned by the Historical Society and not the Township. He would prefer to see the Historical Society handle the restoration and then rent to the Township, although he realizes financial constraints for the Society make this infeasible.
Mr. Churchill commented that the current situation at the Nature Center is less than ideal, and noted that a search for other rental space in the township has been unsuccessful. With the influx of new residents will come a demand for increased service, which brings back the question of designing a minimal facility that can be expanded in the future.
Jerry Moore commented that he would prefer to see the township office in a setting that gives a sense of community, and not in a sterile impersonal building.. Mrs. Baldwin said that both Uwchlan and West Pikeland Townships have restored historic structures as township offices so there is a good precedent for refurbishing an existing building for this use.
Mr. Sauser invited residents attending this meeting to join the committee which would research neighboring municipalities, develop the needs assessment report and interface with Frens & Frens. He briefly listed some of the items on the existing needs assessment outline which included: general accessibility to the residents, easy to find location, reception area, room for 2 - 3 employees, file storage requirements, adequate ventilation, and a separate area for plan review. Mr. Sauser stated he would like to have the committee formed by March 4, as the terms of the initiative grant require that the consultant have the document presented by May 31st with discussions to be held in June.
At this time, Mr. Sauser adjourned the joint meeting of the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors, and the Board continued with other business.
Mr. Sauser referred to John Cellucci’s request for a two year extension on his unrecorded but approved land development plan for a flex building on his Phoenixville Pike property. Mrs. Ewald pointed out the agenda lists this as a building permit application and should be changed to read “Land Development Plan.” Mr. Sauser stated that he discussed the request with Mr. Kohli, who said that as there have been no changes in the Ordinance which affect the plan since it was first approved, he would recommend a one year extension. Mr. Sauser then moved to approve a one year extension for recording the Cellucci Land Development Plan under the same final approval conditions as stated in previously granted extensions including the calculation of an escrow amount adjusted for inflation and other factors. Mr. Kohn seconded and the motion passed.
Mr. Sauser stated that he may attend one day of the State Association of Township Supervisors’ Convention in Hershey and will notify the Secretary to make arrangements after reviewing the agenda in order to select the best day to attend.
All three supervisors indicated that they plan to attend the Chester County Association of Township Officials’ Convention on March 7, 1996.
An executive session was scheduled for Thursday, February 22, 1996 at Mr. Oeste’s office at 10:00 A.M. to discuss Robert Berry’s conditional use application. The Secretary was directed to contact Mr. Kohli & Mr. Comitta to see if they are available to attend. Mrs. Ewald stated that she was contacted by Bill Hockwind, who is seeking a solution to gaining access for a land locked property, and she informed him that he must go through the usual process before all Board members, who would then take action as a Board. She suggested that this matter also be discussed in the executive session.
The Secretary was directed to refer to prior correspondence for wording on the three year limitation for refunding per capita tax payments, in order to respond to a recent letter received by the Township, and to circulate it to the Board. The matter was then placed on the March 4th agenda.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn, Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 P.M.