Board of Supervisors
The Charlestown Township Board of Supervisors held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, July 1, 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., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list.|
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 8:00 P.M.
Mr. Sauser announced that Pa. Representative Carole Rubley is hosting a joint town meeting for East Pikeland and Charlestown Townships on Wednesday, July 10, 1996 at the East Pikeland Township building on Rapps Dam Road beginning at 7:00 P.M.
Mr. Sauser proposed to defer the minutes of June 3, 1996 and June 17, 1996.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve the minutes of June 10, 1996. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for June 1 - 30, 1996. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the July 1, 1996 Accounts Payable Report with the exception of check numbers 8495, 8496 and 8497 for the Roadmaster’s salary and expenses. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the July 1, 1996 Accounts Payable as submitted. Mr. Kohn seconded Mr. Sauser’s motion. Two were in favor, and one opposed.
Mr. Kohli was not present, but Mr. Sauser stated that the building permit report for June 1996 was submitted and circulated.
Vincent Kling reported that no significant business was addressed at the June 11, 1996 Planning Commission meeting. He commented that the proposed change in the emergency access for Charlestown Hunt should have been reviewed by the Planning Commission before being discussed at the Board of Supervisors meetings.
Mr. Rittenbaugh was not present due to illness.
Mr. Alston reported that the month of June was a quiet one for the fire companies. There was one tree fire and one CO detector activation. Mr. Alston attended a course on hazardous materials response at the County Government Services Center.
Mr. Connolly reported that the new soccer field has been completed and that the seeding has stabilized and the grass is becoming very green. He extended his appreciation to the Phoenixville Area Soccer Club and commended them for their extensive volunteer efforts. He announced that the Philadelphia Kicks, an indoor soccer team, is hosting a soccer camp at Charlestown Park on August 5th - 9th.
Mr. Connolly reported that he has received a request for a gate at the end of Mary Hill Road to make the Park more accessible to residents in this part of the Township. He acknowledged that there would be safety and trespassing issues to resolve but felt this could be accomplished. The supervisors indicated their general interest in pursuing the matter, and Mr. Sauser suggested that Mr. Connolly consult with Mr. Kohli on determining a potential position for the crosswalk.
Mr. Connolly reported that he walked the Charlestown Brae site with representatives of the Horseshoe Trail Maintenance Committee and met with the Brae’s construction superintendent concerning the re-routing of the Trail. He requested authorization to consult with the township engineer on this matter.
Mr. Sauser reported that the Township has been named in a suit filed by Mr. Ozorowski against the Valley Forge Sewer Authority, and that the Township will be defended by the VFSA counsel. He also reported that Schuykill Township’s Act 537 plan is currently before the DEP for approval.
Bob Carey of Maryhill Road voiced his support of a gate at Mary Hill Road accessing the Park.
Geoffrey Crowell requested speed control for Charlestown Road and Mr. Sauser stated that the Township will seek assistance from the State Police.
Cynthia Harrington stated that she has consulted with architect Dale Frens, and she presented a color architectural drawing of the front of the General Store indicating the colors selected and depicting that a portion of the front would be scored and the other portion pointed. The porch roof would be tin and will match the mansard. Eleanor Morris commented that she is disturbed to see the stucco removed and asked if it would be replaced. Ms. Harrington responded that it was pointed at one time and they have chosen the pointing over stucco. Mr. Sauser gave some background on the project over the past several months. Mr. Sauser stated that the township consultant will review the documentation for open issues, and that the matter will be placed on the July 15, 1996 agenda.
Mr. Sauser announced that the Township has received an offer from Realen Homes of $400,000 in consideration of approving a change in the emergency access road location from Broadwater Lane to Sycamore Lane. Mrs. Ewald clarified that she has not been involved in these negotiations. Mr. Sauser stated that Realen has been negotiating with both the Connollys and the Andersens over the Broadwater Lane issue, and that both property owners sought major changes and concessions to the original easement as approved by the court master, which led Realen to seek another alternative. He and Mr. Kohn asked the township solicitor to engage Realen in negotiations for Sycamore Lane, stating their position that as the matter now stands, the Sycamore Lane residents have no protected assurance of never having public access on Sycamore Lane since Realen has frontage on Sycamore leaving them open and vulnerable to future petitions by Charlestown Hunt residents for access. He and Mr. Kohn wished to negotiate an agreement clearly limiting use to emergency access only with the appropriate width necessary for emergency vehicles and with a gate denying public access. Mr. Sauser proposed that the Township reimburse the legal costs incurred by the Connollys and Andersens for their lengthy negotiations with Realen Homes.
A resident of Sycamore Lane asked if the plan for a Broadwater Lane access would be permanently withdrawn if Sycamore Lane was used and Mr. Sauser responded affirmatively. Liz Andersen asked if Realen would provide a quit claim deed, and Mr. Oeste responded that this would probably be the case.
Ellen Behrle of Sycamore Lane asked if they can be guaranteed that the access would remain restricted for emergency use only. Mr. Sauser responded that it could be made part of the approval as well as requiring them to re-survey and deed restrict the parcel. They would also be required to convey easements and covenants to a third party such as the French & Pickering Creek Trust.
Mrs. Behrle asked if this agreement had already been made. Mr. Oeste stated that has to be done at a public meeting, and that, if approved, the plans would go to the Planning Commission for review. Mr. Sauser agreed that the developer must follow the standard planning process.
Eleanor Morris, President of the French & Pickering Creek Trust, read aloud from her statement, which stated in part that she believes the Supervisors should abide by any agreement made with the residents regarding Sycamore Lane.
Kevin Kuhn, Director on the Board of the French & Pickering Creek Trust, read aloud from his statement that the Trust met on June 27th and declined the Township’s request that they accept an easement along the proposed Sycamore Lane emergency access location since the Trust’s mission of preservation and conservation would not be served through this easement.
Vincent Kling stated his opinion that the Township should stay with their agreement with Realen naming Broadwater Lane as the emergency access location. Mr. Sauser responded that the Charlestown Hunt residents will comprise a large percentage of the township’s population, and as such, may in the future come forward and demand access to Sycamore Lane, at which time the restrictions Realen is willing to agree to now may not come to fruition.
Mr. Guiser asked why the builder can’t be required to stop building until the Broadwater Lane access is settled. Mr. Sauser stated that it is unlikely the court would uphold this action. Mrs. Behrle asked for clarification of the building of the emergency access, and Mr. Oeste responded that it must be constructed by the end of Phase I.
Liz Willow of 22 Sycamore Lane, commented that after years of negotiations, the township should stay with the original agreement. She said that Sycamore trees live to be 600 years old and are an integral part of the neighborhood. Mr. Sauser said that steps would be taken to preserve them. Mrs. Behrle asked how much of the proposed $400,000 contribution would be left after compensating the Connollys and Andersens along with preserving Sycamore Lane.
Mrs. Ewald asked for Mr. Oeste to read the proposal of June 25, 1996 from Realen’s attorney and he did so. He also read portions of his letter of 6/28/96 to Realen.
Stephen Schlichter asked what the restrictions would be for the access road, and for the definition of an emergency. He also asked what would happen if the Board turns down the proposal. Mr. Sauser stated that there would be the potential for protracted litigation with Realen. Mr. Oeste said Realen would probably re-open negotiations and/or litigation with the Andersens, after which the losing side would be expected to appeal. Realen would also demand that the township issue more building permits, perhaps by going to court.
Mr. Andersen stated that he and his wife were ready to settle with Realen when they stopped negotiations and contacted the township with the Sycamore Lane proposal.
Doug Gunn stated his concern over real estate values if the access is built at Sycamore Lane.
Al Van Brunt stated that the easement through the Guisers’ property was never purchased by the township, and that a condemnation would be needed to gain a Sycamore Lane access. Mr. Sauser disagreed, stating that the easement is there and that Realen would be required to provide proof.
Priscilla Crowell asked if there was a deadline involved and Mr. Oeste stated that their letter named a 15 day deadline for the township’s acceptance of the proposal.
Mark Connolly suggested reviewing the surrounding PRD zoned properties, naming the Korean Church and Robal properties, suggesting buying out the development rights and initiating a zoning change to lessen the density, at which point the French and Pickering Creek Trust may be interested in becoming involved.
Mr. Gunn commented that no decisions should be made before consulting with the Planning Commission. He said that questions of economic impact, density, and wetlands protection should be addressed at that time.
Mr. Schlichter agreed with points made by Mr. Connolly and asked if the Sycamore Lane residents would be concerned about the access if a guarantee could be made that it would remain emergency access only. He was concerned with the 15 day deadline, stating that the township should not act precipitously. Mr. Gunn read aloud a letter dated July 1, 1996 from Robert J. Sugarman, Esq. to Tom Oeste written on behalf of a number of residents of Sycamore Lane, requesting that no action be taken until they have an opportunity to review relevant documents and agreements between Charlestown Hunt and Realen Homes.
At 10:30 P.M., Mr. Sauser called for a ten minute recess for an executive session. The Board reconvened at 10:42 P.M.
Mr. Sauser stated that Mr. Oeste advised the Board that should the proposal be accepted, the township could request that Realen cover the costs of defense from the Sycamore Lane residents and make it part of the agreement. Mr. Sauser went on to say that Realen would no doubt withdraw if the 15 day deadline is not met and he is not in favor of altering the Broadwater Lane easement as he feels it will extend and aggravate the ongoing litigation.
Mr. Sauser moved to accept the proposal outlined in Lessor & Kaplin’s letter of June 25, 1996 as qualified by Mr. Oeste’s letter of June 28, 1996 and to be conditioned upon Realen being required to indemnify, defend and hold the Township harmless from any and all litigation resulting from potential approval of the Sycamore Lane access, reimbursement of the Andersens and Connollys for their legal costs in the Broadwater Lane litigations, maintaining Broadwater Lane as an alternative in the event that Sycamore Lane is not feasible; and, upon approval of the Sycamore Lane access, providing quit claim deeds to the Andersens and Connollys.
There was no second.
Mrs. Ewald was asked for some background on the Township’s history with Realen Homes, and she provided a summary of events leading to the appointment of a court master to reach an agreement between the two parties.
Mr. Kohn referred to his written comments, distributed to the Board, as well as Mr. Oeste’s memo of July 1, 1996 and moved to reject both bids without prejudice due to irregularities and to revise the bid documents to clarify any ambiguities as well as to include an outline of bidder qualifications. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald suggested extending the current contract for 45 days to allow time to re-bid. She stated that she would like to be involved in the bid preparation process.
Mr. Sauser clarified his position on the question of alleged impropriety on the part of the roadmaster in the bidding process, stating that he found no basis for the allegations. He requested an opinion from Mr. Oeste. Mr. Oeste based his response on the facts as he knows them, and stated that, given that Mr. Rittenbaugh has represented that he has not associated with Rittenbaugh Paving while employed by the Township, there has been no conflict of interest. He stated, however, that should Rittenbaugh Paving receive the contract for 1996-97, the roadmaster should resign due to the appearance of impropriety, which Mr. Oeste commented is not a clear cut issue. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Roadmaster should participate in the preparation of the bid specifications, and Mr. Oeste suggested that he not participate. Mr. Schlichter suggested requesting documentation from Mr. Rittenbaugh that he has no financial involvement with Rittenbaugh Paving. Mr. Kuhn asked if the bid documents would require the contractor be PennDOT approved and Mr. Sauser disagreed.
Mr. Sauser directed Mr. Oeste to advertise the re-numbering Ordinance for the July 15th meeting.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve Charlestown Brae’s Escrow Release #5 for Phase II. Mrs. Ewald seconded. All were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Charlestown Brae’s Escrow Release #8 for Phase I. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
In accordance with Mr. Kohli’s letter of June 25, 1996, Mrs. Ewald moved not to approve Escrow Release #4 for Phase II. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Oeste stated that Rouse Chamberlin Ltd. is ready to proceed with Phase III and that he is meeting with them July 3, 1996 to set forth the documentation, which he presented to the Board for signatures. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve signing the escrow documents conditioned on the completion of the Rees Road relocation, which was escrowed in Phase II. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser read the Planning Commission’s recommendation of approval from the draft of their June 11, 1996 minutes which listed several items to be added to the plans. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Sproule Manufacturing Co. subject to satisfaction of the items on Mr. Kohli’s letter of June 25, 1996 and Mr. Comitta’s letter of June 25, 1996. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn and Mr. Kohn seconded. All were in favor and the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 P.M.