Board of Supervisors
Business Meeting
September 4, 1996

The Charlestown Township Board of Supervisors held their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 4, 1996 at the Charlestown Elementary School, Charlestown Road, Devault, Pa.


John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, James E. McErlane, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list.

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 8:00 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.


There were no announcements.


Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the August 5, 1996 minutes as presented. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the minutes of August 5, 1996 with a correction to the 2nd paragraph, page 6 to read “April-August” instead of “January-August”, and “April-October” in place of “January-October.” Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the August 19, 1996 minutes as presented. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.

Treasurer’s Report:

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for August 1 - 31, 1996. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report:

Mrs. Ewald questioned check #8573 for the Roadmaster’s expenses, which indicates $450.00 for rental of a weed whacker and blower. Mr. Sauser will request clarification from the roadmaster. Mrs. Ewald questioned the mowing of Marian Road, Sycamore Road, Ravenhill Road, and Maryhill Road as indicated on W.T. Jones’ invoice, stating that the homeowners mow their properties up to the cartway and don’t require mowing by the township.

Mrs. Ewald also questioned check #8599 to Frens & Frens, stating that this invoice shouldn’t be paid until the progress described on the invoice is presented at a publicly held, advertised Planning Commission meeting, citing a Sunshine Act violation caused by holding the Municipal Office Steering Committee meetings in private and without notifying the full board. Mr. Sauser disagreed that the Sunshine Act had been violated, stating that he conferred with Mr. Oeste, who indicated that no advertising is required for an ad hoc committee meeting. Mrs. Ewald also questioned the amount of the invoice considering that only the Needs Analysis report was submitted thus far when the intention of the feasibility study is to determine specifically whether the Stinson Markley barn is suitable for a historic rehabilitation for use as a municipal office. Mr. Kohn responded that he reviewed the degree of work done by Frens & Frens and is satisfied they have worked in good faith, noting that the ground work leading up to the preparation of a final product is the most time consuming portion of the project and he’s been assured that a major portion of this research has been accomplished. He stated that he didn’t believe it necessary or fair to withhold their invoice payment. Mr. Sauser was also in favor of paying the invoice.

Mr. Sauser moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for September 4, 1996 with the exception of check #8573 for the Roadmaster’s expenses.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for September 4, 1996 with the exception of #8572 for the Roadmaster’s Salary, #8573 & 8574 for the Roadmaster’s expenses, and #8599 to Frens & Frens. Mr. Kohn seconded Mr. Sauser’s motion. A roll call vote was taken. Mrs. Ewald voted nay. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn voted aye, and the motion passed.

Zoning Officer’s Report:

Mr. Kohli referred to a letter and copies of data he received from the Department of Environmental Protection dated August 27th, which addressed the Township’s concerns with regard to blasting at the Devault Quarry. The DEP performed seismographic monitoring of the blasting between June 5th and July 23, 1996. A review of the subsequent data indicated that the quarry is in compliance with the Pennsylvania Non-Coal Act and is also below the U.S. Bureau of Mines limits.

Mrs. Ewald asked about construction taking place on Seven Oaks Road and whether a permit was issued. Mr. Kohli will check into the matter.

Mr. Kohli reported that a default judgment was rendered against Mark Matsinger for grading and filling without a permit, and asked how enforcement is handled. Mr. McErlane responded that he will enter the judgment as a lien against Mr. Matsinger’s property, which after execution, will cause the property to be placed for sheriff’s sale. Prompt results are typically seen after such a course of action.

Mr. Kohli referred to his letter of August 26, 1996 to building permit applicant George McComsey, who has been awarded a contract with the PA Turnpike Commission to construct a salt shed on Turnpike property within the Township. Mr. Kohli noted in his letter that a land development plan must be submitted prior to approval of the building permit. Mr. McComsey was present and stated that the Turnpike Commission initially told him that municipal permits weren’t required as the Turnpike Commission is exempted from local ordinances, and due to this information, he had started the job and is now 95% complete. He stated his concern over any delay as his contract with the Turnpike Commission levies a $200.00 per day fine if the project runs past the completion deadline. Mrs. Ewald recommended that Mr. McComsey work with Mr. Kohli to expedite the land development plan. In another matter concerning the Turnpike Commission, she brought up the problem of the destabilization of Sidley Hill Road, which is caused by the poor drainage coming from the Turnpike’s access way to their radio tower. The Turnpike Commission had assured the Board some time ago that the situation would be remedied. Mr. McErlane stated that he will contact them and advise the Board.

Planning Commission Report:

There was no Planning Commission meeting during August.

Roadmaster Report:

The Roadmaster was not present but his report indicated that extensive mowing of township roads was undertaken, a downed tree was removed on Bodine Road, two signs were replaced, and several roads were cold patched and repaired. Durando Faggioli stated that no banks have been cut in the township, naming Dobs Lane and Oak Lane in particular. Mrs. Behrle stated that no one mowed along Sycamore Road.

Fire Marshal’s Report:

Mr. Alston reported that during the month of August, there was one building fire, one dwelling fire, four automatic alarms, 1 wires fire, one gas leak and 6 vehicle accidents.

Mr. Alston briefly described four site inspections he performed in August. Sproule Manufacturing Company was inspected, and recommendations will include improved lighting and marking of exits. The Philadelphia Asphalt Maintenance Co. was also inspected. A request to burn in a field located at Church Road near Pikeland Road was checked. Mr. Alston also inspected a property at 183 Valley Hill Road from which a landscape company operates, but was unable to enter the premises since the owner was unavailable. He was concerned with a large stockpiling of salt, fertilizer and fuel oils visible in the garage. Mrs. Ewald asked if there were any blasting caps visible, and Mr. Alston responded negatively. He stated that he would like to return with Mr. Kohli at a time when the owner can be present to undertake a more thorough inspection.

Parks & Recreation:

There was no one present from the Parks & Recreation Board.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority:

Mr. Winckelman reported that operations are running smoothly.

Citizen’s Forum:

Kevin Kuhn asked for clarification on the Frens & Frens study, stating his concern that the possible use of the Markley barn has yet to be addressed. Mr. Kohn responded that the architectural program report represents only 15% of the project, and that the needs assessment had to be done first and has now been accomplished. He stated that Frens & Frens’ invoice listed on the current Accounts Payable Report is proportionate to the amount of work done.

Anna Recktenwald of 118 Charlestown Road referred to her letter dated September 4th to Bob Dwyer at Realen Homes, which briefly stated that she hasn’t heard from Realen regarding the Broadwater Lane access, part of which lies on her property. Mr. Kohli stated that Mr. Dwyer has acknowledged receipt of the letter and is trying to reach her. Mrs. Recktenwald also asked for an update on the large Belbernie tract adjacent to her property. She stated her concern that a future subdivision of the land will use Broadwater Lane as its access road. Mr. Sauser responded that there is no plan under review at this time, and that Belbernie has no claim on Broadwater Lane, as he has no right of way there. Mrs. Ewald noted that the old plan on file indicated Sycamore Lane as the access road with a grass paver emergency access to Broadwater Lane. The old plan complied with the deed restrictions on the Sycamore Lane properties, showing all the lots to be 1+ acres in size.

Liz Willow asked if any major decisions were made at the private Frens & Frens/Municipal Office Steering Committee meetings, and Mr. Sauser responded that they were information gathering meetings only.

Mrs. Willow also asked whether Charlestown Townwatch was promised radios by the Board predicated on the Township’s receipt of a $400,000 contribution from Realen Homes for allowing a Sycamore Lane access to Charlestown Hunt. She suggested that, since allowed by the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code under Section 1546, the Board should provide radios to the Townwatch group regardless of receiving any contribution. Mrs. Ewald commented that it’s not necessary for the Township to provide the funding since the Chester County Emergency Services will do so following a request from Townwatch. Further, Charlestown Townwatch, as a United Way designee, has a substantial balance in CD funds which could be used to purchase radios if necessary.

Janet Baldwin announced that the Stinson Markley estate sale will take place on September 7th between 9:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M.

Stephen Winckelman reported that the sight distance to the east when pulling out onto Whitehorse Road from Rees Road is poor due to growth of vegetation. Mr. Kuhn stated that there are several dead trees along Rees that should be removed.

Ellen Behrle stated her concern over the Municipal Office Steering Committee meetings that were not held in public, and asked if there is a protocol for this issue. Mr. Sauser responded that while a quorum is required for any business meeting where decisions are made or policies set, meetings of advisory committees do not require the attendance of the Supervisors, although one may attend. They are not required to be advertised as public meetings.

Mrs. Behrle objected that Mrs. Ewald wasn’t informed of the meeting schedule and stated her expectation that all three supervisors should be fully informed to maximize their potential participation in any township matters. Mr. Sauser responded that Mrs. Ewald had in fact been informed.

Mrs. Ewald stated that she was not informed of a meeting that took place in the solicitor’s office for a discussion on Charlestown Hunt and later learned of it from Mr. Kuhn, a French and Pickering Trust trustee. Mr. McErlane responded that the meeting was not planned in advance and therefore did not constitute a business meeting or executive session. When such a chance meeting occurs, any supervisor not in attendance is notified as soon as possible afterward. A question was raised over Mrs. Ewald’s recusal on the Charlestown Hunt matter and whether this should affect her attendance at these meetings. Mr. McErlane responded that while a recused board member may not vote or participate in deliberations, they are able to make comments as any citizen may.

Mrs. Behrle asked the Board if, in the future, all three board members will be included in all meetings. She asked for a show of hands from the audience, and all but one agreed. Mr. Sauser stated that the Board will continue to make every effort to communicate with one another on all issues.

Status of Appeal to Schuylkill Township’s Act 537 Plan:

Mr. Kohn noted that the extensions were granted to the deposition schedule. Mr. McErlane reported that a settlement agreement has been drafted and has been circulated among the interested parties which proposes that Schuylkill Township agree that their Act 537 Plan will not interfere with the expansion of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority.

Gannett Fleming Letter of July 16, 1996:

Mrs. Ewald referred to the minutes of the Supervisors’ August 5, 1996 meeting which indicated that the Board voted to send a letter to Gannett Fleming responding to their letter which listed the construction of a satellite treatment facility in Charlestown Township utilizing spray irrigation as an alternative in providing for projected flows despite Charlestown’s opposition. Mr. Sauser responded that the letter will go out this week.

Re-Numbering Ordinance:

This matter was deferred to September 16th to allow for finalization of the Plan.

Michael Bowell - Accessory Structure Issue:

Mr. Sauser reported that the Board members have visited Mr. Bowell’s property with regard to his request in a letter dated August 23, 1996 that a lath structure be permitted to remain in his front yard on Bodine Road. Mr. Sauser also referred to a letter dated August 28, 1996 from Paul and Patricia Stevens, abutting neighbors who are opposed to the structure location as well as to a berm positioned in front of it. Mr. Kohli responded that the berm is permitted as it is permissible artificial grading, which has been seeded and maintained and doesn’t cause any water to runoff the property. Mr. Kohli cited Section 1607-A.3 of the Zoning Ordinance, which indicates that it is within the Supervisors’ authority to provide relief to permit the accessory structure to remain in the front yard.

Mr. Stevens stated that the lath house is unsightly and since it could be placed elsewhere on the property, should not remain in the front yard. Mr. Sauser stated that when he visited the site, he observed that there is an orchard between the two houses that, in full foliage, should act as a visual buffer the lath house from their view. He further commented that in the farm residential district, the cultivation of plants is a permitted use. Mr. Kohn stated that he estimates the distance between the accessory structure and the Steven’s house to be 350 feet. Mrs. Ewald stated that the structure isn’t visible from the road or the side of the property other than from the turnpike bridge. She believes it to be well concealed and is the logical place for the structure convenient to Mr. Bowell’s work. Both Mr. and Mrs. Stevens expressed their strong objections to the placement of the structure.

Mr. Kohn voiced his reluctance to permitting the structure to remain based on the Stevens’ dissatisfaction with its appearance from their property.

Mr. Sauser moved to allow the lath structure to remain in Mr. Bowell’s front yard pending the complete application for a building permit and subsequent issuance of the permit. Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mrs. Ewald were in favor. Mr. Kohn was opposed.

Mr. Kohn moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:55 P.M. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Secretary