Board of Supervisors
The Charlestown Township Board of Supervisors held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, October 7, 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.
Mrs. Ewald announced that last week, she and Mr. Sauser attended the Phoenixville Marion Youth Club (PMYC) Opening Activities for football and field hockey. She described the growing program as including approximately 225 boys and 175 girls ranging from 8 to 13 in age. Uniforms are provided at no cost to the participants through funds raised by the PMYC and the United Way. She praised the efforts of the PMYC, which contribute greatly to the overall Charlestown Park program.
Mrs. Ewald requested an update on actions taken during the September 4, 1996 meeting, including the contacting of the PA Turnpike Commission regarding the destabilization of Sidley Hill Road caused by the drive into the Turnpike radio tower, the Fire Marshal’s and Zoning Officer’s follow up on a Valley Hill Road inspection matter, and a response to Gannett Fleming’s July 16, 1996 letter with regard to appealing Schuylkill Township’s Act 537 Plan. Mr. Sauser stated that the Gannett Fleming response has been sent.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of September 4, 1996. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser amended the minutes of September 16, 1996 under “Announcements” on page 1, first sentence of the first paragraph, to read, “Mrs. Ewald announced that all three supervisors attended...”
Mrs. Ewald amended the minutes of September 16, 1996 under “Announcements” on page 1, first sentence of the second paragraph, to read, “...announced that a meeting attended by Mr. Kohn took place at Broadwater Lane...”
Mrs. Ewald amended the minutes of September 16, 1996 under “Announcements” on page 1, last sentence of the third paragraph, to read “she dissented from the motion and the letter that was sent.”
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for September 1 - 30, 1996. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald reviewed the invoice from Lord’s Tree Service and found it to be in order. She questioned the Roadmaster’s expense report, which indicated mileage charges for 25 miles for travel to Hilltop Road. Mr. Rittenbaugh responded that the corresponding Roadmaster’s report omitted the phrase “and other roads” for that itemization. She also requested clarification on Tom McQuilkin’s questioning of a $310.00 charge to P & M Land Management for a C-lid and pick-up, which appears to have been double charged to him. Mr. Kohli confirmed that the amount was included in the $900.00 invoice from Delaware Valley Paving and was, in fact double charged. He has since spoken with Mr. McQuilkin on this matter.
Mrs. Ewald referred to the Roadmaster’s expense report turned in last month which indicated a $450.00 charge for the rental of a weed whacker, which was calculated using Taylor Rental’s rates even though the equipment wasn’t rented from Taylor Rental. Mr. Sauser stated that this expense reimbursement request isn’t included in this month’s Accounts Payable Report. Mrs. Ewald pointed out that purchasing a commercial quality weed whacker would have cost considerably less than the rental charge Mr. Rittenbaugh calculated. Mr. Rittenbaugh acknowledged that he used his own equipment, including a weed whacker and blower, and used Taylor Rental rates as a guide in determining the cost of using his equipment. He also pointed out that his time spent doing the work was a factor and said that supporting documentation for this charge is included in the corresponding Roadmaster’s Report. Mr. Sauser stated that he will meet with Mr. Rittenbaugh to go over the charges.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for October 7, 1996 with the exception of #8605, #8607 and #8637 for the Roadmaster’s Salary and Expenses.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for October 7, 1996 as submitted. Mr. Kohn seconded Mr. Sauser’s motion. A roll call vote was taken. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn voted aye. Mrs. Ewald stated she approved all the checks but the three she listed, and voted nay on Mr. Sauser’s motion. She commented that improper bills are being submitted to the Township and she plans to inform the auditors. Mr. Sauser’s motion carried.
Mr. Kohli stated that he’s been in contact with the State Police regarding the traffic signal at the Charlestown Playhouse on Charlestown Road, which had been struck by a car and needed repair. A police report has been requested, but it’s possible that the incident will be categorized as a hit and run. Mr. Kohli had received a quotation from Signal Service Inc. for repair of the signal, but in the meantime, a representative of the Playhouse authorized repairs and they have now been completed. There is now a question of who is responsible for the repair cost, since the signal is in the Township’s name as required. Mrs. Ewald asked the Secretary to check past Board of Supervisors’ minutes, which spelled out the agreement between the Playschool and the Township. Her recollection is that the Playschool is responsible for repairs. She asked the Secretary to send a memo to the Playschool confirming the agreement.
Mr. Sauser announced that there will be no Planning Commission meeting on October 8, 1996, and that the next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 23, 1996.
Mr. Rittenbaugh reported that on September 8th, high winds and a possible tornado damaged trees on Hilltop Road, Benburb Road and Sycamore Lane. Most of his activities for the month involved checking the roads, removing downed trees and clearing drains. There was a large amount of trash dumped on Pickering Road, which he removed to the township yard. On September 17th, Rees Road was temporarily closed until PECO could repair a downed pole. Mr. Sauser added that Pickering Dam Road was also severely affected by the winds on September 8th.
Mr. Sauser referred to Mr. Schlichter’s concern over the stop sign at Charlestown and Pikeland Roads, which he observes many people ignoring. A resident commented that a “stop sign ahead” sign is in place approaching the intersection. Mrs. Ewald commented that weeds were obscuring the stop sign and that cutting them back may have solved the problem.
Mr. Rittenbaugh stated that PennDOT has painted the railroad crossing signs approaching the tracks on Route 29 but the Township has yet to paint them on Buckwalter Road. He has obtained two price quotes on the job. Mr. Sauser placed this item on the October 21st agenda at which time a contractor will be selected and directed to proceed.
Mr. Alston reported that during the month of September, there were two automatic alarms and two vehicle accidents. He spent most of the month working with the re-addressing data. He requested that the newly named lane signage be put into place as soon as possible. Rainfall is now above normal for the year, and recovery from last year’s drought is complete.
There was no one present from the Parks & Recreation Board.
Mr. Sauser announced that the next joint board meeting is scheduled for October 24th at the Valley Forge Sewer Authority offices on Pawling Road at 7:30 P.M., at which time they will present a draft budget for 1997, give a 1996 year-to-date report and report on the status of the Regional Act 537 Plan.
Mrs. Ewald commented on PSW’s correspondence which states that they will shut off the water to any location where the sewer bill is in arrears. She called this an inappropriate mix of utilities.
Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Winckelman why the VFSA developed a public comment policy limiting speakers to ten minutes and whether this was in response with any problems they have experienced. Mr. Winckelman responded that the policy was simply a choice made by the board and that normally there is no public attendance at the meetings.
Howard and Cheryl Rogers of Charlestown Hunt Drive indicated that they and other residents present have had difficulty with their developer, Realen Homes. Mr. Rogers named the first issue being that of falling trees, which he states pose a personal injury hazard to both people and property, adding that a tree actually fell on his house a few months ago. The second issue involves drainage problems, including mud slides in the driveways and water laying in the backyards, which he believes are caused by the slopes being at a steeper grade than specified by the Township.
Geoff Kelley, also of Charlestown Hunt Drive, stated that the tree line is too close to the backyards, and that part of a tree fell in his yard close to a swing set. When his attorney contacted Realen Homes, Realen responded that the Township is responsible for the open space maintenance and that the owners should seek approval from the township if they wish to remove any trees from this area. Mr. Kelley stated that he wants the trees removed and asked who the responsible, liable party is. He also commented that he has water in his basement due to the grading of the properties. Mr. Sauser stated that until development is complete in Charlestown Hunt, Realen is responsible for the open space, and that afterward, the Homeowners’ Association assumes that responsibility, not the Township.
Mr. Kohli stated that Tom Comitta evaluated the trees in question, and that Bob Dwyer of Realen Homes indicated he would remove them if the Township wished, even though Realen’s arborist advised against it. He stated that he’s in favor of following Mr. Comitta’s recommendation not to require saving trees with damaged root systems due to grading. Mr. Kohn acknowledged that the root balls have undoubtedly been damaged, in which case many of the trees will die.
Mrs. Ewald gave some background on the lengthy approval process for Charlestown Hunt, describing it as a difficult plan that developed into an adversarial process. She stated that the residents of Charlestown Hunt are the beneficiaries of the planning work the Township accomplished with Realen Homes and sees the Township as a partner with the Hunt residents. Mrs. Ewald stated that a penalty will be exacted against Realen for killing trees that should have been protected but were damaged in their grading process.
Mr. Rogers asked how Realen can be made to respond. Mr. Sauser stated that he and Mr. Kohn are in agreement to direct that Mr. Comitta’s recommendations be followed.
Mrs. Rogers stated that they’ve had problems dating back six months with subsidences and drainage and have been in contact with the Township engineer and planner. Mr. Kohli responded that many problems at that time were due to the fact that temporary occupancy permits were granted prior to final grading. At the present time, more stabilization of the ground is needed to improve drainage. Mr. Kohn observed that the wing (return) walls on the retaining walls are absent and this needs to be corrected. He suggested that a punch list be created listing the individual homeowners and their problems.
Janet Baldwin announced that a historic tour of the Hope Lodge hosted by Clarkson Wentz is scheduled for Saturday, October 12th and invited those interested to join in.
Kevin Kuhn asked for the status of the 1996 road contract, and why no contract has been in effect two months after the bids were opened in August. Mr. Sauser responded that the contract has been finalized and is ready to be signed with Rittenbaugh Paving.
Mrs. Ewald referred to page 5 of the bid specifications which states that the bid must be accompanied by a Certificate of Insurance with specified coverages, and that Rittenbaugh Paving provided a certificate but it did not meet these coverage amounts, namely the $500,000 auto liability limit. Mr. Sauser stated that the other two bidders didn’t supply any Certificate of Insurance with their bids. Mr. McErlane said he’s been talking with Rittenbaugh’s insurance agent at Body-Bideman in Pottstown and that the letter he requested from Mr. Body has been received along with the Certificate of Insurance showing the increased limit to $500,000. He now finds the insurance documentation to be satisfactory.
Mr. Kuhn asked about the status of the Roadmaster position. Mr. Rittenbaugh stated that he hasn’t submitted his resignation and won’t do so until the road contract is signed.
Sharon Shoemaker of Sycamore Lane commented that her mailman was unaware of the re-numbering in Charlestown Township. Mr. Alston explained the steps undertaken by the Re-numbering Committee, of which he is a member, which included lengthy discussions with the Postmasters whose offices serve Charlestown and that all the information was provided to them immediately following the passage of the Ordinance. He offered to bring this problem to their attention. Mrs. Ewald showed four pieces of mail that were sent from the Township office to residents and returned marked “return to sender, addressee unknown”. Mr. Alston commented that two of these mail items were addressed on private lanes, which don’t have signs up yet. John DiLello commented that he has displayed his new number as directed by the ordinance but left his old number up as well.
Residents from Jamie Lane requested clarification on their numbers, which were provided by Mr. Kohli and the Township Secretary.
Liz Willow of Sycamore Lane was concerned that the duplication of house numbers among the various township streets will cause confusion for the post offices.
Residents questioned the gap between numbers, which Mr. Sauser explained is due to allowing a number for each fifty feet of frontage along the road to allow for any future development. Mr. Kuhn added that this method provides uniformity throughout the township to enable emergency vehicles to better judge the distance between numbers when trying to locate a house.
A resident mentioned sight distance problems at White Horse Road and Rees Road. Mr. Sauser stated that cutting back vegetation has improved the situation, but re-grading of an embankment is needed. Since this embankment is located on private property, the Township can’t take action to have it regraded. He suggested contacting PennDOT to request that they shave off the crest of White Horse Road approaching the intersection to improve the sight line. Mr. Sauser requested that Mr. Rittenbaugh check that intersection warning signs are in place in all four directions approaching the intersection.
Mr. Sauser stated that the draft received from Mr. McErlane appears to be in order and in line with the Board’s oral decision. Mrs. Ewald asked to confirm her understanding that the civil penalty to be enacted will be placed directly into the Parks & Recreation budget and the other supervisors concurred. Mr. Sauser directed Mr. McErlane to obtain Mr. Kielinski’s acceptance of the order and circulate the final order to the Board.
Mrs. Ewald asked that this item be tabled until the October 21, 1996 meeting.
A hearing date of November 4, 1996 was determined for the Spring Meadow Farms Conditional Use application. Mr. McErlane was asked to advertise.
Mr. Sauser stated that if Mr. McErlane finds no problems with the draft ordinance, the zoning amendment hearing will be scheduled for November 4, 1996.
Based on a recommendation from the Township Treasurer, Mr. Sauser directed her to renew the mobile phone contract with Comcast/Metrophone.
Mr. Sauser stated that some correspondence has been received from individuals requesting that their lane name be changed, for which an ordinance amendment would be required. Mr. Alston stated that the Re-numbering Committee plans to meet within the next week to review all inquiries from residents regarding their addresses and determine what changes and corrections are warranted in order to make a recommendation to the Board.
Mr. Rittenbaugh estimated a lead time of one month from the day the signs are ordered to their installation. He estimates the signs to cost $16 - $22 each plus installation. Mr. Kohli said that state regulations require using breakaway posts. Mr. Sauser directed the Roadmaster to obtain pricing for the signs. He commented that Mr. Alston recommended that a sign for the intersecting road be placed on the poles. The Secretary suggested that the words “private” or “private drive” be included on the sign.
Mrs. Ewald objected to the Township paying for the signs and their installation on private driveways, stating that this shouldn’t come out of the taxpayer’s money but be the responsibility of the homeowners on those drives, citing that Township policy has always required that developers or homeowners associations pay for signage on private roads.
Mr. Sauser stated his view that the initial signs and installation should for by the Township, with the homeowners responsible for replacement costs. This needs to be done by resolution.
Mr. Sauser stated that in order to fulfill the requirements for the Round V County Parks and Recreation Small Improvement Grant and receive the $10,000 grant, a sign must be installed at the Park highlighting the project and its funding source. Mrs. Ewald suggested that Mr. Connolly proceed with selecting from one of the price quotations he obtained and order the sign.
After Mr. Kohli’s brief review of the information, Mr. Sauser moved to accept PennDOT’s 1996-97 Snow & Ice Agreement. Mr. Kohn seconded and the motion passed. Mr. Sauser directed the Secretary to respond to PennDOT indicating the Township’s acceptance of the Snow & Ice Agreement.
Mrs. Ewald referred to Mr. Oeste’s recommendation to reduce the cartway of the Broadwater Lane emergency access to Charlestown Hunt per Realen’s request. Mr. Kohli stated that the Planning Commission was in agreement with the reduction. Mr. Alston stated that he spoke with Jay Pollinger, Kimberton Fire Company Chief, and that in general, Mr. Pollinger indicated that the reduced cartway would be sufficient for emergency vehicles with the exception of possible curves in the road. Mr. Kohli responded that the road is relatively straight, although the final positioning will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the Rectenwalds, whose property is affected. Mr. Sauser stated that he would like to have a letter from Mr. Pollinger before making a decision. Mr. Kohli said he will request that Realen provide a schematic drawing to Mr. Pollinger. The matter was placed on the October 21st agenda.
Mr. Sauser asked Mr. McErlane for some background on several items of legal correspondence received by the Township this week.
Mr. Sauser stated that he would like to direct Mr. Comitta to review the draft of Schuylkill Township’s revised Zoning Ordinance sent to the Township for review and comment. The other Board members were in agreement. Comments are needed by mid-November.
Mr. Sauser announced that the next meeting will take place on October 21st and will include a Zoning Amendment Hearing for an amendment permitting day care centers in the L-I district as a conditional use, followed by a Conditional Use hearing for Little People Day Care.
Mrs. Ewald suggested that the Board undertake a Fall Road Tour even though state requirements no longer make one mandatory. Scheduling for the Fall Road Tour was placed on the October 21st agenda.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:15 P.M. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.