CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The first regular business meeting for February was held February 3, 1997 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Irene W. Ewald, Vincent Pompo, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 8:10 P.M.
Mr. Sauser read a statement in which he said that many attendees and observers of the Board’s meetings have expressed concern regarding the extended length of meetings and the non-productive nature of the dialogue. He went on to announce a new meeting policy which would follow Robert’s Rules of Order and provide two opportunities for public comment. Comments on agenda items would take place prior to the opening of Old Business. Comments on non-agenda items would take place after New Business. Public comments will not be entertained during the business portion of the meeting.
Mr. Sauser announced new information on the Altemose curative amendment petition. After being denied by the Board of Supervisors, the Board’s decision was upheld by the Court of Common Pleas. It had then been upheld at the Commonwealth Court level, but now the Commonwealth Court has agreed to allow for re-argument on the case and this is scheduled for April 9, 1997.
Mr. Sauser stated that in the future, any announcements should be offered to the Chair so he can bring them forward.
Mr. Kohn commended the action of the Chairman to formalize the proceedings of the Board.
Mrs. Ewald commented that a meeting policy is already in place and she was not consulted in the matter of changing it. If a revision is to be made, it should be done with the involvement of the full board at a public meeting.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the Business Meeting minutes of January 6, 1997. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Reorganization Meeting minutes of January 6, 1997. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the Business Meeting minutes of January 20, 1997. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser stated that these reports are circulated to the Board prior to the meeting and are available for inspection by the public.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the January 1- 31, 1997 Treasurer’s Report. Mr. Sauser seconded and the motion carried.
Mrs. Ewald called for discussion on the Accounts Payable report for February 3, 1997. She asked the Roadmaster for details on the road contractor’s invoice, which was nearly $20,000.00. She noted that the total road contractor costs in 1996 were only $32,420.00 and asked for some explanation on the size of the bill now being presented for January.
Mr. Thompson responded that the bill is for a six week period and includes a great deal of repeat work on icy road conditions over several days. The remainder of the work was maintenance oriented. He stated that he was present while the work was undertaken and studied the invoice carefully and found it acceptable.
Mrs. Ewald reminded the Roadmaster that the township’s contract states that equipment is not to be billed while idle. She asked for Mr. Thompson to review the procedures to determine if any improvements are needed. Mr. Thompson agreed to bring any suggestions to the Board.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for February 3, 1997. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli reported that he met with PennDOT officials at Valley Hill Road to examine a water run-off problem reported by the Coyles. He is waiting for PennDOT’s response.
Mrs. Ewald stated that she met Karen Smith at the Smith property on Rees Road, where Mrs. Smith complained of water running off the Charlestown Brae site and onto Rees and Howell Roads. Mr. Kohli responded that no clearing has been done on that area of the Brae and that any runoff is a result of natural drainage. However, he agreed to meet Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Kohn at the site on February 7th at 8:00 A.M. to check on the situation.
Michael Churchill reported that the Planning Commission undertook an extensive review of the Zeigler subdivision application at their January 14th meeting. The applicant will return to the Planning Commission with some modifications to the plan.
Mr. Churchill stated that the Planning Commission listened to a lengthy presentation made by Pennrose Properties on their proposed zoning amendment for a portion of the Valley Forge Christian College site to allow apartments in the Institutional District. The Planning Commission told the applicant that the language in their proposed amendment is too vague and that the township needs to have specific design standards built into the ordinance.
Mr. Sauser stated that the Board had some concern over Mr. Comitta’s role in working with the applicant to further develop the amendment and whether there was the question of a conflict. Mr. Churchill responded that Mr. Comitta is representing the township in developing better design standards and that it is understood that he is working on the township’s behalf as its consultant in this matter. Mr. Sauser commented that he’s concerned that Pennrose doesn’t appear to be on a clear path as their concept has changed several times.
Mr. Kohn asked the Planning Commission to consider whether the I District should be re-zoned or whether a new district, a PRD-4 should be developed for the site. He believes this to be a more reasonable approach and suggests that the township approach the applicant with a proposal.
Mrs. Ewald said that the Board should study the feasibility and needs assessment reports already provided, and to look at the uses of adjoining properties, not only in Charlestown but in the neighboring townships since the uses need to interrelate. Mr. Churchill stated that the Board’s comments were consistent with those of the Planning Commission. He stated that the applicant will return to the Planning Commission and is expected to present the status of the overall plan for the VFCC.
Mr. Thompson read his report dated February 3, 1997 detailing work performed during the month of January, which included snow and ice removal, installation of private lane signs, replacement of a storm drain on Buckwalter Road, and general maintenance and clean-up of the roads. He also reported that he called PennDOT to ditch Pikeland and Yellow Springs Roads to correct drainage problems in those areas. PennDOT did perform the work and it appears to be satisfactory.
Mr. Alston reported that during the month of January, there were two vehicle fires, one wires fire, one fuel spill, one chimney fire, one fumes investigation, one industrial rescue, three automatic alarms and ten vehicle accidents.
Mr. Connolly reported that he met with the Schuylkill EAC and East Pikeland EAC to discuss the development of a regional recreational organization. Each member of the group is going to prepare a list of all recreational activities they offer along with some demographic data which will be reviewed and combined to get a clearer picture of what programs are duplicated and which are lacking. Mr. Connolly noted that the Borough of Phoenixville will be key to any regional plan, and that East Pikeland currently contributes to Phoenixville to cover the costs of its use of Phoenixville programs. Another meeting will be held on February 17th, and Mr. Connolly asked for the Board’s encouragement to proceed. Mr. Kohn moved to encourage Mr. Connolly to continue with his participation in these regional meetings. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Connolly reported that Great Valley Materials donated stone to the Park for barriers to protect the soccer fields. GVM offered to supply all of the stone needed for the Park. Other volunteers transported the stones at no charge.
Mr. Connolly urged the Board to consider the importance of developing an overall plan for Charlestown Park as soon as possible.
Mr. Connolly asked the Board to consider the issue of whether to continue stocking the Pickering Creek, as a deadline with the Fish and Boat Commission is approaching. Mr. Kohn moved for the Chairman to contact the Fish and Boat Commission for input to be used in the Board’s consideration of whether to continue with the stocking program. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Connolly asked if there was a newsletter schedule and deadline so he can prepare some Parks and Recreation information for it. Mr. Sauser stated that there’s no schedule but that he does plan to put out a newsletter this spring. He suggested that Mr. Connolly begin preparing his article.
Mr. Connolly stated that he attended the Great Valley Sustainable Watershed hearing and turned over a draft copy of the study, requesting that the Board review it. He stated that grant money is available for each township included in the study if they resolve to commit themselves to the plan’s concept. He also stated that GIS maps are available to the Township through the Green Valleys Association and its consultant. He recommended that the Board consider obtaining this data as well as the digital map that has been developed.
Mr. Sauser stated that the VFSA held their reorganization meeting and Stephen Winckelman was elected chairman.
Liz Willow said she appreciates the Chairman’s pledge to conduct the meetings in a more respectful manner and asked that he realize the people attending do so for the good of the township and she requests that they be recognized for such.
John DiLello asked for the location of the Spring Meadow Farms subdivision, which Mr. Sauser answered is located off Howell Road and is comprised of the Robinson tract and a portion of the Whitehorse Meadows subdivision off Whitehorse Road.
Frank Francomano requested that larger maps be made available at the meetings for the public’s reference.
Stephen Schlichter asked for a description of the process involved in reviewing the Pennrose proposed zoning ordinance amendment, which Mr. Pompo provided.
Kevin Kuhn commended the Chairman’s adoption of Robert’s Rules of Order for conducting the meetings. He asked how a resident may voice a comment on a matter open for discussion. Mr. Sauser responded that deliberation is for the Board only, and that residents must present any opinions during the Citizen’s Forum periods. Mr. Kuhn asked for the status of pursuing reimbursement for costs in the Altemose hearing, and Mr. Sauser stated that he would relay a reminder to Mr. Oeste to respond to the Board.
Mark Connolly also applauded a more structured meeting format but suggested that the public be recognized at the Chairman’s discretion, that because there is no committee structure allowing for citizen input, some opportunity should be made available at the Board meetings. Mr. Sauser responded that the purpose of the meeting isn’t to have dialogue but to conduct business. He intends to adhere to the statutory commitments to provide the Citizens’ Forum.
Mrs. Behrle commended the action to better structure the meetings, but stated that the decision should be made by all three board members and not by an individual.
Debbie Kuhn stated that a resident may have information which is of use to the Board in making a decision and was concerned that they might vote without knowing all the facts.
Mrs. Ewald stated that she disagrees with Mr. Sauser’s unilateral decision to change the meeting structure and that this matter should have been placed on the agenda for discussion first. She stated that if the public comes to the meeting and has something to say, she wants to hear them. Mr. Sauser stated that he recognizes a trade off in adopting the new structure,but that in the future, Charlestown will conduct itself more in line with other municipalities.
The proceedings were taken by a court reporter. The record will remain open to include the Declaration of Restrictions & Covenants.
Mr. Kohli referred to his review letter of January 31, 1997, item #2, which states that the non-recordation of the previously approved Whitehorse Meadow Plan must be addressed, as a portion of this subdivision is proposed to be included and re-subdivided in Spring Meadow Farms. Mr. Pompo stated that the plans for Spring Meadow Farms should not be released until escrow is posted for both subdivisions. Mr. Main acknowledged that this is their intent. He wishes to wait for an outcome on the Altemose curative amendment argument scheduled for April 9th, since the Altemose property abuts his.
Mr. Main discussed some details that will be included in the Homeowners Documents, which he provided in a draft form at this meeting. He said that the preservation of aestethics was an important part of the document and gave fencing requirements and restrictions as an example. Having conferred with Township Historical Commission Chairwoman Janet Baldwin, attention was also given to the historic preservation and maintenance of existing stone walls on the site. Some discussion was held on the best way for the township to monitor this preservation. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the Spring Meadow Farms Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan subject to compliance with the items on Mr. Kohli’s letter dated January 31, 1997 and the representations made by Mr. Main in his draft of the covenants and restrictions documents to be reviewed by the solicitor. Mr. Kohn seconded. A roll call vote was taken. Mrs. Ewald voted nay on the basis that not all the documentation has been submitted and reviewed. Mr. Kohn and Mr. Sauser voted aye, and the motion carried.
Mr. Kohn reported on a meeting held at the Township office on January 31, 1997 and attended by representatives from the Phoenixville Post Office, Chester County Emergency Services, Schuylkill Township and Charlestown Township. Schuylkill Township was originally asked to number Buckwalter Road on both the Schuylkill and Charlestown sides. An error was made by Schuylkill Township that inadvertently numbered both sides of the road with odd numbers. Schuylkill Township agreed to re-number their side of the road. Therefore, the Charlestown Buckwalter Road addresses will remain as originally assigned by Schuylkill Township and later accepted by Charlestown Township in their September 16, 1997 plan. Mr. Kohn thanked Kevin Kuhn, a member of Charlestown’s re-numbering committee along with the secretary for their part in reaching a satisfactory solution to the problem.
Mr. Kohn commented on the completed feasibility study submitted by Frens & Frens which deals with the question of whether the Markley Barn is suitable location for a township office. The study also provides a program for the refit of the Barn for this use. He stated that the product is very professional and complete, but unfortunately indicates that a refit of the barn would be an extremely expensive proposition at an estimated $200.00 per square foot, which is about three times as much as new construction.
The proceedings were taken by a court reporter.
Mr. Kohn moved to continue the hearing subject to the receipt of a 30 day notice from the applicant requesting re-scheduling and to include re-advertisement of the public notice and notification of the abutting landowners. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser moved to reschedule the hearing to March 13, 1997. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli stated that the documentation for dedication of Rees Road will be ready for the February 17th meeting.
Lee Raden reported that Broadwater Lane is nearly impassable at its base due to damage to the road caused by construction vehicles going into Charlestown Hunt. He stated that emergency vehicles, and fire trucks in particular, would probably be unable to access it. Mr. Sauser directed Mr. Kohli to check the site and work with Realen on a solution.
Mr. DiLello asked if this citizens’ forum for non-agenda items could be positioned earlier in the meeting between “Old Business” and “New Business.” Mr. Sauser responded that the citizens’ forum takes up too much time needed for regular township business and it will remain at the end of the meeting.
Mrs. Ewald stated that the members of the Historical Commission recommended Ray H. Ott for the vacant position on their Commission. Mrs. Ewald said that Mr. Ott’s insights and knowledge are an incredible resource to the township and moved to nominate Ray Ott to fill the balance of Harold Pyle’s term on the Historical Commission. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser moved to grant tax forgiveness to the Charlestown Historical Society for the former Markley property for the year 1996. Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Kohn seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 12:15 A.M.