CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The second regular business meeting for February was held February 17, 1997 at the Great Valley Nature Center. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Irene W. Ewald, James E. McErlane, Esq., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M.
Mr. Sauser stated that the Chester County Voter’s Registration office sent all county voters a post card requesting mailing address confirmation. He reminded everyone to verify that the County has their correct address.
Mrs. Ewald had two announcements. Mr. Sauser reminded Mrs. Ewald that all announcements are to be brought to the Chairman prior to the meeting and then asked for the content of her announcements. Mrs. Ewald stated that he is engaging in censorship by dealing with announcements in this manner. The announcements were not made.
No matters were brought forward.
Mr. Sauser asked for the nature of this discussion as it wasn’t brought to him for placement on the agenda. Mrs. Ewald stated that as a board of three supervisors, any change in meeting policy should have been deliberated and voted on instead of brought forward by the Chairman alone. Mr. Kohn disagreed, stating that at the February 3, 1997 meeting, he agreed that the meetings should be run according to Robert’s Rules of Order and submitted to the Chair on this policy. Mr. Sauser moved on to the next item of business, stating that this item shouldn’t have appeared on the agenda. Mrs. Ewald stated that in the past the Township has conducted its meetings loosely based on Robert’s Rules but that it never took the form of having one person on the Board speaking for the others.
Mr. Sauser referred to John Cellucci’s request dated January 25, 1997 for a two year extension on his unrecorded but approved land development plan for a flex building on his Phoenixville Pike property. Mr. McErlane stated that any changes in the ordinance in the first five years after approval would not affect the plan, but after five years, any changes must be incorporated into the plan requirements. Mr. Sauser stated that the plan was approved on October 2, 1989. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve a one year extension on the Cellucci Land Development Plan. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald explained that the original conditional use approval was a condition of Dr. Moskowitz’s purchase of the property. As a psychologist, he has a home office where he counsels physically handicapped children. She pointed out that this is not his primary office. Mr. Sauser asked if the conditional use approval would convey to any new owner of the property, and Mr. McErlane responded that it would be conveyed; however, it would be for the same specific use.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Dr. Moskowitz’s request for a one year extension on his conditional use approval for a home office on Union Hill Road. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser stated that Charlestown Parks & Rec Chairman Mark Connolly has urged the Board to consider moving ahead with Green Valleys Association request for a resolution supporting the Sustainable Watershed Management Plan. Mr. Sauser described some of the data that will be made available to the Township as a result of this plan, including user friendly, PC based GIS data that will enable manipulating geographic information and creating models for planning purposes.
Mrs. Ewald described how the plan can fit with the Township’s philosophy of planning ordinances to reflect what the land will sustain. She gave the net out provision in the FR district as an example of how steep slopes and wetlands are discounted as buildable land under the current ordinance. She sees this watershed program as another planning tool that will help show the impact of development on water resources. She provided examples of resolutions recently passed in other Chester County Townships in support of the program and asked her fellow Board members to consider adopting a similar one. She stated that passing such a resolution will enable Charlestown to join the grant process in the future, although participation would not be mandatory.
Mr. Kohn agreed to support the program, and said he’d be willing to participate in GIS courses that will be made available. He gave as an example of how the data could be utilized in planning by stating that theoretical consumption figures could be entered in the computer and it would produce a model to show the effect of such development on the water table.
Mr. Sauser commented that he would like more information on the costs to the Township and also pointed out that the Township must consider how to incorporate the data when writing law.
Mr. McErlane stated that, according to the Municipal Planning Code, the Township is clearly authorized to adopt the Sustainable Watershed Management Plan in order to state its intention to implement it on a regional basis. Since water recognizes no municipal boundaries, it’s important to gather information on a regional basis. He further commented that passing such a resolution doesn’t limit the township to working with the Green Valleys Association only.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Resolution #523-97 supporting the Green Valley Association River Conservation Plan known as Sustainable Watershed Management. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
None of the Supervisors will be available to attend the Spring Convention on March 6, 1997.
Mr. Sauser gave some background on the Fish & Boat Commission’s stocking of the Pickering Creek, to which the Township agreed several years ago on a trial basis. At that time, Mr. Sauser discussed with the Fish & Boat Commission the possibility of providing improvements, such as trash collection and parking, to the adjacent open space along the creek should the program be continued on a permanent basis. He was unable to reach them for discussion prior to tonight’s meeting on this subject.
Mrs. Ewald offered some concerns on the program, including deed restrictions on the township open space that would not allow parking lots, possible biodegradation of the stream, and consideration of the residents and land owners adjacent to the creek. She suggested that the Parks & Recreation Board develop a committee to follow up with a new study on water quality and contact residents and other interested parties for a public meeting to discuss the issue, afterward providing recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Kohn stated that biologist Sarah Willig, PhD has indicated her willingness to donate her time to such a committee. Mrs. Ewald stated that Tina Daly may also be interested in serving, and her input would be extremely valuable as well.
Mrs. Ewald stated that since the fishermen have been accessing the creek, there has been fencing damage and an increase in litter, which should be taken into consideration.
Mr. Sauser stated that the Fish & Boat Commission should be involved in the meeting with the Parks & Rec Board. He stated that meeting with the residents would be useful. He noted that the creek has been stocked for many years and he doubts that water studies will indicate any water quality problems. He also responded to Mrs. Ewald’s comment on the damaged fencing that it’s been in this condition for many years and he doesn’t believe it to be a result of the increased use of the creek due to trout stocking. Further, he commented that any parking to be constructed in the open space would be pervious surface parking which wouldn’t violate any deed restrictions.
Mr. Sauser stated that he will communicate to Mr. Connolly the Board’s interest in having the Parks & Recreation Board involved.
Liz Willow brought a letter dated February 12, 1997 to the Board’s attention, written by Ellen Behrle of the Sycamore Lane Protective Association requesting the Board’s assistance in solving drainage problems in their area caused by construction at Charlestown Hunt.
Ms. Willow also gave an example of advertisements from neighboring townships who place public notices when seeking candidates for vacant municipal board positions and suggested that the Supervisors consider doing the same rather than depend on a more informal word of mouth process.
Janet Baldwin stated that she signed a Boy Scout Counsel Application for Neil Kerrigan’s scout troop, which is interested in undertaking a clean-up campaign at the Revolutionary War Cemetery. They also propose to unearth and relocate a gravestone found outside the cemetery wall. She asked if the township’s insurance policy will cover liability for this project. Mr. McErlane stated that although he hasn’t reviewed the insurance policy, the project should receive an official sanction from the Board. Mrs. Ewald stated that the Secretary has been in contact with the Township’s insurance agent to request a memo confirming coverage. Mrs. Ewald moved to authorize the Chairman of the Historical Commission to approve the Eagle Scout project at the Revolutionary War Cemetery. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Stephen Schlichter asked for clarification on the new meeting policy and how Robert’s Rules of Order apply. Mr. Sauser stated that under Robert’s Rules, the Chairman conducts the meeting and all actions are conveyed through the Chair. The Chairman gives floor time to other members of the board and to the audience. Mrs. Ewald stated that this doesn’t entitle the Chairman to act as a censor for equally elected supervisors or anyone else who has the floor, that he only acknowledges that they have the floor. She stated that it’s a way to keep the meeting moving in an orderly fashion.
Kevin Kuhn asked who has the authority to list agenda items. Mr. McErlane responded that this is typically a prerogative of the Chair. Other members have a right to appeal any decision of the Chair and call for a vote. Mr. Kuhn asked how a member of the audience should address a question to someone other than the Chair, and Mr. McErlane responded that they would go through the Chair to request raising their question. Mr. Kohn stated that others owe it to the Chair to identify the subject they wish to speak on and would then receive a reasonable right to speak. Mr. Kuhn agreed that more order is needed at the Township meetings but that the unilateral change of policy was a travesty, giving the appearance of placing a gag order on the citizens. He stated that as the township’s representative who attended the Green Valley Association meetings regarding the Sustainable Watershed Management Plan, he had pertinent information for the Board earlier in the meeting, but was not afforded an opportunity to speak. Jim Quay agreed that Mr. Kuhn should have been called upon when this item was being discussed. Mr. Kuhn stated that citizen input before a Board decision may be of use to the Board, that the input is of no use afterward. He said that people come to the meetings to be involved and the Board should take advantage of this. Mr. Sauser stated that the Resolution in support of the Sustainable Watershed Management Plan was achieved and further input was unnecessary. Mr. Schlichter stated that citizens should be permitted to speak at the time discussion is called for after a motion is seconded.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Sauser seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 P.M.