CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The first regular business meeting for March was held March 3, 1997 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Irene W. Ewald, Thomas F. Oeste, 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 8:05 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mrs. Ewald reported that a meeting was held at Karen Smith’s property which she attended along with Mr. Kohli, Mr. Thompson, Michael Honan of Rouse Chamberlin and Mrs. Smith to check on a drainage problem that appeared to be coming from Whitehorse at Charlestown (Charlestown Brae). Mr. Kohli provided an explanation of how the stormwater management system at Whitehorse would work when the development is complete. Residents acknowledge that there was always a problem due to the intersection of Rees & Howells Roads being at a low point, but this now has worsened considerably. Solutions must be developed, but in the meantime, Mrs. Ewald acknowledged that Mr. Honan was very cooperative and has arranged for siltation fences to be installed to help mitigate the problem.
Mrs. Ewald offered a personal remembrance of Ben Kapustin, who was a Township Commissioner in Havertown for 27 years. As her mentor, he often gave her counsel which in turn affected Charlestown Township. She described him as a public official who put the people first and responded to them with fairness and consistency.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of February 3, 1997. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of February 17, 1997. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohn moved to approve the February 1- 28, 1997 Treasurer’s Report. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser stated that the request for reimbursement by Andrew Viscuso for a tax collector’s software program appears to be in order. Mr. Kohn moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for March 3, 1997. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli reported that he met Al Derkas in the field to assess a drainage problem near Charlestown Hunt and brought to the Township’s attention via a letter written by the Sycamore Lane Protective Association. Mr. Kohli stated that the stormwater is being properly controlled on the Hunt site and has been reviewed by the Chester County Conservation District. The detention basins are in working order. Mr. Kohn stated that he wants to be sure the neighboring property owners are satisfied. Mr. Kohli stated that Mr. Derkas is now experiencing no difficulties and is satisfied with Realen’s response to the problem. A neighbor further downhill from Mr. Derkas was also present and will contact the appropriate agencies regarding his concerns.
Mr. Sauser asked for details on Glen Davis’ complaint on Jeffords Court at Charlestown Hunt that noise between his home and the adjacent home is excessive. Mr. Kohli stated that he spoke with Mr. Davis and told him that the building was constructed according to the approved plans, which are in compliance with the township ordinance which incorporates the BOCA code. Mr. Kohli has asked Realen if they would perform independent testing at this location to measure the noise levels and determine whether they are excessive. Mr. Sauser commented that he spoke with Bob Dwyer and he has agreed to look into the problem.
Mrs. Ewald asked for an explanation of correspondence received from the Charlestown Hunt Management Association which requested that a permit be issued for the construction of the recreational building. Mr. Kohli stated that he refused to issue the permit since the access road must be constructed first. He said the road should be completed in the next few weeks, after which time the permit can be released.
Mr. Zeigler reported that at the February 11th meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed the Zeigler subdivision application, the Somerset subdivision and heard a presentation by the Valley Forge Christian College. At the February 25th meeting, Wawa Foods presented sketches and discussed their interest in seeking a rezoning of a tract at the corner of Route 29 and Whitehorse Road for a Wawa Food Market. He stated that they have considerable work to do before returning to the Planning Commission. Mr. Kohn asked if aesthetics had been discussed, and Mr. Zeigler said that they had not been discussed at this stage in the process.
Mr. Thompson summarized his report dated March 3, 1997 detailing work performed during the month of February, which included snow and ice removal, installation of private lane signs, striping of Valley Hill Road and working with Anderson Signs on the remaining private lane signs. He stated that Township Line Road will be striped in the next few weeks.
Mrs. Ewald commented that the road contractor bill, which is for a three week period, again appears excessive. She stated that she’s concerned over costs and particularly with the large amount of cold patching, which is only a temporary measure. She reminded Mr. Thompson that she had asked him for any suggestions for keeping the costs down at the last meeting and offered the Board’s help in this area.
Mr. Alston was absent due to illness. Mrs. Ewald reported on a call she received this morning from a resident on Valley Hill Road who called 911 and was told his address, assigned by the Township in September of 1996, wasn’t in the system. The dispatcher was able to locate his house by accessing his old address. Mrs. Ewald stated that she would contact Mr. Alston and County Emergency Services regarding the problem. She stated that the County has developed a special committee to improve county dispatch operations.
Mark Connolly reported that he met with the Phoenixville Recreation Department and the Community Development Committee and information will be compiled regarding regional activities and interests.
Mr. Connolly reported that he met with the Smurthwaites regarding the relocation of Horseshoe Trail around their property and that signage is now in place. He suggested that the trail location be reviewed with regard to the Zeigler subdivision and reminded the Board that the Open Space Plan details this and other issues.
He reported that trail maintenance will take place from Charlestown Road to the bridge crossing at Route 29.
He asked for guidance on scheduling a public meeting on trout stocking of the Pickering Creek. There was some discussion over whether the property owners abutting the creek should first meet without the Fish & Boat Commission representatives present, but Mr. Sauser felt that they should attend.
Mr. Connolly reported that the Green Valleys Association final report on the Sustainable Watershed Management Study has been delivered to the township office.
Mr. Connolly reported that he met with the Phoenixville Marion Youth Club (PMYC), which is interested in expanding its involvement at Charlestown Park. Mrs. Ewald described their present contract as an evergreen contract which automatically renews if the PMYC has met its agreed to goals. She suggested considering a separate contract or an addendum to the original contract for any additional responsibilities. Mr. Connolly said they have tentative plans to construct a field hockey field at the park, for which a grant application was recently approved by the County, and to convert the putt-putt course into lacrosse fields.
Mr. Connolly urged the Board to consider the impact of apartment zoning at the Valley Forge Christian College, which would have a profound effect on the adjacent park.
Mr. Kohn gave a brief description of the PRD-4 concept suggested by township planner Tom Comitta for the proposed apartment complex, Coldstream Crossing. He indicated that he favors this approach in considering the rezoning the VFCC parcel as opposed to adding apartment use to the existing zoning district for that tract. Mrs. Ewald referred to Mr. Comitta’s outline of that quadrant of the township, which includes the uses in neighboring townships. She stated that she shares Mr. Kohn’s interest in reviewing the PRD-4 concept.
Mr. Sauser said that there is nothing new to report from the VFSA since there hasn’t been a joint meeting since the beginning of the year.
Ellen Behrle commented on the run off problems near Charlestown Hunt and stated that three people on Sycamore Lane are affected, one of whom was Mr. Derkas. Two others were unavailable to attend the meeting with Mr. Kohli. Mr. Sauser suggested that a meeting be scheduled with these two individuals and that the matter be placed on an upcoming agenda after there is information to report.
Liz Willow asked for some background on the PRD hearing for Charlestown Hunt Lot 26. Mr. Sauser explained that a driveway relocation for Dr. & Mrs. Growney’s property at Lot 26 inadvertently encroached on a setback. Instead of going through the Zoning Hearing Board, the PRD has its own specific process where the matter is heard by the Supervisors instead.
Michael Honan, P.E. of Rouse Chamberlin Ltd. was present to seek acceptance of the Deed of Dedication for the relocated portion of Rees Road. Mr. Oeste stated that the Letter of Credit is acceptable as revised. Mr. Kohli stated that his comments have been satisfied and that a 19 month bond maintenance agreement will be put into place.
Mrs. Ewald gave some background on the relocation of Rees Road, stating that during the subdivision review process for Charlestown Brae, the Board saw the opportunity to align the Rees Road and Whitehorse Road intersection with the Union Hill and Whitehorse Road intersection. Rouse Chamberlin agreed to undertake the relocation as an off-site impact contribution to the township. PennDOT recently reviewed the intersection for site distance, speed limits, and for traffic turning on and off Whitehorse Road. PennDOT stated that it will undertake a traffic study for Whitehorse Road at the township’s request; however, if a speed reduction is warranted, the township would be responsible for posting the signs.
Mr. Honan distributed a letter dated February 28, 1997 from Rouse’s consultant, Traffic Planning and Design Inc., which undertook a study of the site and complied possible solutions to make the intersection less prone to accidents. While the sight distance proved to be more than adequate for the posted speed on Whitehorse Road, they observed that actual speeds far exceeded the posted limit. They offered some suggestions on getting motorists to reduce their speed approaching the intersection.
The Secretary was directed to contact the state police and request speed monitoring for this section of Whitehorse Road.
Mr. Smurthwaite asked when a small triangle of property between the old Rees and new Rees Roads would be deeded over to him and his wife as set forth in an earlier agreement. Mr. Kohli responded that this agreement will be implemented when the former Rees Road is officially vacated.
Mrs. Ewald moved to accept the dedication of that portion of Rees Road described in Exhibit A of the Proposed Deed of Dedication. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.
Vincent Kling Jr., Bob Plucienik, P.E. and Bud Zeigler presented the preliminary subdivision plan dated 2/19/97 for the Zeigler property, a 12 lot subdivision of a 45 acre parcel along 2 mile of Howells Road. Mr. Kling (Jr.) described the smallest lot as approximately 85,000 square feet in size and the largest, containing the existing farmhouse and other structures, at 537,000 square feet. There are 6 curb cuts proposed onto Howells Road. He stated that no conditional use approvals are needed and there are no floodplains, wetlands or seasonal high water tables on the property.
Mr. Sauser asked for clarification on the reason why the right of way from Charlestown Brae wasn’t used in the plan. Mr. Zeigler responded that Rouse Chamberlin put it in their plans for their own access to Howells Road, but later didn’t need it when they received approval to access Rees Road instead. The right of way should have been extinguished but was overlooked. Mrs. Ewald disagreed, stating that she was involved in the negotiations with Sarah Peck, President of Rouse Chamberlin, to provide this right of way to the Zeigler tract for the express purpose of providing access to it in the future should subdivision occur. The access was never intended to be used for Charlestown Brae to reach Howells Road.
Mr. Zeigler stated that he would be extremely reluctant to design a plan utilizing this right of way. He wishes to keep his subdivision separate and distinct from the Charlestown Brae development in order to maintain the character of the neighborhood. Mr. Kling (Jr.) stated that the right of way is located at a low point in the topography and this would cause drainage problems. Further, Charlestown Brae’s stormwater management plan was not designed to handle additional water here. Mr. Plucienik stated that a large retention basin would be needed from which to convey the water through the Brae’s existing piping. Mr. Kling (Jr.) commented that the current plan has individual stormwater management systems for each lot.
Mr. Sauser stated that the disjointed, unrelated development taking place in Charlestown is a growing concern and he feels it is isolating to the people living in these separate communities. Mrs. Ewald agreed that this is a serious concern. She stated that people define a community, not a builder, and that access facilitates this process in order to blend the old and the new in Charlestown. Mr. Kohn agreed that a plan using the right of way would have provided more of a neighborhood than the current plan.
Mr. Sauser asked for an explanation of why five lots need to use sand mound septic systems since there is no high ground water on the tract. Mr. Kling (Jr.) responded that the soil is mottled on these lots, and according to the County Health Department and the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection, they are then defined as limiting zones which in turn necessitate sand mound systems. He stated that all lots have passed perc tests. Mrs. Ewald asked if there are secondary approved sites in the event the original sites fail. Mr. Kling (Jr.) responded that testing has not been done, but a second system site has been delineated for each lot, and the area is to be left undisturbed and held in reserve. He stated that the failure rate for sand mound systems has decreased in recent years due to better construction and improved controls. Mrs. Ewald referred to a house near the Zeigler tract that has had 4 failed sand mound systems in the 7 years since the house was built, and believes that the proposed systems will also be likely to fail. Mr. Kling (Jr.) stated that sand mound systems are acceptable to the Chester County Health Department. Mr. Kohn said that he had given input to the Planning Commission indicating that he wished to see alternative site testing performed. Mr. Zeigler stated that the second site on each lot has the same general geology as the first site and could be expected to perform similarly under testing. He referred to a note placed on the plans. Since testing is only good for three years, most testing done now would need to be re-done at that time anyway.
Mrs. Ewald also had concerns over the stormwater management plan. She said that Rees Road and Howells Road already experiences a great deal of water run off from the northwest section of the tract. Mr. Kohli pointed out that some of the water is coming from the Brae site, which will be resolved when the development is completed and the water is re-directed. Mr. Plucienik suggested that the above ground retention basins, which will divert to Howells Road, could be oversized to help mitigate the problem. Mr. Sauser stated that the plan provides for causing no greater a water flow than already exists, however, he would like to see steps taken to improve upon the situation. Mr. Kohli suggested that some volume could be offset underground, and gave the nearby development Heatherwood as an example, where underground systems are located under pavement.
Mrs. Ewald asked the applicant to review the Board’s comments and re-examine the plan to consider utilizing the right of way from Charlestown Brae. Mr. Kohn offered to meet with the applicant on this issue. Mr. Kling (Jr.) agreed to draw up a sketch. Mr. Sauser suggested that the note on sand mound systems be revised to include testing to be performed on the secondary site at the time of the building permit application.
Mr. Plucienik asked if the plan could be considered a preliminary/final plan when it comes back to the Board, and the Board agreed.
The proceeds were taken by a court reporter.
The Secretary was directed to renew the maintenance agreement for the township office Minolta copier.
John DiLello reported a deep culvert on the corner of Charlestown and Hollow Roads. Mr. Sauser said that the Roadmaster will notify PennDOT.
Ellen Behrle asked if the road connection between Charlestown Hunt and Broadwater Lane has been completed. Mr. Kohli responded that it is presently under construction and should be done in 4 to 5 weeks. Mr. Sauser will remind Realen Homes that they promised in November to complete this road as early as possible.
Mrs. Ewald reported on a need for pest control at the township office. Mr. Sauser said he would contact the Nature Center Director regarding the problem.
Mrs. Ewald wished to acknowledge and commend two Charlestown residents, Lee Raden and Michael Bowell, who both participated in the world class Philadelphia Flower Show.
Mr. Sauser asked the solicitor if the decision for the Charlestown Hunt Lot 26 PRD Hearing would be forwarded to the Court of Common Pleas for its review and acceptance, and Mr. Oeste responded affirmatively.
Mr. Sauser stated that there being no other business, he wished to cancel the meeting scheduled for March 17, 1997. Mrs. Ewald disagreed, stating that there were a number of issues that need to be addressed regarding policies, planning and general business. She wishes the board to take a more proactive approach to township affairs. Mr. Kohn suggested that the meeting be cancelled but that the supervisors communicate by phone once a week between meetings. He moved to designate Mr. Sauser as the initiator of these calls. Mrs. Ewald seconded. No vote was taken.
The Board of Supervisors meeting for March 17, 1997 was cancelled.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr. Kohn seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 P.M.