CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The second regular business meeting for May was held May 19, 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 8:00 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mr. Sauser announced that three prominent citizens of Charlestown Township, all long time residents, have passed away in the last week. They are Catherine Allender, Polly Quigley and Caperton Kling. He called for a moment of silence.
As a result of the new gasoline tax, Mr. Sauser announced that Charlestown Township will receive an estimated $6,300 additional in its 1998 liquid fuel tax allotment.
Robert Walker, a member of the Chester County Planning Commission, gave a brief presentation on the Visions Partnership program. He described the July 1996 approved County Comprehensive Plan, Landscapes as an overall policy guide which will act as a framework for developing intermunicipal cooperation in diminishing sprawl in land planning. Landscapes categorizes land as urban, suburban, rural and natural without distinguishing between residential, commercial, industrial or other zoning groups. The County has categorized Charlestown as being primarily in the rural group.
The Visions Partnership program defines the way in which the County will work with the municipalities who join. By signing a Memorandum of Understanding, a municipality endorses the Landscapes plan and will use it as a guide in their planning activities. The County will review the municipality’s comprehensive plan, zoning and subdivision ordinances and provide a written report at no cost to the municipality. The review will focus on whether the municipality’s plan and ordinances are consistent with the County’s plan. The Municipality will work with the County Planning Commission to determine growth areas and establish growth boundaries. The municipality will be eligible for Vision Partnership Program grant funds for using private or County planning consultants provided the results are consistent with Landscapes. Mr. Walker pointed out that by signing the memorandum, Charlestown Township would not be obligated in any way other than to have the County review its ordinances and comprehensive plan.
A resident asked for some background on how Landscapes was developed and whether it was put to a public vote. Mr. Walker responded that work on the plan began in 1994 with a number of workshop meetings held during the planning process and that it was developed by the County Planners in conjunction with the County Commissioners without being put to a vote by the general public. The resident asked if Charlestown had any input as to how Charlestown was designated, and Mrs. Ewald responded no. He then asked if any representatives from Charlestown attended the workshop sessions, and Mr. Sauser responded that members of the Planning Commission attended.
Mr. Sauser asked about the legal ramifications of this type of regional planning, and Mr. Walker responded that counties are encouraged to have regional plans and that individual municipalities would be responsible for enacting ordinances to fit the plan.
Mrs. Ewald pointed out that several members of the County Planning Commission are developers and questioned their motivation in devising a regional plan. She commented that it’s incongruous to have developers, who often come in to the township in an adversarial fashion when seeking subdivision or land development approvals, be the same people who would advise the township on its ordinances.
Ellen Behrle asked about the effects on property value, which she believed could decrease if the zoning changed to allow higher density in her area. Both Mr. Sauser and Mrs. Ewald responded that the value would be expected to increase, not decrease, as the possibility of developing the land would strengthen. Other larger properties, if restricted from subdivision, might decrease in value.
Mr. Sauser stated that some programs already exist to protect open space, such as transfer of development rights (TDR) and conservation easements, which are accomplished on a more individual, private basis. Mr. Walker responded with some negative aspects of TDR.
Mrs. Ewald stated that by advancing a village concept, which would require public sewer and water, development would increase. She pointed out that in order to receive county funding for planning projects, Charlestown would be required to sign the memorandum, when the funds originated as tax moneys paid by Charlestown tax payers and others in the County and should be available regardless.
Kevin Kuhn asked why a village concept was being promoted, when urban decay is an ongoing problem in the county. Mr. Walker responded that the village concept is not the same as the larger, more widespread boroughs that now exist. Mr. Kuhn commented that an increase in public sewers would be at odds with the sustainable watershed management program being developed at the present time. He stated that planning should meet the community’s needs, not the developers’ needs.
Janet Baldwin stated that she supports the Visions Partnership and would like to see the Township obtain grant money for work in historic preservation. She pointed out that the Township would still maintain its independence in designing its ordinances.
Mrs. Behrle asked how many municipalities of the 73 in the county have heard this presentation, and how many had signed on or declined the Visions Partnership. Mr. Walker responded that approximately 60 have heard the presentation, and 44 have signed the memorandum. One township, Birmingham, has declined. Mr. Sauser stated that the Board will take the invitation to join the Visions Partnership with the County under consideration. Mr. Walker stated that he’ll report back to the County with the Board’s comments.
No other comments were made at this time.
Michael E. Furey, Esq. and William Corson presented the township with a map plotting the properties owned by residents with complaints about blasting. Mr. Kohli outlined his plan to work with the Bureau of Mines and the Allan Myers Company to set up independent seismic testing on a selection of these properties over a period of several months. A comparison of the quantitative information with the resident’s comments and experiences will be made.
Joe O’Brien asked if the township has information on the seismic tolerance of the gas line going though the area in question. Mr. Kohli responded that the pipeline is well monitored in conjunction with agencies such as the Bureau of Mines and the DEP.
Mr. Kohli distributed a draft of the bid specifications for the 1997 road paving project to include all of Blackberry Road, the Pickering Spur, and Pickering Road from the Davis driveway to Charlestown Road. In response to Mrs. Ewald’s question, Mr. Kohli stated that RAP aggregate is prohibited from the asphalt mix. It was determined that a mandatory pre-bid meeting on site will not be necessary. Bids will be due at 8:00 P.M. on June 16th at the Elementary school or may be delivered earlier to the township office. They will be opened at the Supervisors’ meeting on June 16th at the Charlestown Elementary School at 8:00 P.M.
Mr. Oeste advised the Board that there is currently an injunction against the Department of Labor and Industry calling for the resolution of its method of determining the prevailing wage. The bid process may go forward, but the actual work can’t be performed until this issue is resolved.
Mrs. Ewald brought up the issue of the unresolved Broadwater Lane emergency access, which, while connected with a stone base from Charlestown Road to the Charlestown Hunt development, is not of the specified width or in the correct location. Mr. Sauser stated that the location of the road, which is partially encroaching on a homeowner’s private property, is a private issue. Mr. Kohn noted that if the road is moved, Realen may be unable to obtain approval from PennDOT due to poorer sight distances. Mr. Oeste stated that he’ll work with Realen Homes and the Rectenwalds to resolve the matter. The Board requested that Mr. Oeste communicate their wishes to Realen for a quick, satisfactory resolution of this issue in the strongest possible terms.
Mr. Sauser moved to accept the Escrow Documents for Phase IV of Charlestown Hunt subject to the applicant submitting evidence that an agreement and/or funds have been established with the Philadelphia Suburban Water company and the Valley Forge Sewer Authority for the construction of the sewer system and water mains. Mr. Kohn seconded the motion. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mrs. Ewald did not vote.
Mr. Kohli stated that the Planning Commission reviewed and recommended approval of the change to Building I of Phase IV, which is basically a different architectural style building with the same footprint. Mr. Kohn moved to approve the title plan for Charlestown Hunt indicating a change in the design of Building #1 of Phase IV. Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mrs. Ewald did not vote.
Mrs. Ewald asked about the question of curbing in Phase I, and Mr. Kohli suggested the Board review it during the upcoming road tour do determine whether raised curbs will be required or whether the existing curbs, not constructed as specified, are acceptable.
Mrs. Ewald announced that the 1996 Audit Report and Management Letter are on file at the Township office and invited interested residents to review them.
Mrs. Ewald stated that since the new alignment of Rees Road with respect to Union Hill and White Horse Roads, there have been numerous accidents due to two blind spots on Whitehorse, one coming from each direction, which make it impossible to see oncoming cars when turning left onto Rees Road or left onto Union Hill Road. If the driver pulls up a little further, this blind spot, due to a hump in the road, isn’t a problem and the sight distance is adequate. She stated that the Roadmaster has requested a PennDOT study of the road to determine whether a four way stop can be created at the intersection.
Mrs. Ewald referred to a petition signed by numerous residents of these roads requesting traffic restrictions on Union Hill and Rees Roads during rush hour to allow for one way traffic. Mr. Kohli recommended that an origin and destination study be undertaken before considering this option. Mrs. Ewald commented that consideration must be given to the upcoming Phoenixville Pike intersection improvement, which will result in traffic pattern changes at White Horse & Rees, but this may be some time ahead in the future. She recommended to her fellow supervisors that cost estimates for an O & D study be obtained by Mr. Kohli in the meantime.
After further discussion, the Secretary was directed to provide Rep. Carole Rubley with State Police accident reports along with the Fire Marshal’s reports and request her assistance in seeking PennDOT approval for a 4 way stop. Mr. Kohli will also look into cost estimates for an origin and destination study.
Mr. Kohn stated that Charlie Ott reported to him that the salt shed roof appears to be in danger of collapse. Mr. Kohli will check on it.
Joseph O’Brien extended his appreciation to the Supervisors for serving the citizens of the township.
Rosalie Kelly stated her problem with the County’s recent re-assessment, saying that although she received an adjustment to her high assessment, it was still unsatisfactory. She has concerns over the quarry blasting and how disclosure of it to a potential buyer will affect her property value. Mr. Oeste suggested she discuss this question with a real estate attorney.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn and Mr. Kohn seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 P.M.