CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
BUSINESS MEETING
August 18, 1997

The second regular business meeting for August was held August 18, 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 8:10 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Announcements

Mrs. Ewald announced that Charlestown Green has developed a web site published by residents in the community. Launched in June, it provides historical information, meeting agendas and minutes, profiles of noted residents, photographs, community resources and links to other web sites. She gave the Internet address as www.qcsinc.com/ct. Mr. Sauser acknowledged that itís marvelous for the citizens to have provided this web site. He stated a concern that it shouldnít give the impression of being an official representation of Charlestown Township and asked the solicitor to check into it. Kevin Kuhn announced that Jacob Merriwether, the creator of the site, will demonstrate it at the annual Charlestown Green meeting this November. Mrs. Behrle suggests that the Board members review the web site in its entirety before acting on any concerns.

Mrs. Ewald reported that coyotes continue to be sighted by township residents and that the Game Commission is working to remedy the problem.

Mrs. Ewald stated that in view of the last meeting, which ended past midnight, she suggests a meeting policy change that would impose a curfew of 10:30 P.M. for starting new agenda items, and an overrun deadline of 11:00 P.M. to be used in extreme cases at the discretion of the Board. Items not addressed by the curfew time would be carried over to the next meeting. She also suggested starting the meetings at 7:30 P.M. instead of 8:00 P.M. After some discussion, Mrs. Ewald made a motion to adopt these meeting policy changes from now until the end of the year. Mr. Kohn seconded. Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mr. Sauser was opposed.

Citizenís Forum - Agenda Items

There were no issues brought forward at this time. Mr. Sauser reminded the public that any resident who wishes to be made a party to a public hearing is entitled to do so.

Carr - Driveway Application

Mr. Sauser referred to Glenn Carrís request of July 26th for approval of a Road Occupancy Permit to change the location of his driveway, currently shared with the Wrights, to provide safer access. Due to the Rapps Run covenants currently in place, Mr. Kohli stated that there is a question of whether the subdivision plan must be amended in order to allow both property owners to revise the position of their driveways.

Mr. Kohn stated that he visited the site and acknowledged that the sight distances to the south would be significantly increased by the proposed change. Mrs. Ewald said that she also visited the site and agrees that a safety issue exists and would be improved by the proposed relocation. She supports the change with the understanding that no precedent is being set.

Mr. Sauser moved to direct the road occupancy permit application to the Zoning Officer for review with approval to be conditioned on the solicitorís determination that no modifications will be required of the existing approved subdivision plan for Rappís Run. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor. Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Oeste to memo the Board on its options if modifications to the existing plan are needed.

Conditional Use Hearing - Lyon

This hearing was postponed until September 8, 1997 to allow sufficient time for advertising and for the applicant to notify landowners of the hearing as required by the ordinance.

Conditional Use Hearing - Charlestown Brae

The proceeds were taken by a court reporter and the record was closed.

Request to Amend Stipulation and Order for Charlestown Brae

Louis J. Colegreco, Esq., attorney for Rouse Chamberlin Ltd., requested that the Township consider amending the 1991 Stipulation and Order for the Charlestown Brae (Whitehorse at Charlestown) subdivision, which specifies that no sand mounds shall be permitted. Mrs. Ewald stated that at the June 17, 1997 Supervisorsí meeting, the Board directed Mr. Oeste to inform the applicant that the construction of the sand mound system in steep slopes is prohibited under Z.O. Section 1103.B.3. Mr. Colegreco stated that he disagrees with this interpretation of the ordinance which is also mentioned in a portion of Mr. Kohliís letter of August 18, 1997. Mr. Colegreco argues that this variance can be incorporated directly into the stipulation revision, pointing out that the original stipulation provided other relief from the zoning ordinance.

Mr. Colegreco referred to statements made by Mr. Honan at the August 4th Supervisorsí meeting, when he explained that the original approved perc test for Lot 47 recently failed, and the County Health Department requires a four year interval before re-testing. As an alternative, Rouse Chamberlin Ltd. proposes a sand mound system with an approved back-up site for this lot. They maintain that sand mound systems have greatly improved since 1991 when the agreement was made, and added that the surrounding neighbors have all signed a petition requesting that it be permitted. Homeowners would prefer to have Rouse Chamberlin construct a home on the lot now as opposed to Rouse selling the lot to another developer to build in four years in order to maintain the uniformity of the development and the high construction and architectural standards the residents expect.

Mr. Colegreco stated that since the development utilizes public water, the issue of ground water contamination isnít as vital as it would be if the lots had wells. Mr. Kohli observed that the subsoil conditions were acceptable to the County Health Department, which has approved the sand mound system for this site. Russ Lasko, Soil Scientist with Lanchester Soils Inc., stated that the requirements are the same for sand mound and standard in-ground sewer systems with regard to the required distance from the septic system and the water table. He stated that some evidence suggests that sand mound systems constructed after 1987, when requirements were strengthened, actually have a slightly lower failure rate than that for standard systems. He gave some history on the development of sand mounds, and noted that his company uses the highest grade sand, which increases the success rate.

Mrs. Ewald reiterated her position that the original stipulation should not be altered. During the lengthy negotiating process with Rouse Chamberlin for approval of this subdivision, concessions were made on both sides. One of Rouseís largest concessions was that there were to be no sand mounds. Mrs. Ewald states that the Township made concessions in kind and they would be nullified by a change to the stipulation now. She recalled that during the original hearing process for this subdivision in the early 1990ís, the question was raised as to what would happen to a lot if it failed to perc in the future. She stated that Sarah Peck, President of Rouse Chamberlin, testified that in this case, the lot would not be built upon; it would be lost. Mr. Colegreco stated that he searched for this testimony in the transcripts of the hearings but was unable to find it. Mr. Sauser stated that itís possible Rouse considered the sand mound prohibition a small concession during the negotiations as they didnít anticipate the need for them.

Mr. Sauser asked if there is the possibility of relief from the four year testing ban from the County Health Department, and Mr. Lasko responded that while technically it may be possible to retest, practically it would be close to impossible to orchestrate. Mr. Sauser asked if the site would be likely to perc for a standard system in four years, and Mr. Lasko responded that it wasnít possible to determine.

Mr. Sauser stated that he sees the sand mound issue as a mitigating circumstance and would like to consider technical recommendations from the townshipís consultants on the acceptability of a sand mound system on Lot 47. Mr. Kohli stated that the situation is acceptable for a sand mound system and that itís permitted by the County Health Department. He noted that the Kuhn property is the closest to the proposed system. Mr. Lasko estimates that their well would be 900-1,000 feet away from it. Kevin Kuhn stated that he recalls the original negotiations and believes Rouse should stand by the original stipulation. If the ground doesnít perc, then they should lose the lot. Mr. Kuhn noted that he had to undergo expense revisions on his own septic system as a result of the Whitehorse development. Ellen Behrle stated that the petitioners are concerned with aesthetics, while Mr. Kuhn has a safety and welfare concern that should outweigh other factors.

Mr. Kohn asked if the township would be setting a precedent by agreeing to alter the original stipulation. Mr. Oeste responded that the agreement is unique, and amending it would be a unique situation as well. However, he acknowledged the likelihood that future applicants would cite it. Mr. Colegreco pointed out that a unique confluence of events exists in this situation, namely, that the other residents support it, it meets County regulations, and the development has public water.

Mrs. Ewald asked whether the Planning Commission has reviewed the township position on sand mounds in general, and Mr. Kohli responded that they have not.

Mr. Sauser moved to approve to request that the Court amend the 1991 Stipulation and Order to include the permitting of a sand mound to be constructed on Lot 47, with the originally specified standard system site to be designated as the first back up system, and the alternative sand mound site to be designated as the second back up system. Construction is to be based upon the representations made by the applicant and its consultants this evening. Mr. Kohn asked when a house would be built on this lot if this motion were approved. Mr. Honan stated that he anticipates completing it by the end of the year, as this is the last remaining lot in Phase I and would be used as a spec house.

Mr. Kohn stated that he was present at the Planning Commission meeting when Mr. Kling indicated favoring the request based on the improved success rate of sand mound systems in recent years. Mrs. Ewald sees the request for a change to the Stipulation as both a credibility issue and a planning issue. If the policy toward sand mounds is to be changed, the Planning Commission should have an opportunity to review it first.

Mr. Kohn seconded the motion. Mrs. Ewald asked if any member of the Board has a relationship with Rouse Chamberlin that would preclude their voting on this motion. Both Mr. Kohn and Mr. Sauser responded negatively. A roll call vote was taken. Mr. Sauser voted aye, Mr. Kohn voted aye. Mrs. Ewald voted nay, stating that a change to the stipulation represents a breach of faith with the community and erodes the credibility of the negotiating process, the Board of Supervisors, and Rouse Chamberlin.

Mr. Kohn moved to approve the conditional use application requesting that the construction of in-ground septic systems in high ground water areas be permitted for Lots #28 & 45 of Charlestown Brae. Mrs. Ewald seconded. All were in favor.

Conditional Use Hearing: Naylor

The proceeds were taken by a court reporter. The record was closed and a decision will be prepared for the September 8th Supervisorsí meeting.

H.A.R.B. Application - Naylor

Mr. Sauser referred to the July 31, 1997 letter from Dale Frens which provided a history of the Naylorís application and a recommendation for approval. John Millnor displayed the revised model of the proposed additions and changes to the historic Job Harvey house. Revisions included moving the chimney to an interior position and lowering the roofline. In response to Mr. Sauserís question, Mr. Millnor indicated that original doorways will be preserved leading from the existing house to the new additions. He stated that he tried to cooperate as much as possible with the H.A.R.B. on this application. Mrs. Ewald agreed that they had been very cooperative, noting the challenges caused by considerable land constraints and the large size of the proposed additions for this house that sits openly in the middle of the Historic District.

Mr. Kohn moved to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness to the Naylors to be drafted in accordance with the discussion this evening and the minutes of the H.A.R.B. meetings. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor. Mrs. Ewald made it clear that there may be additional insights included in the Certificate that were not made evident during tonightís meeting or those previous, and Mr. Snyder, attorney for the Naylors, responded that he understood. She suggested that Mr. Kohn and Mr. Frens prepare a draft of the Certificate for her and Mr. Sauser to review prior to the September 8th meeting. Mr. Snyder agreed to waive the deadline for the completion of the Certificate, which according to the ordinance is the tenth day following the Supervisorsí meeting at which the application was reviewed.

Conditional Use Application: Somerset

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Conditional Use Decision and Order as drafted by Mr. Oeste. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Preliminary/Final Plan: Somerset

Mrs. Ewald moved to table this item until the September 8th meeting to allow time for the Board to review Mr. Kohliís letter and Mr. Oesteís draft decision letter. There was no second. Mrs. Ewald asked if the applicant had notified adjacent landowners of the meeting, since none of them were present this evening. Mr. Panizza stated that heís kept in touch with the neighbors and met with several of them many times over the course of the application, and believed that all agreements were in place and everyone was satisfied. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan of Somerset dated June 23, 1997 subject to compliance with Mr. Comittaís and Mr. Kohliís review letters and in accordance with Mr. Oesteís draft decision letter. Mr. Kohn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion. She stated that she wished to review the consultantsí input, speak with neighbors, and discuss the matter with the Planning Commission before making a decision. Mr. Sauser called for a vote. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mrs. Ewald abstained, stating that she wished to give her answer at the September 8th meeting.

Road Bid

Mrs. Ewald suggested that preparations begin for the 1997-1998 labor, equipment and materials bids.

Mr. Sauser referred to the 1997 Pavement Resurfacing Project for which bids were received on June 16, 1997 for the paving of Blackberry Lane, Pickering Road and Pickering Spur. Mr. Kohli stated that paving must be completed by the second or third week of September to avoid cooler weather that could adversely affect the results. Mr. Kohn stated he had some concern over whether Rittenbaugh Inc., the lowest bidder, will be able to comply with the requirement that the job be completed within 30 days of the signed contract. Mr. Kohn moved to award the bid to Rittenbaugh Inc. provided that Mr. Kohli ascertain whether they can comply with the 30 day time frame. Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed. Mrs. Ewald voiced her concern over past problems with the contractor, including excessive costs and quality control. She stated that there must be full time supervision on the pavement resurfacing job. Mr. Kohli stated that either he or the Roadmaster will be able to supervise.

Charlestown Brae - Escrow Releases

Mr. Sauser moved to approve Escrow Release #11, phase I in the amount of $11,201.34 and Escrow Release #9, Phase II in the amount of $22,669.73 for Charlestown Brae. Mr. Kohn seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mrs. Ewald was opposed, citing the earlier stipulation revision and what she feels constitutes Rouse Chamberlinís breach of faith with the Township.

Citizenís Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Ellen Behrle, Sycamore Lane, asked for the requirement for the Realtorís position on H.|A.R.B. as she would be interested in being considered for it if it becomes vacant. Mr. Oeste responded that this position must be held by a licensed real estate broker.

Ms. Behrle asked for an update on the Pyle property acquisition. Mrs. Ewald answered that the offer was countersigned by the Pyles, although there are two issues outstanding. One involves a proposed agreement between the Pyles and the Charlestown Historical Society with regard to the Rapp House. She stated that the second issue involves the School Districtís tract, for which the Pylesí requested a one year lease to disperse their dairy herd and farm equipment.

Ms. Behrle commented on Peyton Biddleís letter to the editor which appeared in The Phoenix last week. She asked what property he was referring to that the township had an opportunity to purchase using matching grant money from the county. The letter indicated that the acreage was far greater than the 20 acre Pyle tract and that the total price was similar. Mr. Sauser responded that Mr. Peyton was referring to the 54 acre Baughman farm property, which the Township had the opportunity to buy for $500,000. Ms. Behrle stated that in speaking with Henriette Bumeder, trustee for this property, she was told the property was never put up for sale. Members of the Board of Supervisors at that time approached her with an offer and had obtained county grant funding, which was returned when no sale resulted. Ms. Behrle indicated her concern that members of the community, including Mr. Biddle, have been receiving misinformation about the Pyle acquisition from Mr. Sauser, which she called mean spirited. She stated that if a tax increase was needed to pay for the purchase, it would translate into an average increase of $90.00 per year over a five year period. Mr. Sauser denied Ms. Behrleís claim of his misinforming the community. He then responded that while he was not on the Board at the time, he supported the Baughman property acquisition and encouraged public discourse and discussion on the subject. The deal failed because the Township was unable to come up with the matching $250,000 needed and Board members were unwilling to increase taxes for this purpose. He went on to state that the issues with the Pyle property are more than monetary ones, namely, the intended use of the parcel, its selection as a suitable acquisition, and the decision making process itself. He stated that heíll continue to lobby his fellow supervisors to reconsider their decision to acquire the land, noting that until the contract is signed, the offer can be withdrawn.

Adjournment

Mr. Sauser moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:15 A.M. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor. The next meeting will be held at the Charlestown Elementary School at 7:30 P.M. on September 8, 1997.

Respectfully Submitted,


Linda M. Csete, Secretary