November 17, 1997

The second regular business meeting for November was held November 17, 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 7:40 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.


Mr. Sauser announced with sorrow the passing of John DiLello on November 10th, who was a member of the Zoning Hearing Board and regular attendee at township meetings. He described Mr. DiLello as an upstanding citizen who had been a civil engineer and a pioneer in the helicopter industry. He suggested that the Board consider a memorial for him.

Mrs. Ewald said that she met Mr. DiLello twelve years ago and knew him as a thoughtful, enthusiastic person who was always eager to pitch in and help. She supported his candidacy to the Zoning Hearing Board and noted that the qualities of honesty and thoughtfulness reflected in his work. Mrs. Ewald stated that she’ll always remember and appreciate his personal support as well.

Citizen’s Forum - Agenda Items

No items were brought forward at this time.

Ferguson Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan

Mr. Sauser moved to approve the final subdivision plan for Darwin Ferguson, dated 10/17/97. Mr. Kohn requested a recess to executive session. Mr. Sauser called the recess at 7:45 P.M. The Board reconvened at 8:15 P.M.

Mr. Kohn asked if Mr. Ferguson has considered deed restrictions for the three lots as discussed at the prior meeting, or any compromise on this question. Mr. Ferguson stated that his position has not changed from that stated at the November 3rd meeting. Mr. Kohn then seconded Mr. Sauser’s motion. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed. Mrs. Ewald stated that she was very disappointed in the outcome.

Emergency Operations Control Center

Mr. Sauser gave some background on the move of the EOC from the Elementary School to the Great Valley High School, noting that the space was inadequate at the former location and accessibility was often an issue. Both sites were prominent, easily identified locations. The new location at the High School affords more space and 24 hour a day access and is outside of the 10 mile limit from the Limerick generating plant. The Elementary School was on the fringe of that limit and a waiver had been obtained from the requirement that a back up location be maintained. He stated that he’s satisfied with the current location but would consider a move in the future.

The building owned by the township located on the grounds of the former Valley Forge Army Hospital, and now being partially used as the clubhouse for the Phoenixville Soccer Club was visited by all three supervisors in order to determine its suitability as an alternate site. While not as prominently located as the high school, the space itself would be more than sufficient for this purpose. Mr. Winckelman commented that the clubhouse building is located on the extreme end of the township and feels that this factor should be given serious consideration.

Mrs. Ewald suggested that Mr. Wert be invited to an upcoming meeting to provide a background on how the move took place and to give some input on whether the EOC should remain at the High School or move to the former VFAH site.

Mrs. Ewald also commented on a contract between the Township and the Charlestown Elementary School that was drawn up prior to the merging of the school with the Great Valley School District. It provided space for the township in perpetuity, and she stated her concern that by moving the EOC, this space may be lost. She offered to research this situation.

Cluster Design Options - Discussion

Prompted by a sketch plan submitted for the Coryell/Pyle tract on Yellow Springs Road by John Panizza, the Board held a discussion on whether to consider creative alternatives for subdivision of the site. Planning Commission Vice Chairman Bud Zeigler stated that the Planning Commission reviewed the sketch as submitted, which was based on the existing FR zoning requirements. He agreed that it was appropriate for the Board to review cluster zoning in general but not the Panizza plan specifically. Planning Commissioner Vincent Kling stated that the sketch plan was a “max out” plan that showed as many houses as possible under the present zoning of 2 acre lots. He stated that the plan did not respect off site impact and that the site is in a prominent location on major township roads and will be across from the properties acquired by the School District and Township. The site backs up to the PA Turnpike, which is at a lower elevation than the site. Sound barriers are proposed to mitigate the noise for those lots that would back up to the Turnpike.

Mrs. Ewald indicated that plans in the past, such as Three Ponds and Hollow Run Farms, were negotiated plans that saved a great deal of open space and had some elements of clustering in their design.

John Panizza stated that he’s finalizing the survey and topo for the plan and described the site as having less than 1 acre in steep slopes and less than 1 acre of wetlands. He would prepare a sketch plan utilizing a cluster design if the Board was interested. He suggested a lot size of approximately 50,000 square feet. Some hydric soils exist near the existing Pyle farmhouse, and clustering would allow this area to remain more open and concentrate the houses in other areas of the site. Open spaces would be deed restricted and would have a homeowners’ association to maintain them. Possibilities for this space include pasture, playing and utility fields, and buffers. The Horseshoe Trail could be located in these areas. Density would be similar to that shown on his present sketch of 38 units, estimated at 38-40 units. He estimates the amount of open space as 25-35 acres.

Mr. Sauser asked Mr. Panizza if he’s done this type of plan before and how its marketability compares with the more traditional plan. Mr. Panizza stated that he has done cluster designs, and that if done well, the value may be lower by only 10%. He feels that either type of plan would sell successfully in Charlestown Township. Mr. Sauser asked if on site septic and water will work on one acre sites and Mr. Panizza responded that he believes the soil on this site can sustain them. Mr. Sauser questioned this statement, saying that he’s very familiar with the property and knows that many areas don’t drain well. Mr. Panizza feels that the water can be managed. Mr. Kling commented that developers save on cluster plans because of the shorter distances of underground utilities, curbing and road lengths.

Mrs. Ewald urged Mr. Panizza to consider the most minimal development that will work for him economically while maintaining the natural beauty of the site. She said she wouldn’t rule out a cluster design but stated that other options, such as a more minimal development, should not be ruled out.

Mr. Kohn asked for Mr. Kling’s opinion on how to manage the site, and Mr. Kling responded that he would consider the off site impact first -- how the development would affect its surrounding uses. He would avoid the turnpike area due to the noise and headlight glare and would consider the busy Yellow Springs and Valley Hill Roads and the question of safety. He said he would consider a cluster design if it had a private neighborhood of its own that wouldn’t be visible to the surroundings. Tree stands would be protected.

Mr. Sauser commented that he dislikes the idea of a sound barrier from the turnpike. Mr. Panizza stated that the walls will be obscured by trees, for which he’s willing to restrict tree removal. Mr. Sauser stated that he’ll consider a cluster option.

Mr. Kohn commented that he can picture a blend of cluster and open design for the site, with the Coryell tract being more densely used.

Mrs. Ewald stated that she’d like to see several concepts, and stressed that she’d like to see a minimal design brought forward.

Harron Communications

Mr. Oeste will review the new contract submitted for signature by Harron Communications that addresses their recent merger. The matter was placed on the December 1st agenda.

Chester County Heritage Park Grant - Round 8 Extension

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve signing the addendum to the Round 8 Grant Contract which extends the project deadline to December 31, 1998. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Charlestown Hunt - Escrow Release #1 Phase IV

Mr. Sauser moved to approve Escrow Release Request #1 for Phase IV of Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Kohn seconded and the motion passed. Mrs. Ewald did not vote.

Charlestown Oaks - Escrow Release #2

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Escrow Release Request #2 for Charlestown Oaks. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Sproule Manufacturing Company - Letter of Credit

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the change from an escrow account to a Letter of Credit for the remaining improvements for the Sproule land development project. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Other Matters

Mr. Sauser referred to S.B. 270, a bill which would make substantial changes to the Municipalities Planning Code and would provide a process for creating an integrated county comprehensive plan. Mr. Oeste stated that his office is working on a response and will distribute copies of the bill to the Board. Mr. Sauser stated that he’d like to submit a letter to the state representative and senator voicing opposition to the bill.

Mr. Sauser referred a letter on flood plain mapping from FEMA to the engineer.

Citizen’s Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Mr.Schlichter asked about the time frame for S.B. 270.

Mr. Panizza requested that the Engineer review minor revisions to the Whiteland Ridge Plan. The matter will be placed on the December 1, 1997 agenda. Mr. Panizza agreed to cover the cost of review.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 P.M. and reconvened at 10:35 P.M.

1998 Proposed Budget

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the 1998 draft budget, which maintains the current tax rate as translated into the re-assessment data. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the draft budget for 1998 for advertising. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 P.M.. The next meeting will be held at the Charlestown Elementary School at 7:30 P.M. on December 1, 1997.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Secretary