BUSINESS MEETING - March 16, 1998

The second regular business meeting for March was held March 16, 1 1998 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald (arrived later), Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Gary Bender, 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 that a tragic accident took place last week on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Route 100 (Downingtown Exit) which took the life of Lionville Firefighter David Good and injured several others responding to the ambulance call. He indicated that there were several memorial funds established for the family of David Good and anyone wishing to contribute could obtain the information from the Township Secretary.

Mr. Sauser announced that there will be a meeting with PennDOT officials at the Bridge over the Ice Dam at Route 29 on Friday, March 20, 1998 at 9:00 A.M.

Mr. Sauser announced that PennDOT has made a toll free number available for individuals to report road problems on any roads in Pennsylvania, whether owned by PennDOT or the municipality. PennDOT will then dispatch the information to the appropriate party. The number given was 1-800-FIX-ROAD.

Citizen’s Forum

No issues were brought forward at this time.

1998 Appointments

Historical Commission

Mr. Sauser asked Mrs. Baldwin if she had an opportunity to meet with Sheila Klement. Mrs. Baldwin responded that they met at the Rapp House recently and she had an opportunity to convey to Mrs. Klement the large volume of work faced by the Historic Commission. She agreed that she could work with Mrs. Klement, who was a long term resident of Schuylkill Township before moving to Charlestown a little over a year ago. However, Mrs. Baldwin stated that she feels strongly that Mary Ellen Joos, a Charlestown resident since 1947 who has time available to work on the ongoing projects, is in a better position to be of service to the Commission. She stated that Mrs. Klement was very pleasant and indicated a willingness to learn, but felt that she didn’t have the experience Mrs. Baldwin hoped to incorporate into the Historical Commission.

Mr. Sauser observed that the recent ordinance combining the Historical Commission and H.A.R.B. does not name a maximum number of members and that the Board could consider naming both of them to the Historical Commission. Mrs. Baldwin pointed out that appointing both as members would lead to an even number of members, and an odd number is preferable for decision making and voting purposes.

Mr. Sauser tabled the appointment and placed the matter on the April 6, 1998 agenda.

Michael Churchill commented that the Historical Commission/H.A.R.B. needs to review the situation with the historic Bachman Barn and Mill which are currently deteriorating even though they can be considered the premiere historical structures in the Township. Mrs. Baldwin responded that the Historical Commission/H.A.R.B. has been stymied in the past on this issue as a considerable sum would be required to save the structures. She agreed that the Commission will discuss the matter and provide a report to the Board. Mr. Sauser suggested obtaining the Solicitor’s advice on the matter and investigating funding sources.

Animal Control

Mr. Sauser asked the Secretary if she spoke to John Gomes to determine if he remains interested in the position of Animal Control Officer and she responded yes. Mr. Sauser then asked the Secretary to contact him again and invite him to the April 6, 1998 Board of Supervisors meeting to meet the Board members and discuss the position.

Sprint/Spectrum Conditional Use Hearing - Continued from March 2. 1998

The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter. Shortly after opening the hearing, it was continued until later in the evening to allow Mrs. Ewald, who had not yet arrived, an opportunity to participate.

DHR - Plan Revision for Roadway

Bob Lessek of DHR Ltd. and Michael Burg, Esq. presented the revised indemnification agreement which had been submitted to the Township Solicitor for review. Mr. Sauser asked if the Allens were in agreement with the road plan, which shows access to the Allen’s two parcels that are currently accessed from Howells Road. Mr. Burg responded that they were in agreement and produced a draft copy that Michael Allen had initialed. The Allens weren’t present at tonight’s meeting.

Mr. Oeste suggested two insertions for the Indemnification Agreement, both in Paragraph #1. One added the term “or claim” to the end of the phrase ..... hold harmless from any judgment” and the other added the words “person or” to the beginning of the phrase .... vehicle entering or leaving the road”.

Mr. Kohli reminded the applicant that a landscaping plan for the area near the parking lot is still needed. Mr. Oeste noted that an amendment to the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions will be needed to bring that document in line with the Indemnification Agreement.

Mr. Sauser moved to accept the Road Plan for Valley Forge Trails consisting of Sheets C-1 and C-lA dated 3/8/98 & 12/17/97 respectively. The motion was further subject to compliance with the items on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 3/13/98, amending the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions, approval of the Allens, and execution of the Indemnification agreement with the two changes provided by Mr. Oeste. Mr. Wert seconded, and both Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor.

Regional Household Hazardous Waste Education, Collection and Management Program

Mr. Sauser stated that the Township has received additional information on the County program which offers a centralized collection program for certain household hazardous wastes for a substantial fee. He questioned the value of the program with respect to how many residents might be expected to participate, which would likely be a small number. He recalled that neighboring townships have found high costs associated with regional programs they’ve administered in the past.

Mr. Sauser referred to a letter dated March 5, 1998 from the S.P.C~ Corporation which is participating in a program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the collection of old appliances for the purpose of recovering refrigerants. If the Township is interested in participating, a decision must be made on whether to offer a central drop off point or have a roadside pick up. In either case, the Township must provide a certification of the number of appliances picked up. Mr. Wert noted that most appliance retailers offer to remove the old appliance at no cost when a new one is delivered. Bob Jones stated that plumbers will empty refrigerants for a fee and provide the homeowner with a sticker that will allow their usual hauler to remove the appliance.

Mr. Sauser commented that the a representative from the County Health Department indicated in a discussion with the Township Secretary that household hazardous materials are exempt from the restrictions placed on industry and business, and that materials such as paint may be disposed of in the regular trash. He noted, however, that this practice shouldn’t be encouraged and that the subject of household hazardous waste disposal would be considered further by the Board.

Mr. Sauser commented that on the more general area of recycling, he plans to look into the funding available for municipal recycling programs under Act 101.

Tax Duplicate Discrepancies

Mr. Sauser stated that he spoke with the County Treasurer and also with the Director of the County Assessment Office with regard to discrepancies in the 1998 tax duplicate. The County Assessment Office followed up with a letter to the Township stating that the firm appointed to perform the County re-assessments, Cole-Layer-Trumble, classified 180 parcels in Charlestown as open space with zero value assessments when in fact these parcels are privately owned and come to a combined assessment value of $3,349,160 which translates into $1,741.56 in Township taxes. The error will be corrected within the next few months. Also, Mr. Sauser stated that the Tax Collector for Charlestown, Andy Viscuso, found an error on the tax bill of one parcel that indicated an assessed value $10,000,000 less than the actual assessed value, translating into $5,200 in township taxes. He commended Mr. Viscuso for being on the alert. Mr. Wert commented that he believes the discrepancies in the 1998 Charlestown Tax Duplicate are now resolved.

Planning Consultant Position - Schedule Interviews

Mr. Sauser announced that there have been five responses to the Board’s solicitation of candidates for the position of Planning Consultant and one anticipated response. Interviews will be scheduled for Monday, March 23, 1998 to begin at 7:30 P.M. at the offices of Kohli & Associates. If additional time is needed, interviews will carry over to Monday, March 30, 1998 at the same time and place. Mr. Zeigler requested that representatives of the Planning Commission be permitted to attend the interviews since the Planning Commission is one of the primary users of the Planner’s services. Mr. Sauser agreed, and suggested that the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission attend the interviews,

Somerset Subdivision - Agreements

John Panizza was present to discuss the Subdivision and Land Development Agreement for the Somerset Subdivision along with the Tri-party Subdivision Escrow Agreement, both of were in order according to Mr. Oeste. He pointed out that the Subdivision Escrow Agreement will not be signed by Jefferson Bank until the time of settlement.

Mr. Wert indicated that during the approval process and before he was appointed to the Board of Supervisors, he was involved in negotiations with the Applicant with regard to this subdivision. Therefore, he recused himself from this matter. Mr. Oeste pointed out that Mr. Wert would have the authority to vote on this issue in the event of a tie, according to the State Ethics Act.

Mr. Wert provided some background to those present with regard to his attendance and that of his neighbors at several Planning Commission meetings to work out certain conditions with the developer prior to his appointment to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Wert stated that he, along with neighbors Christopher Zaro, Douglas Miles and Rudy Bucus, have entered into, or are currently negotiating, agreements with Mr. Panizza with regard to this subdivision, which is located next to their own properties. Mr. Oeste stated that the two agreements under consideration this evening don’t deal with the issues these property owners have been negotiating. Mr. Wert asked at which point and in what form the property owners’ agreements would become part of the overall process. Mr. Oeste stated that these agreements would be noted on the plans and incorporated into the Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions.

Douglas Miles asked for the status of the subdivision approval, and Mr. Sauser responded that it was approved by the Board of Supervisors subject to various conditions, among them, that the private property owners’ agreements with the developer be found acceptable to the individuals.

Because further review of these private agreements is needed, this matter will be revisited at the April 6, 1998 Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Road Vacation Agreement - Rees Road

Mr. Sauser stated that the applicant requested that this matter be tabled until April 6, 1998 in order to work on some issues with the Township Engineer. Mr. Oeste distributed a draft agreement to the Board.

Sprint/Spectrum Conditional Use Hearing - Reconvened

The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter and a transcript will be available at the Township office. Mr. Bender read the Draft Decision and Order to the public in its entirety. Mr. Wert moved to approve the Draft Decision and Order for the Application of Sprint Spectrum L.P and Thomas Fillipo for Conditional Use Approval pursuant to Section 100l.B.3.f of the Charlestown township Zoning Ordinance and Mr. Sauser seconded. Both Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor.

Sprint/Spectrum - Landscape Fund Discussion

Mr. Wert commented that the $25,000.00 landscaping escrow fund to be provided by Sprint/Spectrum to the Township for screening the tower, both on and off site, should be administered by the Planning Commission, and that he would expect funds to be made available to both Charlestown and Tredyffrin residents.

Mr. Sauser proposed a process for administrating the fund as follows.

  1. An advertisement would be placed in the local paper notifying the public that funds are available to them to help mitigate their view of the communications tower provided they meet certain conditions;
  2. A simple application form would be developed for submitting requests for reimbursement for tree planting;
  3. A time period would be established for the acceptance of applications;
  4. The applications would be reviewed by the Planning Commission, including visits to each site by a landscaper or arborist selected by the Planning Commission for this purpose;
  5. The individual visiting the sites would complete a section of the application form providing results of the visit;
  6. The Planning Commission would review the applications and vote to approve or reject the applications; and take the landscaper’s recommendation on a reasonable amount for each tree, probably in the $200.00 to $300.00 range;
  7. The applicant would be given a specific time interval to appeal the decision to the Planning Commission, and to the Board of Supervisors if necessary;
  8. The Township will cut checks to those applicants whose requests have been approved;
  9. The applicants would agree to use the moneys provided for the specific purpose of planting trees to screen them from the view of the tower;
  10. A second time period for final petitions would be established after the first round is completed;
  11. The balance of funds would be used for on site screening with any residual funds returned to Sprint/Spectrum.

(Mrs. Ewald arrived at this time, 8:55 P.M.)

Mr. Zeigler commented that this proposal sounded reasonable to him and agreed that the Planning Commission could undertake this process.

Mr. Wert suggested that the Township Solicitor develop the application form.

Citizens’ Forum - Non Agenda Items

Janet Baldwin asked where the Township stands in the process of forming the Agricultural Security District. She stated that the required maps have been prepared and are on file at the Township Office. She has prepared text for the Public Notice, which must be posted in 5 locations for fifteen days to allow a period of public comment prior to convening the Agricultural Security District Committee, which has yet to be appointed. Mr. Wert asked Mr. Oeste to Verify the deadline of June 1, 1998 for Board action on this matter. Mr. Wert also asked if the Solicitor could provide information on the availability of grants, their sources and their purpose as well as information on the benefits to the Township of forming this District when it appears to limit the Township in some ways, such as preventing the Township from imposing an ordinance that might be construed as limiting agricultural activities. Mr. Oeste agreed to provide a summary of this information for the Board.

Mrs. Ewald produced a Certificate of Achievement for new Eagle Scout Neal Kerrigan, which the Board signed for presentation at Mr. Kerrigan’s upcoming Eagle Scout ceremony.

Previous Matter - Planning Consultant Appointment

Mrs. Ewald expressed her concern over the decision to interview candidates for the Planning Consultant position at the present time. She stated that Mr. Wert hasn’t had the opportunity to work with the current planner, Tom Comitta, who has provided excellent services to the Township over a long period of time. She didn’t object to the conducting of a performance review on Mr. Comitta’s service, but questioned the need to advertise his position with the intent to make a change. Mr. Sauser responded that he wishes to evaluate the services that have been performed and the value received and balance them against the costs incurred. He stated that the Township is getting stagnant by keeping people in place for long periods of time and some new vision would be welcome. Mrs. Ewald commented that the majority of Mr. Comitta’s services are reimbursed to the Township by various applicants and the costs to the Township are very reasonable. Mr. Sauser argued that the money being spent should be evaluated regardless of who pays the bill. Mr. Wert responded to Mrs. Ewald’s comment that he had no experience working with Mr. Comitta by saying that he has worked extensively with consultants and feels that there’s nothing wrong with undertaking a review of the position. Some of the Land Planner’s fees come out of the taxpayer’s pocket and some from applicants, who are entitled to a fair shake in terms of the level of those expenses. He stated that it remains the Board’s responsibility to make the best purchase for this service.

Mrs. Ewald pointed out that if costs are a matter of concern, the Board should direct its attention to road costs as she believes the road work is being over billed and doesn’t compare with the quality of work done in the past. She referred to a report compiled by the Township Secretary on road costs which indicates that the present contractor is costing five times that of the previous contractor for similar work. Mr. Wert questioned this statement, saying that the amount of money spent is a function of the amount of work done, and that he has noticed extensive work performed in the past two years. He noted that the contractor is selected by a bid process on a unit cost basis which translates into money Spent meaning more work was performed. Mrs. Ewald stated that any paving work he’s seen has been done by PennDOT)OT on state roads and not by the Township’s contractor.

Other Matters

Mr. Sauser stated that last summer a bid process separate from the annual road maintenance contract was undertaken for the paving of selected Township roads, but due to scheduling problems, the contractor was unable to comply with the bid requirements; therefore, the paving work was not performed. Mr. Sauser indicated that the same bid package used last year for this project, including the advertisement and specifications, would be used to re-bid the project for this summer.


Mr. Wert moved to adjourn and Mr. Sauser seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 P.M. The next business meeting of the Board of Supervisors will take place on April 6, 1998 at 7:30 P.M. at the Charlestown Elementary School.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete,
Township Secretary