The second business meeting for December was held December 22, 1998 at the Charlestown Elementary School on Charlestown Road, Devault. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, James E. McErlane, 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 7:35 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mrs. Ewald announced that the citizens’ website at www.charlestown.org will report hourly flying reindeer sightings over Charlestown Township on the evening of December 24th.
Kevin Kuhn stated that he and Planning Commission Vice Chairman Charlie Philips attended the most recent “Connecting Landscapes” meeting hosted by the Chester County Planning Commission (CCPC). They had an opportunity to speak with both Pa. State Rep. Carole Rubley and Chester County Planning Commission Executive Director William Fulton about the Turnpike’s proposed slip ramp near Charlestown. Mr. Kuhn said that Mr. Fulton responded to his question of why the CCPC didn’t consider turnpike issues when designing “Landscapes” by explaining that information on slip ramps had not been available, and with the Downingtown Interchange being the only one in Chester County, interchanges themselves were not addressed. Mr. Kuhn said Mr. Fulton stated that the Chester County Planning Commission is opposed to slip ramps in Chester County.
Mr. Sauser stated that other questions relating to the slip ramp issue would be heard during the citizens’ forum for non-agenda items toward the end of the meeting.
Louise Cantrell-Kehoe asked if citizens may have access to the Township’s tape recording of the meeting, and Mr. McErlane responded that they are for the Secretary’s use only.
Mr. Wert moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for 12/21/98 with the addition of check #1963 in the amount of $1,000.00 representing a bonus for the Township Secretary for her excellent performance during 1998 as well as her handling of the township office relocation and year long project of removing the older township files to off-site storage following her development of a database to catalog them. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the automatic roll over of the existing 7 year Agreement with the Phoenixville Area Soccer Club which ran from 12/1/91 through 11/30/98. Mr. Sauser seconded. Discussion followed during which time Mr. Wert determined from the Solicitor that he is unaware of any changes in circumstances since the original agreement term. Mr. Wert then amended the motion to approve the automatic roll over of the existing 7 year Agreement with the Phoenixville Area Soccer Club pending an insurance review by the Township Broker. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor. The term of the Agreement will be from 12/1/98 through 11/30/2005.
Mr. Sauser announced that this morning the Township received a check from the Soccer Club for $7,000 representing payment in full of their outstanding loan.
The Board reached a consensus on Mr. Sauser’s suggestion that the Solicitor move forward on finalizing an agreement with PennDOT with regard to reconstruction of the Route 29 Bridge subject to a review by the Stonorov family, whose easement properties will be affected.
Mr. Sauser scheduled the 1999 Reorganization Meeting to be followed by the first business meeting of the year for January 4, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School at 7:30 P.M.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adopt Resolution #534-98 adopting the Fee Schedule for Documents and Administrative Services dated 12/21/98 and Mr. Sauser seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Sauser noted that the 1999 Traffic Signal Maintenance Contract proposed by Signal Service Inc. contains no escalation of fees from the 1998 contract. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the 1999 Traffic Signal Maintenance Contract with Signal Service Inc. and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Kohli distributed copies of a memo dated 12/14/98 from Bill Conrad of Signal Service Inc. providing a cost to be “less than $7,000.00” to modify the signalization at Route 29 and Charlestown Road to include two advance left turning signals per the PennDOT permit obtained by the Township. Mrs. Ewald moved to allocate funds for the proposed modification of Route 29 and Charlestown Road intersection signalization and Mr. Sauser seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Sauser responded to a question in the audience about the need for a signal at Whitehorse Road and Route 29 by stating that a proposal is in the working stage.
Mr. Philips reported to the Board that the “trip” mechanism at the Route 29 and Charlestown Road intersection no longer functions. Mr. Kohli will look into the matter with Signal Service Inc.
The Board reached a consensus that they are willing to share the costs for the more moderate of two plans proposed by West Pikeland Township that included paving, but no widening, of a section of Newcomen Road and placing a cul-de-sac at the dead end for emergency and utility vehicles provided that a firm commitment is reached with West Pikeland on their sharing in the cost of the signalization proposed by Charlestown Township at Route 401 & Newcomen Road and Route 401 & Valley Hill Road. Mrs. Ewald will contact the Board Chairman at West Pikeland Township to firm up the details.
Mr. Sauser commented on the County Planning Commission’s review of the proposed ordinance, stating that he agreed with their comment #9 on the letter dated December 3, 1998 with regard to tree placement at regular 50 foot intervals. He stated that while a formula based on this frontage could be utilized, tree placement should be less regimented and instead trees could be planted where needed, some singly and others in clusters.
Both Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Wert said they preferred to hold their comments for the hearing.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve DHR Escrow Release #7 for $7,878.00 & Release #8 for $68,935.44 and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Sauser stated that the General Fund Budget proposed for 1999 is just over $1,000.000, with the increase over the 1998 Budget largely due to planned traffic signal and Park improvements.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adopt a resolution setting the tax rate at .52 mils, representing no change from the 1998 tax rate. Mr. Sauser moved to adopt a resolution setting the tax rate at .50 mils and to adjust the proposed budget accordingly. Mr. Wert seconded Mrs. Ewald’s motion. Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald were in favor and Mr. Sauser was opposed. Resolution #535-98 was adopted levying a tax rate of .52 mils on all real property within Charlestown Township subject to taxation for the fiscal year 1999.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adopt Resolution #536-98 appropriating expenses for the fiscal year 1999 from the revenues available, and Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald were in favor and Mr. Sauser was opposed.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adopt the Proposed Budget for 1999 last revised 11/7/98 and Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald were in favor and Mr. Sauser was opposed
Mr. Sauser stated that the Planning Commission should proceed with the first step of the landscape agreement between the Township and Sprint Spectrum now that the tower has been erected. Mrs. Ewald asked why Sprint turned down Omnipoint’s request to co-locate on their tower when one of the conditions of their conditional use approval was to provide space for co-locators. The Solicitor will investigate, and in the meantime no final Use & Occupancy Permit will be issued.
Mr. Sauser stated that Harron Communications has requested that the Township certify three FCC forms which will allow them to increase their rates. He said that the Township Solicitor has a conflict of interest in this matter as his firm also represents Harron Communications. Mrs. Ewald moved to appoint special counsel Gary Bender to handle this matter on the Township’s behalf. There was no second. Mr. Sauser asked if Mr. Wert would review potential law firms and make a recommendation to the Board and he agreed.
Mrs. Ewald moved to formalize the intention of the Board to appoint an Independent Auditor at the 1999 re-organization meeting to audit the 1998 accounts and Mr. Wert seconded. Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Wert were in favor. Mr. Sauser was opposed on the grounds that this motion is required by statute to be made 30 days prior to the appointment date, and that deadline has passed.
Mr. Sauser provided a brief background for members of the audience less familiar with the issue.
There were extensive comments from the public on the PA Turnpike’s proposal to construct a slip ramp in the Charlestown Township area. Primary concerns were that a slip ramp will increase local traffic volume on both the main arteries and rural roads, encourage more land development, and will cause the Turnpike’s taking of land through condemnation proceedings.
Mr. Sauser read aloud the letter dated 12/14/98 addressed to Rep. Carole Rubley stating the Board’s opposition to a slip ramp near Charlestown and enclosing a copy of the citizens’ petition containing over 700 signatures. He said that comparable letters were sent to Pa. Senator Gerlach as well as both the Chairman and the Executive Director of the Pa. Turnpike Commission. Mrs. Ewald proposed sending 3 additional letters with copies of the petition to the Chester County Commissioners, the Chester County Planning Commission Chairman and Governor Tom Ridge. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in agreement and the letters were signed and will be forwarded to the addresses later in the week along with the petition copies.
Several residents requested that the Board appoint a committee to conduct research and report to the Supervisors on the slip ramp issue, which Mr. Sauser said will be considered along with the other suggestions and input given by the residents at this meeting.
Geoffrey Crowell requested that the Board arrange for truck inspections with the State Police.
Bob Jones asked if the Township imposes impact fees on developers and Mr. Sauser responded no.
Saul Kun asked for an update on the Altemose appeal to the Zoning Hearing Board for conversion of a barn into a two unit apartment. Mr. Kohli responded that the Zoning Hearing Board upheld the Cease & Desist Order issued to the Altemoses. Subsequently, the Altemoses have submitted a building permit for conversion of the barn into one residence. This permit is currently under review.
Kevin Kuhn asked for the status of the Altemose suit against the township in U.S. District Court, and Mr. McErlane responded that the Township is waiting for the ruling following the October 8th hearing on the Township’s filed motion to dismiss. Currently, the Township is working with the solicitor to complete the Plaintiff’s Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents with discovery to be completed by January 31, 1999.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 P.M. with an executive session to follow. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held January 4, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School.