The first regular business meeting for March was held March 1, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert, C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Thomas J. Comitta, 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 7:38 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.


Mr. Sauser welcomed members of Boy Scout Troop 158, who were present to observe the proceedings to fulfill a requirement of the Citizenship Badge.

Mr. Sauser announced that right turn signals have been installed at the Route 29/Phoenixville Pike/Charlestown Road intersection, and after initial adjustments to the timing, traffic flow has improved significantly. This project was funded entirely by the Township.

With regard to the Altemose v. Charlestown Township case now in federal court, Mr. Sauser stated that Judge McGlynn passed away at age 74 and that Judge Bartle has been assigned to the case in his stead. It should have little or no impact on the case.

Mr. Sauser announced that the Board met in Executive Session on Wednesday, February 12, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. to discuss litigation matters.

Citizens’ Forum - Agenda Items

Stephen Schlichter, stated that he has observed traffic backups on Charlestown Road approaching the recently improved traffic signal at Route 29 and has heard complaints from the school bus drivers. Mr. Sauser responded that adjustments have been made since these problems occurred approximately a month ago.

Kevin Kuhn said that he sent a letter to County Commissioners Martynick and Hanna suggesting four names to consider for the Citizens’ Advisory Committee they were instrumental in setting up with the Turnpike Commission: Wendy Leland, Michael Churchill, Sally Willig and himself. Mr. Sauser stated that the Commissioners had requested recommendations from the Board and the matter would be discussed later in the meeting.

Sally Willig reported that the Great Valleys Association met on February 24, 1999 at 8:00 P.M. at St. Peters Church where Jeff Davis and Walter Green of the PA Turnpike Commission made a private formal presentation on the proposed slip ramp on Route 29. She noted that the meeting was not open to the public, and that the Great Valleys Association supports the slip ramp concept.

Clarence Rittenbaugh Jr. asked why the Township has no ordinance against junk cars parked in various locations throughout the township. Mr. Sauser stated that in the past, the township has handled this problem through the Zoning Officer by having him contact the owners and request that they clean up their lots. In general, people were cooperative with this less severe approach. He suggested that Mr. Rittenbaugh report problem areas to Mr. Kohli.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Sauser moved to approve the minutes of the January 18, 1999. Mr. Wert declined to second since he did not attend the meeting. Mr. Sauser asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes. Mrs. Ewald said she was unprepared to second without further reviewing the draft and requested that the item be tabled until the next meeting.

Mr. Wert moved to approve the minutes of the February 1, 1999 business meeting and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.

Treasurer’s Report for February 1-28, 1999

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for February 1 - 28, 1999 and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.

March Accounts Payable

Mr. Sauser asked for and received clarification on a portion of Mr. Comitta’s bill that included charges for planning involving the Great Valley School District. Mrs. Ewald objected to check #2040 to Sir Speedy, which included the cost of printing the recent newsletter. She said she had no chance to review the newsletter prior to printing. Mr. Wert moved to approve the March 1, 1999 Accounts Payable and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.


Reports from the Zoning Officer, Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Roadmaster and Fire Marshal are on file. There was no Parks and Recreation Report. Minutes from the last meeting of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority are on file.

Zoning Officer’s Report

Mr. Kohli said he has requested reports from the quarry in light of recent increased resident complaints. Mr. Wert suggested that the Secretary produce a fact sheet for residents that will explain how to contact the quarry and have seismographic testing done on their property.

Mr. Sauser stated that the Township received a letter dated February 12, 1999 from the PA Secretary of Transportation with regard to the Y2K problem which suggested that traffic lights be checked for Y2K compliance. Mr. Kohli will confirm that the signal at Route 29/Phoenixville Pike/Charlestown Road is compliant by contacting Signal Service Inc.

Mr. Sauser referred to a recent letter from the Charlestown Hunt Homeowners’ Association which requested changes to the trail plans and the addition of a baby pool. Mr. Kohli will follow up.

Mr. Sauser referred to recent letters from residents on Sycamore Lane who have water run off problems associated with Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Kohli stated that he met with the residents and representatives from Realen Homes on this matter and that the issues have been resolved to the residents’ satisfaction. Sally Willig stated she also has a run off problem in a field on her property, and Mr. Kohli said he would check into it.

Planning Commission Report

Vice Chairman Bill Davison reported that the Planning Commission met on February 9, 1999 and discussed the Park Master Plan with Parks & Rec Chairman Mark Connolly, who provided information on county grant funding for the project.

Mr. Davison reported that a site meeting was held at the Township open space parcel on Yellow Springs Road that included Tom Comitta, members of the Planning Commission, Parks & Rec Board, Historical Commission and David Wren from the Great Valley School District to discuss both temporary use and long term plans for the site, which would include school practice fields.

Mr. Davison said that member Bud Zeigler undertook an analysis of the County’s Vision Partnership consistency review of the Township’s Ordinances and determined that the Township is generally consistent with only minor changes needed. In conjunction with these changes, Mr. Comitta will draft revisions to Article XV of the Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Wert asked if the Planning Commission reviewed the proposed building changes for Charlestown Oaks, and Mr. Davison responded that they did review them and recommended approval. Mr. Sauser noted that this agenda item will be tabled until the complete plans are received and reviewed by Mr. Kohli.

Historical Commission

Mr. Sauser noted that Mrs. Baldwin and the members of the Commission have written a number of letters to various state officials with regard to the proposed slip ramp and congratulated her on her letter to Gov. Ridge which included a photo of him and others at the Pyle farm during a campaign stop in 1994.

Mrs. Baldwin requested that residents return their Historical Commission surveys to the Township Office as soon as possible.


Mr. Thompson was not present due to his recent surgery. Mrs. Ewald commented that the ditching work done on Valley Hill Road has not solved the water problem in that area.

Russell Hanscom reported that the shoulders on Yellow Springs Road 4/10 of a mile northwest of Valley Hill Road have washed out and are creating a runoff problem. The Secretary will notify Mr. Thompson so he can contact PennDOT with regard to the situation.

Fire Marshal

Mr. Alston stated that the burning ban remains in effect and provided data from his February report.

Parks and Recreation Board

There was no report.

Old Business:


New Business:

Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission - Slip Ramp Proposal

Mr. Sauser reported on the Public Officials’ meeting with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC), which was held on February 25, 1999 at the East Whiteland Township Building. Attendees included representatives from the Turnpike Commission, himself, Mrs. Ewald, Mr. McErlane, Mr. Kohli, County Commissioners Hanna and Martynick, Sen. Gerlach, Rep. Rubley, Tredyffrin, Schuylkill and East Whiteland Supervisors and Schuylkill Planning Commission members.

Mr. Sauser said he found the information provided to be incomplete and uninformative. He said that Mrs. Ewald requested a copy of their report and was told it was unavailable. When she asked for the raw data used in the report, she received the same response. They were to fax the data to the township office today but it did not arrive. Mr. Sauser said he made it clear to the PTC that the offered Citizens’ Advisory Committee doesn’t eliminate the need for a public hearing. A public hearing would provide an opportunity for a formal presentation of scientific data subject to cross-examination, with the Township’s experts in a position to validate or contradict the data. The Turnpike Commission did not respond.

Mrs. Ewald reported that the Schuylkill and East Whiteland Township police chiefs were present to express safety concerns, and that the Schuylkill Township Planning Commission did a good job of communicating their concerns as well. Mrs. Ewald felt that both herself and Mr. Sauser advocated forcefully for Charlestown Township, and gave credit to County Commissioner Karen Martynick, who was extremely well prepared and brought up excellent points, including the fact that the slip ramp proposal doesn’t take into account the increased traffic that will result from it. Mrs. Martynick also provided background on the PTC’s authority and what is required of them in relation to the National Environmental Act.

Mrs. Ewald commented that she feels the creation of an advisory committee is a management technique the PTC intends to use as a method to avoid interfacing with the Township and that it is no substitute for a public hearing.She added that she requested the Origin and Destination Study from a representative from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission but it has not arrived.

Mr. Wert stated that the Board needs to meet with the solicitor in executive session for advice on when to seek injunctive relief against the PTC. Mr. Sauser will contact Mr. McErlane to set up a meeting.

General discussion was held with comments from the audience. Suggestions were given on how to determine if federal or other public funds are coming in to the Turnpike Commission, which would trigger additional requirements of them. Mr. Wert noted that the Turnpike is now a part of the interstate highway system, which suggests federal funds. Carol Armstrong noted that one of Tredyffrin Township’s objections to a slip ramp in their community was the proximity of schools and children who walk to school and this appeared to pose a problem to the PTC. She stated that Charlestown also has children who walk to school. John Martin asked the solicitor if Pennsylvania has an equivalent to the Federal Freedom of Information Act and whether it could be instrumental in obtaining the reports and data the Township has been unable to obtain thus far. Mr. Oeste responded that the state does have such an act, but that not all documents are considered public records under the act. Mr. Schlichter stated that at the PTC open house, one of their representatives indicated that the Turnpike Commission is looking for contributions from developers to help fund the project.

Jeff Fried provided statistics on the poll conducted by the PTC at their open house on February 25, 1999. Of the 347 responses, 87% were opposed to the construction of a slip ramp and 13% undecided. These results were similar to the slip ramp opposition committee’s exit pole, which had 300 responses with 85% opposed.

Louise Cantrell-Kehoe stated that PTC public relations representative Chris Hampton told her all letters to the Turnpike Commission had been answered, when in fact, no one she’s spoken with has received a response.

Mr. Wert suggested the use of bumper stickers and letters to the editor for consideration by the slip ramp opposition committee.

Citizens’ Advisory Committee - Turnpike Slip Ramp

Mr. Sauser tabled the discussion on candidates for the Citizen’s Advisory Committee to allow an opportunity to confer with counsel. Mrs. Willig requested that her name be removed from consideration for this committee.

Use of Township Owned Recreation Areas by the Great Valley School District

Tom Comitta presented 4 temporary use plans and 3 long range use (“Concept”) plans for the Township’s 20.6 acre parcel on Yellow Springs Road surrounding the Rapp House and adjoining the School District’s parcel. The temporary use plan would enable the GVSD to have practice fields available to them as early as this fall. He said that David Wren of the GVSD is looking for approval of one of the temporary plans while the program elements continue to be analyzed for completion of the long term Master Plan.

Mr. Comitta briefly described the three Concept Plan and the Planning Commission’s input on each. He stated that Concept Plan #3 reflects the Planning Commission’s wishes that the fields be moved away from Yellow Springs Road, that a trail system be put in place to connect to the Horseshoe Trail, and that a shared parking area be utilized. The plan protects the viewshed as desired by the School District. Mrs. Ewald indicated concerns about one field shown approximately 50 feet from Hollow Road. Mr. Sauser stated that the road is higher than the proposed field and that natural style fencing could be installed to prevent balls and players from entering the roadway.

There was some discussion about real estate alternatives with Mr. Davison.

Mrs. Ewald suggested that the School District speak with John Panizza of General Residential Properties Inc., which owns the “Deerfield” open space on the opposite side of the road. He may be willing to provide space for practice fields on his parcel in addition to the township space.

Mr. Sauser asked Mrs. Baldwin for a historical assessment of an out building on the GVSD parcel. He also asked whether the Historical Commission has any concerns for the Rapp House in conjunction with the various plans shown tonight. Mrs. Baldwin responded that security for the archives stored at the Rapp House is a concern along with damage to the house itself via sports-related broken windows.

With regard to the temporary use plans, Mr. Comitta indicated that the trails and parking lot wouldn’t be included, and Mrs. Ewald said they should be part of the plan. Without parking facilities, she said the fields will be turfed as has happened at Charlestown Park in the past. Mr. Wert agreed that vehicles need to be restricted on the open space and suggested a stone lot and fencing.

Debbie Kuhn voiced a concern that more parking would be needed based on her past observations at similar school practice fields. School Board member Pat Lang offered to bring up the question at an upcoming School Board meeting on this question. Mr. Sauser also requested that the GVSD draft a use plan for the Township parcel along Whitehorse Road in Devault, for which an agreement has been drafted.

Mr. Wert said that he recognized the urgency on the school district’s part and feels that the liability issue can be dealt with through insurance, and that the length of the temporary use can be limited in the legal agreement between the school district and the Township.

Further discussion took place as to which temporary plan was most desirable. Mr. Comitta indicated that Mr. Wren preferred Plan #4. Mr. Comitta stated he preferred Plan #3 as it most closely resembled the more permanent use Concept Plan #3. He suggested that Plan #4 could be modified somewhat to suit everyone.

Mr. Wert moved to approve the development of Temporary Use Plan #3 with the modifications suggested by Mr. Comitta, with parking and appropriate barriers to be included. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.

Resolution #541-99: Appointment of Auditor for Fiscal Year 1998

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Resolution #541-99 which affirms the Board’s appointment of Emory S. Todd, CPA to perform the audit for fiscal year 1998. Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald were in favor, and Mr. Sauser was opposed.

Resolution #542-99: Application for Permit to Install and Operate Traffic Signals on Conestoga Road (Route 401) and Valley Hill Road

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the “Application for Permit to Install and Operate Traffic Signals” on Conestoga Road (Route 401) and Valley Hill Road and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.

Resolution #543-99: Application for Permit to Install and Operate Traffic Signal on Conestoga Road (Route 401) and Newcomen Road

Mr. Wert moved to approve the “Application for Permit to Install and Operate Traffic Signals” on Conestoga Road (Route 401) and Newcomen Road and Mrs. Ewald seconded. All were in favor.

Mr. Wert asked for clarification on the cost-sharing understanding with West Pikeland Township. Previous minutes indicated that West Pikeland Township agreed to share costs of “both lights” and West Pikeland Township has since written to Charlestown Township clarifying that they intend to share the cost of the signal at Route 401 and Newcomen Road only. Mrs. Ewald explained that she had previously referred to “both lights” to mean the light and slave light at the Route 401 and Newcomen Road intersection, and that the Secretary misunderstood the reference and believed “both lights” to include the traffic signals at Route 401 & Newcomen Road and Route 401 and Valley Hill Road. Mrs. Ewald confirmed that West Pikeland Township is sharing costs of the traffic light at Newcomen Road and Route 401 only.

Pond at Charlestown Park

Mr. Sauser explained that the earth dam at Charlestown Park’s stream, a tributary of the French Creek, has washed out under the spillway, creating a cavern of jagged concrete above. Although repair of the dam will be incorporated into the Park Master Plan, Mr. Sauser feels that as a safety issue, the problem must be addressed quickly. Two alternatives he suggested were: (1) to engage the road contractor and park maintenance contractor to clear the area then fill with stone and loose concrete mix, or (2) eliminate the dam entirely. Mr. Wert stated that the township engineer determined the dam was in no imminent danger of collapse and that it appeared unlikely someone could be trapped in the area as it presently exists. He suggested that quotes be obtained by Rittenbaugh Inc. and Bill Jones and that the Parks & Rec Board report on the matter for the next meeting with the issue to be decided at that time. In the meantime, he said he would visit the site.

Mrs. Ewald stated that as a tributary of the French Creek, any solution should be an aesthetic one, and there may be funding available for the dam repair.

PSATS Annual Convention in Hershey, PA April 11-14, 1999

No one plans to attend the PSATS Convention from Charlestown Township this year.

Charlestown Oaks - Building Plan Modifications

This matter was tabled until the full plans are received and reviewed by Mr. Kohli.

Citizens’ Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Mr. Schlichter asked what can be done about the quarry blasting complaints, commenting that the Township is presently relying on the company to police itself by having them provide and monitor the seismographs placed in various locations in the Township, which they can plan for lower impact blasting days. He suggested that a “pop quiz” is in order.

Mr. Wert voiced his disappointment in the company, calling them bad neighbors. He referred to the Township phone log, which shows increased complaints and complaints from new sources indicating that the problem is becoming more severe. Mrs. Ewald added that she received complaints that the quarry has been operating after hours, and that Mr. Kohli will follow up. Mr. Sauser said that the Township hasn’t met with the new management to discuss these issues, but in any event he questions the Township’s authority in the matter since the guidelines are mandated by the DEP and federally. He suggested that residents may have to join together to pursue the quarry through private legal recourse.

Mrs. Ewald stated that as a granite quarry, blasting methods have a stronger effect on the neighbors as opposed to that of the limestone quarries in the area, and that the quarry management is performing its blasting in the most cost effective way without regard for its effect on the community. Mr. Wert said he finds this unacceptable and that the quarry has a responsibility to modify their methods and should consider such measures a normal cost of doing business.

Mrs. Ewald moved to direct the Township Engineer to pursue these issues with Independence Construction Materials Inc., and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.


Mr. Sauser adjourned the meeting at 10:45 P.M. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for March 15, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. at the Charlestown Elementary School.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Secretary