CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The first regular business meeting for May was held May 3, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert, C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, 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 7:45 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mr. Sauser made the following announcements:
Mrs. Ewald announced that she participated in the Green Valleys Association open space preservation seminar last week and was encouraged by community interest as evidenced by many Charlestown citizens among the 70-80 attendees.
Mrs. Behrle requested that the letter to PA Turnpike Commission’s Mr. Capone listing the organizations from which members of the Citizens’ Advisory Group would be selected be revised to define Charlestown Green as a corporation instead of “a citizen’s group”.
Mr. Kuhn announced a meeting of the Open Space Alliance to be held May 4th at 7 P.M.
This item was tabled to the next meeting.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for April 1 - 30, 1999 and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the May 3, 1999 Accounts Payable and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
Emory Todd, CPA presented highlights of the 1998 Audit Report, beginning with a description of the independent auditor function which includes preparation of the financial report, DCED Report, a review of the accounting, internal control, checks and balances, cash management, investment strategy and budgeting.
There were approximately $830,000 in assets at the end of 1998 and no liabilities. 98% of the funds were invested in the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust, which provides the best rate from the limited options available by law for the Township.
The majority of the approximately $944,000 in income came from tax revenue, grants, and permit and licensing fees. The majority of the approximately $670,000 in expenses came from highway maintenance, professional fees, and fire protection. There was a $74,000 surplus at year end.
Resident Paul Schulze asked why taxes weren’t reduced or eliminated for 1998 with cash assets so high at year end. Mrs. Ewald explained that over half of these assets are in restricted funds for specified purposes, such as the Liquid Fuel Tax Fund, Phoenixville Pike Improvement Fund, Municipal Building Fund, Open Space Fund and Stormwater Management Fund. Mr. Wert read off the balances in each fund.
Mr. Todd stated that the investment strategy, budget forecasting, and internal controls are all very well handled and had no suggestions for improvement.
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.
Mr. Kohli stated that a demolition permit has been issued for the Jordan residence on Charlestown Road and that work is underway.
Mr. Sauser reported that Dr. Hitz withdrew the request from the Rapps Run Homeowners Association to look into dedication of Rapps Run Drive due to the prohibitive cost of bringing the road up to township specifications.
Mr. Sauser questioned the denied sludge application for Hailand Farm, and Mrs. Ewald responded that this was a long overdue formality for the Aileen Epstein property, which had this outstanding application from approximately fifteen years ago. The present owner has no interest seeking such approval.
Carmen Aker was present to request a temporary Use & Occupancy permit for his newly constructed house on Blackberry Lane. Due to an error while staking out the house, the construction encroaches on setback areas and requires a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board. His zoning hearing is scheduled for May 19th, but in the meantime he and his family have moved into the premises, seeing no affordable alternative. He produced letters from all abutting landowners stating that they had no objections to the location of the house.
Mr. Sauser opened the floor for public comment. Mrs. Behrle asked the Board to consider the request favorably by requiring Mr. Aker to sign an agreement to vacate the premises if the zoning variance is denied.
Mr. Sauser called a recess to confer with Mr. Kohli & Mr. Oeste at 8:35 P.M. The Board reconvened at 8:45 P.M.
Mr. Wert moved to direct the Zoning Officer to issue a temporary Use & Occupancy permit to Mr. Aker with the conditions to be drafted by Mr. Oeste and subject to the completion of all work on Mr. Kohli’s outstanding items list. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor. Mr. Wert made it clear to the applicant that the conditions to be set forth are strictly non-negotiable and Mr. Aker acknowledged.
Mr. Aker’s request for waiver of the $500.00 application fee to the Zoning Hearing Board was denied by a consensus of the board.
Mr. Sauser announced that the Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on Thursday, May 27, 1999 to hear a presentation on the Transfer of Development Rights process by expert Jeff Butler, Township Manager for Manheim Township, Montgomery County. The meeting will be held at the Great Valley Nature Center at 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Sauser acknowledged the Historical Commission’s recommendation that Mary Ellen Joos be appointed to the Turnpike’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee.
The Pa. Historical and Museum Commission’s response letter to Barry Troup, P.E. of the Pa. Turnpike Commission was discussed. Mrs. Baldwin expressed disappointment that the PHMC failed to make a site visit as previously planned and appeared to summarily dismiss Jane Dorchester’s information out of hand.
Mrs. Ewald suggested that a second, stronger letter, to be drafted by Mr. McErlane as agreed upon at the April 5, 1999 meeting, be sent to Mr. Capone of the Turnpike Commission providing the names of Charlestown’s appointees to the Advisory Committee while indicating that the township does not waive any rights by naming its public officials as prospective members of the committee. This letter could include a correction of the designation of Charlestown Green as a corporation. Mr. Wert agreed that a second letter should be sent.
Mr. Thompson was not present. Mr. Sauser stated that a report of the road tour highlighting areas to be worked on will be submitted by the Roadmaster.
Mr. Alston announced that the ban on burning is lifted, but cautioned residents to use extreme caution and burn only leaves and waste papers in a proper receptacle on non-windy days per the Fire Ordinance. He also warned drivers to watch for deer as they are more active at this time of year.
Mr. Alston announced an all day training session at the Limerick Nuclear Plant on 5/22/99, and a work session at the EOC Center at the Great Valley High School on 5/27/99.
Mr. Connolly announced that a meeting will be held at the PMYC Clubhouse at Charlestown Park on 5/10/99 at 7:30 P.M. to discuss the scope of work for the Park Master Site Plan. Representatives from Schuylkill Township, East Pikeland Township, the Valley Forge Christian College, the Phoenixville Marian Youth Club, Phoenixville Area Soccer Club, Great Valley School District and Phoenixville Area School District, have been invited to attend and provide input. They were requested to provide any site planning documents they have available. The issue of the dam/pond at the Park will be discussed at this time. Mr. Connolly requested that the Board review Tom Comitta’s proposal for the Master Site Plan as soon as possible.
With regard to the Phoenixville Area Soccer Club’s letter stating their interest in charging a fee for use of the fields they maintain at Charlestown Park, the Board asked for the solicitor’s review of their request.
Mrs. Ewald asked if the Parks and Recreation Board plans any roadside cleanup activities this spring, and Mr. Connolly responded no. Mr. Sauser stated that the township will provide safety vests and trash bags to any group willing to organize and undertake the activity. Ellen Behrle, President of Charlestown Green Inc., offered to coordinate the activity for the township. Mr. Hanscom noted that recyclable materials such as plastic milk cartons have been falling from trash trucks lacking the proper coverings. The Secretary will remind all waste haulers to properly cover their trucks.
Mr. Oeste submitted the final draft of an agreement between the Township and the Great Valley School District for the School District’s lease of the 6 acre Township property on Whitehorse Road in Devault. Mr. Sauser stated that a final site meeting with Mr. Kohli, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Connolly and Mr. Renn will take place on Tuesday, May 5th to determine what preparations, including grading and parking, will be needed for the proposed practice field. The School District will be responsible for the legal fees incurred relative to this project and will be responsible for maintenance of the property.
Mr. Wert moved to approve the agreement as drafted by council. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor. The agreement was signed and turned over to Mr. Renn for the School Board’s signatures.
Mr. Sauser reiterated the Township’s commitment to proceed with Sketch Plan 3A for two fields and a parking area on the Township’s 20.6 acre Yellow Springs Road open space parcel. The Solicitor was directed to prepare a lease agreement for signature. The School District will be responsible for all planning with the Township Engineer overseeing the grading and stormwater control for the site.
Mr. Oeste stated that there has been no Turnpike response to the Township’s Complaint in Declaratory Judgment filed with the court. Mrs. Ewald stated that the County Commissioners have requested that the County Planning Commission review the impact on any new interchange in Chester County on the “Landscapes” plan and that this review will be valuable in any argument before the court.
Mr. Sauser stated that the Chester County Health Department has requested permission from the Township to place a 32” x 48” educational display board at Charlestown Park. The Parks & Recreation Board recommended approving the request and will confirm that the information on the panel is up to date, including information on the new vaccine for Lyme disease. Mr. Sauser moved to authorize the County Health Department to place the panel at the Park with direction from the Parks & Recreation Board Chairman. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor. Mrs. Ewald suggested the Nature Center as another potential site for an education panel.
Michael Rodgers asked what document requires that all homeowners in Charlestown Oaks belong to the Homeowners’ Association, as it is not contained in the deed. Mr. Iacobucci, Charlestown Oaks Inc., responded that all are required to join the association prior to taking title but did not specify the document.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve the lot line revisions for Stages 1-6, Phase I of Charlestown Oaks consistent with the township engineer’s recommendations. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald asked if anything can be done to improve the condition of the Volpi tract on Phoenixville Pike and Yellow Springs Road, across from Charlestown Oaks, after logging took place some months ago. Tree trunks were removed, but upper trunks and branches were left on the property giving it an unsightly appearance. Mr. Kohli stated that logging is regulated by the Chester County Conservation District, which has no requirements for clean up of the site. He further stated that the Township Ordinance also has no requirements of this type. Mr. Kohli and Mr. Oeste will work with the Planning Commission on language for an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to prevent this occurrence in the future.
Mr. Sauser noted that J. Loew & Associates provided the Township with an extension for review of the Land Development Plan for Lots 16 & 17 of the Commons @ Great Valley until July 30, 1999.
Mrs. Ewald moved to deny the Land Development Plan for Independence Construction Materials, originally filed as Devault Crushed Stone, pending receipt of a letter granting a time extension to the Township for review. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli stated that he has received from Hall Explosives Inc. an Analysis of 1998 Blasting and Seismic Events, Independence Construction Materials, Devault Quarry and provided copies for the Board and Township office. Representatives from ICM and their consultants will present these findings at the Board of Supervisors meeting scheduled for June 7, 1999. The Secretary will notify interested residents.
Debbie Kuhn suggested seeking involvement from the Geology Department of a University, such as Princeton, that have provided studies of seismic and blasting data in past as part of class exercises.
James Hall stated that Shared Medical Systems maintained years of round the clock monitoring data until the Warner Quarry closed, as the blasting was a concern due to the sensitivity of their computer systems. While this monitoring was primarily directed at the Warner Quarry, blasting events from Devault may also be on record.
Mr. Kohli stated that he received a request from DHR Ltd. for use of the Township Planner’s services to prepare a reforestation plan for the development, as they have been in non-compliance on their current tree replacement plan according to Mr. Comitta. They propose to engage Mr. Comitta’s services and reimburse the Township for the expense. The Board was unanimous in its consensus that it would be more appropriate for DHR Ltd. to seek a planner independent of the Township.
Mr. Hall stated that when he purchased a Charlestown Road parcel adjacent to his residence, it was with the restrictive statement on the approved subdivision plan for Philips-Hall dated April 1988 that the “deed is restricted and prohibits future construction and development.” His understanding at the time of purchase was that the Board had the authority to remove this restriction. Mr. Oeste stated that it must first be determined whether the Township is the only party to the restriction.
Mr. Connolly stated that he is pleased to note that the paving of Broadwater Lane by Realen Homes Construction Company has been completed.
Paul Schulze, 3451 Wells Road, objected that no action was taken to complete the paving of Wells Road since he spoke to the Board at the April 5th meeting. He questioned the management of the job as well as the contractor’s performance with regard to quality and in installing the base coat so late in 1998 that the final coat had to be postponed until this spring. He also objected to the Township spending any funds to correct the work paid for in the fall.
Mr. Sauser responded that the township solicitor will review the contractual obligations of the road contractor and any appropriate action will be taken. Mr. Wert stated that he questioned the contractor when the bill was presented for payment in January for the base coat work and received assurances that the road would not deteriorate due to the delay. He stated that he will not approve paying twice for the same work and added that the township has protection from unacceptable work in the form of the contractor’s performance bond.
Mr. Kohli stated that the original 10/23/98 Work Order specified a leveling course and a top coat for Wells Road, and now sweeping and milling will be required prior to the installation of the top coat. Mrs. Behrle stated her concern over the high cost of milling the road.
Mr. Sauser apologized for the delays and assured Mr. Schulze that the road would be completed as soon as appropriate weather conditions allow.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn the meeting and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor and the meeting adjourned at 11:00 P.M. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for June 7, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. at the Charlestown Elementary School.