CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The first regular business meeting for August was held August 2, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School, 2060 Charlestown Road, Devault. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert, C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, James E. McErlane, Esq., (arrived later) 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 announced that Governor Ridge has placed a drought emergency into effect. In addition, the County Commissioners have enacted a county-wide ban on burning.
Mr. Sauser announced that Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald met with the Roadmaster on July 21, 1999 for information gathering purposes.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Bill Reynolds of Environmental Conservation Advisors gave a presentation on land preservation issues, emphasizing that the landowner is the key to successful land preservation. An outline of their municipal program is on file at the Township office.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve the minutes as written with a correction on page 2, last paragraph under Zoning Officer to read, “The Board discussed Congressman Weldon’s offer…” instead of “The Board discussed Sen. Gerlach’s offer…”. Mr. Wert amended the motion to include a correction on page 5 to insert the words “of waiting” before “until August 2.” Mr. Sauser amended his motion to include this correction and Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for July 1 - 31, 1999 and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson provided a summary on the extensive shoulder work performed on Wells Road and why it was necessary. Mr. Wert moved to approve the Accounts Payable for August 2, 1999 and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Wert and Mr. Sauser were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed, based on check #2231 to Rittenbaugh Inc. for $21,206.00.
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. Sauser noted that Mr. Kohli is on vacation and that his July report is on file. Mrs. Ewald requested that the Secretary contact Mr. Kohli when he returns requesting that he speak with PennDOT traffic engineers about performing the traffic counts for the two intersections of Rt. 401 & Valley Hill Road and Rt. 401 & Newcomen Road in mid-September when traffic is back to full volume after the summer vacation season is over.
Mrs. Baldwin said she has signed Kory Berrett’s proposal to repair the Samuel Kennedy ledger memorial dated June 7, 1999 and has forwarded it to him. She is awaiting his response.
Mr. Alston provided details on a hazardous materials incident at Chirex Inc., 383 Phoenixville Pike, on July 15, 1999 that was remediated without incident. He emphasized the seriousness of the drought and cautioned residents that the State Police have the authority to fine individuals not observing the burning ban or water use restrictions.
Mr. Alston stated that the July 22, 1999 tabletop exercise held at the EOC went very well. It was held in preparation for the September Limerick Generating Station drill. Representatives from PEMA, the Chester County EOC and PECO were present and Mr. Alston believes they were favorably impressed. He credited the efforts of the former EOC coordinator, Robert Wert, for the smooth transition leading to present operations.
Mr. Sauser opened the hearing. Mrs. Ewald suggested tabling the hearing until the arrival of the township solicitor, and Mr. Wert agreed. Mr. Sauser recessed the hearing.
Mr. Sauser moved to appoint James Koepner as temporary Zoning Officer until Mr. Kohli’s return from vacation. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser reported he spoke with Christina Hampton of the Turnpike Commission’s (PTC) public relations department with regard to the names submitted for the Citizens’ Advisory Committee. He referenced two letters dated 7/20/99 and 7/7/99 from William Capone, Turnpike Marketing Director, which both stated that the Township has submitted too many names and that the Turnpike Commission’s consultant firm will conduct interviews and select from among the nominees. Mr. Sauser disagreed with this approach, stating that the individuals named should be considered as appointees by the Township, and not nominees to be selected or dismissed by the PTC. Mr. Wert said that Charlestown shouldn’t be limited to as few names as the other parties, since Charlestown has more at stake and is most directly affected by the slip ramp proposal. He recommended that the matter be turned over to counsel for response, noting that unless the Township selects its own representatives, the process is useless. Mrs. Ewald agreed, adding that if anything, Charlestown should increase and not decrease its number of appointees. Mr. Sauser stated that since the PTC asked for names from state and U.S. representatives and senators, the Township should contact them to see if there are any overlaps in recommended names. The Township Secretary will follow up.
Mr. Alston will check with County Emergency Services to determine whether they’ll accept new lane names without a signed ordinance so that the Township can group together any lane names added for each year and conduct just one annual hearing to amend the ordinance, in the interest of efficiency. If this is not acceptable, the Secretary is authorized to advertise a hearing to amend the ordinance for the September 13, 1999 meeting in order to add a new lane accessing the Kirby property and an adjacent parcel that now has a house under construction, triggering the need to name the shared driveway.
Mr. Sauser reconvened the hearing and the proceeds were taken down by a court reporter. The record was left open and the hearing continued until September 13, 1999 to allow the full 30 days required by the Chester County Planning Commission for their review and response to the ordinance.
Ross Unruh, Esq., was present to discuss the conditions of approval for the 5/19/99 2-lot subdivision plan for the 54.5 Great Valley School District parcel on Yellow Springs Road. Also present were Chuck Dobson, P.E. of Chester Valley Engineers and Dr. Rita S. Jones, School District Superintendent.
Mr. Unruh referred to Dr. Jones’ letter of July 26, 1999 outlining the School Board’s responses to the 3 conditions attached to the Board of Supervisors’ July 12, 1999 approval of the subdivision. Their responses were as follows:
Mr. Sauser called a recess for an executive session at 9:45 P.M. The meeting reconvened at 10:20 P.M.
Mr. Sauser expressed the Board’s interest in working with and accommodating the School District’s needs. He suggested the following:
Parks & Rec Chairman Mark Connolly introduced the presentation with a photograph of the Pyle farmstead (Brightside Farm) and a depiction of that farmstead as a development with 12 houses in order to demonstrate the uniqueness of the site, named one of the five most important scenic vistas in the Township’s 1993 Open Space & Recreation Plan. This farmstead is located on Lot 2 of the Great Valley School District Subdivision Plan dated 5/19/99. Mr. Connolly distributed a draft newsletter that Charlestown Green Inc. has agreed to include in its next mailing to Charlestown residents.
Sam Cantrell, a CSA Farmer on Maysie’s Farm, Ludwick’s Corners, provided a brief history on the development of Community Supported Agriculture. He described a CSA as a win-win situation for the community and the CSA farmer. CSAs typically range from 10 to 15 production acres in size. Mr. Cantrell gave as an example his own CSA, which presently has 116 shareholders with an average cost per share of $360.00. Acknowledging that profits are minimal, he commented that CSA farmers typically choose this way of life for reasons other than financial interests. They have a deep commitment to environmental, community and educational issues.
CSAs work by having individuals purchase shares that provide them with a portion of the organically grown harvest at the best prices. The CSA farmer has the security of a contracted market for the harvest and is relieved of land tenure concerns. He noted that the Pa. State Education Association is developing environmental education guidelines that include an agricultural component. The School District would have a working farm willing to provide a formal education program to its students. The CSA farmer typically utilizes interns for his farm help and basically provides housing and a modest stipend in lieu of wages.
Bob Elmer addressed the need for a CSA business plan, stating that a template for such a plan has been developed and that the business plan itself can be designed as more specific information becomes available. Which crops to be planted, land productivity and water availability all enter into the equation. A start up plan would be critical and would have to provide for amenities such as storage and distribution sheds, a greenhouse, irrigation system, and any other necessary structures. Typically grants and loans are needed during the first six months of the operation. In conjunction with both the CSA and proposed equestrian center, the Pyle homestead could be converted into a hostel, providing housing for the farm interns and lodging for those attending horse shows and events.
Alix Coleman and Jean Reynolds, PA Regional Supervisor of the US Pony Club described how an Equestrian Center would operate, with the Pony Club as the concessionaire. Ms. Coleman pointed out that an equestrian center would attract people with horses to Charlestown and encourages them to stay. This in turn promotes land preservation in the form of larger lots with horse pastures. An equestrian center would include equestrian rings, horse shows, lectures, riding therapy classes, clinics, and educational programs. An average charge to rent such a center for a one day horse show is $2,800.00, making it a potentially profitable venture. Programs can start on a modest basis and expand as time goes on. Other compatible uses include antique car shows and dog shows and events. Mrs. Ewald asked if the Pony Club provides for children who otherwise can’t afford to pay, and Ms. Reynolds responded affirmatively, stating that this is part of their mission. Gia Farra, a resident active in dog showing, added that pony clubs and dog clubs are usually self insured, and Ms. Coleman added that this could be a requirement to utilize the facilities. Ms. Farra said that most clubs bring their own security teams with them as well. All activities would take place during the day, with no lighting required. Sound enhancement is necessary for shows but shouldn’t be a disturbance to neighbors.
Mr. Connolly ended the presentation with a request that the Township form a group to discuss the process of arranging to purchase this land. He requested that the Board of Supervisors take action on Thomas Comitta Associates’ 4/29/99 proposal to develop a Conceptual Master Plan for the Township and School District Properties on Yellow Springs Road, all former properties of the Pyle family. Mr. Wert stated that Mr. Comitta should incorporate tonight’s information into the proposal. Mrs. Ewald moved to accept Thomas Comitta Associates’ Proposal dated 4/29/99, incorporating Mr. Wert’s suggestion to add tonight’s information to it. Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Sauser called for discussion. He was concerned that the community should have an opportunity to respond before moving forward and suggested advertising a presentation. He said the proposal is in the character of Charlestown and provides for a community center. Mr. Wert stated that the proposal works toward developing a Charlestown identity. He felt that the plan should be developed prior to presenting these ideas to the citizens. He called the question. All were in favor.
Mr. McErlane affirmed that the County will reimburse 50% of the master site plan expense. Mr. Connolly stated that the base map issue has been resolved by choosing an alternative. Mr. Theurkauf explained that instead of accepting the original proposal for a $16,000 full topographical survey of the park, they would work with available information, which will be sufficient for most of the improvements proposed. It will make cost estimating more difficult in some cases but not enough to rationalize the cost of the topo. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve this alternative, and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor.
This matter was tabled as it is still in discussion.
Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert provided suggested changes to the road bid package which the Secretary will revise as needed. Mrs. Ewald wished to add the requirement that all bidders be PennDOT certified and that the Board has the option of separately bidding any project in excess of $10,000. Mr. Wert noted that the option to bid $10,000 projects separately was already incorporated in the proposal. While he disagreed with adding a requirement on PennDOT certification, he agreed that bidders could be asked to provide information on whether or not they are certified. Mr. Sauser said this can be added to the Statement of Bidder Qualifications form. The Secretary will revise the documents and forward them to Mr. Kohli for review. The bid opening will then be advertised for September 13, 1999.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the $55.00 registration fee for Mr. Sauser to attend the White Tail Deer Management Conference to be held in Harrisburg Sept. 24-26, 1999 and sponsored by PSATS. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to direct the Planning Commission to review the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance at their September 14, 1999 meeting. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mike Honan, Project Manager for Rouse Chamberlin Homes was present to request the “Future Road” right of way dividing Lots 21 & 22 of Charlestown Brae be vacated per the Township Engineer’s suggestion, prior to the finalization of the dedication process. After some discussion, it was agreed that neither the Township nor Rouse Chamberlin had any real concern about retaining the right of way; therefore, it will not be vacated.
A presentation on proposed improvements for Charlestown Park will be made at the September 13, 1999 meeting.
No issues were brought forward at this time.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 A.M. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for September 13, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. at the Charlestown Elementary School.