CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The first regular business meeting for October was held October 4, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School, 2060 Charlestown Road, Devault. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robert, C. Wert, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Member, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Thomas J. Comitta, 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 the Board of Supervisors will meet with members of the Great Valley School District Board of Directors on Wednesday, October 6, 1999 at K.D. Markley Elementary School with a report to follow at the October 18, 1999 public meeting.
Mr. Sauser announced that he attended a seminar over the weekend in Camp Hill, Pa., sponsored by the Sierra Club and Audubon Society on the impact of white tail deer on the ecology and biodiversity of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Sauser announced that the County is holding a Hazardous Waste Disposal Collection event at the Chester County Government Services Center in Westtown on Saturday, October 9, 1999 from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Lt. Dennis Dougherty and Sgt. Robert Foose of the State Police gave a report on police activity in Charlestown during the past year. Lt. Dougherty stated that other than two fatal accidents, there has been no unusual pattern of activity. Accidents continue on Coldstream Road and on Route 29. There have been isolated burglaries, and construction site thefts. Sgt. Foose is the Turnpike Station Commander at Valley Forge and is responsible for patrols of the Turnpike through Charlestown Township.
Mrs. Ewald asked what triggers a mutual aid response between the Township and Turnpike assigned patrols and Lt. Dougherty responded that a request for aid will trigger it as well as certain types of events reported over the radio. Access to the Township is gained through the service road at the Devault Maintenance Facility at Valley Hill Road.
Mr. Sauser asked how far in advance the State Police will be notified of the anticipated six month closing of the Bridge at Route 29 between Pickering Dam Road and Buckwalter Road, and they responded just a few weeks notice. Detours will be planned along state roads but a great deal of excess traffic on local roads can be expected.
Mr. Wert asked about the memorial on Union Hill Road, where visitors to the fatal accident site are putting themselves in danger and occasionally blocking the road. Although the Daily Local News reported that permission had been given for a shrine to be placed on private property at the accident site, Mrs. Ewald clarified that neither the Township or State Police did so. The Secretary reported that she spoke to the property owner and confirmed he likewise gave no permission. Mr. Sauser asked the State Police to give this area extra attention, particularly on the weekends. Lt. Dougherty added that it would help for residents to report these occurrences in progress.
Mr. Sauser thanked the officers for their report and their support of Charlestown Township.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the white tail deer symposium attended by Mr. Sauser offered any solutions. Mr. Sauser responded that it was more of a starting point for bringing together the various concerns of motorists, hunters, property owners and ecologists.
Mrs. Ewald questioned the responsibilities of the Animal Control Officer, who informed a resident he couldn’t assist in the disposal of a rabid raccoon. Mr. Sauser agreed that this isn’t his responsibility. Mr. Wert asked the Secretary to provide him with a copy of the job description for this position.
Mr. Wert moved to approve the minutes as written and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for September 1 - 30, 1999 and Mr. Sauser seconded. All were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable for October 4, 1999 and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser called for discussion to review the recommendations made in the Treasurer’s memo dated 10/1/99 with regard to C.D. investments. Mrs. Ewald amended her motion to include the purchase of 5 C.D.’s as outlined in the memo. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Reports from the Zoning Officer, Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Roadmaster and Fire Marshal are on file. Minutes from the last meeting of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority are on file.
Mr. Philips announced that he attended the County’s meeting recently held at the Tredyffrin Township Building on their $75 million grant initiative and indicated that the County has requested input from municipalities. He indicated that the County has communicated its interest in and support of the Township’s interest in acquiring Brightside Farm.
Mrs. Baldwin provided a summary of her August/September report.
Mr. Thompson asked for the procedure in lowering the speed limit on Rees Road to 25 MPH. Mr. Sauser answered that PA statutes have recently been revised to allow municipalities to reduce speed limits on local roads by ordinance without conducting traffic studies first. Other measures including rumble strips, painting warning marks on the road and signage were discussed. Mr. Sauser suggested a general review of all the roads prior to the November 1, 1999 meeting. For the time being, “Bus Stop Ahead” signs will be installed and the Roadmaster will look into the possibility of painting warning marks on the road.
Mr. Alston’s September report is on file, which includes a house explosion on Union Hill Road during Hurricane Floyd. Mrs. Ewald asked about a truck explosion noted on the report, and Mr. Alston indicated that the truck was carrying construction detonators and was observing all safety requirements.
Mr. Alston reported that the EOC received good comments from PEMA following the recent Limerick Drill. He thanked participating EOC members Mary Jane Duncan, Steve Winckelman, Joan Thompson and Robert Duncan along with Supervisor Irene Ewald.
Mr. Sauser asked Mr. Alston to consider moving the EOC to the Township Office, where a fax machine is available, noting that the lack of a fax caused some difficulties during the drill. Mr. Wert added that although the office is within the ten mile radius of Limerick, it would probably be eligible for an exception such as they had when the EOC was at the Charlestown Elementary School. Mr. Alston will consider the suggestion and get back to the Board.
The Board agreed that Mr. Alston should be provided with a key to the Township Office for access during emergency situations.
Parks & Rec member Bob Jones reported that the Board is preparing for the October 18, 1999 presentation for Brightside Farm. Mr. Connolly’s draft press release was read and provided to the press.
Minutes from the August meeting are on file. Mr. Winckelman reported that Schuylkill Township is still in the approval process for a new silo, and that the Valley Forge Christian College has requested service, which would require a change to the Act 537 Plan. Mrs. Ewald requested a map of the VFSA service area and one for the Phoenixville Sewer Authority if one is available. Mr. Winckelman provided a brief update on the McEvoy land acquisition and Ozorowski lawsuit. He added that the re-rate of the VFSA plant is still underway, noting that all projections have been turned in by member municipalities.
Mr. Oeste opened the hearing, which had been continued from September 13, 1999 to allow sufficient time for review comments from the Chester County Planning Commission. A court reporter took down the proceedings. Mr. Sauser moved to adopt Ordinance #82-99 and Mr. Wert seconded. All were in favor. Mr. Oeste closed the record.
This matter was tabled to November 1, 1999 pending receipt of information from Rouse Chamberlin Ltd. as required by Mr. Kohli in previous correspondence.
Mr. Sauser referred to Mr. Kohli’s review of the bids dated 9/17/99 and Mr. McErlane’s review dated 9/29/99. With regard to the Equipment/Labor bids, Mr. McErlane’s review indicated that all three bids had some irregularity. He recommended the Macanga bid be rejected as incomplete but that the irregularities in the other bids could be waived by the Board. Rittenbaugh Inc. did not provide a Certificate of Insurance with their bid, and Delaware Valley Paving Co. had an inconsistency in their insurance coverage information. Rittenbaugh’s Certificate has since been received by the Township.
Mr. Wert moved to award the Equipment/Labor, Bituminous Materials, and Stone Contracts according to Mr. Kohli’s recommendations of 9/17/99, namely, Rittenbaugh Inc. for Labor & Equipment, Independence Construction Materials for Bituminous Materials, and Glasgow Inc. for Stone Materials. Mr. Sauser seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion. She said the Rittenbaugh bid is faulty due to the lack of an insurance certificate with the bid submission. She recommended awarding the contract to Delaware Valley Paving. Mr. Oeste indicated that there is some ambiguity in the bid documents as to when the certificate is required. He said the Board can waive this item. Mr. Sauser called for a vote. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mrs. Baldwin outlined the need for additional funds to repair the Dr. Kennedy gravestone. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the additional expenditure of $1,360.00 from the Cemetery Fund in addition to the $2,000.00 already approved for this purpose. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser indicated that PennDOT has contacted the Township requesting the provision of a narrow Right of Way, a construction right of way and an easement to be accessible during re-construction of the Route 29 Bridge. The Supervisors have delayed in responding as they are still waiting for a response from Congressman Curt Weldon’s office regarding the possibility of obtaining a waiver from federal requirements that the parapet wall height be 42 inches. The Township would like to reduce this to 32 inches to preserve the view of the historic ice dam. Mrs. Ewald suggested asking Congressman Weldon to attach legislation to an existing house bill to gain quick approval of the waiver.
Mr. Sauser recommended the Board approve granting the Right of Way, Construction Right of Way, and Easement to PennDOT pending resolution of the question of whether a 32” parapet wall height will be permitted. Mr. Oeste will contact Mr. Weldon and notify the PennDOT representative that the Township is actively pursuing the issue and intends to cooperate with him. This issue will be reviewed at the November 1, 1999 meeting.
Mr. Sauser cautioned the Board not to lose sight of the other concessions already gained from PennDOT on the façade for the bridge and limits of the easement and right of ways, which he believes could be jeopardized by too long a delay.
This matter was tabled to November 1, 1999 to allow sufficient time for the Solicitor’s review and for the Secretary to request a review from the Township’s insurance provider.
The Fall Road Tour was scheduled for Sunday, November 7, 1999 to begin at 8:00 A.M. from the Elementary School.
Mr. Comitta and Mr. Philips provided background on two proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendments and a new ordinance as follows:
The Board held some discussion on the each of the above amendments and the proposed ordinance, providing some language changes to be incorporated in the drafts. Mrs. Ewald was concerned that the 35,000 square foot minimum lot size specified in the amendment to include historic properties over 25 acres in size in the Open Space Option Ordinance is too small and may lead to further down zoning in the Township. Mr. Comitta explained that the 35,000 square foot lots, as compared to the 40,000 square foot minimum for non-historic properties under the Open Space Option, allows for a larger homestead lot, thereby protecting the historic resource. Mr. Sauser said this may encourage development by historic homeowners who could now protect their homes with a large open space envelope.
Mr. Comitta will send the three drafts to the Chester County Planning Commission for review. Mr. Oeste will advertise the hearings to be held at the December 6, 1999 Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Budget Work Session for 2000 will be held at the Charlestown Township Office on Monday, October 25, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. The work session is open to the public.
The full Board, Mr. Kohli and Mrs. Csete will attend the Chester County Association of Township Officials Fall Convention on November 18, 1999. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve check #2363 for $175.00 to the CCATO for tickets. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
The Township’s draft resolution to be submitted for consideration at the C.C.A.T.O. fall convention was reviewed. It would require that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission hold public hearings on any proposed construction projects, including interchanges and slip ramps, and that any subsequent construction be consistent with regional planning processes. Mr. Sauser noted that CCATO Secretary Pat Morrison contacted him with the suggestion that the words “regional planning” be replaced with “local planning in the phrase “generally consistent with regional planning”. Mrs. Ewald suggested dropping the word “generally”. Mr. Wert suggested adding more specific language instead of referring to “access points” to indicate “any access or egress”. The Board agreed with these three changes. Mrs. Ewald said the definition of public hearing should be outlined and that hearings should take place in the municipality most affected. Mr. Sauser noted the draft resolution does indicate that at least one of the hearings must take place in the most affected municipality, and that the hearing process is described as providing the opportunity for testimony and establishing a record. Mr. Oeste will revise the draft and provide it to the Township Secretary for transmittal back to the CCATO.
Mr. Sauser moved to direct that the two resolutions be drafted as discussed. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Sauser stated that he’d like to have the Solicitor review this document before it is considered by the Board. The matter was tabled to November 1, 1999.
Mr. Sauser moved to designate the Township Secretary, Linda Csete, as the Township’s Agent to apply for disaster relief funds following Hurricane Floyd. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
John Panizza, Bob Smiley, Chuck Dobson, P.E., and George Asimos, Esq. were present from General Residential Properties Inc. Mr. Oeste began with some background on the General Residential Properties Inc.’s request to begin the Conditional Use Hearing for the Deerfield subdivision prior to the submission of a preliminary subdivision plan. In the past, conditional use applications have been considered ancillary to the subdivision plan and are submitted simultaneously. However, the newly adopted Open Space Option Ordinance (#80-99) requires a conditional use procedure to approve the development option, which is a departure from the Township’s other conditional use processes. Submitting a fully engineered preliminary plan with the conditional use application would be extremely expensive for the applicant and would serve to lock them in to utilizing the option in order to justify the cost. Mr. Oeste indicated that other townships handle this type of conditional use procedure by allowing the application to be accompanied by a conditional use plan, which is more of a detailed sketch plan, rather than a full preliminary plan. He pointed out that the conditional use approval provides approval of the use only; the plan itself must be approved in the subdivision plan review process. If the applicant can’t comply with the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance, he must return to the Board to seek a revision to the Conditional Use approval.
Mr. Asimos provided comments on the procedure and stressed that obtaining the conditional use approval first allows for much greater flexibility in designing the subdivision plan. He indicated that by reviewing the conditional use application first, the Planning Commission is better able to balance open space priorities on an individual plan. Following the Conditional Use Approval, the applicant can go forward with a preliminary plan knowing that it will gain eventual approval using the open space option. Otherwise, few applicants would take the chance of going through the Open Space Option process.
Mr. Oeste agreed that the conditional use process gives the Township more control than if the preliminary plan is worked out in a sketch plan process before hearings begin. Mr. Philips indicated the Planning Commission could work with it either way, developing the preliminary plan from a sketch plan or working through the conditional use process, but he agreed that the conditional use process should be followed first if the solicitor believes there are advantages to this method.
Mrs. Ewald asked for an executive session to discuss this matter with counsel. The Board, Mr. Kohli, and a member of the Planning Commission will meet in executive session prior to the beginning of the October 18, 1999 meeting. Mrs. Ewald requested a memo from Mr. Asimos communicating the Applicant’s position.
The Conditional Use Hearing for Deerfield was scheduled for November 1, 1999.
Mr. Oeste requested that the Applicant, General Residential Properties Inc., grant the Township an extension to the time period in which to hold the Conditional Use Hearing and decide on the Preliminary Subdivision Plan in order to allow time to address the items on Mr. Kohli’s last review letter discussed at the 9/28/99 Planning Commission meeting.
Mr. Philips indicated that the Planning Commission has recommended at the last two meetings that the applicant reduce the number of lots to a maximum of 5 or 6 due to the extreme sensitivity of the site as recommended by the Township Planner. At the 9/28/99 meeting, the Planning Commission requested an extension on both the Conditional Use hearing scheduling deadline and the preliminary plan review period. The applicant agreed to extend the preliminary plan review period, but not the Conditional Use deadline. Therefore, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny both the conditional use application and preliminary subdivision plan.
Mr. Panizza asked for the Board’s position on reviewing a plan that can comply with the Township’s ordinance but is opposed by the Planning Commission.
The Board recessed for an executive session at 10:55 P.M. and reconvened at 11:10 P.M. Mr. Oeste said that the Board will accept an extension on the Conditional Use Application to 11/1/99 and on the Preliminary Plan to 12/6/99. The Board intends to consider the applications in accordance to the Township Ordinances and the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code. The Board will act expediently, provided all required information is provided by the Applicant in a timely manner.
Mr. Panizza agreed to provide the two extensions as requested, provided they have until October 18, 1999 to provide additional information as indicated in Mr. Kohli’s review letter, that sufficient time is provided for their testimony at the November 1, 1999 hearing with the Township’s consultants prepared for this date, and that additional dates are set aside in November should the hearing need to be continued past November 1st. The Board of Supervisors agreed to these conditions and set aside November 8th and November 15th for additional hearing dates should they be needed.
The Spring Lane Farm Conditional Use Hearing will be held on November 1, 1999.
Charlestown Hunt Escrow Releases #3 for Phase 4 and # 3 for Phase 5 were tabled to November 1, 1999.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Mrs. Ewald moved to adjourn and Mr. Wert seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 P.M. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for October 18, 1999 at 7:30 P.M. at the Charlestown Elementary School when a special presentation on the possible acquisition of the Brightside Farm will be made.