JANUARY 17, 2000

The third business meeting for January was held January 17, 2000 in Room 102, Building 56 of the Valley Forge Christian College, 2900 Charlestown Road, Phoenixville, Pa. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Gary Bender, 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 7:40 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Remembrance of Martin Luther King

Mrs. Ewald remembered Martin Luther King as a man of conviction and courage. Mr. Hogan shared his experience of participating in the 1963 March on Washington.


Mrs. Ewald announced that the Board met in executive session prior to tonight’s meeting to discuss legal matters.

Citizens’ Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Joe Sapone, 2138 Union Hill Road, asked if the Board has plans for the memorial at Union Hill Road and Tinkerhill Road that was created by mourners following a fatal accident last summer. In addition to mementos left at the scene, there are spray painted messages on the road. He’s concerned about safety for visitors who park at a dangerous curve in the road and spend time standing or walking on the road at this intersection. Mrs. Ewald responded that the Board has addressed the situation with the Roadmaster and has asked for suggestions in cleaning the spray paint off the road. Mr. Faggioli said the paint can be washed off with a special solution and pressure washing. Mrs. Ewald said the School District has gone to considerable effort to work with the family and friends of the victim through grief counseling. Mr. Kuhn suggested that the Township contact the School District before making any changes at the site, to ask for assistance in communicating the Township’s safety concerns with the family. David McEvoy, 2040 Union Hill Road, suggested waiting to see how much of the paint would come off after snow plows have been used on the road.

Leon Altemose, 4326 Whitehorse Road, asked when the Township will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bill Werkheiser, Valley Forge Christian College, responded that the Township arranged to change tonight’s meeting to the first floor in order to do so.

Bill Hochwind, Lindsay Lane, wanted the Board and public to know that one of the three young men featured in the Evening Phoenix who found $2,000 in an envelope, then returned it to its owner, is a Charlestown Township resident, Matthew Dawe of Maryhill Road.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Hogan moved to approve the Business Meeting minutes of 1/10/00 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and comments from the public. There being none, she called the vote, and all were in favor.

Old Business

Traffic Restrictions on Union Hill Road and Rees Road

Mrs. Ewald explained that some time ago, the residents of Tinkerhill Lane, Union Hill Road and Rees Road submitted a petition to the Board requesting rush hour traffic restrictions. Mr. Willig asked for some background, and Mrs. Ewald said that 2-3 years ago, the citizens asked for one-way traffic restrictions during rush hour but the request was never addressed.

Mr. Kuhn acknowledged the problem, stating that he lives on Whitehorse Road and recently counted 50-60 cars passing him on Rees Road at about 8 A.M. He suggested a No Left Turn sign on Route 29 to prevent commuters from taking Union Hill Road, and added that by redirecting traffic to the Phoenixville Pike and Route 29 intersection, the Turnpike Commission’s traffic counts would be more accurate in their consideration of the area for a proposed slip ramp/interchange.

Mrs. Ewald said her reservations on one way traffic is that the residents must abide by it too, and it can be a major inconvenience to them. Mr. Rodgers suggested no through traffic during peak hours. Mr. Hogan questioned the effectiveness of this without enforcement, but Mr. Rodgers responded that the State Police can enforce it, and citizens can report license numbers of those who ignore the restrictions.

Mrs. Ewald requested residents’ comments and they responded as follows:

Joe Sapone, 2138 Union Hill Road: Most people observe laws without a policeman being there to force them to do so. Some may ignore the restrictions, but most will not, and it will help the situation a great deal.

Bill Longua, 1061 Rees Road: Is in favor of the through-traffic restrictions. The traffic is a horrible situation and decreases the property value of residents on these streets.

A Resident, Corner of Rees and Howell Road: on one occasion witnessed four accidents in one day at this intersection.

William Stewart, 2045 Union Hill Road: He conducted the following traffic counts. The cars all traveled the length of Union Hill, then crossed Whitehorse Road and continued to Rees Road.

Friday, January 14, 2000

Between 7:25 - 7:30 A.M.: 35 cars
Between 7:55 - 8:00 A.M.: 47 cars
Between 8:00 - 8:05 A.M.: 51 cars
Between 8:30 - 8:36 A.M.: 26 cars

Saturday, January 15, 2000

Between 7:55 - 8:00 A.M.: 0 cars

Monday, January 17, 2000 - Legal Holiday

Between 7:45 - 7:50 A.M.: 20 cars
Between 8:00 - 8:05 A.M.: 35 cars

Dr. Stewart noted the tremendous improvement made by adding the 4 way stop sign at Union Hill and Whitehorse Roads and hoped a through-traffic restriction on Union Hill and Rees Roads would be similarly effective.

Tim Griffiths: 4291 State Road: Creating restrictions on Union Hill Road will make Route 29 a nightmare.

Jean Theiss, 1010 Tinkerhill Lane: Agrees with Dr. Stewart.

Dorando Faggioli, Roadmaster: Related that one morning he and his wife got out of their car on Rees Road to stop traffic to help a school bus make a left turn. Traffic is extremely heavy, travels at excessive speeds and gives no one a break.

Sue Staas, 4 Hana Lane: Notes that this is a systemic problem.

Phil Staas, 4 Hana Lane: Referred to three traffic studies: Spring Oaks, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), and Trammel-Crow. He agrees the problem is widespread and suggests the DVRPC study it further.

Dave McEvoy, 2040 Union Hill Road: Traffic on Union Hill Road gets worse every day, but feels that signs without police enforcement won’t work.

Gail Stewart, 2045 Union Hill Road: One way traffic restrictions would be a hardship to residents. She favors the no through traffic and no left turn from Route 29. She asked about speed bumps, but Mr. Oeste replied they’re too much of a liability.

A Resident: Suggested stop signs at the tunnel on Union Hill Road.

Bill Longua, 1061 Rees Road: Is in favor of posting the signs. It will cut down on traffic even if some disregard them.

Mr. Griffiths: This will move the problem elsewhere.

Debbie Kuhn, Whitehorse Road: Traffic will migrate to Ashenfelter Road if the signs are installed. She suggested checking the bus routes to ensure they aren’t disrupted by the signs.

Mr. Sapone: Signs are a good short term solution and he recommends trying them.

A Resident: Agrees with Mr. Sapone. Deal with just this issue, which is a safety issue.

Mrs. Ewald asked for a show of hands of those present from the three roads under consideration for traffic restrictions. Approximately 25 people responded. Asking for others on nearby roads, approximately 10 others responded. Virtually everyone indicated they wanted action taken.

Mrs. Ewald asked the Township Solicitor and Township Engineer to provide advice on the proposal that the Township install No Throughway Signs on Rees Road and Union Hill Road between the hours of 6:30-9:00 A.M. and 4:00-6:00 P.M. Monday-Friday, and a No Left Turn sign on Route 29 at Union Hill Road. Mr. Staas suggested the Board canvass all residents, and Mrs. Ewald responded that all residents of the three roads have been notified. Residents of private lanes off these roads will be added to the notification list as they were inadvertently missing from the first mailing.

Saul Kun, Whitehorse Road, suggested the Township begin talking with Schuylkill Township about adding a 3-way stop sign at Whitehorse Road and Ashenfelter Roads.

Conditional Use Decision - Christin Kurtz

Mr. Oeste read from his draft decision on an application for approval of a home occupation for Christin Friel Kurtz, 106 Stratford Court, which proposes approving the use, subject to nine conditions, which he read aloud. Mrs. Ewald suggested amending condition #9, which limited the production of goods to 35 items per week, to allow a range in the number of goods to 35-50 items. Mrs. Ewald called for public comment. There being none, she called for a motion. Mr. Hogan moved to approve the Conditional Use Application for Christin Friel Kurtz subject to the 9 conditions outlined by Mr. Oeste and further amended by Mrs. Ewald. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and comments from the public. There being none, the vote was called and all were in favor. Mr. Oeste will prepare a final decision to be signed at the 1/24/00 meeting.

New Business

Spring Lane Farms Conditional Use Hearing

Mr. Panizza stated that he’ll provide an extension to the Board to March 6, 2000 for opening the conditional use hearing to allow time to determine the location of the entrance road into the proposed development. This item was then tabled to March 6, 2000.

Spring Lane Farms - Road Relocation

John Panizza and Chuck Dobson, P.E. of General Residential Properties Inc. presented a proposal to change the location of the Spring Lane Farms subdivision road from that shown on the last preliminary plan submitted. Mr. Dobson explained that the proposed change was actually the original, preferred road location across from Somerset Lane on Hollow Road. It was earlier believed this road had to be moved because the DEP named the wetland area a probable habitat for the endangered bog turtle. The preliminary plan now shows the road approximately 300 feet east of Somerset Lane, where the existing driveway to the historic home on the site is located.

The DEP has now informed General Residential Properties Inc. that the area is not a bog turtle habitat and it may allow the road in this location. Since it disturbs a larger wetland area than the alternate plan, a letter from the Township Engineer to the DEP would be required for their approval. The applicant requests that the Board direct Mr. Kohli to send such a letter. The relocation would better protect the historic resources on the site and its positioning across from Somerset Lane would provide a safer access point. The road would be shorter and more direct for the lots to be serviced by it. The driveway would need no widening, which would preserve the sycamore trees lining it.

Mrs. Ewald asked why not eliminate the driveway altogether and access the historic home from the proposed road as well. Mr. Dobson responded that the driveway presents an aesthetic approach to the home with its line of Sycamore Trees and that the buyer prefers to access the house in this way. It provides more of a visual separation from the remaining subdivision.

Mr. Willig asked if any federal agencies are involved since the bog turtle is a federally endangered species. Mr. Dobson responded no, that the DEP is the only agency involved. Mr. Willig asked how much additional wetlands will be disturbed, and Mr. Dobson answered approximately 15,000 square feet, which they would be required to mitigate.

Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission reached a consensus that they would prefer the road be relocated as requested, primarily for the reasons of safety and buffering of the historic home as explained earlier. Mr. Theurkauf said he prefers the relocation, but recommends that any Board approval be restricted to the point of access and the wetland crossing, and not to the road alignment itself.

The Board scheduled a site visit for January 19, 2000 at 4:30 P.M. and will decide the matter at the January 24, 2000 meeting.


Continuation: Altemose - Curative Amendment

The proceedings were recorded by a court reporter. The hearing was continued to February 21, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. at the Valley Forge Christian College, Building #56, Room 102.

Other Business

Planning Commission Appointment of 12/20/99

Mr. Hogan moved to authorize the Solicitor to start legal action regarding the Planning Commission Appointment of 12/20/99, which was made in violation of provisions of the Sunshine Act. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board, then for comments from the public. There being none, she called the vote. All were in favor.


Mrs. Ewald announced that the next meeting would be held on January 24, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. with the location to be announced.

Mr. Rodgers moved to adjourn the meeting, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 10:00 PM.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Secretary