The second business meeting for February was held February 14, 2000 at the Charlestown Elementary School. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E. (arrived later), 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.
Mrs. Ewald announced that the Board met in executive session on February 9, 2000 to discuss matters in litigation with Mr. McErlane.
Mrs. Ewald announced that beginning with the February 21, 2000 meeting, the Board will meet at the Student Center of the Valley Forge Christian College. Maps were made available to the public. Mrs. Ewald noted that the VFCC changed many of its street names without going through the proper procedure with the Township. Corky Rittenbaugh asked if the student center has handicapped access and Mrs. Ewald responded yes. She added that the location change was driven by the complaints of residents attending meetings at the Elementary School cafeteria, where its very difficult to hear. She also noted that residents disliked lengthy meetings, which is why meeting agendas are being set to cover approximately 2 hours of business so meetings generally last from 7:30 - 10:00 P.M.
Mr. Kuhn announced that the Township has been notified of water main work to be done on Whitehorse Road this March that will close the road. He read the February 11, 2000 letter from Philadelphia Suburban Water Co. in its entirety. Mrs. Ewald said that detours from state roads, such as Whitehorse Road, must be routed along other state roads, not local township roads.
Mr. Willig reported that on Friday, February 11, 2000, he and Mr. Faggioli counted cars at the intersection of Union Hill and Rees Road, but traffic was much lighter than usual, presumably due to the Valentine’s Day weekend. He noted a number of treacherous spots on Union Hill Road and said he can’t pass judgment on the situation without undertaking a traffic count on another day. Mr. Faggioli reported that he received a call from Charlestown Hunt resident Elizabeth Matthews during this evening’s meeting and that she wished to communicate to the Board that she’s opposed to traffic restrictions on Union Hill Road and wants the Board to widen Route 29.
Mr. Rodgers reported that Dickson Drive is in poor shape with a large sinkhole. Mr. Faggioli said it appears to have a thin layer of macadam throughout with no base and that the road needs to be inspected. The Secretary will pull records on the original road dedication, and Mrs. Ewald suggested that the Township Engineer be involved in the inspection due to the drainage and piping issues.
Mrs. Ewald referred to an allegation of work being done at A.C. Miller Co. without a permit. It will be referred to the Zoning Officer.
Mr. Willig said he’s received at least 2 letters from Charlestown Hunt residents with regard to construction problems which the developer is unresponsive in addressing. Mr. Oeste said that only public improvement items can be addressed by the Board; home warranty items must be addressed to Realen Construction Co. by the individual home owners. Assuming the house constructions complied with the building code. Mr. Willig cites examples of some complaints from a letter received, which include stormwater management basin failure, sidewalk and curb breakups, trail washouts, and incomplete landscaping. Mrs. Ewald said she also received a few calls. She suggested inviting residents and a representative of the builder to a Board meeting to address the problems. Charlestown Hunt resident Loretta Watson said the Homeowners’ Association Board of Directors should deal with Realen on individual construction problems. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Township can withhold escrow funds from the developer until these items are satisfied, and Mr. Oeste responded only for those items that are considered public improvements. Mrs. Ewald said the Board will take the issue under advisement.
Mr. Willig asked if any Board members planned to attend the luncheon sponsored by the Chester County Transportation Management Authority on Friday, February 18th at the Desmond Hotel. Pa. Secretary of Transportation Bradford Mallory is expected to make a presentation. Mrs. Ewald asked the Secretary to make reservations for the four Board members present this evening, Mr. McErlane and Mr. Oeste. Upon Mr. Kuhn’s request, Mr. Oeste agreed not to charge for his time while attending on the Township’s behalf.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Mrs. Ewald introduced Leah Campion, who recently responded to the Township’s search for an Assistant Secretary. Mrs. Ewald moved to appoint Leah Campion to the position of Assistant Township Secretary for 30 hours per week at the rate of $10.75 per hour. Mr. Hugh seconded and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board. Mr. Rodgers asked why the number of hours is specified along with the hourly rate, and asked if this meant the 30 hours were guaranteed. Mrs. Ewald responded yes, the Township is committing to 30 hours per week. Mrs. Ewald called for comment from the public. Mr. Faggioli and Mrs. Baldwin both commented that the Township Secretary has needed help for a long time. Mrs. Ewald called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to set the Roadmaster’s reimbursement rate for mileage at 30 cents per mile and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Willig explained that the Township has entered negotiations with the Great Valley School District for the acquisition of the 55 acre Pyle property on Yellow Springs Road. An escrow check must accompany the Township’s first offer, to which the School District has not yet responded. Mr. Kuhn said the Township met with the School District on January 5, 2000 and that the Township has since ordered and received an appraisal on the property and subsequently made a competitive offer. Mrs. Ewald explained that the solicitors for the two boards are handling the negotiations and additional details will be made public at the appropriate time. Mr. Staas asked when the Board will present its financial needs with regard to the acquisition, and Mr. Willig responded it will take place once the offer is accepted. Mrs. Watson asked if the entire 55 acres is under negotiation, and Mrs. Ewald responded yes.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for February 14, 2000, consisting of one check, #2560 to Gary C. Bender and Ross Unruh, Escrow Agents, for $25,000. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of February 7, 2000 subject to one amendment on the penultimate sentence on page 6 to read Mr. Faggioli said Rittenbaugh Inc. did an excellent job on the roads, instead of Mr. Kuhn said. Mrs. Ewald seconded and called for discussion from the Board and the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald read the proposed resolution in its entirety for the appointment of Emory Todd, CPA to audit the books for Fiscal Year 1999. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Resolution #555-00 as read. Mr. Willig seconded, and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. Mr. Kuhn asked why this was necessary when the appointment was made in January. Mrs. Ewald explained that the proper procedure is to appoint the Auditor by resolution following an advertised public notice at least 30 days prior. Since this was not done earlier, this resolution serves to ratify the appointment. Mr. Staas agreed that this is the proper procedure. He expressed his wish that the Board will decide to utilize the elected auditors for the year 2000 audit, noting that people have been asking him why the elected board is not conducting the 1999 audit. Mrs. Ewald said the Board will take his comments under advisement. Mr. Kuhn agreed to consider it, stating that conducting audits is the reason the elected auditors were in fact elected.
Mr. Kohli provided an overview of the Township’s Act 537 Plan. Mr. Kohli referenced the Sewage Facilities Act and provided a handout. Mr. Oeste provided the Board with a copy of the actual State Sewage Facilities Act.
Mr. Kohli described the Township’s 537 Plan as a planning tool that is administered by the Municipality, similar in concept to the Comprehensive Plan. It relates to the Zoning Ordinance on those areas dealing with public or private sewers. Mr. Kohli said the Township’s Act 537 Plan contains a map indicating current public sewer areas, and the areas projected in 10 years. All three PRD zones in Charlestown are in the public sewer areas.
The Plan indicates the township’s public sewer capacity, for which treatment is handled by the Valley Forge Sewer Authority (VFSA). Private, on-site septic systems are administered by the Chester County Health Department (CCHD). The requirement for an alternate site for any sand mound system is included in the Township’s Act 537 Plan; however, since this document is strictly a planning guide, this requirement must be included in the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance as well. Mrs. Ewald directed the Secretary to send a letter to the Planning Commission requesting that they review page 21 of the Township’s Act 537 Plan on this issue and draft a proposed amendment to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.
Mr. Kohli said that every subdivision or land development plan must be submitted with a Sewage Facilities Planning Module, which is in turn reviewed by the appropriate agencies, including the County Planning Commission, Township Planning Commission, and the CCHD for on-site systems or VFSA for public systems. The document is signed off and ultimately forwarded to the DEP for acceptance.
Mr. Oeste said that if the Township disapproves an applicant’s planning module, the DEP may not overrule the Township directly. The applicant must then follow the procedure for a private request of the DEP and cite specific reasons why the plan should be reconsidered for approval. Mr. Oeste said in practice, it’s not been clear under what conditions the DEP can grant an applicant’s request. Mr. Kuhn asked if the success rate is known, and if its known for any specific developers. Mr. Oeste responded he doesn’t have this information. Mr. Kohli noted that this private request process can take years.
Another alternative for an applicant is to make a request that the Township consider a revision of its Act 537 Plan to include their proposed system if not already provided for in the Plan. The DEP can also make such a request.
There was some discussion on the issue of the VFSA’s current capacity and what effect the current re-rate project has on Charlestown’s capacity. Mrs. Ewald said VFSA Manager Joe Bateman will address the Board on this issue next week.
Mr. Oeste referred to certain alternative systems, such as drip irrigation, as untested technologies. Unless managed by a public utility, the Township would be required to sign off as a co-permittee.
Mrs. Ewald asked for additional information on the portion of the Act 537 Plan that addresses historical and archeological findings on a specific site. Mr. Kohli said findings of this type trigger a Phase I study with the Pa. Historical and Museum Commission, which can extend to a Phase 2 Study if there is sufficient evidence of findings. Mrs. Ewald asked if the Historical Commission is copied on planning module submissions, and Mr. Kohli responded no, only the Planning Commission. If there is pertinent historical data, he refers it to the Historical Commission.
Mrs. Ewald referred to the Mennonite Cemetery site at Pikeland and Church Roads as an example of a site that would trigger a study. Although a cemetery, there is no evidence visible as the headstones were removed decades ago. Mrs. Baldwin mentioned that a memorial structure is currently being built on this site. Mr. Kohli will check into this, as no permit for construction was submitted or issued.
There was some discussion about general on-site septic issues and the need to inform the public on proper maintenance.
The Secretary provided an overview of the current subdivision and land development plan review process, where an applicant must submit plans 3 weeks prior to the next Planning Commission meeting in order to be on their next agenda for review. The 90 day review period for the application begins at this point, after which the Board must render a decision. Mr. Oeste added that if the plan is not reviewed at a Planning Commission meeting within 30 days of receipt, the plan must be acted upon within 120 days of submission. These requirements make it crucial that when submissions are made, they are substantively complete in order to avoid confusion on the time clock issue. Mr. Kohli said that the Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance requires that revised plans trigger a new 90 day review period and the need for an application fee and appropriate escrow funds. Mr. Kuhn referred to a draft checklist that was prepared by the Secretary with input from Mr. Kohli and Mr. Oeste. It was decided that when a plan is submitted, the applicant will be provided with a sign off sheet acknowledging that the plan is being submitted for a completeness review only and that the applicant will be notified when the plan is complete, thus triggering the review period requirements per the MPC. Mr. Oeste will work with the Secretary on a format for this acknowledgment.
Mrs. Ewald referred to the State Police Reports for the past two months along with a log of auto accidents correlated by the Township Secretary. She noted repetitive accident locations, citing Charlestown Road, Route 29., Coldstream Road, and Yellow Springs Road. Accidents at the curve on Route 29 are beginning to increase as the milling done by PennDOT years ago has deteriorated. Mrs. Ewald asks for recommendations from the Roadmaster and Engineer on mitigating any specific safety hazards on these roads. In some instances, cutting back vegetation can improve sight distances.
Mr. Kuhn asked what is the best way to assess township wide traffic conditions. Mr. Kohli said that origin and destination studies are desirable but prohibitively expensive. He suggested targeting key intersections and undertaking traffic studies. He noted that some information may already be available from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) that can either be referenced on a stand-alone basis, or used to compare to the Township’s study results. The Secretary was directed to request a copy of any traffic counts relating to Charlestown that may be on file with the DVRPC.
Sue Staas recommended that prior to seeking any data, the Township should clarify for itself what data is specifically sought and for what purpose, as this makes the results more suitable to the Township’s needs.
Mr. Philips suggested the Township contact Tredyffrin Township for information on their traffic data, as the two Townships frequently link together with the road systems. Mr. Kuhn will send a letter to Tredyffrin Township and request information.
There was some discussion on intersection improvements at Route 29/Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road. Mr. Kohli explained the process by which the Township arranged to work with J. Loew and Associates to undertake the improvements privately.
This matter was tabled to February 21, 2000.
Mr. Rodgers moved to deny the request of John R. Cellucci for a two year extension of the Land Development approval on his Phoenixville Pike property originally approved in 1989. The applicant must return to the Township with a new application for review. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. Mr. Oeste will advise Mr. Cellucci of the decision.
The Conditional Use hearing for the Great Valley Nature Center was scheduled for March 6, 2000.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #10 for DHR Ltd. for $11,031.25 and Mrs. Ewald amended the motion to include the provision that any outstanding fees due the township are deducted from this amount. Mr. Kuhn accepted the amendment, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. She called for discussion from the Board and then the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #1 for Lot 17 of the Commons @ Great Valley for $59,950.00 and Mrs. Ewald seconded. She called for discussion from the Board and then the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the Board will consider a deadline for accepting proposals to join the Township’s existing Agricultural Security Area District, as he has had some inquiries as to how and when to join. The matter has been tentatively scheduled for the May 1st Board of Supervisors meeting, prior to which applications would be due. The Secretary will provide the Board and Mrs. Baldwin with additional information on how to proceed.
Mr. Kuhn referred to his previous interest in utilizing the Community Map Company to produce a map of Charlestown at no charge. The Company profits through local advertisers, who pay for an ad that becomes part of the border of the map that is then sent to all residents. Mrs. Ewald said a great deal of work is required on the part of the Township for this time of map, referring to the last time this was undertaken in the 1980’s.
Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission is reviewing all the Township’s map needs and feels a more professional approach is called for. Mr. Kohli offered to provide a cost on updating the road map he last prepared several years ago.
Mr. Kohli said that it should be made clear to PSW Co. that they don’t have the right to extend their franchise area in Charlestown Township as part of the Whitehorse Road project. Mr. Oeste will send them a letter advising them. Mrs. Baldwin asked if the Township can contact PennDOT and determine when they plan to close Route 29 for the reconstruction of the Ice Dam bridge. She is concerned it could happen simultaneously with the close of Whitehorse Road. Mr. Kohli said he’s not heard anything recently from PennDOT on the status of the bridge.
Mr. Rodgers moved to adjourn the meeting, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 10:20 P.M. The Board adjourned to Executive Session.