FEBRUARY 21, 2000

The third business meeting for February was held February 21, 2000 at the Valley Forge Christian College Student Center. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Gary C. Bender, Esq. Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Thomas J. Comitta, Linda M. Csete, Secretary, Leah Campion, Asst. Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 7:45 P.M.


There were no announcements.

Citizenship Award

Mrs. Ewald read aloud in its entirety an award certificate signed by the Board of Supervisors which was presented to Matthew Dahl, a township citizen who, along with his friends, found a large sum of money and returned it to its rightful owner. Mr. Dahl, along with his parents, were congratulated by the Board and met with applause from the audience.

Approval - Minutes of February 14, 2000

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of February 14, 2000 and Mr. Willig 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.

Accounts Payable Report February 21, 2000

Mrs. Ewald explained that the check listed on the report represents a 2nd escrow payment toward the purchase of the 55 acre Pyle farm currently in negotiations with the Great Valley School District.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for February 21, 2000, consisting of check #2561 to Gary C. Bender and Ross Unruh, Escrow Agents, for $25,000. And Mr. Willig seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.

Citizens’ Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Leon Altemose, Whitehorse Road, said he’d like to visit the Township office and review the township records on all his cases, but is unable to do so because there is no handicapped access. He asked when Charlestown Township will comply with the law, which it hasn’t done in over twenty years. He questioned whether the Township’s move to the 2nd floor of the Devault Building was done in response to his first curative amendment application. Mrs. Ewald responded that it was a coincidence, and the Board will look into his question on handicapped access.

Bob Jones, President of the Civic Association, read a letter, undated, which stated the Civic Association voted at its 2/14/00 meeting to request and promote with the Township Board of Supervisors a building moratorium in the Township for a period of 18 months for the purpose of allowing the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors a period of time to develop and implement a revised Comprehensive plan for the Township. Mrs. Ewald responded that the Board has discussed this issue with Counsel and it remains under discussion. An update will be provided when available.

Susan Evasew said she’s opposed to traffic restrictions on Union Hill and Rees Road. She questioned statements of high speed during rush hours and said that school bus safety concerns as well as traffic concerns in general are township wide and specific roads shouldn’t be singled out for restrictions. She suggested the Board look at other options such as improving the Route 29 intersection and changing the timing of the traffic light there. Mrs. Ewald provided background on the issue, stating that people were invited to explain their view points starting one month ago, and as the word gets out, more and more citizens are coming forward with their comments. She said the Board is aware of serious safety problems throughout the Township and invited the citizens to help in the definition of the problem and work together on a solution. She noted that a specific bus safety problem on Rees Road is a vertical hill that cars come over too quickly and find themselves swerving off the road to avoid a stopped school bus. She said the Township Engineer has been asked to arrange traffic studies on selected roads, and the Board will consider closing those roads that warrant it during commuter hours. No decision will be made without traffic study results. She said all the Board members have gone on site to observe the traffic on Union Hill and Rees Roads. Mr. Hogan said school children are trusting and have faith that they’re safe exiting their buses and walking across the road. He said buses should try to stop in the middle of the road to block traffic, and Mrs. Ewald said they usually do.

Bob Jones, Valley Hill Road, asked what the traffic study is intended to include. Mr. Kohli answered it will look at the amount of cut-through traffic and speed.

Mrs. Evasew asked if the problem is one of volume or speed, and Mr. Willig said volume drives speed. He said he observed traffic on Union Hill and Rees Roads during morning school bus/rush hour.

Rene Hassinger said she travels these two road every day and has never seen a speeding car, naming times between 7:20 - 7:40 A.M. Closing down these roads will hinder everybody.

John Nurthen, Charlestown Hunt, said he was at the February 7, 2000 meeting and that he had the impression the Board was in favor of restrictions. He questioned if the change he perceives in their posture this evening is due to a different contingence in the audience. He disagreed with Mrs. Ewald’s statement that he was invited to discuss the situation a month ago and that only Union Hill and Rees Road residents were notified. Mrs. Ewald responded that those residents brought forward a petition requesting the Board hear and address their concerns and this is why they were selected for notification. As the issue is discussed in the community, the Board has heard additional input and will continue to do so. She said this matter can be placed on a future agenda with broader notification if desired. Mr. Nurthen said the Board must represent the entire township. He observed traffic on these 2 roads and called the claims of 60 MPH speeds hyperbole. He said the amount of traffic is never high and he’s never more than one car behind the first one waiting at the stop sign to turn onto Whitehorse Road from Union Hill Road. He said his suggestion at the 2/7/00 meeting to get police enforcement of the traffic laws was not taken.

Karen Wilhelm, Charlestown Hunt, said she likes taking the back roads to her job in King of Prussia and she doesn’t see a lot of traffic on them.

Pam Elters, Buckwalter Road, said if the Board restricts traffic on these roads, they’ll set a precedent, and residents of other roads will call for the same. She said Buckwalter Road is heavily traveled and at excessive speeds. It’s the price you pay to live on a country road. Mr. Kuhn said he lives on Whitehorse Road and is willing to give up the convenience of traveling the back roads to preserve their peace. He’s concerned over the traffic counts associated with the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s slip ramp studies and the fact that they don’t obtain accurate traffic counts when so much traffic is diverted onto the smaller roads. Mrs. Elters asked if the Board will restrict traffic on all smaller roads in the Township. Mr. Kuhn said a comprehensive study would be undertaken. He asked citizens to put themselves in the place of residents having 650 cars drive past their house at rush hour. A woman died pulling out onto one of the rural roads when poor sight distances prevented her from seeing an oncoming car traveling at a high rate of speed.

Mr. Nurthen said her death is irrelevant. He said there is no speeding and no 650 cars on the roads in question. Mr. Kuhn said a traffic study will provide facts. Mr. Rodgers added that the Township contacted the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to request information they may have available on Charlestown. The Board will not act until reports are received and suggested people are becoming unduly concerned at this stage. Mrs. Ewald said studies should be received in about one month. She pointed out that the real threat to the Township is the PA Turnpike Commission’s review of the area for an interchange that will divert traffic through Charlestown. It needs to be seriously considered when reviewing the local roads situation.

John Ciervo agreed with that point but noted that law enforcement of traffic violations is what’s needed.

Bruce Pierce said he travels Union Hill, Rees and Howell Road and asked how residents of the first two would feel if traffic restrictions were placed on Howell Road.

Sue Staas asked Mr. Kohli if the traffic studies will determine what percentage of Union Hill Road traffic is coming from outside the township. Mr. Kohli said no, because this type of study is too expensive.

A resident asked if the study would be done before or after Creek Road re-opens. She suggested Charlestown look into part time police coverage from Schuylkill Township’s police department. Mrs. Ewald said Creek Road will be closed at least through May, according to her most recent information. She added that Whitehorse Road is scheduled to be closed for 3 months for water main work and that later in the year, Route 29 will be closed for 6 months for reconstruction of the Route 29 bridge.

Mr. Jones asked if the Board will send postcards to all township residents to inform them of a hearing to take place after all the traffic studies are in.

Debbie Kuhn asked if the Route 29 intersection improvements will be put on hold until after the Turnpike issue is decided. Mrs. Ewald said improvements will be done privately as this will be less costly to the Township. Mr. Kohli said PennDOT is currently checking the timing on the traffic light, and the plans for private improvement of the intersection are currently under review. He’s hopeful that work will start this year.

Laura Neumeister asked if the Township will commit to a hearing process, and Mrs. Ewald said yes. Mrs. Neumeister asked if the Township will commit to performing no traffic restrictions until a hearing process is undertaken. Mrs. Ewald said the hearing must be held by law, and that the traffic studies being conducted are part of this process. Hearings must be advertised, and any traffic restrictions must be enacted by ordinance. Mr. Oeste noted the Board can’t agree to making no traffic changes whatsoever; issues unrelated to this subject may arise.

Mr. Jones asked if the Township will send a postcard to all township residents on the hearing. Mrs. Ewald said it’s not necessary since the citizens’ website posts all agendas and meeting minutes. Mr. Kuhn said the Township is not obliged to send a mailer for every issue that arises. Also, the budget doesn’t provide for this amount of mailing.

Pete Taranco, 120 Lewisville Court asked why the police don’t monitor traffic. Mrs. Ewald said they will come out if asked.

Gary Gilbert asked if the Board had any new information on the Spring Lane Farm road relocation. Mrs. Ewald said it is not scheduled on an upcoming agenda at this time. She referred to a recent letter sent to the developer, and said Mr. Gilbert could obtain a copy by requesting it from the township office.

Mr. Altemose asked the Township Solicitor if there is any reason why the Township is not required to follow the BOCA code. Mr. Oeste said the responsibility lies with the developer or builder and the property owner. The Township must enforce the code, but is not always successful. Mr. Altemose asked if the Township is obligated to follow the state Labor & Industry requirements, and Mr. Oeste said they are if it is applicable. Mr. Altemose asked if the Township is obligated to provide handicapped access to its facility, and Mr. Oeste said only if the ADA is applicable in a certain circumstance.

Mr. Nurthen said that at the 2/7/00 meeting, Mrs. Ewald committed to having a response from the state police within three weeks and asked for the status. Mrs. Ewald said she has no information at this time but that she will have something within three weeks as previously stated.

Saul Kun, Whitehorse Road, said as a five-year resident he’s attended many Board meetings in the past and commends the Board for their efforts. He pointed out to those present that there are two sides to every issue and that the other group was just as adamant in their comments.

Old Business


Parks and Recreation Board

Mr. Kuhn moved to reappoint Mark Connolly to the Parks and Recreation Board for a five year term. Mr. Rodgers seconded and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. She said Mr. Connolly interviewed last week and presented himself very well. She said he’s been an asset to the Parks & Recreation Board and she looks forward to his continued service. She called the vote, and all were in favor.

Vacancy Board

Mr. Rodgers moved to appoint Russell Hanscom to the Vacancy Board for a one year term. Mr. Willig seconded and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. Mrs. Ewald said Mr. Hanscom interviewed last week and presented himself well. She called the vote and all were in favor.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority

Mrs. Ewald moved to reappoint Tom Babacz to the operating Board of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority for a 5 year term. She said Mr. Babacz has served with distinction and has a good reputation in the other member townships, which strongly recommended his reappointment. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn moved to table the appointment to clear up the question of the length of Mr. Babacz’ current term along with Steve Winckelman’s term. His motion died for lack of a second. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. She called the vote on her motion and all were in favor.

Zoning Hearing Board

Mr. Willig moved to appoint Cathy DiFillippo to the Zoning Hearing Board for a three year term. Mrs. Ewald seconded, noting that Ms. DiFillippo has been serving as an alternate for several years with good results. Mr. Kuhn asked about the incumbent to this position, and Mrs. Ewald said Mr. Mackey declined to be interviewed. She called for discussion from the Board and then the public. She called the vote and all were in favor.

Presentation - Act 537 Plan

Joe Bateman, General Manager for the Valley Forge Sewer Authority (VFSA), provided an overview on the Township’s Act 537 Plan. He said state law requires municipalities to plan for and provide facilities for the handling of sanitary sewage. The purpose of the plan is to provide for public health, safety and welfare through plans for sewage facilities. The Plan is to prevent and eliminate pollution of the waterways. Mandated by state law, the three entities involved in the plan are the State, through the Department of Environmental Protection, the Township, and the Valley Forge Sewer Authority.

Mr. Bateman said Charlestown Township’s adopted plan acts as its policy statement, allocating certain areas of the township for receiving public sewer service. This document meshes with the Township’s Comprehensive Plan. The VFSA is the Township’s agent, implementing the 537 Plan. If this calls for constructing new sewers, they will do so. They also collect and treat the sewage. The VFSA is financially independent, funding itself through its sewer rates to the public. The VFSA includes member townships Charlestown, Schuylkill and East Whiteland. The state’s role is to administer the law and approve the Plan.

Mr. Kuhn asked about the process of re-rating the plant. Mr. Bateman said the VFSA currently has an application before the state to construct a re-rate project to increase its capacity. A Regional 537 Plan is underway, which combines the total capacity needs of the member townships and determines how to meet these needs financially and environmentally. The Plan should be before the Township before the end of the year.

Mrs. Ewald asked about progress with odor control. Mr. Bateman said through new technologies being implemented, the complaint rate has decreased while the population has increased.

Mr. Willig asked where Charlestown Township stands in terms of capacity. Mr. Bateman said that according to Chapter 94, annual reporting to the state determines whether the plant has sufficient capacity. Since planning is ongoing, it must be formalized once a year. The re-rate was triggered several years ago. Although Charlestown has sufficient capacity, because its numbers are combined with the two other member townships, any new planning modules for a proposed subdivision cannot be signed off until the re-rate is complete. However, he feels this point is moot since the re-rate is expected to go through this year.

Mr. Kling asked if the capacity permitted to go into the river has changed, and Mr. Bateman said no, it remains at 8 million gallons per month. Mr. Jones asked how much is going to the river now, and Mr. Bateman said about 7 million gallons per month. Mr. Oeste said it’s not a question of what the river can handle but what is permitted by law. Mr. Kling asked if the VFSA was working to decrease infiltration of stormwater, and Mr. Bateman said their stormwater factor is extremely low, but acknowledges it’s a never ending task.

Mr. Bateman then answered additional questions from the public on general operations of the plant. Loretta Watson asked about the borrowing of Charlestown’s capacity through the years by other municipalities, and Mr. Bateman answered that after the re-rate, this capacity must be paid back and returned.

Bruce Panczner, Toll Brothers Inc. asked if a subscriber is treated differently than a member of the VFSA. Mr. Bateman said the 3 members are treated as a single entity but otherwise they’re treated equally. Mr. Oeste said the details of this are spelled out in written agreements, which Mr. Bateman offered to make available to Mr. Panczner.

Mr. Hogan asked if there are any plans to do work on Whitehorse Road since PSW Co. is planning to dig it up. Mr. Bateman responded no.

Mr. Altemose said he allowed a utility to go under his ground on Whitehorse Road and that by doing so it saved tress and cutting up the roads. The Township should find out how to encourage others do allow this.

March 2nd C.C.A.T.O. Spring Convention

The Secretary was asked to make arrangements for Mr. Hogan, Mr. Rodgers, Mr. Faggioli and Mr. Kuhn to attend the March 2nd Chester County Association of Township Officials Convention.

Budget Amendment

Mr. Oeste suggested this item be tabled to allow him an opportunity to review it. Mr. Kuhn moved to table the proposed budget amendment and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.

Continuation - Altemose Curative Amendment Application #1-99

The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter. The hearing was continued to March 20, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. at the Valley Forge Christian College.


Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 10:35 P.M. The Board adjourned to Executive Session.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Secretary