The first regular business meeting for March was held March 6, 2000 at the Charlestown Elementary School. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, Paul J. Hogan, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Ed Theurkauf,, Linda M. Csete, Secretary, Leah J. Campion, Assistant Township Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 P.M.
Mrs. Ewald extended best birthday wishes to Miss Betty Stonorov, who recently celebrated her 94th birthday. Mrs. Ewald described her as one of Charlestown’s special seniors. Miss Betty waits outside the Charlestown Playhouse every morning to greet the children upon their arrival to school.
Mr. Hogan said he attended the Chester County Association of Township Officials Convention on Thursday, March 2nd and learned of the availability of used and surplus materials made available to the state by the federal government, including vehicles. The state in turn makes them available to municipalities, and Mr. Hogan will investigate further to see what Charlestown may be able to obtain. He added that he had the opportunity to meet many other supervisors from various Chester County townships at the convention.
Mr. Willig announced that he, along with Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hogan attended the Planning Commission’s road tour of Township developments on Saturday, March 4th. This visualizing process, along with informative narration by Mr. Kling, was very useful. He said he was left with the impression that there is still a lot of open space in Charlestown left to protect and a lot of work for the Planning Commission and Board to do.
The following individuals came forward.
Regina Fried expressed concern over the recent traffic issue discussions. She asked who installed a sign at Pikeland and Hollow Roads reading, No Left Turn and asked if the Township was aware of it. Mrs. Ewald answered that since Pikeland Road is a state road, PennDOT most likely installed the sign and isn’t required to notify the Township first.
Mrs. Fried reiterated her concerns from prior meetings that any traffic restrictions imposed by the Township on Union Hill and Rees Roads will send traffic onto her road, Hollow Road. Since Hollow Road is a state road, its residents won’t have the recourse of requesting restrictions from the Supervisors. Mrs. Fried said she received an anonymous letter in her mailbox with regard to traffic restrictions and read it in its entirety.
Mrs. Ewald said Mr. Oeste was asked to contact PSW Inc. with regard to the water main since they’re not franchised for public water in that area. She added she’s also made an inquiry and is waiting for further information. Mr. Kohli is coordinating with PennDOT on the Route 29 bridge, and the Creek Road bridge is expected to open by June 2000. PennDOT is the agency that controls all state road closings, though it is hoped they’ll cooperate with the Township’s requests. Mr. Kuhn added that the Route 29 bridge project has not been let out for bid yet.
Mr. Willig suggested the Board invite PennDOT representatives to an upcoming meeting to address the issues of schools, roads, traffic, and their twelve-year plan. Mrs. Ewald added that she’d like to involve Mr. Kohli. Mrs. Behrle said the next School Board meeting is March 13th and a large group of residents plans to attend to press them to investigate possibilities other than renovating the existing school.
Lt. Dennis Dougherty and Trooper Matt Carr were present from the State Police barracks at Embreville.
Trooper Carr introduced himself as the Community Service Officer for Charlestown Township.
Tpr. Carr explained the State Police’s activities following calls from Mrs. Ewald and a Township resident regarding the high volume of traffic and speeding on Union Hill and Rees Roads. The Police set up speed traps last week on two mornings and one evening during peak rush hours. Approximately 15-20 people were issued citations or warnings. The highest speed recorded was 51 MPH. Most people, when asked their point of origin and destination, responded in ways that made it clear these roads were being used as commuter shortcuts. Questions were taken from the public.
Mr. Jones: Can you make a recommendation to the Township for the safest way to get children off the school buses?
Tpr. Carr: Basically the State Police’s job is to enforce. We can come out to sit at the trouble spots, and bus drivers can call us with license plate numbers of violators.
Mr. Faggioli: The pole at the hill crest on Rees Road has been hit over and over by people who veer off the road to avoid hitting a stopped bus. Don’t you think this is a safety issue?
Tpr. Carr: The crest of a hill is always a hazard. You may have to talk to the Great Valley School District and the bus company to change the bus stop location.
Mr. Longua: Will you be coming out on a regular basis or should we call for more enforcement?
Lt. Dougherty: We’re aware that the areas need enforcement, but since the area we cover is so large, feel free to call if we haven’t been out for a while.
Dr. Stewart: Did you conduct any car counts?
Tpr. Carr: We counted over 500 cars in ˝ hour period one morning last week. Mrs. Ewald added that on March 23rd she took counts at five minute intervals between 7:30 - 8:30 A.M. on Union Hill Road and counted 640 cars. One five minute interval had 80 cars.
Dr. Stewart: I appreciate the State Police’s presence, but this is not a long term answer.
Mr. Winckelman: Years ago you loaned out radar speed signs. Are they still available?
Tpr. Carr: The State Police got them from the Chester County Highway Safety department and we need to check on their current availability.
Mr. Winckelman: I suggest renting them from a neighboring township or elsewhere.
A Resident: A recent newspaper article quoted the State Police as saying they wouldn’t enforce traffic restrictions on Union Hill and Rees Roads. Is this true?
Tpr. Carr: It’s true that the State Police cannot enforce a local ordinance, only traffic laws approved through PennDOT.
Mr. Jones: What are the requirements for posting speed limit signs?
Tpr. Carr: The speed limit must be posted at 2 mile intervals to be enforceable. Mr. Faggioli said he’d check all the Township’s signs.
Mr. Philips: Can the Township install Speed checked by Radar signs?
Tpr. Carr: Yes, and there is one on Howell Road.
Mr. Hogan: Can’t school bus drivers be instructed to stop in the middle of the road to prevent passing?
Tpr. Carr: The School District or bus company would set this policy. It can create problems of its own. A driver may hit the bus instead of going around it.
Mr. Davis: Thank you for being out on Union Hill Road. I suggest you also spend some time on Whitehorse Road.
Tpr. Carr: We were at Whitehorse Road too. There are some limitations due to the need for a safe pull over area.
Mr. Jones: Can the Board of Supervisors set a uniform speed limit throughout the township on township roads? Mrs. Ewald responded that there is a uniform limit, 35 MPH. Mr. Oeste added that the code has changed, allowing townships to go to 25 MPH without a speed study.
Mr. Longua: What is the limit on state roads if not posted?
Tpr. Carr: It depends on the locale; in Charlestown, it’s 55 MPH if not posted.
Mrs. Fried: Why is it 40 MPH in front of my house? Mrs. Ewald answered that PennDOT set and posted this speed limit on Hollow Road.
Mrs. Fried: Traffic on Union Hill and Rees Roads is horrible. If it gets diverted to Hollow Road, I have no recourse because I live on a state road. You represent me too. Mr. Kuhn suggested the Township look into taking Hollow Road back from PennDOT and making it a Township road.
With regard to the traffic issues, Mrs. Ewald said she is committed to listening to all residents on their concerns. The process started with a dialogue of concerned residents from Union Hill and Rees Roads. The problem needs to be defined and input from everyone is encouraged. She said the Board can’t promise to fix it, but she wants to try.
Mr. Willig said he doesn’t want to divert traffic from Union Hill and Rees Roads just to create the same problem on another road as an unintended consequence. He doesn’t want to substitute one problem for another.
Mrs. Behrle urged Mr. Kuhn as the Supervisor Liaison to the Great Valley School District to contact them requesting they move the bus stops on Rees and Union Hill Roads before there’s a tragedy. Mr. Kuhn agreed to follow up. Mrs. Ewald directed the Secretary to put a notice on the citizens’ website asking for parent’s input on any unsafe bus stops they’re aware of.
With regard to accidents, Tpr. Carr said Mrs. Ewald faxed him a list of 1999 accidents in order by road, and noted problem spots on Charlestown Road, Route 29, and Coldstream Road. Mr. Faggioli said he met with PennDOT on Coldstream Road recently to work out a drainage problem that caused icing. It should be taken care of soon.
Mrs. Ewald noted the large number of false alarms in the Township last year, and Tpr. Carr said that this is one of the biggest problems the State Police has everywhere.
Paul Stevens, Bodine Road, asked about gun laws, stating that he’s hearing a lot of gunshots near his home. Tpr. Carr said all hunting in Chester County is by shotgun only, and discharging guns must take place 300 feet from any structures.
Mrs. Ewald said this presentation has been postponed to March 20, 2000.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of February 28, 2000 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, the vote was called and all were in favor.
Mr. Hogan moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for February 1- 29, 2000 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, she called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable for March 6, 2000 and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Faggioli if the billing issue has been resolved with the road contractor. Mr. Rodgers said no. The February work orders were rejected as not being in accordance with the contract. They won’t be paid until amended. Mr. Faggioli said the contractor refuses to make the changes. Mrs. Ewald asked if the Board’s position has been made clear to the contractor, and Mr. Rodgers answered yes, adding that the township solicitor has likewise made it clear. Mr. Willig asked how many invoices are unpaid at this time. Mr. Rodgers said there is one invoice outstanding that covers the month of February. It is composed of numerous work orders. Mr. Kuhn said the Board should hold its position and not pay the invoice until the work orders are amended. The Board was in general agreement. Mrs. Ewald commended the Roadmaster for his patience and perseverance. Mr. Faggioli noted that aside from this issue, the contractor has been doing good work.
Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the public, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter. The hearing was continued to April 3, 2000.
The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter. The applicant had requested rescheduling of the hearing, which was set for March 20, 2000.
The proceeds were recorded by a court reporter. The hearing was scheduled to open on April 17, 2000.
Reports from the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Zoning Officer, 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. Kohli reported that he checked the Bell and Clapper residence on Route 29 as requested at a prior meeting. There had been a report that the residence was being converted into apartments. Mr. Kohli said this is not the case; however, there is an existing caretaker’s apartment in the back of the house.
Mr. Kuhn asked about the Schulze property on Horseshoe Trail Lane, where there had been some questions from other residents about road improvements. Mr. Kohli responded that in accordance with a prior approval of their building permit, the Schulzes were required to widen the road with stone in front of their property and they did so two years ago. Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Kohli to check the condition of the road. Mr. Faggioli stated a concern that in its present condition, a fire truck can’t access the road.
Mr. Willig referred to the growing pile of tires and other junk accumulating at the Toll Brothers property at Route 401 and Newcomen Road (Charlestown Meadows site). Mr. Kohli said he’s investigating the best way to cite them under the Ordinance.
Mrs. Ewald asked if the A.C. Miller Company is now in compliance, after they were found to be renovating an accessory structure without a permit. Mr. Kohli said he’s spoken with them and they intend to comply by submitting a permit application. In the meantime, work has ceased.
Mr. Jones asked for an update on the Route 29/Phoenixville Pike/Charlestown Road intersection. Mr. Kohli said he has a draft letter and permit application to PennDOT with him tonight for the Board’s consideration. The application requests revisions to the traffic signal permit for construction of left turn lanes on all four approaches, a separate right turn lane on the Morehall Road (Route 29) approach, and upgrade of the traffic signal to coordinate with other proposed signalized intersections. The associated improvements are currently under review by PennDOT’s Traffic Unit. Mr. Kohli has been in contact with Jack Loew, whose firm is undertaking additional traffic improvements privately, asking him to proceed with the bidding process.
Mrs. Ewald asked for an update on the signals for Route 401 and Valley Hill Road. Mr. Kohli responded that he checks with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission weekly, but is still waiting for their response with traffic counts. The status for the signal at Route 401 and Newcomen is the same.
Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission began its review of the Comprehensive Plan at the February 22, 2000 meeting, and went on a road tour of the Township on March 4th which included all six Planning Commissioners, three Supervisors, Mr. Kohli and Mr. Comitta. The purpose of the tour was to look at the good and bad results of planning efforts of the past to see what was done right or wrong. Mr. Kuhn asked if there were any glaring defects in what they saw. Mr. Philips said they saw mistakes in the driveway lengths at Charlestown Oaks, which causes parked cars to hang out onto the sidewalks. He said they saw the end results of earth moving in the larger developments that should be improved in the future, and gained ideas for landscaping and buffering. Stormwater retention basins in the front of some developments were ugly. Others with better landscaping were hardly noticeable. One major concern that stood out was the damage a development can do to surrounding subdivisions. The tour made it clear that the Planning Commission must spend real time envisioning the next fifteen years and how to handle growth.
Mr. Kohli said that in many developments, such as Charlestown Oaks and Rapps Run, the retention basins are located under the cul de sacs and suggested this requirement be placed in the ordinance for those circumstances where they can be utilized. Mr. Kuhn asked what the cost differential is to the developer, and Mr. Kohli responded they are 20-25% more costly than above ground basins. Mrs. Ewald directed the Secretary to memo the Planning Commission requesting they review this issue.
Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission was unanimous in its appreciation of the Supervisors who participated in the tour and who have been attending the meetings. He said their presence is extremely helpful to the Commission.
Mr. Kling said the Planning Commission observed an obvious abuse of natural resources by developers on the road tour, naming earth handling, tree stripping, disregard for landfall and poor water handling among them. He said developers are intent on maximizing density for the greatest payoff and overlook civic amenities for residents. He said Charlestown should do as other Townships, requiring that developers dedicate a certain portion of their site for civic purposes, including schools on larger tracts. He noted that many of the smaller projects have aesthetic appeal, but noted concerns with the offsite impact on the larger projects. He commented on the potential impact of Toll Brothers project, which is surrounded by over 40 property owners.
Mr. Longua suggested that the Board and Planning Commission tour various Toll Brothers sites in the county. Mr. Jones suggested the Township do a mailing to homeowners in targeted developments such as Three Ponds and Charlestown Hunt to ask what they like and dislike about their developments.
Mrs. Baldwin said she found Mr. Comitta’s presentation at the February 22nd Planning Commission meeting very impressive and would like to see more people attend the meetings and provide feedback. A number of sessions should be planned over the next several months.
Mrs. Ewald noted that Mrs. Campion is currently working on a newsletter that will cover some of the information included in this discussion.
Mrs. Baldwin said she had nothing further to add to her written report.
Mr. Faggioli said he met with PennDOT to resolve a drainage problem on Coldstream Road, and all the potholes reported up until this evening have been filled. He noted a complaint from a Charlestown Hunt resident asking that the Township carefully review the roads prior to dedication, and Mr. Kohli said he is doing so. Mr. Faggioli said he’s temporarily fixed the sink hole on Dickson Drive but that a permanent repair must be undertaken. Because of piping involved, he will meet with Mr. Kohli to work out the details.
Mrs. Behrle asked when an Animal Control Officer will be appointed, as many people have been calling her with complaints. She suggested Dorando Faggioli for the appointment. Mrs. Ewald responded that the Board made a commitment at the beginning of the year to have all appointments filled by the end of the first quarter and they intend to do so with this position as well. She invited Mr. Faggioli to interview for the position if he’s interested. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Faggioli if he will handle calls in the interim, and Mr. Faggioli agreed. Mrs. Csete asked if he would be paid for his time at the current rate and the Board agreed.
Mr. Alston reported there were 4 vehicle accidents, 3 automatic fire alarms (for one Morehall Road location, its 6th time), 1 wires fire, one vehicle fire and 1 medical assist call during February. He provided details on two recent burning incidents in the Township. He said rainfall is down :@ for the year and cautioned the public to be careful with any burning and to follow the ordinance. He also cautioned the public about watching out for deer while driving, both day and night, as they become more active in the spring.
Mr. Alston said he’s currently working on a hazardous materials ordinance which will be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting this month on March 14th. Mrs. Ewald said she’ll follow up with the Fire Chief of Phoenixville Borough, who had offered copies of sample ordinances to the Township.
Mr. Alston said recently attended EOC training along with EOC members Hank LeMien and Jean Helker, and just returned this evening from a hazardous materials refresher course.
Mr. Alston told the Board there is a seat available on the East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Association Board of Directors, which meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 P.M. Mrs. Ewald indicated her interest but noted due to conflicts with her work schedule she can’t arrive until at least 8:15 P.M., by which time the meetings are adjourned or close to ending.
Parks and Rec Liaison Paul Hogan said he’s trying to coordinate a Charlestown Park clean-up on Saturday, March 25, 2000 and invited the public to attend and help out. The Valley Forge Christian College offered one of its Life Group teams for the effort. Some repairs will also be undertaken and additional wood chips will be put down in the play areas. Mr. Hogan said he’s trying to coordinate the effort with Parks and Rec Chairman Mark Connolly.
There was no one present to report this evening.
The possibility of developing an Environmental Advisory Board was discussed. Mr. Willig described the function of such a board as including qualified individuals who would advise the Township on the completeness of soil, wetlands and Environmental Impact Assessment reports submitted by applicants in conjunction with land development and subdivision applications. Mr. Kohli said at present, Mr. Comitta’s office reviews the EIA reports, and he handles the others. Mrs. Ewald said the Board is interested in increasing citizen involvement and suggested the proposed board also advise on horticultural issues that may come into play when planning the development of open space.
Mr. Kuhn asked if this would be a formal advisory board, and Mr. Willig answered yes, they should have standing. Mrs. Ewald added they could advise not only the Planning Commission but the H.A.R.B. and Parks and Rec as well. Mr. Philips said highly skilled individuals are needed who know what they’re reviewing, and Mr. Willig agreed. Mr. Kuhn asked if an arborist would be included, and Mrs. Ewald said yes.
Mr. Philips cautioned the Board against including well meaning people who may not have the background needed to do the job. He said opinions are not need: facts are. He said the positions should be filled with paid skilled people. He noted that the Township Engineer and Planner are two such individuals who are already doing part of this work. Mrs. Behrle asked if the advisory board would work similarly to the H.A.R.B., which has two consultants sit in. She cautioned the Board to carefully define the jobs. Mrs. Ewald said the jobs shouldn’t overlap. Mr. Kuhn suggested getting information and job descriptions from East Whiteland Township, which has a similar board that advises the Planning Commission.
Mr. Jones suggested that future vacancies on the Planning Commission be filled with individuals of specific specialties. Mr. Kling said a good generalist would be preferable, otherwise, the process is segmented and piecemeal. It’s more important to get the big picture. With reference to a recent plan submission, Mr. Kuhn assured the Planning Commission that the Board won’t allow applicants to bypass them and deal directly with the Supervisors.
Mrs. Ewald said that as technology changes, home occupancy questions continue to arise and the ordinance needs to be re-examined. Mr. Comitta provided suggestions in his memo dated 3/6/00, and Mrs. Ewald suggested the Board review the memo and the model ordinance from Concord Township that is referenced in it. The memo will be copied to the Planning Commission.
Mrs. Ewald referred to a publication available through the Chester County Health Department entitled On-Site Sewer System Owner’s Manual. She said the Township’s Act 537 Plan requires public education which this manual would provide. She’d like to include copies of it to all residents for a cost of $538.00 for 1,200 copies, 85% of which is reimbursable through a grant. Postage will be an additional cost. She suggested the Board members read the information, and the matter will be discussed further at a future meeting.
Mrs. Ewald asked if Janet Baldwin recalled which Township resident offered the labor and materials for applying bridge sealant to Bridge 178, now under construction. The individuals were in this particular sealant business. Mrs. Baldwin didn’t recall but will check with other members of the Historical Society. Mr. Kohli said the bridge will already have a protective non-rust coating, and Mr. Willig added that it may not be wise to interfere with the professional job.
Mrs. Ewald noted that the Lincoln Road side of the Bridge is being covered with a stucco-like material instead of pointing the stone. She asked the other members to take a look at it and suggested the Township make a request to the County that the stone be pointed instead. She’ll check with the County on the cost differential. Mr. Willig said the stucco is part of the original agreement to reproduce the bridge as it existed. The only change was a raise in the wall height for safety reasons.
Mr. Kuhn said he, Mr. Hogan and Mr. Rodgers heard Gilmore Associates’ presentation on GIS services at the recent Spring County Convention. Gilmore Associates will obtain county GIS information and computerize it with various overlays of data that can be accessed on a standard computer. Mr. Kohli said he’d be glad to arrange a presentation with Gilmore Associates, as he is presently working with them on another project. They can make a joint presentation to the Board and Planning Commission. Mr. Kuhn will coordinate with Mr. Kohli on setting a date.
The Board authorized the Secretary to finalize and sign both the draft letter prepared by Mr. Kohli and the permit application to PennDOT requesting revisions to the traffic signal permit for the Route 29/Charlestown Road/Phoenixville Pike intersection.
Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 10:30 P.M. The Board adjourned to Executive Session immediately following to discuss real estate matters. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for March 13, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. at the Valley Forge Christian College.