The first regular business meeting for May was held May 1, 2000 at the Valley Forge Christian College, Building #11. 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, Tom 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.
Mrs. Ewald encouraged all residents to return their Traffic Survey forms as soon as possible and to call the township office if they need an extra copy.
Steve Burgess asked whether the Township road at the corner of Yellow Springs and Morehall Road (the portion of Devault Lane ending at Turnpike) is considered abandoned. He’s thinking of purchasing property on adjacent sides of this road. Mrs. Ewald said the Board would look into the matter and respond to his inquiry.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of April 24, 2000 and Mr. Hogan 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.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of April 26, 2000 and Mr. Kuhn 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 minutes of April 27, 2000 and Mr. Kuhn 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.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for April 1 - 30, 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. Willig moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for May 1, 2000 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and public, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
Reports from the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Zoning Officer, Roadmaster, Fire Marshal and Citizens’ Advisory Committee 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 said the Building Permit Report for April is on file. He reported that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has begun construction on a new 65 foot tower without submitting a building permit application or plans to the Township. Mr. Oeste suggested this item be discussed further in executive session if the Board wishes.
Mr. Philips said the Commission is involved in an ongoing review of the Comprehensive Plan and is planning to review a proposed draft ordinance for stormwater management prepared by Mr. Kohli that will provide more options for handling water. In April, the Commission reviewed ordinance language on requiring an alternative site for sand mound systems. They asked Mr. Comitta to look at other options for land subdivision that would preserve more space. Mr. Philips said the April 25, 2000 session on the Comprehensive Plan review, attended by Mr. Willig and Mr. Rodgers, was excellent. Mr. Comitta gave a slide presentation that provided a visual trip through the Township and allowed participants to express their likes and dislikes. The Commission felt it was so well done they asked Mr. Comitta to work with the Township Webmaster to put selections on the website with some narrative. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Township can mandate underground recharge for stormwater in its ordinance, and Mr. Kohli said yes.
Mrs. Baldwin said the Historical Society recently invited all property owners to the Playschool on May 3, 2000 at 8:00 P.M. for a presentation by Wesley Sessa of Eighteenth Century Restorations on ways to restore historic structures and to discuss the importance of maintaining the historic fabric of their homes.
Mr. Faggioli reported that on April 18th a tree fell on a car occupied by 5 people, though fortunately no one was injured. Patching of potholes throughout the township is underway. Mr. Philips asked about potholes on Hollow Road, and Mr. Faggioli said he’d contact PennDOT.
Mrs. Ewald noted that Mr. Alston’s report shows one location that had its 10th false fire alarm in four months. Mr. Alston said he believes the situation has finally been resolved. The alarm company has agreed to call the property owner first before sending calls through to 9-1-1.
Mrs. Ewald asked about the reports of a bunker on Charlestown Hunt property. Mr. Alston said a resident reported a structure in an area between Sycamore Lane and Charlestown Hunt, where she believed fireworks were stored and drinking was taking place. This resident also reported the information to the State Police, who investigated and said that other than a few cans of soda, nothing is present at the makeshift clubhouse. The structure is on Charlestown Hunt common property and is their responsibility.
Mr. Alston said the Chester County Water Resources Authority expects to lift the drought restrictions shortly, as the aquifer has finally approached normal levels. He cautioned residents to continue being careful with burning.
Parks and Rec Liaison Paul Hogan said he inspected the playground at Charlestown Park yesterday and plans to write a report every month on its condition. He said he found two swings that need attention and has secured them against use until the seats are replaced.
Mrs. Ewald asked how odor control measures are working. Mr. Winckelman said complaints have decreased markedly since the project for underground containment at all pumping stations has been completed. Mr. Faggioli asked if the Schuylkill Township approval for a new tower has been approved yet, and Mr. Winckelman said no. He added that a letter to all residents in the VFSA franchise area have been invited to a meeting on May 8th at the VFSA building.
Mrs. Staas provided an explanation of the CAC’s purpose. She said that in response to the concerns expressed by Charlestown Township, other municipalities, including East Whiteland and Schuylkill Townships, and the Great Valley School District, the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) formed the Advisory Committee though under no obligation to do so. There are approximately 25 members of the CAC, with 4 representatives from each Township, two regular members and two alternates. Charlestown’s members are John Martin and Charlie Philips. The alternates are Wendy Leland and Sue Staas. Other community groups are represented, as well as the Chester County Planning Commission and various businesses in the Great Valley Corporate Center and the Vanguard Group.
Mrs. Staas said the CAC is advisory only and has no power, only the opportunity to make recommendations. There have been 5 meetings so far, with CAC members raising numerous questions and requesting information. There has been no update to the initial traffic study, and no origin and destination study, impact study, or induced traffic study. In all, the CAC gave the PTC approximately 30 requests for various data including a request for zip code analyses. Mr. Philips added 4 alternatives to the slip ramp to the three presented by the PTC and alternate #4, proposed by CAC members, to do nothing. She feels the PTC is pressuring the CAC to select an alternative without providing the data requested.
Mrs. Staas said minutes of the CAC meetings are posted on the Charlestown Township Citizens’ Website, and invited residents to attend the next meeting scheduled for May 3, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. at the Desmond Hotel. She said attendees are not permitted to speak but feels their presence is important.
A resident said he attended the initial meeting at the Great Valley High School and remembers that data was presented there. Mrs. Staas said that information was 5-6 years old and contained errors now acknowledged by the PTC. There has been no update to this data.
Mr. Faggioli said noise will be a great concern in the area of Blackberry Lane, particularly with trucks using their buffeting-sounding jake brakes.
Mrs. Ewald said the Pa. Turnpike Commission claims that they’re not required to hold public hearings in order to create a new interchange, but the Township’s position is otherwise. Mr. Oeste said the Township has a pending complaint against the Turnpike Commission claiming they are required to hold public hearings under applicable state law.
Tom Comitta provided an overview of the Planning Commission’s consideration of this proposed ordinance. He displayed three maps: the Agricultural Security Area Map, the Historical Resources Map and the Open Space Option Map, with currently eligible properties shown in green and proposed eligible historic properties in yellow.
Mr. Comitta explained that on December 6, 1999, the Board discussed the idea of adding historic properties over 25 acres to the Open Space option to those already eligible following the passage of Ordinance #80-99 in February 1999. Properties now eligible to utilize the Open Space Option during the subdivision process include those over 25 acres in area that are adjacent to public lands. The Open Space Option requires a subdivision to retain 40% open space while allowing a lot size of 40,000 square feet as opposed to the by-right 80,000 square feet minimum lot size in the Farm Residential (FR) District. The proposed amendment would allow designated properties with historic resources to utilize the option in order to create a larger homestead lot for the resource by employing a lot-averaging concept on the remainder of the lots, which could be a minimum of 35,000 square feet provided no more than half the lots are under 40,000 square feet. The open space would not only protect the historic resource but allow for bridle trails, walking tails, and protection of viewsheds. Design standards would be the same as under the existing ordinance #80-99.
Mr. Comitta said the Chester County Planning Commission recently re-issued its review letter verbatim, supporting the Township’s interest in creating an additional open space option. He said that one development in the Township was designed along these lines, naming the Hollow Run Farms development off Route 29. He said Roland Dickson was the only applicant to avail himself of the 1972 Zoning Ordinance provision allowing a cluster option, reducing the by-right minimum 100,000 sq. ft. lots to 50,000 sq. ft. lots and providing the remainder in open space. The ordinance was designed to provide roughly the same number of lots as would be produced by a by-right plan. This 1972 provision was later removed from the ordinance in 1979, having been on the books for numerous years with only one developer utilizing it.
Mr. Comitta referred to a similar ordinance written in 1986 for Salisbury Township, adjacent to New Hope in Bucks County. He noted that in ten years, no developer had availed himself of the option, and in retrospect it appeared that there was no incentive when the lot yield is the same or fewer with a more difficult and challenging process. The ordinance was re-written in 1996 and there have now been several subdivision applications following it. He said this type of ordinance works best when the applicant works collaboratively with the Planning Commission.
Mr. Comitta gave a brief overview of other planning concepts being discussed, including the fast tracking of simple subdivisions, conservation design subdivisions, and purchase or transfer of development rights. He cited the Eastwick subdivision in Charlestown as an example of a conservation design subdivision.
Questions were taken from the public.
Ellen Behrle: Why didn’t the Planning Commission consider all properties over 25 acres in size and not just the historic ones?
Mr. Comitta said the Township used to have a similar provision open to all larger properties that was rescinded when the Board recognized it was underutilized. Their intention was to revisit the option at a later time. The Planning Commission recommended in 1998 that it be put back on the table, with the original concept of including all 25+ acre properties in the FR District, but later opting for a pilot approach in order to be conservative. Historic properties looked like a good place to start when subdivision plans came in for Spring Lane Farms and, more recently, the Dixon Property, both with historic resources that had a chopped up look when depicted as by-right plans. Initial plans showed little concern for the lay of the land, visual impacts, wet areas, and slopes. He said the existing by-right ordinance enables, and even forces to some extent, the developer to create unimaginative, ugly designs.
Harry Nagel: What is the developer’s incentive to choose the open space option?
Mr. Comitta said reduction in infrastructure costs such as roadways and stormwater basins and the possibility of getting an extra lot out of the subdivision are incentives, although he acknowledged the option tends to be density neutral.
John Sauser: Saving ten acres of open space on a 25 acre tract (40%) isn’t much. This effort is going in the opposite direction of the County’s Landscapes plan and the Township should complete the Comprehensive Plan update first in order to determine where the density should go. Look at larger lot zoning, possibly 15 acres, for portions of the township. This proposal has no logical basis and will incentivize people to subdivide their property. There are no concrete design standards proposed with the option.
Mr. Comitta said he and Mr. Philips met with the County Planning Commission (CCPC) to discuss ways of expanding the Open Space Option. The CCPC had communicated that it was not satisfied with the few open space tools being utilized in Charlestown. Although the 1993 Open Space & Recreation Plan depicted a Pickering Creek Overlay District, there were no tools for transfer or purchase of development rights and no open space conservation options. Eventually, all the buildable land in the Township will be subdivided, and the CCPC warned that the Township wasn’t going far enough in providing alternatives.
Mr. Philips said that the Comprehensive Plan Update review will take another 14-18 months to complete, and in the meantime, by-right plan submissions continue to be made. Without additional options, these plans all depict tracts chopped up into 2 acre parcels, regardless of the sensitivity of the site. He believes additional tools are needed now. Mr. Kuhn added that the Board is looking at additional options, such as larger lot zoning for some areas. As to the importance of providing an option for historic resource protection, he cited the House at Morehall near Valley Forge Park, more historic than anything actually located in the park, which is being threatened by encroaching development.
Mr. Comitta said the logical basis for the proposal stemmed from the development of the option from a standpoint of balancing the percentage of open space with lot yield. When they approached 40% open space it became clear that the lot yield would be similar to the by-right yield and allow for a lot size large enough to accommodate on site sewer and water systems.
Mr. Kuhn disagreed that providing an additional subdivision option will encourage individuals to subdivide sooner than they would otherwise. He believes all the land will eventually be developed and sees this tool as an aid to obtain more desirable outcomes in some instances.
Mr. Comitta said the Township has no architectural standards anywhere in the Township, and this option is no different. He noted that Township residents attended the December 6, 1999 meeting en masse to protest a proposal for a Historic Resources Protection Ordinance that would have provided such standards. The Board listened to the public and voted not to adopt the ordinance.
Resident #1: Who would own the Open Space?
Mr. Comitta said there are four options, including deeding it to the township, to a homeowner’s association, to a condominium owners’ group or to a conservancy organization such as the French and Pickering Creek Trust.
Resident #2: Must the Open Space be contiguous?
Mr. Comitta said no, although there are certain restrictions. No piece can be less than 2 acres or less than 150 feet wide.
Alix Coleman: The developer should be given incentives to utilize certain architectural concepts and designs in developing farm residential zoned properties so they don’t clash with what already exists. She said the Township is trying to re-invent the wheel and should take note of what in being done throughout the country, citing Portland, Oregon. She said the Brandywine Museum has a municipal advisor for conservation matters. She suggested the Township appoint a resident to investigate these and other possibilities. The Township is playing defense and the developers are moving faster. She’d like to see speakers invited to come before the Board.
Mr. Comitta said he presented information on Portland, Oregon at one of the recent Planning Commission meetings. Mrs. Ewald said a videotape of a Channel 12 documentary on planning is being circulated by the Board.
Bob Campbell: The developer will see a disincentive in this process due to the time frame involved. The option invokes additional steps the developer will have to take as opposed to by-right development. He’s concerned about the issue of perpetual maintenance and what will happen if there’s a failure to perform. He asked where the financial backing is. He suggested impact fees be imposed on developers for this use.
Mr. Comitta said the Planning Commission is presently studying a Fee-in-Lieu Ordinance that would address this concern.
Steve Winckelman: There’s not enough incentive for the builders, especially when faced with building smaller houses to conform to smaller lots. A cluster plan wouldn’t work, for example, on the Zeigler tract It’s the Planning Commission’s job to fight for the minimum number of houses in a plan. He said the previous plan for Charlestown Meadows, worked out by the Planning Commission with the former owner, had a beautiful layout.
Mr. Philips acknowledged that the Planning Commission does work hard to minimize lots, but the developer can challenge them, so additional options are needed.
Tom McClure: Admits that now he’s a landowner in Charlestown he wants to keep the Township this way and discourage others from moving in and developing land. He said the residents need to recognize they need to pay to conserve open space. He said the Township needs to develop a strategy, noting that developers come in with a plan, and the Township needs its own to counteract them.
Vincent Kling: The Township lacks a clear plan of what resources need to be preserved. It also needs a mechanism for requiring larger projects to include civic amenities such as schools and open space.
Debbie Kuhn: Why wasn’t private ownership listed among the four options for the open space in this proposed ordinance?
Mr. Comitta agreed that private ownership is not ruled out by the proposed ordinance and can be considered.
Janet Baldwin: It appears the Township has lots of work to do. The Comprehensive Plan work is going well, but protecting historical properties needs to take place now as a first step and can’t wait for the completion of that process.
John Duckworth: You’re compromising ideals by allowing smaller lots. One problem is the effect of two adjacent but independently developed historic properties, which might provide a buffer for the resources but create two small lot clusters in the same general area. Look at the overall community and consider raising the minimum lot size to 3 acres and clustering down to 2.
Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission always considers a plan in relation to the adjoining properties and surroundings.
Marcia Solda: Feels ambivalent about the proposal, acknowledging the importance of protecting steep slopes and woodlands. Protection of properties from demolition is something else the Township needs to consider. She added that all historic property owners should be contacted with regard to this proposal.
Mrs. Ewald responded that all township residents were informed of tonight’s meeting.
Mr. Comitta explained some of the recent activities undertaken by the Township for investigating alternatives to development. Jim Neil gave a presentation to the Board some months ago on his methods used in Montgomery County, including conservation design and accelerated approval processes for larger lot subdivisions.
Mr. Comitta invited the public to come to the Comprehensive Plan worksessions held by the Planning Commission on the 4th Tuesday of each month at the Charlestown Elementary School at 7:30 P.M. Public participation is welcome.
Mr. Kuhn asked for a show of hands from the audience as to whether they felt the proposed ordinance was desirable. Response was evenly mixed.
Mr. Willig said these planning tools discussed tonight won’t work in all cases, but he’d like to move ahead with this proposal and consider other tools later. Mr. Kuhn said the proposal won’t solve the problem of how to preserve all open space but is a step in moving toward a solution.
Mrs. Ewald thanked the audience for their comments.
The proceeds were taken by William Hope Handy, Court Reporter. The hearing was continued to June 5, 2000.
The proceeds were taken by William Hope Handy, Court Reporter. The hearing was continued to June 5, 2000.
The proceeds were taken by William Hope Handy, Court Reporter. The hearing was continued to May 15, 2000.
Michael Honan, P.E. and Louis J. Colegreco, Esq. were present to request a decision from the Board on the vacating of a paper street in Whitehorse @ Charlestown between Lots 21 & 22, which will require an ordinance process to be initiated. Mr. Willig moved to schedule advertising of the ordinance hearing for May 15, 2000 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. She said the motion is subject to Rouse Chamberlin remitting payment of any outstanding invoices.
Mr. Rodgers moved to advertise an ordinance for May 15, 2000 reducing the speed limit on Union Hill and Rees Roads to 25 MPH and to place stop signs on each side of the Union Hill Road bridge, at the Tinkerhill Lane and Union Hill Road intersection, at the Rees and Howell Road intersection, and at the Great Woods Lane and Rees Road intersection. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion, and Mr. Kohli said he’ll have a traffic report prepared to support the placement of stop signs. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the public. Mr. Faggioli objected to stop signs at the Rees and Howell Road intersection and after some discussion, the Board agreed not to include them. Mr. Rodgers amended his motion accordingly. Mrs. Ewald called the vote and all were in favor.
The Board scheduled advertising of an ordinance to name private lanes for the Souder Subdivision for May 15, 2000, and an ordinance for on-site sewage disposal for June 5, 2000.
Vincent D’Annunzio, Vintage Development Company, was present to request the Board’s comments with regard to subdividing a 1 +/- acre portion off the 3 +/- acre Lot #10 in the Claremont Subdivision. The potential buyer for Lot #10 didn’t want responsibility for this portion of the lot, which is bisected by a connector easement to Chesterfield Lane. The Homeowners’ Association would take ownership of the 1-acre parcel. Mrs. Ewald was concerned that the newly created lot be deed restricted against further subdivision. Mr. Kohli said all the lots are deed restricted and that in addition to being restricted, this lot would not be in compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.
Mr. Oeste said the subdivision would create a common area for the development where there presently is none. His review of the Homeowners’ Association Covenants and Restrictions document indicates that this subdivision and creation of common area is permitted if a majority of property owners agree. Since the vote is weighted in favor of the developer on lots he retains, Mr. D’Annunzio presently has the majority vote.
Mr. Kohli suggested creating an easement off Lot #1 in the area containing the stormwater management basin and likewise placing it into the Homeowners’ Association common area. Mr. Oeste noted there would be little or no tax implications in doing so. Mrs. Ewald said she had no objection provided there is a permanent deed restriction on all common property. Mr. Philips expressed concerns over maintenance of these small common areas, one of which fronts Hollow Road.
Mr. Kohli referred to his review letter dated 5/1/00, where the only outstanding issue is waiting for a review letter from the Chester County Planning Commission. Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission was unanimous in recommending approval of the lot line change. Mr. Willig moved to approve the lot line change plan dated 4/20/00 for the McClure Property in the Rosewood Subdivision and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Escrow Release #3: Commons at Great Valley Lot #17
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Escrow Release #3 for the Commons at Great Valley Lot #17 in the amount of $30,425.50 and Mr. Willig 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. Rodgers moved to approve Escrow Release #3 for the Commons at Great Valley Lot #16 in the amount of $22,940.00 and Mr. Willig seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Board directed Mr. Kohli to write a letter to Polly Wood Jenkins informing her that the cul de sac will be repaved this spring and that she must move back a wall she constructed in the right of way as well as move her mailbox. Neighbors will also be notified.
Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 11:05 P.M. The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for May 8, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. at the Valley Forge Christian College.