MAY 8, 2000

The second business meeting for May was held May 8, 2000 at the Valley Forge Christian College, Building #11. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Kevin R. Kuhn, Paul J. Hogan, Michael J. Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, Leah J. Campion, Assistant Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.

Mrs. Ewald called the meeting to order at 7:40 P.M.


Mr. Rodgers announced that the spring road program to repair potholes is underway, using a special machine that fuses the materials. While initially more costly to rent and operate, this process will save money in the long run.

Mrs. Ewald announced that tomorrow is Vincent Kling’s 84th birthday and offered best wishes. She noted his many years of service to the Township while presently serving on the Planning Commission, and having served on both the Board of Supervisors and the Valley Forge Sewer Authority Board in the past.

Citizens’ Forum - Non-Agenda Items

No items were brought forward at this time.

Minutes of May 1, 2000

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of May 1, 2000 and Mr. Willig seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.

Old Business - None

New Business

Charlestown Hunt Issues

Mrs. Ewald explained to the Charlestown Hunt residents present that, as stated in the Board’s invitation letter, the purpose of tonight’s meeting is not to become involved with warranty issues between the developer and the homeowner but to provide a forum for an exchange of information. She asked the members of the audience to go row by row and introduce themselves and make their comments or ask questions. If the individual has a warranty issue, they could briefly state this fact.

  1. Laura Neumeister introduced herself as a member of the Homeowners Association Board for Charlestown Hunt. She said she’s happy to live in the Hunt and is trying to work with the developer, Realen Homes and the Mid-Atlantic Management Company.
  2. Brian Feddish introduced himself as the Secretary of the Homeowners Association Board and said he is present to listen this evening.
  3. Tony Matthias introduced himself as a member of the Homeowners Association Board, noted that he has a warranty issue, and said he is present to observe.
  4. Bill Cochran introduced himself as a member of the Homeowners Association Board and a two year resident of the Hunt. He said he is happy to be a resident. He asked for information on police protection and whether any tax dollars go to local enforcement, considering that Charlestown is served solely by the State Police.
  5. Mr. Kuhn explained that Charlestown Township doesn’t have its own police force, and he hopes this remains the case. At an estimated $75,000 to put one officer on the road, a full time police force with a police station, jail, and municipal manager would cost in excess of $1,000,000 to be supported by 1,400 households. He doesn’t believe this is cost justified when the State Police incident reports show that the majority of their calls in Charlestown are false alarms and minor matters. He noted that Charlestown has an active Townwatch program.

    Mrs. Ewald agreed that Charlestown is a very safe community. Last year, out of 880 calls, there were 300 false alarms (fire or burglar), 200 traffic accidents, and over 300 calls consisting primarily of minor reports such as lost and found pets, dead deer on roadways, sick animals to be disposed of, vandalism of unlocked cars, etc. The remaining 50-60 calls were of a more serious nature including runaways, domestic disputes or burglaries. Charlestown’s coverage by the State Police has a mutual aid component where back up is available from adjoining townships. Calls are prioritized, and those that are health, safety and welfare calls are responded to promptly. She said if the community wants to spend the money to have its own force, the Board will respond accordingly, but she hopes the information provided tonight is reassuring, adding that the State Police have the best training and investigative resources.

    A resident asked what they pay for police protection. Mrs. Ewald said the only cost to the residents is what they pay in state taxes. No township tax is levied for local protection. She noted that Charlestown Townwatch is a volunteer organization that can be supported through the United Way. She added that Charlestown does subscribe for fire and ambulance services that are paid for in annual contributions.

    Mr. Hogan related that some time ago, his wife reported an intruder on their property when he was out of town and within 15 minutes, there were 5 police cars and 6 officers on the scene, including response from the Schuylkill Township Police Department and the State Police.

    A resident asked where the State Police barracks are located, and Mrs. Ewald responded Embreville. She noted however, that the 9-1-1 dispatcher will send the nearest car, which is likely to be on patrol out of the barracks and closer than that location.

    A resident asked for information on Townwatch, and Mrs. Ewald gave the phone number, (610) 935-1111 and the contact name of Anna Wert.

    Resident Jim Fogerty said the 15 minute response time is comforting, as he heard otherwise. He asked if the Board has ever considered a compromise by hiring a neighboring police force part time, as is done between Avondale and Parkesburg. He is concerned that traffic laws and DUI checks aren’t routinely enforced. Mr. Rodgers responded that Charlestown is presently speaking with neighboring municipalities to look into the possibility of part time support and that proposals have been requested. Mrs. Ewald said revenue from vehicle violations is received by the Township twice a year, and reflect the fact that there is traffic law and DUI enforcement. She added that if the Township requests additional patrol services, they will cooperate.

    A resident asked if there is a regular patrol schedule in the Township. Mrs. Ewald responded that although there is no predictable schedule, they do patrol the Township. Another resident observed that the State Police themselves drive too fast in the Township.

  6. Allen Nelson introduced himself as a member of the Board of the Homeowners’ Association and that he is here to observe.
  7. John Feddish said the Township is beautiful and she’s interested in seeing the development of a Community Supported Agriculture Program.
  8. Bob Weits introduced himself as a realtor with ReMax who is present upon the request of a Hunt resident he represents who is very unhappy due to warranty issues.
  9. Judy DiCampli introduced herself as a representative from Mid-Atlantic Management who is present to observe.
  10. Gail Van Dyke introduced herself as a representative from Mid-Atlantic Management who is also present to observe.
  11. Woody and Phyllis Kromer have been residents of Chester County since 1962, and Mr. Kromer stated he’d like to see Charlestown Township stay just as it is.
  12. Barbara Feather said she’s been a resident at the Hunt since 1996 and has some warranty issues. She enjoys the people she’s met here and enjoys living in the Township. Ms. Feather said she is involved with publishing the Hunt newsletter.
  13. Andy Viscuso said he’s been a Charlestown Township resident for 43 years and has served as auditor and is presently Tax Collector. He asked his fellow Hunt residents to avoid divisive remarks this evening, urged them to take warranty issues to the builder and discuss only public improvement areas of the development with the Supervisors.
  14. Chris Merrill introduced himself as a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  15. Joe Mieloch asked why the water retention basins contain excess water and whether there is a code for a certain percolation rate to ensure that water doesn’t stagnate.

    Mr. Kohli responded that the detention basins are currently designed as temporary structures which serve a different purpose during construction phases than they will when the subdivision plan is completely built out. Drainage pipes have very small perforations to prevent them from getting clogged with sediment. Presently the basins control both water run off and sedimentation. This is a requirement of the NPDES permitting process, which is inspected regularly. After construction is completed in the section of each basin, that basin will be cleaned out and re-graded. Vegetation will be established. Higher elevation basins will be finalized before the lower ones are in each section. The temporary system is required until 75-80% of the area is established with vegetation. The permanent system will not hold water for any length of time. Mr. Mieloch asked when the basin in his older section would be finalized, and Mr. Kohli responded that it should be completed later this year.

  16. Frank Clancy said he likes the Township very much and the Supervisors are doing a fine job as are the Hunt’s elected representatives. He agrees with Mr. Viscuso that residents with developer issues should go through the system. He stated he has some concerns with landscaping.
  17. Mr. Kohli said the landscaping, along with the curbs, sidewalks and roads, have not been inspected yet. They must all pass inspection by complying with the approved plan. A representative from Thomas Comitta Associates will walk through and inspect the landscaping, and Mr. Kohli will inspect the other improvements. Funds are held in escrow that won’t be released until all items are satisfactory. Mr. Kuhn suggested that residents communicate any public improvement concerns to the Township office.

    Ms. Neumeister said the Homeowners Association Board has scheduled a 9 A.M. walk through with Craig Sullivan of Realen Homes this Saturday May 13th at which time they’ll examine the trails. A resident asked if any representatives of the Township would be there. Mr. Kohli responded no, he and Mr. Comitta will do their inspections after the grading work is completed. In the meantime, residents may report any items of concern and they will be noted at inspection time. He stressed that the final design must comply with the approved drawings.

    A resident said the area between Sycamore Lane and Windy Hollow washes out regularly with every rainstorm. Mr. Kohli said he’ll check into the grading of this area.

    Mr. Matthias asked about the escrow release process. Mr. Kohli said the approval of an escrow release is predicated on the inspection of specifically enumerated items related to a particular phase of the development.

  18. A resident asked what will happen if there are problems after Realen has completed all work. Mr. Kohli said that once all the public areas are dedicated to the Homeowners’ Association, the Association will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining these areas. Mr. Willig stressed that the Township won’t accept any sign-offs from Realen until everything is satisfactory. Mr. Nelson of the Homeowners’ Association Board assured the residents they will also watch very carefully. Mr. Cochran of the Association Board suggested that residents bring their inquiries to them so the Association can in turn present them to the Township in an orderly fashion. He asked residents to communicate with the Association on their areas of concern. Mr. Kohli said when the Township performs its final walk throughs, the Association representatives will be invited.
  19. Rose Trigiani asked if there are any plans for improvement of the Route 29 & Phoenixville Pike intersection, where backups occur daily at peak hours.
  20. Mr. Kohli said the Township currently has an application on file with PennDOT seeking approval for signalization, with left and right turning lanes where needed, at four intersections, including:

    Route 29 and Yellow Springs Road
    Route 29 and Warner Lane
    Phoenixville Pike and Warner Lane
    Route 29 and Whitehorse Road

    These four intersections will be improved by a developer who has preliminary plan approval for a business park on Whitehorse Road at the Spring Oaks Farm parcel. The plan includes re-opening Warner Road from Route 29 to Phoenixville Pike to provide a cut-through that avoids the main intersection.

    There will also be a major improvement of the existing Route 29 and Phoenixville Pike intersection, with left and right turning lanes in all directions. This improvement is being undertaken by the Township. A highway occupancy permit is required from PennDOT before proceeding, and it is presently under review.

    Mr. Kohli said the improvement of the existing signalized intersection will take place first. When the four new signals are installed, their timings will be coordinated with it.

    Mrs. DiCampli asked about improvements for Route 29 and Pothouse Road, and for Creek Road. Mr. Kohli responded that both Pothouse and Creek Road are in Schuylkill Township.

    Mrs. Ewald said there is also the threat of a Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange off Route 29. Mr. Kuhn added that the Trammell Crow plans are also a great concern. He said Trammel Crow is currently in the approval process with East Whiteland and Tredyffrin Townships for a 2 million square foot corporate center located at the Warner Quarry site, which is 2/3 the size of the Great Valley Corporate Center. Mr. Kuhn explained that the Pa. Turnpike Commission is proposing an E-Z access electronic interchange in the area of the Charlestown Saloon on Route 29. The Turnpike Commission has made three proposed sketches and has put together a Citizens’ Advisory Committee which is comprised of representatives from local townships (including Charlestown), businesses and other organizations. The next meeting of the Committee will be held at the Desmond Hotel on Route 29 at 7 P.M. on May 10th. The public is invited but is not permitted to speak.

    Mr. Kuhn said the Township currently has a lawsuit pending against the Turnpike Commission asserting that the Commission is required to prove the need for the interchange and conduct the proceedings in public hearings. Mr. Willig added that a third assertion is that the Turnpike Commission cannot construct an interchange without legislative action. The Township Solicitor has requested a Declaratory Judgment in this matter.

    Mr. Fogerty asked about the bridges on Route 29. Mr. Kohli explained that the Ice Dam Bridge, located between the Route 29 & Phoenixville Pike intersection and the entrance to Charlestown Hunt, is scheduled for replacement later this year. Mrs. Ewald provided some history of the ice dam, which was used earlier in the 1900’s to harvest ice for sale in Philadelphia. Mr. Fogerty suggested stop signs at each side of another bridge further north on Route 29 that is a one lane bridge causing dangerous conditions due to the speed of traffic that approaches it from both directions. Another resident asked why this bridge can’t be replaced with a wider one at the same time the ice dam bridge construction takes place. He sees the quarry trucks, which routinely speed, meeting with passing school buses as a dangerous combination. Mrs. Ewald said the one lane bridge serves to slow down traffic, and she feels a wider bridge would increase speed on the road.

  21. Ed Higgins said he’s a 5 month resident of Charlestown Hunt and has a few warranty issues. He said that within the development, cars from the single family homes speed, and suggested posting speed limit signs.
  22. Jim Fogerty said he loves the area and Charlestown is a great place to live. His townhouse at the Hunt is his first owned home and he unfortunately has a great many warranty issues with Realen. His greatest concern is that he’s aware some people have already moved out of the Hunt due to problems they felt unable to resolve. He knows he’s not alone in his complaints and he’s met 25-30 others with similar problems. He asked what the Supervisors can do to force Realen to address warranty issues and public issues now that they’re in the final phases of development.
  23. Mr. Oeste said the Township is presently under two agreements with Realen Homes that cover public and quasi-public improvements such as the stormwater basins, trails, and roads. Realen is required to build in accordance with the approved plan and to use sound engineering practices. The agreements don’t cover individual housing units and there is no escrow in place for this, nor is there any legal mechanism to provide for one. He stressed that the Township has no authorization by law to involve itself in warranty issues. The Township does, however, hold funds in escrow until all public and quasi-public improvements are completed. Some of these funds are released as sections of the project are completed. The Township will continue to hold back moneys until Mr. Kohli advises the Board of Supervisors that the project has been completed satisfactorily. Individual home construction concerns are between the home owner and Realen Homes. Mr. Oeste said the Township must abide by its two agreements with Realen and is obligated to release the funds upon completion and favorable inspection. Mr. Kohli said the escrow funds are 110% of the cost of the construction. The last 10% is never released until the time of final dedication. In the situation of Charlestown Hunt, some improvements are dedicated to the Township, others to the Homeowner’s Association. Following the release of the remaining 10%, the developer must post a bond to be held for eighteen months in the event any issues arise.

  24. A resident of Lewisville Court said he’s been living at the Hunt for 6 months and likes it very much, noting traffic concerns and some warranty issues.
  25. Anita LaBarge asked if the roads will be dedicated to the Township and whether street lights can be provided. She also asked when the Township consultants would undertake their walk throughs.
  26. Mr. Kohli said the main roads will be dedicated to the Township, but the courts will belong to the Homeowners’ Association. Mrs. Ewald said Charlestown Township in general doesn’t have street lights. Of the two existing lights, one is at the entrance to Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Kohli said that Phase IV, which is the remaining section of the single family units and some townhouses, will be ready for inspection this fall for the singles, and early in 2001 for the townhouses.

    Mrs. LaBarge asked about the old issue of constructing a baby pool, stating she has plans that show one. Mr. Kohli said the final recorded approved plan does not show a baby pool. Mr. Kuhn said numerous plans were generated through the years but the one the Township must abide by is the recorded plan.

  27. Dave Towaga asked about the final plan for the ballfield. He asked what areas have been turned over.
  28. Mr. Kohli said a portion of the recreational facilities have been turned over, but none of the trails have been turned over yet.

    Mr. Towaga said he’s had a difficult time getting warranty issues fixed by the builder. He asked if this will be a problem in the public areas, noting that the tot lot has no fence protecting children from the road. Speed in the development is a problem. Mr. Kohli said that once the roads are accepted for dedication the Township can post speed limits as low as 25 MPH after conducting a study.

  29. Jackie Wyman said she’s happy at the Hunt but is concerned about the status of traffic restrictions on Union Hill Road as discussed previously by the Supervisors.
  30. Mrs. Ewald said the Township is presently conducting a traffic survey of its citizens and distributed copies to those who hadn’t received one.

    Ms. Wyman asked for an explanation of the Route 29 curve that shows a 35 MPH sign with a 45 MPH sign 5 feet later. Mr. Rodgers explained that the 35 MPH sign is a cautionary sign for the curve and is not the posted speed limit, which is required to be posted at specific intervals along the road. He said the Township can request that PennDOT perform a speed limit study of this section to see if the speed limit can be reduced.

    Mrs. Wyman asked if Charlestown Township can put pressure on Schuylkill Township to expedite the completion and re-opening of the Creek Road Bridge. Mrs. Ewald said this is a county bridge and suggested residents call the County Commissioners.

  31. Mila Nicholson said she has warranty issues with Realen. She asked how much money is left in the escrow fund. Mrs. Ewald asked the Township Secretary-Treasurer to provide this information, which will require some research.
  32. Ms. Nicholson asked if there are detour plans for traffic when Route 29 is closed for the bridge repair. Mrs. Ewald said PennDOT is obliged to provided detours on state roads only, and will notify the Township of its detour plan when the project is ready to begin.

    Ms. Nicholson asked if a temporary traffic light can be constructed at Route 29 and Buckwalter Road. Mr. Oeste said the Township can ask but it’s extremely unlikely that PennDOT would consider it.

  33. A resident of Lewisville Court asked if there are restrictions against businesses in the Township.
  34. Mr. Kohli explained that there are home occupation provisions in the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Oeste explained that the ordinance requires a conditional use hearing and formal approval from the township in order to conduct a home business. The resident said a neighbor is conducting a catering business out of his home. Mrs. Ewald noted that Charlestown Hunt residents are further restricted according to their Homeowners’ Association documents. She suggested the resident report the business to Mr. Kohli, as Zoning Officer.

  35. Carla Griffith said she had warranty issues but that they have been addressed. Her concerns are in the public areas for landscaping and general site clean up. She said there is some talk in the community of a lawsuit against Realen Homes and said the residents should be urged to resolve their differences with the developer by going through channels instead. All reasonable means should be exhausted before considering legal options.
  36. Mr. Towaga agreed that some individuals in the Hunt’s chat group have made childish remarks but says their experiences may vary from others. He said he is unsatisfied with the performance of the Mid-Atlantic Management group, particularly citing an instance where a homeowner received a threatening letter from the group warning him to stop his criticisms or face legal action.

    Gail Van Dyke, Mid-Atlantic Management, said she wished to clarify this issue. The individual had placed slanderous, libelous information on the Hunt’s web page. Without checking sources, he claimed Mid-Atlantic had been fired as managers of another community due to misappropriation of funds, and in another community failed to report dangerous conditions to the developer. She requested in her letter to the individual that his comments be rescinded. Mid-Atlantic Management chose to respond privately to the person even though they were publicly slandered.

    Mr. Towaga said he doesn’t like Ms. Van Dyke’s attitude, calling her confrontational and reminding her Mid-Atlantic works for the homeowners of the Hunt. He said the homeowners have issues with Mid-Atlantic. Ms. Neumeister said the Homeowners Association Board requested that Mid-Atlantic attend this evening.

    Mr. Towaga said when he reported a dangerous situation of children climbing the retaining wall and sitting at the top to look into the pool area that Ms. Van Dyke’s response was that parents are responsible for their children. Nothing was done. Mrs. LaBarge agreed that the wall is a dangerous situation, and that more than one property owner in the Hunt has issues with Mid-Atlantic.

    Ms. Neumeister said the Homeowners’ Association is comprised of a 5 member volunteer board that needs help and support from all the residents. She encouraged residents to notify the Board of their problems so they in turn can work with Mid-Atlantic. She said Mid-Atlantic has a contract with them, and some of their problems and complaints may be outside the purview of this contract. The association board needs to sort these issues out.

    Mr. Kuhn strongly urged the Hunt residents to communicate more fully with their association board and do so in writing in order to provide a paper trail.

Mrs. Ewald thanked the residents for attending this evening’s meeting.

Other Business

Bridge Building

Mr. Hogan invited any interested residents to join him any Saturday morning in May at 9:00 A.M. where a community effort is taking place to rebuild the foot bridge on Miss Betty’s property on Pickering Road following the former 36 year old bridge’s demise due to Hurricane Floyd in October 1999. During the summer, Miss Betty holds a 6-week summer camp and the bridge is used by hundreds of children.

Introduction of Board Members

Since many members of the audience were relatively new residents of the Township and many were first time attendees of the township meetings, Mrs. Ewald provided an introduction for each of the Board members with a summary of their backgrounds and experience.

Ordinance Increasing Number of Members of the Charlestown Township Planning Commission

Mrs. Ewald read the duly advertised proposed ordinance to increase the number of members of the Planning Commission from 7 to 8 in its entirety. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Ordinance #84-2000 as written and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the Board. Mr. Willig said he hopes this is the last piece of business to deal with relating to the Robert Jones appointment issue. Mrs. Ewald explained to the public that out of respect for the Court, which is hearing a dispute on Robert Jones’ 1999 appointment to the Planning Commission, that seat will be kept vacant until the Court renders a decision. The seat will be permanently vacated if the Court rules in the Township’s favor. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Oeste if a hearing date has been set, and Mr. Oeste responded no, because he and the opposing counsel are trying to agree on facts prior to the hearing in order to avoid the need to take depositions. Mr. Kuhn asked if there is any risk to the Township in doing nothing at this time. Mr. Oeste responded no, only that the Planning Commission will be short handed. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Planning Commission wished for the increase to 8 members, and Mrs. Ewald said they recommended it. Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the public, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Appointment to the Charlestown Township Planning Commission

Mrs. Ewald opened the floor to nominations for the new 8th seat on the Planning Commission, for which the term expires on 12/31/2001. She said the Planning Commission conducted interviews and recommended the appointment of Wendy Leland. Mr. Oeste said the appointment will take effect as of the effective date of the ordinance, which is May 13, 2000. Mr. Kuhn nominated Wendy Leland to the Planning Commission, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald asked if there were any other nominations, and there being none, the nominations were closed. Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the Board and then the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.

Burch Subdivision Agreements

Mr. Oeste stated that he has prepared the standard Subdivision and Land Development Agreement and Subdivision Escrow Agreement for Al Emma, the developer and equitable owner of the J. Christopher Burch property which received final subdivision approval in August 1999. With regard to the Subdivision Escrow Agreement, a tri-party agreement between Mr. Emma, the Township, and the Escrow Agent, he said the bank agreed to the standard format with one slight change that is not adverse to the Township. Mr. Emma agreed to both documents as drafted. Mr. Kohli prepared the cost estimates, which Mr. Oeste incorporated into the agreement. Mrs. Ewald said that as a matter of policy, she wants an opportunity to review any document submissions before approval and signing, and although this situation is routine, preferred to table action to May 15, 2000 to allow the Board time for this review.


Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 9:50 P.M. and announced that the Board would meet in executive session immediately following the adjournment to discuss personnel matters. The next regular business meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for May 15, 2000 at 7:30 P.M. at the Valley Forge Christian College.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Csete Township Secretary