Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of November 6, 2000

The first business meeting for November was held November 6, 2000 at the Great Valley Middle School. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Ed Theurkauf, Planner, Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary and those on the attached list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M.


Mr. Kuhn announced that Blackberry Lane has been paved and that it was an excellent job. Mr. Rodgers noted that the project came in under budget largely due to the Roadmaster’s efforts in mapping and measuring the road. Mr. Faggioli was commended for his efforts.

Mr. Hogan announced that the Board held interviews for positions on the Parks and Recreation Board just prior to tonight’s meeting. He recommended that both candidates be appointed. Mr. Hogan moved to appoint Louise Cantrell-Kehoe and Marge Crawford to the Parks and Recreation Board, for terms coinciding with the expirations of the two vacant terms. Mr. Rodgers seconded the motion, and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the Public. Mr. Hogan thanked the candidates for their interest. Mrs. Ewald called the vote and all were in favor.

Mrs. Ewald announced that she and Mr. Hogan met Ernie Pyle at the Pyle farmhouse, where the location of utilities were pointed out and videotaped for the township records.

Citizens’ Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Traffic Congestion

Paul Schulze, 3451 Wells Road, asked what the Board could do to mitigate the growing traffic problems in the township, recently exacerbated by the unplanned Route 29 Bridge closing. He said a traffic signal is needed at Phoenixville Pike and Yellow Springs Road, and the timing should be changed at the Phoenixville Pike/Route 29 & Charlestown Road intersection. He asked the Board to exercise its political leadership and get a response from Harrisburg and PennDOT.

Mr. Kuhn responded that he has mixed feelings on traffic control, as past history shows road improvements creating an upward spiral of congestion. He said many of the busiest roads in the Township are state roads over which the Board has no control. When PennDOT creates a detour, they are required to post official detours on other state roads. He said the Board has investigated controls for traffic on Union Hill and Rees Roads after undertaking an independent traffic study which showed that 50% of the traffic on Route 29 is cutting through these smaller roads. He’d like to have all traffic go through the Route 29 & Charlestown Road intersection in order to provide accurate counts to the Turnpike Commission, which is not taking all traffic into consideration with the proposed slip ramp. He said the Board has met with neighboring townships to discuss regional traffic problems.

Mrs. Ewald said some steps the Township has taken to calm traffic are:

Gaining PennDOT approval to install a 4-way stop at Union Hill/Rees Roads and Whitehorse Road, which slows traffic approaching the intersection over blind vertical curves;

Gaining PennDOT approval to install a traffic signal at Route 401 and Valley Hill Road;

Gaining PennDOT approval to install a 4-way stop at Route 401 and Newcomen Road with advance warning beacons. She noted that PennDOT is unwilling to install a signal at this intersection until road improvements are made, making stop signs the only option at this time.

Bill Fulton, Director of the Chester County Planning Commission, is working with Charlestown Township and neighboring Townships to collect induced traffic data.

Supervisors Minutes 11/6/00

Rep. Carole Rubley has been in contact with Harrisburg and PennDOT with regard to issues on Coldstream Road.

Mrs. Ewald said the improvements on Route 401 should be made within the next few months after the bidding process is completed. She added that some of the traffic increase in Charlestown is due to detours from state roads such as Ship Road and Swedesford Road, as well as roads in West Pikeland. These roads are expected to open soon.

Mr. Hogan explained that improvements are in process along Route 29, including the re-opening of Warner Lane. He said he supports mass transit programs and says the business community should provide incentives for carpooling as well. They should share the responsibility for the traffic they create.

Mr. Kohli gave an explanation of the signalization plan for Yellow Springs Road, Warner Lane, and Whitehorse Road along Route 29 now under review by PennDOT. It will be a closed loop plan all the way to Route 30 in East Whiteland Township. A developer is responsible for these upgrades; however, if they don’t move forward, the Township will undertake at least the signal improvement to the Route 29 and Charlestown Road intersection. He added that the corporate development being planned for the Cedar Hollow Quarry property, located in East Whiteland and Tredyffrin Townships and proposing 2.5 million square feet of office space, will require the expansion of Yellow Springs Road leading to the corporate center to 4 lanes. He added that the Turnpike Commission is ready to begin two bridge widening projects in Charlestown, one to the bridge over Route 29 and the other over Phoenixville Pike where Chuck’s Wagon is located. This will be done in the Spring/Summer of 2001 in order to accommodate a future 4 lanes on these two roads.

Yellow Springs Road off Phoenixville Pike

Chester Rusnick, 101 Longwood Court, asked if the intersection at Yellow Springs Road and Phoenixville Pike is Charlestown’s responsibility, noting that the pavement is separating in this area. He would also like to see this intersection signalized. He said that yellow line striping is needed on Yellow Springs Road. Mrs. Ewald responded that the intersection itself is located in East Whiteland Township. The Iacobucci Organization placed escrow funds for signalization of this intersection during the planning stages for Charlestown Oaks. The East Whiteland Police Department is currently reviewing the traffic at this intersection, and she recommended that concerned residents send their comments to East Whiteland for their consideration.

Turnpike Slip Ramp

Louise Cantrell-Kehoe gave some background on the Turnpike’s investigation of constructing a slip ramp to bring traffic on and off the turnpike from Route 29. She urged residents to check the Citizens’ Web Site for more information and to get involved with the residents’ committee to oppose the project. She also urged them to write to their state representatives.

Truck Traffic

Suzanne Carr, 2240 Bodine Road, complained of heavy truck traffic on Bodine, Valley Hill, Foster, and Seven Oaks Roads, traveling at high speeds and creating noise disturbances. Mrs. Ewald said the State Police could ticket speeders on these roads. Seven Oaks Road is the responsibility of West Pikeland Township, and a request can be made to them to consider a no truck traffic restriction. Foster and Valley Hill Roads are state roads in Charlestown Township, over which the Board has no power to restrict truck traffic. Mr. Rodgers said he’d speak with officials at West Pikeland Township about Seven Oaks Road.

Charlestown Oaks Concerns

A number of residents were in attendance from the Charlestown Oaks subdivision. Frank Iacobucci, Jr. of the Iacobucci Organization, which developed the community, was on hand to respond to questions and concerns.

Comments included:

  1. A Resident said the streetlights have been in place for six weeks. When will they be lit? Mr. Iacobucci said PECO is three to four weeks away from energizing the lights. He said he would try to expedite the process with them. Mr. Kohli said he would also contact PECO.
  2. Sheri Balut, 101 Elizabeth Court, complained of mail delivery problems due to uninstalled mailboxes and also complained about the landscaping of the development. Mr. Iacobucci explained that the overall final plan is being modified and that a large number of 3 to 6@ caliper trees have yet to be planted.
  3. Brian Grub, Elizabeth Court, complained of the sidewalks and parking to be installed. Mr. Iacobucci offered to meet with residents on the site, saying that he would be unable to address all concerns this evening.
  4. A Resident complained that there is no sidewalk along Yellow Springs Road connecting the two entry roads into Charlestown Oaks. Mr. Kohli stated that no sidewalk is required according to the final plan. Mrs. Ewald said there are no sidewalks along any township roads in Charlestown.
  5. A Resident complained that too many trees were removed from the site during construction. Mr. Iacobucci said that 100 of the 140-acre site has been preserved as open space. Tree removal in the remaining 40 acres is an unavoidable part of the construction process, and they saved as many of the largest trees as possible.
  6. A Resident complained of a tree that remained that should have been removed for safety reasons.

Since these matters were largely issues between Charlestown Oaks residents and the builder, Mrs. Ewald suggested the group separate from the Board meeting and use a separate room in the building to discuss their concerns directly with the developer. They did move to another area and spent over an hour in discussions with Mr. Iacobucci.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the October 30, 2000 minutes as written, and Mr. Rodgers 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.


Treasurers’ Report October 1 - 31, 2000

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurers’ Report for October 1 - 31, 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.

Accounts Payable November 6, 2000

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for November 6, 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.

Zoning Officer

Mr. Kohli said he just received the traffic signalization permit for the intersection of Route 401 and Valley Hill Road. He will work on the specs, recommending that they include mast arms instead of the temporary span wire signals that PennDOT will allow as a fast track measure. He believes that enough contractors have the appropriate mast arms in stock that this won’t delay the project and requiring it up front will eliminate the cost of doing a temporary measure before the final upgrade. When the specs are prepared, he’ll coordinate advertising with the Township Secretary.

Mrs. Ewald asked if a building permit is on file for a Church Road property where a house is being built on a property with another existing house. Mr. Kohli responded yes, the existing house will be demolished when the new one is completed.

Planning Commission

Mr. Philips reported that the Planning Commission is continuing work on the comprehensive plan, and will meet at Tom Comitta’s office on November 28, 2000 from 6:00-10:00 P.M. to review best and worst case development scenarios.

Mr. Philips asked the Board for input on the sketch plan submitted for the 30+-acre Dixon property on Pikeland Road. The Planning Commission recommends considering a revision to the Open Space Option to include properties adjacent to qualifying properties. The Dixon property has some sensitive areas, which they believe would be better served by using a cluster design. He said the developer is anxious to move forward and won’t consider anything but a by-right plan if there is no indication from the Board that they’ll consider this option. A poll of the Board indicated that Mrs. Ewald is vigorously opposed to any amendment to the Ordinance to expand the Open Space Option, which she defined as downzoning. Mr. Kuhn disagreed that it constitutes downzoning, and he, Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hogan were in favor. Mr. Willig stated that he was in favor following some additional discussion. Mrs. Ewald preferred negotiating with the developer for a sensitive plan that follows the existing ordinance. Mr. Kuhn asked if a waiver would suffice in lieu of an ordinance amendment, but Mr. Oeste said zoning requirements can’t be waived as those in the SLDO can.

Mrs. Ewald said open space must be functional and meaningful, by integrating into something else, such as individual property, parks, trails, etc. She gave Whitehorse @ Charlestown as an example of a development that integrated open space into private ownership, although a conservancy option was initially explored. Three Ponds is another development where the open space is in slopes on the outside of the homes but integrates into the individual lots. She notes that at Hollow Run Farms, the homeowners don’t utilize the open space in this cluster plan approved under a previous cluster ordinance provision since removed from the Zoning Ordinance. She pointed out that at the Somerset development, a landowner wanted to remove 1 acre from his property and transfer it to the Township for open space rather than have the responsibility of maintaining it himself. Mr. Philips disagreed with her view of open space, saying he wouldn’t include privately owned open space in a definition of functional and meaningful open space. He said that connecting public open space to other usable space is one of the strategies being worked out with the comprehensive plan revisions.

Mrs. Ewald said that on-site sewer and water would be difficult to handle if the houses were close together. Mr. Philips responded that if the soils don’t allow it, it wouldn’t occur. Mr. Kuhn said he doesn’t want to see chunks of land doing nothing. He feels that considering the open space option for the Dixon property would provide an opportunity to do a better planning job.

Mrs. Behrle referred to a presentation made by Mr. Comitta about 6 months ago at the Valley Forge Christian College, which showed how the Township looks today and how it could have looked if pro-active measures were taken 25 years ago. She said that creating 2 acre front yards isn’t saving open space. Developers keep coming in and the Township isn’t becoming what the residents expect. She asked that the Board consider the preservation of open space a priority.

Mr. Theurkauf said that by-right plans often yield a less than desirable result with uniform tracts and housing that is broken up only by the land’s natural constraints.

Mr. Philips thanked the Board members for their input, and will communicate with the Dixon developer that the majority of Board members are willing to consider an alternative to a by-right plan.

Historical Commission

Mrs. Baldwin stated that her report is on file. The Commission plans to set up a lending library at the Rapp House that contains books about the care of historic buildings. The Commission plans to obtain a bronze marker for the Kennedy grave in the historic Revolutionary War Cemetery. The Commissions request permission from the Board to meet at the Township office during the upcoming winter months due to the lack of electricity at the Rapp House. The Board agreed to their request.

Mrs. Baldwin asked for the status of the Spring Lane Farms property, and Mr. Philips responded that the developer has it up for sale.

Mrs. Baldwin distributed copies to the Board of Vol. 13 of the Tredyffrin Easttown History Club Quarterly, which features the Devault Beaver House on Warner Lane in Charlestown.


Mr. Faggioli reported that he and Mr. Rodgers met with Bill Tritle with regard to potential improvements to Coldstream Road. He said PennDOT is unwilling to eliminate the curve on Coldstream Road as it serves to slow traffic. Mrs. Ewald added that Rep. Carole Rubley has been in contact with PennDOT with regard to removing the dangerous bike trail along the road.

Mr. Faggioli said PennDOT has been working on the shoulders of Hollow Road, and that he believes the Township should take this road back from the state after the improvements are completed.

With regard to the timing of the traffic signal at Charlestown Road and Route 29, Mr. Faggioli said he suggested to Mr. Tritle that a lengthy green light in each direction would serve to move cars through more efficiently. Mr. Tritle agreed to look into it.

Mrs. Ewald asked the Roadmaster to perform road sweeping on selected roads in the Township that are covered with leaves. Mr. Faggioli responded that a road vacuum sweeper doesn’t do this job well and that a backhoe/loader would be needed. He estimates that this would cost as much as $1,700 per day and that Charlestown Township, as other 2nd Class Townships, doesn’t do leaf collection. Mrs. Ewald said it’s needed on a few roads and that they were done in the past. Mr. Faggioli agreed that this was done on Pine Drive, Tinkerhill Road and a few others some years ago, but at a high cost for several days’ work. Mr. Kuhn asked about cleaning at the water inlets, and Mr. Faggioli agreed that this is necessary, but is done by hand. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Township has any liability if it doesn’t remove leaves from the roadways and Mr. Oeste responded it is doubtful. Mrs. Ewald asked the Roadmaster to look into the price of vacuum sweeping, and Mr. Faggioli agreed to do so. He said a different piece of equipment that blows leaves and debris into a truck is more suitable, adding that this item should have been included in the contract if leaf collection was going to take place.

Mr. Faggioli said the paving on Newcomen Road will begin next week. The no outlet sign at Tinkerhill Lane near Union Hill will be replaced, as it needs a new bottom plate. He noted that street signs continue to disappear, including signs at Merlin and Foster Roads, which disappeared shortly after their last replacement. He suggests gluing lettering of the street names vertically down the posts as well as replacing the signs themselves so roads can be identified even if the sign itself is stolen. Per the Board’s request, a no outlet sign will be erected at the entrance to Charlestown Hunt, as residents have noted a great deal of traffic from commuters cut off from the bridge closing trying to find an alternate route. The shed ordered for the Township yard is ready, and Mr. Faggioli will arrange for the new road contractor to lay a gravel base for it.

Ellen Behrle said the wooden private lane signs throughout the Township are becoming difficult to read and that emergency vehicles would have difficulty finding them. Several options for improving these signs were discussed, including organizing an Eagle Scout project to repaint them or using it as fill-in work for the road contractor.

Fire Marshal/EOC

Mr. Alston reported one automatic alarm, two vehicle fires, one fuel spill and six vehicle accidents during the month of October. He conducted several routine inspections and patrolled with Townwatch for Halloween. He announced that Swedesford Road has been reopened and may diminish some of the problem traffic in the Charlestown area.

Mr. Kuhn asked for the status of the fire ordinance, and Mr. Oeste said he is working on a re-draft at present.

Parks and Recreation Board

Mr. Theurkauf said aerial photos were received from the Pickering Hunt Club, which show existing trails in the Township. They’ll be combined with other data to develop a township wide trails map.

Mr. Hogan said he has yet to receive a response to his letter to the Renaissance School regarding their use of the Township Park facilities.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority

Bill Hochwind reported that the Joint Board met on October 26, 2000 and discussed the regional 537 Plan draft. The 6-member VFSA board will soon distribute it to member municipalities for their review.

Mr. Hochwind stated that the plant re-rate project is expected to be completed by February 2001 after some initial delays in May-June of this year. He said that the silo project planned in Schuylkill Township has been put on hold, as it may now be unnecessary since they’ll be able to continue hauling solid waste as in the past. He said the VFSA has acquired the 36-acre McEvoy parcel by condemnation, and that it is now in appeal by the landowner. The 2001 Budget is being prepared and is similar to the past two years except for an additional project to rewire the electric going to the tanks.

Turnpike Commission CAC

Sue Staas reported that the next meeting of the Advisory Committee will be held on November 21, 2000 at the Desmond at 7:30 PM. She said observers are welcome and that Charlestown has been good about sending several representatives to each meeting. She felt the recent meeting with Bill Fulton of the County Planning Commission, Charlestown and adjacent townships was productive. She was pleased that the Charlestown Board has expressed willingness to meet again in a few months. She noted that Tredyffrin Township seemed more supportive of Charlestown’s concerns and cautious of the implications of a slip ramp than was expected. She said minutes of this meeting will be distributed soon.

Old Business

Addendum to Purchase and Sale Agreement

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve and sign the Addendum to Purchase and Sale Agreement for the 55 acre Pyle tract on Yellow Springs Road, which amends the Purchase and Sale Agreement dated 8/21/00. Mr. Willig seconded. The amendment is needed to change the closing and settlement of the sale and the purchase to take place on or before Monday, December 4, 2000. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, the vote was called and all were in favor.

Pyle Farm Park - Transition Agreement

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve and sign the Lease between the Township and Ernie and Marian Pyle and Mr. Rodgers seconded. The lease expires March 1, 2001. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, the vote was called and all were in favor.

C.C.A.T.O. Convention - November 16, 2000

Mr. Willig and Mr. Rodgers said they plan to attend. The Secretary will make reservations.

Visions Partnership - Revised Agreement

Mr. Theurkauf provided some background on the revisions discussed by Tom Comitta with the County Planning Commission in order to allow the Township to be eligible for funding for the update of the comprehensive plan. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve and sign the Visions Partnership Planning Grant Program Grant Application Form showing an estimated start date of 11/14/00 and completion date of 6/4/01 for the comprehensive plan update 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.

2000-2001 Road Contract Awards: Snow Removal and Paving

Mr. Rodgers referenced his memo to the Board dated 11/6/00 in which he states two of the four bidders were qualified. He recommended awarding the paving and snow removal contract to Melchoirre Construction, which is the lower bidder at $265,000 as compared to Tommy’s Paving at $335,815. He further recommended removing the mowing and tree work items from the Melchoirre bid and re-bidding those as separate contracts at a later date. Mrs. Behrle asked why two bidders were disqualified, and Mr. Rodgers said it was because they didn’t bid on many of the required items. Mrs. Ewald asked the Roadmaster if he agreed with Mr. Rodgers’ recommendation and he responded yes. Mrs. Ewald moved to award the snow removal and paving contract for the period of November 1, 2000-October 31, 2001 to Melchoirre Construction Co, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for further discussion from the Board and then the public. There being none, the vote was called and all were in favor.

Mrs. Behrle stated that she disagrees with the Township’s nepotism clause, pointing out that by eliminating Delaware Valley Paving and others from bidding, the taxpayers will be paying a much higher price for road maintenance. She noted that the qualifying low bidder is approximately $80,000 higher than the low bidder last year, which was Delaware Valley Paving. She also disagreed with breaking up the mowing and tree work into separate contracts, believing this will increase costs. Mrs. Ewald asked if these views were Mrs. Behrle’s personal views or those of her employer, and Mrs. Behrle responded that they are her opinions as a taxpayer.

New Business

Charlestown Oaks - Minor Plan Revision

Mr. Kohli stated that the extension of the cul de sac proposed in the revision was reviewed and recommended by the Planning Commission, and that he is working with the applicant on the outstanding items. The matter isn’t ready for action at this time, and Mr. Iacobucci was asked to grant the Board an extension to the decision deadline of 11/16/00. Mr. Iacobucci agreed to an extension to December 4, 2000. Mrs. Ewald stated several Board members have questions on the plan but will first field them through their consultants. Mrs. Ewald requested an update on the Charlestown Oaks residents’ concerns in a few weeks, and Mr. Iacobucci agreed to do so.

Emma - Escrow Release #1

Mr. Kohli said this item isn’t ready for action and the applicant will submit a revised escrow release.

Authorize Advertising the Intent to Appoint Independent Auditor for 2000

Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize the advertisement stating the Township’s intention of appointing an independent auditor to conduct the 2000 audit, as required by ordinance #90-00 authorizing the incursion of non-electoral debt and Mrs. Ewald 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.

Budget Work Session

The second work session was conducted to prepare the draft 2001 Budget. Philip Staas asked if the legal requirements for undertaking the $2.1 million bond issue had been met. Mrs. Ewald responded that the bonding company and township solicitor’s office handled the matter, which was submitted to the Department of Community and Economic Affairs and been approved. The debt statement was prepared utilizing township records by the bonding company, and she provided Mr. Staas with a copy.

Mr. Staas asked for a full disclosure of how the Township planned to pay the principal and interest of the bond issue for the next twenty years. Mrs. Ewald said that transferring a portion of the Real Estate Transfer Taxes received that exceeded the budgeted amount for 2000 will pay the first year. Mr. Staas said a plan should be developed in accordance with the Fiscal Management Handbook. Mrs. Ewald said that the bond agent and township solicitor determined that the township produces sufficient revenue to sustain the payments required. Richard Hevner further reviewed it.

Mr. Staas asked about the formation of a sinking fund for this debt, and Mrs. Ewald said the Township planned to create the fund, as required by the bonding company. Mr. Willig added that an addition fund, a capital reserve fund, will be created.

Mr. Staas said he’d like to see a business plan for future open space purchases, and said he’d be interested in serving on an open space committee if one is formed.

Mr. Staas advised the Township Treasurer on utilization of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Recommended Chart of Accounts and recommended a revision in the budget worksheet to show a revenue reduction as an expenditure increase as other townships do. The Treasurer agreed to make whatever changes were needed to make the books clearer for the auditors and general public. She said she recently sent the Board a revision of the Budget that changed 6 account numbers out of the 94 in the general fund to comply more fully with the recommended Chart of Accounts. No changes of substance were necessary.

The Board spent the remainder of the budget work session discussing the proposed budget figures and making a few revisions. The Treasurer will redraft the budget for the November 20, 2000 with the expectation that it can be advertised for adoption at the December 18, 2000 meeting.

Other Business

Check #3030

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Check #3030 to District Court 15-2-01 in the amount of $500.00 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:55 P.M. The next meeting will be held on November 20, 2000, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary