|Hugh Willig, Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Vice-Chairman, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers, Irene Ewald, Tom Oeste, Esq., Glenn Diehl, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Ed Theurkauf, Planner, Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached attendee list|
The meeting was called to order at 7:40 p.m.
Mr. Willig announced the Board held the following executive sessions:
April 24, 2001 – Legal Matters
April 26, 2001 – Personnel Matters
May 6, 2001 – Road Tour/Charlestown Park Site Visit
May 7, 2001 – Real Estate Matters
Mr. Willig announced that the Township has been informed it is eligible for a land acquisition grant through the Chester County Parks & Recreation Department for the purchase of the Pyle Farm undertaken in late 2000. There has been a running dialogue between the Township and the County on the issue of eligibility, and Mr. Willig credited Mrs. Ewald’s persistence in the matter as giving the Township a good chance at receiving up to $400,000 in funding. Mrs. Ewald said County Commissioners Andy Dinniman and Karen Martynick were instrumental in resolving the eligibility issue and she said all 3 commissioners supported the Township’s position. Mrs. Ewald encouraged residents in attendance to send thank you messages to the County Commissioners.
Ellen Behrle, Moses Way, asked for clarification on the buffer zone between Sycamore Lane and the Charlestown Hunt property, which was cleared out as part of the recent work to install a cul de sac at Sycamore Lane and Moses Way. She said three years ago Realen Homes agreed that the buffer would remain in its natural state, and in return, the Township didn’t require that they remove an old driveway in the area but allow it to grow over. Now the Township has cleared this area and removed the chicken wire fence that separated Charlestown Hunt from Sycamore Lane. She asked who will be responsible for maintaining the buffer. Mr. Hogan said that within a year, the arborvitae will grow in and the buffer will be better than what was there before. He said he sent a letter to everyone on the street notifying them of the work to be done; however, Mrs. Behrle said the letter spoke of the cul de sac work only, not of clearing, and now five or six years of growth is gone and the residents are faced with a view of Charlestown Hunt. She submitted a letter signed by all but one resident on Moses Way and those on Sycamore Lane at the junction with Moses Way, requesting that the Township allow the natural buffer to grow in and that no further clearing be undertaken. They further request that the mowing regularly done be stopped and that the fence be replaced. The letter also states that the undersigned don’t wish to encourage foot traffic to or from Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Hogan said the Township can’t prevent Hunt residents from walking from one piece of property to another. He offered to hold a work party next Saturday at which time a wire fence can be erected. Mr. Willig said that the buffer will grow back, and some planting can be undertaken to speed the process. He asked that Tom Comitta & Associates look at the area and recommend what is needed. Mr. Kohli said the Charlestown Hunt plans show that this area was to be left natural, and both he and Mr. Willig said Charlestown Hunt shouldn’t mow this area.
Wendy McLean, Esq., was present on behalf of her clients, Mr. & Mrs. Steven Friedman, requesting a response to the Friedmans’ claim that a drainage trench was installed on their property without their permission, constituting a trespass. They and several neighbors are concerned that water is pooling as a result of the pipe, where previously run off water sheet flowed over the land. She said the Friedmans will take legal action if the matter is not moved forward. Mr. Oeste said he contacted the counsel for Emma Builders Inc. and was asked to outline the situation to him in writing. He will do so this week.
Ms. McLean also made a comment on her own behalf as a resident on the need for a double yellow line to be painted on Yellow Springs Road, in order to discourage speeders who drive toward the middle of the road around curves and hills, creating a hazard. Mrs. Ewald said a minimum width is required before PennDOT will stripe a road. Ms. McLean said the shoulders of the road are breaking apart, and they should be filled and repaired. Mr. Faggioli said he will speak with PennDOT about the shoulder repair scheduled for this spring and to see whether striping is a possibility.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of April 16, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn made one correction, replacing Mr. Theurkauf’s name with Mr. Connolly’s on page 5, 2nd paragraph. With no further discussion, the vote was called and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for comment. Mr. Rodgers questioned the invoice for Lord’s Tree Service, which provides insufficient detail on how the charges are calculated. He also questioned the amount of time shown for the removal of one large dead oak tree. Mr. Hogan said he checked on this work, and it involved accumulated brush and the removal of a large amount of debris including telephone poles, broken trees and limbs. Mrs. Ewald amended her motion to approve all checks but hold the Lord’s Tree Service invoice until Mr. Rodgers is satisfied with the details to be provided. Mr. Hogan seconded. The vote was called and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for comment. There being none, he called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli stated that his report for April is on file. He updated the Board on the signal installation at Route 401 and Valley Hill Road. PennDOT has undertaking the base repairs to the intersection and the Township will be responsible for the final paving. Mr. Faggioli said that Melchiorre is scheduled to do this work tomorrow. Mr. Kohli will coordinate with Melchiorre Construction Co. and the Roadmaster. Mr. Kohli said that the next step is to cut the loops in, install the controller, hang the signals and connect the loops. He anticipates this job should be completed in 2-3 weeks.
Andy Motel, Planning Commission member, said the Commission will wrap up discussions on the Comprehensive Plan at the May 8, 2001 meeting. A formal public presentation of the plan is scheduled for the May 22, 2001 meeting. The Planning Commission also plans to set up an executive summary with display boards at the May election for residents to examine. The Secretary was directed to send out postcards to all residents inviting and encouraging them to attend the May 22, 2001 Comprehensive Plan meeting.
The report for April is on file.
The report for April as well as the Road Tour report from May 6th have been submitted. Mr. Faggioli asked for clarification on new instructions received by the Secretary requiring that the Roadmaster report all upcoming scheduled roadwork to her so she can e-mail the information to the Board. After some discussion, the Board told Mr. Faggioli to use his judgment and only notify the Secretary if the work is more involved and likely to trigger inquiries from residents.
The Roadmaster has also been asked to obtain costs on paving various roads. Mr. Willig said having the cost information will help in prioritizing which roads should be paved this year. Mr. Faggioli named Peake’s Pike as one road that should be done.
Mr. Kuhn asked about the subsidence around a pipe on Blackberry Lane and whether the developer can be charged for repair. Mr. Kohli said paving wasn’t required there and the developer is not responsible, although Mr. Rodgers disagreed, saying the developer didn’t pack the dirt sufficiently around the pipe. Mr. Willig asked the Roadmaster and Mr. Kohli to take a look at the problem and provide feedback for the May 21st meeting.
Fred Alston, Fire Marshal, submitted his March and April reports. Mr. Hogan asked about a fire on Buckwalter Farm Road that the Fire Company couldn’t find initially. Mr. Alston said the initial report to 9-1-1 gave the address as Jeffords Court.
Mr. Hogan said he has spoken to Associated Paving Inc. and tried to re-negotiate the price given to cover the added cost of changes made in the specifications for an 8 foot wide trail instead of a 6 foot wide trail. Associated Paving Inc. said they could only adjust the cost if they use recycled crushed concrete, resulting in a savings of approximately $4,000. After some discussion, it was determined that the savings weren’t sufficient to rationalize the use of crushed concrete, due to its potential for inconsistent quality. Mr. Hogan moved to use crushed stone rather than recycled concrete, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor. Mr. Hogan said Associated Paving Inc. is likely sue the township if the job is pulled from them and re-bid. He recommends the Township move along with Associated and finish the job. Mr. Hogan moved to accept the change order price as originally submitted, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and then the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Hogan said he received two phone bids from pipe cleaners for a pipe on Township Line Road and is waiting for a third. A West Chester company gave a bid of $1,500.00 per day, and a New York company gave a bid of $1,600.00 per day including a water tank. The Secretary will provide him with the number to contact Pipe Maintenance Inc. for the third quote.
With regard to the Pyle Farm, Mr. Hogan said he’s been in contact with an individual who may be interested in renting the farmhouse. A question was raised on the seeding along Yellow Springs Road adjacent to the farm, and Mr. Kuhn said PennDOT must take care of this along with whatever preparations are needed for the road bank.
Mr. Rodgers reported that the VFSA is looking into adding a de-watering unit at an approximate cost of $350,000. He said he objected to the proposal that the engineering contract be awarded on a no-bid basis. He proposed developing a list of three to four pre-approved engineers that can be called upon to submit bids for this type of project. As a result of his suggestion the contract discussions were tabled until next week. Mr. Hogan said he endorses Mr. Rodgers’ position.
Mrs. Staas said the Turnpike Commission asked the CAC to submit a couple of alternate scenarios for positioning of the slip ramp, to use in their traffic studies. One proposal was to have the slip ramp positioned at the Atwater development. The other suggestion was for multiple slip ramps to be positioned at points along major roadways. They have not heard back from the Commission.
Dr. David Hitz, President of the Rapps Run Homeowners’ Association was present to discuss the homeowners’ request that the Board consider accepting dedication of Rapps Run Drive and its stormwater management system. He introduced Carl Lillmars, the previous association president who oversaw the road construction in 1989 and referenced a letter dated 4/23/01 signed by all homeowners requesting the dedication.
Mr. Kohli said that the original plan specified that the Homeowners Association would maintain both the road and Stormwater system. Rapps Run Drive was built up to township specs for only the first 300+ feet. After that point, the road narrows and there is no curbing. Road material complied with township specs. Mr. Willig asked what must change in order to accept dedication of the road. Mr. Kohli said the road must be built to township specs all the way to the cul de sac, which the applicant declined to do at the time of original construction. Drainage would need to be incorporated into the road construction instead of along side. Curbing must be added and the road would need to be widened. Dr. Hitz said the road is 24 feet wide and is 1,000 feet long, with perfect drainage.
Mr. Hogan asked why the homeowners want the road dedicated at this time. Dr. Hitz responded that all eight homes are built and the topcoat has been placed on the road. Mr. Kuhn asked the Solicitor if the township has any liability in accepting the road if it is not brought up to specs. Mr. Oeste responded that there would be no additional liability for accidents, but financially there’s more of a chance the road will deteriorate and the cost to repair it to specs would be higher. Mr. Kohli said the roadbed was built to specs and was inspected at the time of construction. With the current storm drainage located off the shoulders of the road, the road can’t be curbed without bringing the storm system up to specs.
Mrs. Ewald said she wants to look at the original approved plan, recalling that there was a condition of approval that the road not be dedicated. Dr. Hitz referred to the Homeowners Association Declaration of Restrictions, Covenants & Easements and provided a copy to the Secretary for distribution to the Board. The Secretary will provide copies of the approved plan to the Board and Dr. Hitz. The matter was continued to the June 4, 2001 agenda.
Emory Todd, CPA, presented a summary of the 2000 Financial Report. He said the process includes the preparation of the audited report including all financials, a management letter outlining any possible areas for improvement, and the DCED report required by the State. He said that the Secretary provided all the records by mid-February and that the records were in excellent order. Records are verified in a variety of ways, including the receipt of confirmations by banks and the investment depositories.
He provided the following details: Assets, not including land, totaled approximately $1.8 million, the majority invested in C.D.’s and the Pa. Local Government Investment Trust. A minimum balance is kept in the checking accounts since they earn little interest. Liabilities include the $2.1 million obligation bond taken out for the purchase of the Pyle Farm, the price of which was $1.525 million. Deferred revenue (escrow deposits from Developers) was $86,000. The net worth equaled approximately $1.2 million. Surplus of Income over Expenditures for 2000 were approximately $32,000. The main sources of income were licenses & permits, transfer taxes and real estate taxes. The main expense items were highway maintenance, legal fees, engineering, planning & zoning, plan review and fire protection.
Items on the management letter were minor in nature and included a correction to the 1099 issuance process and a request that the Malvern Federal Savings Bank cut off the statements at the end of the month for a more accurate year-end report. Mr. Todd said Mrs. Csete did an excellent job and that the audit process went smoothly.
Mr. Todd opened the floor to questions. Elected auditor Philip Staas asked why only the Pyle Farm is listed as a fixed asset when the Township owns other properties. Mr. Todd responded that at the present time, only newly acquired assets are required to be listed. However, the state is working on a change in the requirements so municipalities will have to put a fair assessment value on all their properties, some of which can go back decades or centuries. The State is trying to find a way to accomplish this that will minimize the cost to the townships.
Tim Townes presented an overview of the Valley Investments Group VII application before the Zoning Hearing Board requesting a variance from the height limitation in the NC-2 District for the proposed 3 story, 66,000 sq. ft. office building at Lot 18 at the Commons @ Great Valley. Maximum height in the district is 35 feet and the applicant seeks a variance for 42 feet. He displayed the plan, stating that the township’s consultants have reviewed the land development plan and the parking layout was changed per their recommendations.
Mr. Townes distributed a copy of the site plan and elevation plan to the Board, including a second site section showing the view of the building from Morehall Road as requested by the Planning Commission. Mr. Townes explained that the township’s ordinance limiting building height to 35 feet used to accommodate 3 story buildings, but building code changes over the past few years, combined with marketing expectations for 9 foot ceilings now make this impossible. Mr. Townes showed two renderings of the proposed building, one with two floors and one with three floors. There is a similar building already constructed in Eagleview, Uwchlan Township, although that one is approximately twice the square footage. He noted that there’s no great difference in the appearance of the building scale between the two depictions. A two story building would require a larger footprint and a height of 32 feet to get the same square footage.
Mr. Kuhn asked about the parapet height, and Mr. Townes said that the parapet, which hides the mechanical equipment on the roof, is not included in the height measurement. The ordinance allows the top of the parapet to be 46 feet high. Mr. Kuhn also noted that one side of the building is 12-14 feet higher than ground level, which will give the visual impact of a 60 foot high building. Mr. Townes said this occurs because the building is positioned so as to keep the parking lot grade under 5%.
Mrs. Ewald asked what kind of tenants will occupy the building, noting that she always wanted to see a restaurant and medical uses in the NC district. Mr. Townes said it will be a multi-tenant office building and that an agreement is in place with Sherwin-Williams Paints for a full floor. Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Townes to keep fire protection in mind and he responded that he’d be happy to walk through with representatives of the fire companies.
Mr. Theurkauf said the Planning Commission discussed lowering the grade at the first floor of the building, but Mr. Townes felt it would lower the quality of the first floor space and create possible water drainage issues. Mr. Theurkauf said he thinks this is a minimal variance that may be worthwhile as a trade off for the reduction in impervious surface coverage, especially since the site is on limestone.
Mr. Kohli asked if the setbacks can be expanded. Mr. Townes said this would limit landscape areas between the building and parking area. Mrs. Ewald suggested berms in the buffer area, with tree plantings in clusters. Mr. Townes said he would be agreeable to continuing the existing berms. Mrs. Ewald asked about the buffering at the back of the Charlestown Saloon. Mr. Townes said standard buffering is required. It was noted that patrons of the Saloon might have parking problems once this project is underway, as they now encroach on the Commons property for parking.
Mr. Kohli said the Planning Commission is reviewing this plan tomorrow night. Mrs. Ewald suggested allowing the Zoning Hearing Board to go forward and decide the application on its own merits, as the majority of Board members had no strong feelings either way. Mr. Willig and Mr. Kuhn agreed. Mr. Rodgers said he has no problem with a 3 story building and thanked Mr. Townes for his cooperation.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve both agreements for the Commons at Great Valley Lot #15, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.
The Board had a 15 minute recess into executive session to discuss legal matters relating to the next application.
Jane Opie, Court Reporter, was present to record the proceedings after which the record was closed. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Conditional Use Application for the Great Valley School District for Charlestown Elementary School. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Preliminary Land Development Plan for the Great Valley School District for Charlestown Elementary School. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.
Jane Opie, Court Reporter, was present to record the proceedings. At the applicant’s request, the hearing was opened and continued to June 4, 2001, 7:30 P.M. with an emergency date of June 18, 2001 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Ron Nagle, Esq. requested a few minutes to discuss proposed changes to the parking lot and drop off area(s) for the proposed land development improvements at the Charlestown Elementary School. Russ Benner, of Schoor-DePalma, requested input on a plan depicting two drop off areas, the first plan discussed with the Planning Commission last year. The Kindergarten drop off area would be located to the east of the school and would allow 12 cars to queue, with room for others to go around. The other drop off area at the main parking lot to the west of the school allows 9 cars to queue. Mr. Kuhn asked if the two egresses are too close together. Mr. Benner said this was the original plan discussed with PennDOT in June 1999 and they had no problem with it. Mr. Hogan asked if the Kindergarten area would be covered to protect from weather, and Mr. Benner said no. Mr. Willig asked why the Planning Commission rejected this plan option earlier, and Mr. Benner said it was due to the elimination of a large maple tree on the site. Mr. Kuhn viewed the plan favorably, noting he had missed the Planning Commission meeting when the plan was first shown. He said he places the safety of the children over the existence of the tree. Mr. Theurkauf added that there were concerns that parents would be confused with two drop off points, although he believes it is a better plan for overall safety. Mrs. Ewald suggested the applicant utilize a specialist to take a fresh look at the plan, commenting that she cares greatly for the childrens’ safety. Mr. Nagle said the School District is in the business of caring for children and they favored this plan. He asked for the Board’s consideration of it.
A second option depicted one drop off area at the main parking lot, but with Charlestown Road widened to accommodate a left hand turning lane. This would require additional right of way from four properties.
Mr. Kuhn gave some background on the events leading up to the interest in forming an Open Space Committee in order to concentrate efforts on preserving open space. He referred to a meeting he attended last year hosted by John Johnson, President of the West Chester Fish, Game & Wildlife organization, who gave details on East Bradford Township’s open space committee. The East Bradford ordinance was used as a base model in preparing the proposed draft ordinance under consideration tonight for Charlestown. The Open Space Commission members will work towards educating Township residents on ways to preserve open space through gifting, sale to the Township, or the creation of easements. The Commission will also develop a system for grading and prioritizing open space in the Township for potential future acquisition or other method of preservation.
Mr. Oeste said the ordinance creates a commission of up to seventeen members, and paraphrased wording from Section 1 of the Ordinance. He noted that he also spoke to Mrs. Ewald about the possibility of creating an environmental commission, which would concentrate on landscaping and horticultural issues, and he’ll proceed with this draft.
The draft ordinance was reviewed. Mr. Kuhn said the membership was to be structured to include 1 member from the Board, the Planning Commission, the HARB, Parks & Rec, Historical Society, as well as the land planner, with the remainder being members at large. This language will be added to the Ordinance. Mrs. Ewald said the Board should have the independent ability to add candidates and questioned Mr. Kuhn’s proposed addition of language at the end of Section 2(a) that members will be appointed by the Board … “upon the recommendation of the Open Space Commission”. Mr. Kuhn said this still allows the Board to have the final say. There was discussion on the rotation of Open Space Commission members who are members of the other boards, such as Supervisors, Planning Commissioners, etc. There was a general consensus that rotating annually is too often for continuity, so a 3 year term was added to the draft. Planning Commissioner Andy Motel pointed out a typo under Section 3(h) changing “approve” to “improve” existing open space areas and trails.
Mrs. Ewald questioned Section 3(h), stating that Open Space Commission members shouldn’t manage existing public open space and trails, as this should remain the purview of the Parks & Recreation Board. She sees this as a conflict with Parks & Rec. She also believes the Open Space Commission shouldn’t be involved with creating easements that remain under private ownership, seeing this as something best handled by conservancies such as the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust or the Brandywine Conservation Trust. Mr. Motel said he sees the stewardship of open space as the prime function of the Open Space Commission, and that they should consider the uses of land under consideration by the Township for acquisition. Mrs. Ewald said the key focus of the Commission should be to prioritize potential properties, and that all properties should provide public access if public funds are used. She said the proposed ordinance is broader than what she thinks is necessary, which is the fee simple acquisition of open space. Mr. Motel disagreed, saying that the permanent preservation of land provides for public utilization even if only sustaining a view shed. Also, publicly owned space requires greater management. Mrs. Ewald said open space can be totally passive and reduce the need for management.
Aliana Gerhardt, Newcomen Road, said she moved to Charlestown in order to enjoy the view of the landscape, which she believes is of immense value to residents. She said open space funds should be used as wisely as possible by having a multi-faceted approach. She pointed out that some landowners might be willing to ease their properties without cost to the Township. Mr. Motel said the members of the Commission would work to identify and educate landowners in whatever options will work for them.
Mr. Rodgers moved to adopt the Open Space Ordinance #95-01 including the amendments to the draft discussed this evening. Mr. Kuhn seconded and Mr. Willig called for additional discussion. He asked if the charge of the Commission is overly broad. Mr. Theurkauf said the ordinance allows an open realm and he recommends the Board not narrow the scope since it will be an advisory commission only. Mrs. Ewald repeated her view that the scope should be narrowed, and that the commission should concentrate on open space acquisition with public access.
Saul Kun, Whitehorse Road, said he believes monitoring is needed for protected space such as the woodlands at Saddlebrook, and he doesn’t see that the Parks & Rec Board would fulfill this function. Neila Kun said the idea is to preserve the character of the township as it is into the future.
Mr. Willig called the vote, and all were in favor.
No bids for mowing were submitted. The Township Secretary received one tree work bid. Barrett’s Tree Service bid the annual tree work contract for $88,850.00. Mr. Oeste will review the bid. Mrs. Ewald stated her concern over the number of hours listed on the bid spec.
With regard to mowing, Mr. Willig said that the road contractor should be asked to handle roadside mowing for the balance of his contract since he had bid that item last fall. Bill Jones will continue mowing at the Park provided he can secure the required insurance. Mrs. Ewald suggested that in the future, the roadside and park mowing be bid separately as they are different jobs requiring different equipment. Mr. Kuhn said in the future, the timing of bids should be better considered. Most contractors already have full workloads going into the summer season for this type of work.
Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt Resolution #576-01, an Application for the County Parks & Recreation Department Round 13 Land Acquisition Grant for the 55 acre Pyle property already owned by the Township. Mr. Rodgers seconded. There being no discussion, Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.
The Secretary was directed to advertise the Bituminous & Stone Bids for opening on June 18, 2001.
Mr. Willig proposed a joint meeting of the Board, Planning Commission and Parks & Recreation Board to undergo a visioning process for the Pyle Farm on June 11, 2001 and the Board directed the Secretary to advertise.
Mrs. Ewald moved to direct the Secretary to set dates for the two proposed subdivision and land development ordinances, including (1) Mandatory Dedication of Land or Recreational Fee-in-Lieu and Major/Minor Subdivisions. Mr. Hogan seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn said the hay available at the Pyle farm should be advertised for sale and offered to draft an ad for the Secretary to run in the Daily Local News and Lancaster Farm Journal.
Mrs. Ewald asked the board members to consider a third meeting each month since the meetings have recently gone well past 11:00 P.M. The other board members voiced their preference to stay with two meetings for the time being.
Mr. Rodgers said he wanted to clarify the question of overruns on cost for last year’s Blackberry Lane paving job. He said the overrun was less than 5% and due to additional work added to the scope of the project for correcting curbing and drainage on the road.
There was consensus to adjourn. Mr. Willig adjourned the meeting at 11:55 p.m.