|Hugh Willig, Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Vice-Chairman, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers (arrived later), Irene Ewald, James E. McErlane, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Linda Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached attendee list.|
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 p.m.
Mr. Comitta said that upon invitation of the Board, Jeff Butler, formerly Township Manager for Manheim Township in Lancaster County, was present to give a presentation on Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs and how one was implemented in Manheim Township. Mr. Comitta explained that TDR is listed under Appendix E, “Tools for Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan” in Charlestown’s proposed revised Comprehensive Plan currently under consideration for adoption.
Mr. Butler began by stating his Township’s program was implemented in 1991 following a period of rapid development in Manheim that left their officials concerned with the loss of agricultural open space. Their TDR program provides a mechanism by which landowners in their designated conservation area can sell their development rights, which are then transferred to an area considered more suitable for receiving development. Landowners who purchase development rights can increase the density of their proposed project.
One result of the TDR program is that conservation areas remain undeveloped while allowing the property owner to get the development value of the land. Another result is that developers can increase their density in areas that can better accommodate it due to the infrastructure of that area.
In order to develop a TDR program, a township must first adopt an ordinance outlining the process in accordance with the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. Sending and receiving areas are established along with density and design regulations. In Manheim Township, the sending area is their Agricultural Zoning District, which has a minimum 10-acre lot size. To qualify, the property must be currently used for agriculture. Their receiving area is in their R-1 and R-2 Residential Zoning Areas. Mr. Butler pointed out that it’s not necessary for the receiving area to be residential; it could have been commercial or industrial, with an exchange rate translating agricultural acres into square footage. He also pointed out that the resource to be protected is determined by the Township, instead of agricultural, it could be scenic, historic, environmentally sensitive, or any combination.
For TDR to succeed, Mr. Butler said it is imperative to have the support of the community. In Manheim Township, approximately 25% of the remaining agricultural land has been permanently protected through the implementation of their TDR program. Manheim Township sets aside $250,000 for the acquisition of development rights in its capital budget each year.
The floor was opened to questions and answers.
Mr. Kuhn asked how the price for development rights is set. Mr. Butler said a cost of $5,000 per TDR was established in Manheim Township, which doesn’t reflect the market value but simply the price the Township is willing to pay. The Township then sells the rights at auction for the highest price exceeding $5,000. When private exchanges between a sender and receiver are negotiated, the price is whatever the parties settle on. Mr. Kuhn asked if the program has accelerated, decelerated, or stabilized growth in Manheim Township. Mr. Butler said it’s difficult to say, but it clearly changed the nature of growth through reduced lot sizes. It has provided an incentive for mixed use, pedestrian friendly communities.
Rick Reis, Planning Commissioner, asked if Manheim Township would do anything differently today, after seeing the results of their program for the past 10 years. Mr. Butler said the only thing he would have included would have been criteria for ranking agricultural tracts. Mr. Reis asked how the sending area is protected from development, and Mr. Butler said through a conservation easement held jointly between a third party and the Township. Mr. Reis asked if public support remains strong after 10 years. Mr. Butler said yes, there is little controversy over the program.
Phil Staas, Hana Lane, asked if the Township can borrow money through a bond issue to purchase development rights for future resale. Mr. Butler answered, probably.
Sue Staas, Hana Lane, noted that Manheim is exchanging residential development rights only and asked about transfer to commercial or industrial areas. Mr. Butler said Warwick Township has a model for this type of exchange, which translates into square footage. Mrs. Staas asked if Manheim Township is pleased with the progress of its program. Mr. Butler said yes, it’s actually proceeded a little faster than expected.
Saul Kun, Whitehorse Road, asked for the effect on properties adjacent to receiving areas. Mr. Butler said Manheim Township held numerous meetings with landowners in both sending and receiving areas and provided scenarios of increased density to demonstrate that the infrastructure could handle the increased density. For example, through their impact fee program, road improvements could be put into place to handle the extra traffic.
Mark Connolly, Parks and Rec, asked if Manheim Township has seen any tear down in receiving areas to make way for a denser development. Mr. Butler said this hasn’t happened yet but noted it might not necessarily be a bad thing if it did occur.
Janet Baldwin, Historical Commission, asked if there are any time constraints on holding the development rights. Mr. Butler said no, as long as the program is in place, the rights remain eligible.
Mr. Comitta asked if a TDR program would work in a very rural area. Mr. Butler named a rural township in Lancaster where a program is underway with a sending area at the crossroads in the township. Mr. Comitta asked if Manheim Township is considering any expansion of its agricultural district. Mr. Butler said it has been expanded from time to time in an attempt to include any lands worthy of protection. Mr. Comitta asked if this program is “too little too late” for Charlestown. Mr. Butler said this was one of the first concerns heard in Manheim Township, which had a much lesser percentage of agricultural land remaining than Charlestown. He believes it’s never too late as long as there is a resource to be protected.
Mr. Comitta noted for the attendees that a program in Charlestown Township wouldn’t be as intense as that of Manheim Township due partly to the differences in population and infrastructure. He said Charlestown has held public hearings on its proposed Comprehensive Plan on September 18th and October 2nd, plus tonight’s meeting to further introduce and explain how TDR works. He asked the Board to consider whether any more hearings are needed or if a date should be set to consider adoption.
Mr. Willig said that along with the 2 public hearings, there was a well-attended presentation by the Planning Commission in May for the public. He hoped the public felt the Board has been very open on the Comprehensive Plan process and proposed closing the hearings at this time, although he Board will remain open to continued comments. He placed the proposed revised Comprehensive Plan on the December 3, 2001 agenda for consideration of adoption.
Mr. Willig announced that the Board held an executive session following the November 29, 2001 meeting to discuss legal matters.
Mr. Alston asked the Board to consider striping the sides and middle of Valley Hill Road and Bodine Road. After participating in the Halloween Patrol last week, it was evident to him that visbility is very limited at night on these two roads. Mr. Faggioli said he has received a quote of $3,300 for striping these two roads, which was discussed previously. He stated his concern that striping these roads will increase traffic speed. After some discussion, the Board directed the Roadmaster to proceed with the work. With regard to traffic calming concerns, Mr. Kuhn proposed that the Township undertake a traffic study to develop recommendations for traffic calming mechanisms. Mr. Kohli noted that PennDOT has developed a book of guidelines providing criteria for traffic calming.
Robert Sprague of Rojen Inc. was present to request follow up on his letter sent to the Board in mid-October with regard to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy for the current tenants at 65 General Warren Boulevard in the Commons @ Great Valley. This tenant operates a day care center, as did the previous tenant, Little People Day School. The permit has not been granted for the past 4 years due to outstanding landscaping issues. Mr. Kohli said this was primarily a buffering issue; Tom Comitta sent a plan to Rojen Inc. in 1996 that was never implemented in accordance with the final land development approval. Due to the property’s use as a day care center, Mr. Sprague said it is considered unsafe to have landscaping in the areas shown in that plan. As a compromise, the fencing was installed as a vinyl cover fence to make it more appealing than chain-link, and this was acceptable to J. Loew & Associates. Mr. Kohli said an as-built plan showing the landscaping modifications should be submitted to reflect actual conditions, if acceptable to the Board. Mr. Willig asked if there is any written correspondence between Rojen Inc. and the developer, J. Loew, and Mr. Sprague said no. Mrs. Ewald said Mr. Sprague’s representations are inadequate this evening and recommended the temporary Use & Occupancy permit be revoked. There was further discussion, after which the majority of the Board stated their acceptance of the fencing as constructed without the hedge as long as the use of the property remains the same. If the use changes from a day care center to another use, the hedge will have to be planted. Mr. Willig requested that the applicant submit an as-built plan for the Board’s review and approval prior to issuance of the Use & Occupancy permit.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of October 15, 2001 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald abstained.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of October 29, 2001 and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable report for the General Fund for November 5, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for October 1 – 31, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Kohli reported that PennDOT will lower the speed limit on Coldstream Road from 55 MPH to 40 MPH as the result of a recent traffic study undertaken at the Township’s request. Mrs. Ewald said the speed limit should be reduced further at the blind vertical curve between Ravenhill and Maryhill Roads, and at the curve areas between Marion and Maryhill Roads. Mr. Kohli said the need for a reduction wasn’t indicated by the study, but he’ll raise the question with PennDOT at her request.
Mr. Kuhn asked how the trimming issue should be addressed on Coldstream. There are trees on private properties along Coldstream Road interfering with sight lines. Mr. McErlane said legally it’s the property owner’s responsibility, but in practice they don’t always follow through, so the municipality gets involved. Mr. Kohli will draft a letter to the property owners requesting they trim their trees and offering to meet with them.
Mr. Willig asked for the status of the traffic light application for Yellow Springs Road and Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Kohli said a revised plan was resubmitted to PennDOT last week, and after their approval a permit will be issued. Since the intersection itself is in East Whiteland Township, Charlestown is not directly involved even though the developer of Charlestown Oaks is funding the signal. Escrow funds from the Iacobucci Organization are in place as part of Phase I of Charlestown Oaks, and they will handle the contracting for the work.
Mr. Kohli said he attended a seminar on drip irrigation today, and that no specific guidelines were offered for installation of these systems. Likewise there was no information on problems with freezing even though these systems have been installed in much colder climates than southeastern PA, specifically in Minnesota. A system has been in place in Schuylkill Township since 1999, but there hasn’t been a severe enough winter to test it. Mr. Kohli said that the majority of the system is below the frost line except for the drip distribution pipes. No fluid stays in the line, as warm water drips down and allows penetration even through frozen ground. Mr. Kohli said that since the County handles approval for this alternate system, the Township might want to send them a letter requesting notification any time one is proposed.
Mr. Faggioli asked for the status of a building permit for a single-family home for the Dorwoods on Blackberry Lane. Mr. Kohli said the applicant was notified that the plans show disturbance of steep slopes, and they either need to apply for a conditional use approval or alter the plans to stay out of the slopes. He is waiting for the applicant to respond.
Mr. Davison said the Planning Commission last met on October 9th. They had an informal discussion on the Altemose Land Development plan, Deerfield and the grant application for the Devault Village. The Commission formally recommended the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors. They discussed alternate sewage systems and would like to schedule a joint meeting with the Supervisors to discuss it further.
Mrs. Baldwin said the Historical Commission/HARB is in the midst of hearings for the Mill and hopes to reach a resolution at the next meeting on November 13th. The written report for October is on file.
Mr. Faggioli reported that the problem of slippery tar on Union Hill Road has been addressed, and that some patching has been done on the Township’s roads at the Valley Forge Christian College. To repair/replace the damaged guide rail on Union Hill Road, he has a price on used guide rail and installation for $3,600. Mr. Kohli said PennDOT used to provide used guide rail to municipalities at no charge from their West Chester facility. Mr. Faggioli said he will check this out, and added that whoever caused the damage to the guide rail should be responsible for the repair.
There was some discussion on traffic calming measures for Union Hill Road. Mr. Kuhn said he’d like to follow PennDOT’s new manual on this issue, and Mr. McErlane noted that following state standards should help alleviate any township liability.
Mr. Faggioli asked if the Board would consider purchasing a speed sign that is set up in various locations and displays the driver’s speed. The approximate cost is $10,000. Mr. Willig said the Board can consider this when looking at next year’s budget.
Mr. Alston reported three automatic fire alarms, one odor investigation and three vehicle accidents responded to by the East Whiteland Fire Company. He noted that precipitation is below normal for the year and residents should reduce water usage and burn only in accordance with the burning ordinance. He cautioned the public to be alert for deer at this time of year. He met with both fire chiefs to review the proposed fire control ordinance and it should be ready for the Supervisors soon.
Mr. Alston announced that the biennial Limerick exercise has been postponed to April 2002. He also made available to the public a sheet entitled “Recommendations for Handling Suspicious Letters and Packages.”
Mrs. Ewald asked if the false fire alarm that was reported was at the usual repeat location on Morehall Road, and Mr. Alston said yes. He said that once the new ordinance is passed, repeat offenders will be fined for the 3rd false alarm in the immediately preceding 12 month period. Mr. McErlane said it is difficult to enforce an ordinance retroactively. Certified letters should be sent to those who have had false alarms in the past 12 months notifying them of the new ordinance.
Mrs. Ewald asked who is to blame for false alarms, the property owner or the manufacturer of the alarm. Mr. Alston said the owner is ultimately responsible. If there is a problem with the alarm company, the owner must take the responsibility to work it out.
Mr. Faggioli said some false alarms are out of the homeowner’s control, for example, when power goes out. Mr. Alston said exceptions could be made for known circumstances like a power outage in a particular area.
Mr. Connolly and Mr. Hogan brought forward several issues.
Mr. Rodgers reported that the VFSA Board has been discussing policy changes with the Authority employees. First, the Board wants to stop the buy-back arrangement for sick days, which they feel has been abused. Payment for accumulated unused sick days, up to 44 days, would still be available at retirement. Second, most employees are nearing the top of their rate structure scales, which are reviewed every 3 years. A Human Resources consultant was been hired to research the industry for minimum and maximum salary scale adjustments in order to compare rates.
Mr. Rodgers said there is still contention over the taking of minutes by someone other than the General Manager. Recently they were taken by a third party, but the General Manager still exercised the option of reviewing and rewording the draft before it was distributed. Also, the Board wants the various departments to make their own reports rather than them being made by the General Manager.
Mrs. Staas said there is nothing new to report from the committee. She stated her concern that East Whiteland Township hasn’t released their traffic study results on roads adjoining Charlestown as promised. Mr. Willig will draft a letter to East Whiteland Township’s manager requesting this information, and will circulate the draft for comments prior to sending.
Bob Elmer was present to report for the Brightside Farm Committee (BFC). Five items were addressed as follows:
Mr. Hogan moved to accept the Brightside Farm Committee’s recommendation. Mrs. Ewald seconded. There was no vote.
Mr. Willig moved to pay $200.00/month for caretaking, with the tenants to pay utilities. There was no second.
Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Panizza what he receives in rent for the farmhouse opposite the Brightside Farm across Yellow Springs Road. Mr. Panizza said he receives $1,000.00 per month. Mr. Hogan said that house is in much better condition than the Brightside farmhouse, however.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve $100.00 per month rent plus utilities with no caretaker compensation. There was no second. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve $400.00 per month plus utilities with no caretaker compensation. There was no second. Mrs. Ewald added “to review the utilities quarterly” to her motion. Mr. Kuhn seconded her motion, prior to its amendment. Since her first motion was withdrawn by virtue of its amendment, Mr. Kuhn seconded a withdrawn motion, and there was no second for the amended motion.
Mr. Willig moved to approve a rent of $200.00 per month plus utilities for a 1-year lease. Any problems with the utilities would be handled by the Brightside Farm Committee. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.
There was some discussion on work to be done at the Farmhouse. ServPro is currently undertaking the cleaning at the house. The Secretary received authorization from the Board for ServPro to order a dumpster at the Township’s expense. Mrs. Ewald moved to accept the proposal for asbestos removal from the basement for $700.00. Mr. Willig seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Elmer said the BFC will address the Scope of Work dated 10/31/01 from Frens and Frens at their next meeting. The Secretary was asked to order 21 “No trespassing” signs for the farmhouse and outbuildings.
Mr. Theurkauf explained that County Parks & Rec Director Bill Gladden has a committee meeting with the Commissioners on November 8th, at which time the Township’s application for acquisition funding for the Brightside Farm will be discussed. Because page 7 of the Grant manual indicates that property containing structures or outbuildings is ineligible, the section of the Brightside Farm containing the house and outbuildings must be excluded from the application. The County needs to know how this will be accomplished, and how much land will be excluded. This could be done by creating a 2-lot subdivision or by creating an easement. Mr. Kohli suggested drafting an easement description. Mr. Theurkauf said a subdivision would probably require 6 acres for the homestead tract, where an easement would only require about 4, including an access easement for the driveway. Mr. Connolly was concerned that accepting grant funding might restrict the Township’s later intentions for use of the land. Mr. McErlane said the Township can always withdraw from the application later and that this deliberation doesn’t have to take place now. Mr. Comitta said he doesn’t see that the grant funding will restrict the use of the property, since projects at Charlestown Park have all been implemented under the same program. The Board agreed to have Mr. Theurkauf communicate with the County Parks and Rec Department that the Township intends to create an easement excluding the homestead area, including all structures, from the grant application.
Mr. Panizza said he has received Mr. Kohli’s latest review letter and agrees with all its comments. He requests final approval from the Board for the two lot subdivision. Mrs. Ewald asked if the plan is protecting all trees and open space. Mr. Panizza said the plan doesn’t propose any improvements, although a house is anticipated for Lot #1. Mr. Kuhn said clearing has already taken place on this lot. Mr. Panizza said the clearing has been less than 1 acre. Mr. McErlane said his firm represents the owners of Lot #2, the Bruders, and informed the Board that they are planning an addition for the back of the existing home on that property. Mr. Willig asked if there is any language on the plans to protect the trees in the back. Mr. Panizza said neither property owner was willing to impose any restrictions on their property at this time. Mr. Kohli said he requested deed restrictions in his initial review but that the applicant declined; therefore there are no covenants on lot #2. He pointed out however, that a conditional use approval would be needed for disturbing the steep slopes in the woods, allowing the Board some future control.
Saul Kun, Whitehorse Road, disagreed with the statement that less than an acre of woods was cleared. He asked that the applicant be required to replace those trees with a buffer along the property line between his property and lot #1. Lee Haller, owner of Lot #1, said he has pictures of the trees he removed, and that they were dead and largely falling over or fallen over. They were cleared for safety reasons. He said he had the pictures on his computer and could produce them this evening. Mr. Kun said he can return to the next meeting with slides. He said Mr. Haller has been clearing for a month. Mr. Kuhn agreed that Mr. Kun raised this concern about a month ago. Mr. Haller said that at that time, he was using a brush hog to mow and clear low growth under the larger trees. No chainsaw was used for tree cutting until Saturday. He said all the wood is still on the site and its size and condition as deadwood is apparent. Mr. Kun disagreed; he said they were live trees.
Mrs. Ewald made it clear numerous times during this discussion that she wanted to visit the site prior to voting on this application. Mr. Kuhn asked if there is a problem with planting a buffer. Mr. Panizza said he doubts either property owner will be willing to install one. Mr. Haller said it’s over 1,000 feet to Mr. Kun’s house through the woods. He himself wants to look into the woods and not at an evergreen buffer. At this point, he showed the pictures from his computer to the Board members.
Mr. Panizza said landscaping plans must be included with the building permit, and that is the time to deal with this issue. Mr. Kuhn said the Board has seen this circumstance before, where people cut down trees prior to subdivision to avoid this issue.
After further discussion, Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Saddlebrook 2-lot subdivision subject to Mr. Theurkauf’s review of the landscape plan at the time a building permit application is made. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn amended the motion to add that the Board will also review the landscape plan. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor. Mr. Kohli said he’ll check the site tomorrow and that any tree removed over 12” in caliper must be replaced by ordinance.
Mr. Panizza said he has minor items to address on Mr. Oeste’s latest revised stipulation document he received 11/2/01. Mr. Willig suggested that Mr. Panizza address these items in a letter to be discussed at the 11/19/01 meeting and the matter was placed on that agenda. Mr. Panizza also agreed to an extension of the decision deadline, and Mr. Dobson provided a letter of extension to January 7, 2002.
Mr. Panizza asked that instead of continuing the conditional use hearing on Spring Lane Farms at the 11/19/01 meeting that a general discussion of the plan and one or two alternatives take place instead. Mr. Willig agreed to make the change to the agenda.
Mrs. Ewald moved to deny the Land Development Plan for Lot #18 unless a letter extending the decision deadline is received. Mr. Willig seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Resolution #581-01, approving the Charlestown Elementary School final subdivision and land development plan. Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Emma Builders Inc. Escrow Release #4 in the amount of $187,973.75 and Mr. Willig seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Theurkauf explained that the County sent an amended Visions Partnership Grant Agreement extending the termination date to 3/31/02 and awarding an additional $7,500 to the existing grant agreement. Both amendments were to allow time and funding for the Township to include elements required under Act 68 of the MPC not included in the original award. Mr. Theurkauf noted that this work has already been done. Mr. Willig moved to execute the Vision Partnership Grant Agreement Amendment Contract 98.03A and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Willig adjourned the meeting at 12:47 A.M. The Board recessed into Executive Session.