CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
GREAT VALLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL, 7:30 P.M.
December 3, 2001

Present:

Hugh Willig, Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Vice-Chairman, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers, Irene Ewald, James E. McErlane, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Nancy Sarcinello, Linda Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached attendee list.

The meeting was called to order at 7:50 p.m.

Announcements

Mr. Kuhn announced that he recently attended a meeting of Phoenixville region municipalities to discuss cooperative planning efforts.

Mr. Willig announced that the Board held an executive session prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss legal matters.

Mr. Hogan announced that the Valley Forge Christian College will be presenting Handel’s Messiah at 8:00 P.M. on December 6th and recommended it to the public.

Citizens Forum for Non-Agenda Items

Ellen Behrle, Tax Collector elect for the 2002 – 2005 term, stated that she met with current Tax Collector Andy Viscuso and reviewed the duties of the position in detail. She had three questions for the Board: how to handle the transition, Mr. Viscuso’s offer to sell his CPU containing tax records back to 1993 for $100.00, and how to handle tax collector expenses. Mrs. Behrle said her personal computer used by her family is unsuitable for the Township’s records, which should be on a separate machine. After some discussion, it was decided by a majority of the Board that the Township will pay for a new computer, to remain township property while in the Tax Collector’s possession and use. Mrs. Behrle will obtain specs and pricing for consideration and said she wishes to include a zip drive for efficient back up purposes. The information can then be transferred to the Township office computer on a regular schedule. The Board further authorized Mrs. Behrle to obtain other equipment from Mr. Viscuso, which he offered to sell for $150.00. This includes a telephone, answering machine, filing cabinet and office furniture. The fax machine used by Mr. Viscuso is owned by the Township and will be transferred to Mrs. Behrle’s office. Mrs. Behrle said she contacted Verizon and confirmed that the current telephone number for the Tax Collector can be transferred to her home office. The Board confirmed that the Township covers the cost of the additional line and service for this number and authorized her to proceed. Mrs. Behrle said she’ll coordinate ordering envelopes and forms with the Township Secretary. Mrs. Behrle stated that she has made arrangements for her required bonding and the certificate is expected by the end of the week.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes of November 5, 2001

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of November 5, 2001 and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.

Minutes of November 19, 2001

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of November 19, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and four were in favor. Mr. Willig did not vote, as he did not attend that meeting.

Reports

Treasurer’s Report November 1 – 30, 2001

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for November 1- 30, 2001 and Mr. Hogan seconded. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report – December 3, 2001 General Fund

Mrs. Ewald questioned check #3694 for Julius Constantine. Mrs. Csete explained that it is a tax refund due to a lowered assessment determined by the County Board of Assessment Appeals. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Accounts Payable report for the General Fund for December 3, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.

Zoning Officer

Mr. Kohli stated that the Building Permit report for November is on file. He said he sent a letter to selected property owners on Coldstream and Marian Roads notifying them that they need to trim their trees to improve sight distances along Coldstream Road. He said he has received only one call in response. One property owner said someone has already cut her lower branches. It was determined that this work was not done by the Township or PECO Energy.

Mr. Willig noted that the Township has received the PennDOT permit for the traffic light installation at Yellow Springs Road and Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Kohli said the next step is for him to coordinate with Iacobucci Homes, which is handling the contracting of the work privately as part of their understanding with East Whiteland and Charlestown Townships. Iacobucci Homes has funds placed in escrow for this work as part of their approval for Charlestown Oaks. Mr. Kohli estimates a time frame of 14-16 weeks before the signal is operational, primarily due to the lead time on ordering the masts.

Planning Commission

Mr. Allen said the Planning Commission last met on November 13th. The main discussion was on the Dixon subdivision plan, which is in the status of a sketch plan at this time due to additional materials still outstanding for a complete preliminary plan submission. He said a group of neighbors were present who expressed their concerns over the grouping of 6 proposed houses close to their own houses in Three Ponds. The plan is utilizing the Open Space Option.

Mr. Allen said the Planning Commission considered the importance of notifying abutting landowners at the onset of the sketch plan phase and decided that the Township Secretary should send notifications prior to sketch plan discussions. The Secretary expressed concern over this new procedure, stating that it will lead to confusion, as there are various uncertainties relative to the less formal sketch plan process. She hesitated to accept responsibility for sending out incomplete and possibly inaccurate information to the public. Mrs. Ewald said it could be detrimental to the Township’s position by making them the responsible party. She preferred that the applicant be the one to send out notices and suggested revising the Subdivision Ordinance to reflect this new requirement. Mr. Willig said he believes it is to the Township’s benefit to notify landowners of proposed plans early. After further discussion, he requested that the Planning Commission draft a simple ordinance amendment requiring the applicant to notify abutting landowners of any sketch plan submission.

Mr. Allen said that at upcoming meetings, the Planning Commission will prioritize necessary ordinance revisions and new ordinance proposals that will result from the new Comprehensive Plan once it is approved.

Historical Commission/HARB

Mr. Philips stated that the November Report has been submitted. The Historical Commission/HARB met on November 13th to continue hearings on the Baughman Mill. The hearing was continued to December 11th, 4 P.M. Mr. Philips reported that Mr. Frens gave an update on the Brightside Farm, and the Historical Commission made a recommendation that the Supervisors appoint one of its members to the Farm Committee.

Roadmaster

Mr. Faggioli was not present. His report is on file.

Fire Marshal/EOC

Mr. Alston reported on the Kimberton Fire Company’s activities for October and November, and the East Whiteland Fire Company’s activities for November. There were 7 automatic fire alarms, a gas leak outside on Benburb Road, a trash fire on Marion Road, a leaves fire on Marion Road, a Chimney fire on Great Woods Lane and a wires fire on General Warren Boulevard. There were 8 vehicle accidents reported and two controlled burns. He reminded the public that due to the ongoing drought, the outdoor burning ban remains in effect and requested that people reduce their water usage. Mr. Alston also reminded the public to inspect their holiday lighting and exercise caution in their use.

Mr. Alston said the new fire ordinance has been redrafted and will be distributed to the Board shortly from the Solicitor’s office. Mr. Philips requested that the Planning Commission also have an opportunity to review and comment on it. It will be discussed at their December 11th meeting and will be advertised for adoption at the Supervisors’ meeting on December 17th if ready by that time.

Parks & Recreation Board

Mr. Hogan reported that the Parks & Rec Chairman, Mark Connolly spoke to Bill Gladden at the County to investigate the possibility of obtaining an extension on the Round X Park Improvement Grant to June 30, 2002 from December 31, 2001. This is primarily due to reaching the end of the tree planting season for this year, exacerbated by the drought conditions currently existing. The portion of the project yet to be completed mainly deals with landscaping for the new Charlestown Park fitness trail.

Mr. Hogan reported that he started on the excavation work for his geothermal playground design, and while doing so discovered a stone wall under ground in that area. Mr. Philips offered to report the finding to the Historical Commission so they can report to the PA Historical & Museum Commission if required or deemed advisable. Mr. Hogan added that the Pipe & Precast Concrete Company has offered to donate square culvert boxes to use in the geothermal design provided delivery costs are covered.

Brightside Farm Committee (BFC)

Bob Elmer, BFC Chairman, provided a report on activities of the committee during November. He said the Committee is meeting on December 5th and will work up numbers breaking down the $80,000 budget figure for 2002 to discuss with the Board at their December 17th meeting when the 2002 Budget will be adopted.

He reported that the new tenants, the Binghams, are now moved in to the house. A list of needed repairs will be addressed as soon as possible, and a house warming is being planned for a January date. User-friendly trail signage is being designed at present.

He reported that a request has been made by Alix Coleman and Newell Burgess to keep livestock (7 heifers) in the pastures behind the barns. Fencing would have to be installed, and electric fencing is proposed as most cost effective. Mr. Kuhn said he would only consider this if these individuals paid the cost of the fencing. Mr. Hogan added that the barn roof would also need to be repaired before moving any livestock in. Louise Cantrell-Kehoe, member of the Parks & Rec Board, pointed out that this pasture area was being discussed as a possible future equestrian center during the preliminary visioning process for the Farm. She questioned the approval of any use prior to having a plan in place. Mr. Elmer said the use of the pasture for the cows isn’t an irreversible use and he doesn’t think it interferes with long term planning. Mr. Theurkauf asked what the acreage of the proposed enclosure would be and Mr. Elmer said 4 acres. Mr. Theurkauf said this is insufficient for 7 cows. There should be 1 – 1 ˝ acres per cow, otherwise the ground will be overused. A resident agreed and suggested that the electric fence be installed in such a way as to make it relocatable as needed. Mrs. Kuhn said she sees electric fencing as a practical, inexpensive method of containing livestock as compared to post and rail fencing, which was also discussed. Mr. Philips agreed with Ms. Cantrell-Kehoe that the plan should be in place before piecemeal uses of the property are agreed upon. Mrs. Ewald said the Committee has been discussing the planning process. She stated her opinion that the best way to develop the long-term plan is to generate interest and involvement from the general public instead of from a few special interest groups. She noted that with marked trails on the property, a small parking area would attract walkers to the Farm and bring more people into the process. Mrs. Staas said she feels the BFC could be very instrumental in the planning process. She also believes it may be premature to allow the keeping of livestock at this stage, asking what time period would be involved, and pointed out that there could be a liability issue.

Discussion was held on the Historical Commission’s request for the appointment of one of its members to the Brightside Farm Committee. Initially they suggested Dale Frens, but the Board felt that as a consultant, his contribution would be best made by maintaining a consultant role on an as-needed basis. Mr. Willig requested that the Historical Commission make a recommendation of one of its other members. Mr. Philips agreed to communicate this to the Historical Commission.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority

Mr. Rodgers reported that the VFSA met on November 12th. A neighbor to the plant brought up several issues including the need to replace landscape screenings that died and septic backup into his house. The VFSA will replace the screening, and repeated their offer to supply Mr. Ozorowski with a pump to connect to his sewer line with 2 check valves to prevent the back up problem. Mr. Ozorowski declined unless the VFSA would pay for the continuing maintenance and electric service of the pump, which was not agreed to. The VFSA also gave Mr. Ozorowski the option of disconnecting from the public sewer and changing to an onsite septic system, which he declined.

Personnel matters continued to be under discussion. Certain policies were changed that led employees to be concerned their 2002 take home pay will be less than that in 2001. The VFSA is working with them and the matters are still in negotiation.

Mr. Rodgers reported that finances for 2001 looked very good with a surplus of over $175,000. The approved budget for 2002 projects a surplus of $141,000.

Mr. Rodgers said the VFSA is investigating the purchase of an automatic sniffer to test the plant for odor control.

Turnpike Commission Community Advisory Committee

Mrs. Staas said a meeting of the CAC has been scheduled for December 20th, at which time traffic study results will be presented. Mr. Willig said he is waiting for a follow up response from East Whiteland Supervisor Michelle Vaughan on Charlestown’s request for the results of East Whiteland’s recent traffic study. He will follow up.

Old Business

Resolution #582-01: Adoption of the Comprehensive Plan

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Resolution #582-01 adopting the revised Comprehensive Plan dated 9/14/01 for Charlestown Township. Mr. Kuhn seconded, and Mr. Willig called for discussion.

Mrs. Ewald asked if there were any proposals for adaptive reuse of the Devault Quarry and the Devault line of the railroad. Mr. Comitta said that earlier drafts of the comprehensive plan proposed a park & ride lot at the quarry, but in later iterations, it was relocated to the northern portion of the Township. Ms. Sarcinello said the relocation was made to an area off Charlestown Road near the Valley Forge Christian College in order to tie in to the proposed Schuylkill Valley Metro and to capture vehicular traffic before it travels through the Township. She added that the current revised comprehensive plan draft indicates a potential corporate or residential campus for the Devault Quarry. Mrs. Ewald said she feels that the proposed uses for the Quarry are not sensible and don’t adequately address the issue. Mr. Willig said future potential uses of the Quarry are not precluded by not being mentioned in the Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Kuhn said the Quarry is expected to operate another 50 years anyway. Mr. Rodgers said as a concept plan, the Comprehensive Plan can be changed in the future if necessary to address this issue or others.

Mrs. Ewald said she has a real difficulty with the inclusion of a Transfer of Development Rights tool in the proposed Comprehensive Plan. She said TDR’s would be a mistake to implement in Charlestown and would not be sustainable here. Mr. Kuhn said it is a tool that can be used or not as deemed appropriate, and that as a concept it should be looked at. Mr. Willig said future Boards will have to decide cautiously whether or not to utilize the TDR concept. Mr. Theurkauf said TDR was included as a tool to protect certain areas of the township by removing density from given areas. Mr. Comitta said his firm wrote the TDR ordinance for Edgemont Township and that it is considered very successful and as having paid great dividends to that Township. Mrs. Ewald repeated that she has very serious concerns about TDR.

With no further comments or questions, Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor. Mrs. Ewald was opposed for the reasons she outlined earlier, namely the insufficiency of a plan for the Quarry and rail line and the inclusion of a TDR concept.

Mr. Kuhn asked Mrs. Ewald why she didn’t bring her comments to the Planning Commission over the past five months or submit them in writing as requested three months ago. Mrs. Ewald stated that she did communicate her comments to the Planning Commission. Mr. Kuhn asked the record to reflect that no one in the room agreed with her statement when he polled them.

Deerfield Proposed Settlement Stipulations – Final Draft

John Panizza and Bob Smiley were present from Genterra Corp. to discuss the final draft of the proposed settlement stipulations for the Deerfield subdivision. Mr. Panizza said he is in agreement with the final draft and requested the Board’s approval.

Mr. Kohli said that the final draft did not include the requirement that the sketch plan accompanying the agreement depict where septic systems can be located in the open space. Mr. Smiley showed the settlement plan dated 6/5/01 and indicated the 50 foot buffer along the backs of properties abutting Open Space Area #3 where it was agreed that 3 septic systems could be located if necessary. The actual area was not shown on the plan, and Mr. Panizza agreed to supply a revised settlement sketch plan depicting this area for review. After some discussion, it was determined that the 50 foot buffer would be depicted on the opposite side of the property lines and buffer between the properties and Open Space Area #3.

Mr. Theurkauf stated that upon further review of the stipulations, he recommended adding that any rear building façade visible from Yellow Springs Road be required to be clad in natural looking materials. Mr. Panizza agreed to this addition to the stipulations.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Proposed Settlement Stipulations for Deerfield subject to the consultants’ comments. Mr. Hogan seconded and Mr. Willig called for discussion.

Mrs. Ewald asked if the stipulation addresses Mr. Theurkauf’s comments on septic disposal with regard to concerns with the cross-easements. Mr. Theurkauf said he notes that the legal parameters are in place but that he believes it preferable to place secondary or replacement systems in the open space rather than on the neighbor’s property. Mr. Panizza said this would reverse the priority sequence already determined in prior discussions, which is as follows.

  1. Construct a standard in-ground system on each lot to serve that lot. No backup site is needed.
  2. If a standard system is not feasible, construct a drip irrigation system on that lot within its boundaries with a 2nd site on that lot to serve as a backup in case of future failure. The backup site is to be tested.
  3. If a drip irrigation system isn’t feasible, construct a sand mound system on that lot within its boundaries with a 2nd site on that lot to serve as a backup in case of future failure. The backup site is to be tested.
  4. If the secondary site for (2) or (3) cannot be placed within the boundaries of its lot, utilize the blanket cross easement. The backup site is to be tested.
  5. If (2), (3), and (4) are not feasible, position the back up site in the open space. The backup site is to be tested.

Mrs. Ewald asked how many cross easements there are. Mr. Panizza said he couldn’t guess, as various scenarios could take place, however, there would be a maximum of three in the open space area. Mrs. Ewald said she feels the cross easement plan is not in the best interests of the township and opens Pandora’s box.

Mr. Rodgers asked when the well testing will be performed and what rate is considered acceptable. Mr. Panizza said they will perform well testing at the onset of all lot testing including perc tests, and that he considers a rate of 1 ˝ gallons per minute to be adequate. Mr. Kohli said 4-5 gallons per minute is a good rate, and that he’s seen a minimum of 1 gallon per minute with a reservoir system.

Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor. Mrs. Ewald was opposed due to her objections to the cross easement plan. Mr. Panizza said that as the preliminary plan process moves forward he will be open to discussing any better options that come along.

Spring Oaks Off-site Traffic Improvements – Memorandum of Understanding

Mr. Willig tabled this item, as the draft memorandum was not yet available for discussion.

New Business

Landscapes 21st Century Fund Round XIII – Execute Contract

Mr. Kuhn noted that by accepting the county grant of up to $450,000 for the previous acquisition of the Pyle Farm, there would be some restrictions on the use of the land. For example, a Community Supported Agriculture Program is prohibited. Mr. Willig said a CSA could still be done on the portion of the property not included in the grant application. It is anticipated that there will be sufficient acreage to support this and other programs that may be disallowed by the County. Mr. Theurkauf said he’s spoken to Bill Gladden at the County on this issue and that there is no clear list of uses that are not permitted; however, he proposes that during the visioning process, the Township go to the County and request a review of proposed uses.

Mr. Kuhn asked where the visioning process stands currently. Mr. Theurkauf said it has been on a back burner for some time. The entire process will take 18 months to 2 years to complete, mainly in order to allow as much public input and comment as possible. Mr. Kuhn said that $80,000 has been budgeted for the Farm in 2002 and he’s concerned that these funds not be expended in a way that will interfere with or negate the ultimate master plan. Mr. Theurkauf agreed, stating that his understanding is that funds expended prior to the visioning process are for maintenance items only.

Mr. Kuhn said he feels the visioning process meetings should be conducted by the planner and not by the Board of Supervisors. He feels this is the best way to bring out public participation. Mrs. Ewald suggested that the Brightside Farm Committee conduct the meetings. Mr. Willig suggested that the Committee conduct them along with the planner, and Mr. Kuhn noted that the planner should drive the process. Mrs. Ewald said the community should drive the process with the planner to facilitate it. Mr. Kuhn said the Brightside Farm Committee was formed for the purpose of overseeing maintenance of the property only. Mr. Theurkauf said the next step should be to proceed with an analysis of the site and revisit the ideas that came from the first two visioning meetings. The ideas would be re-examined with an attempt to build a consensus on use of the property.

Mrs. Ewald moved to execute the Landscapes 21st Century Fund Round XIII Contract and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.

Heritage Park & Open Space Grant Round X – Execute Extension to Contract Deadline

Mr. Kuhn moved to execute the contract extending the deadline on the Heritage Park & Open Space Grant Round X to June 30, 2002, and Mr. Willig seconded. All were in favor.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Planning Agreement for the Phoenixville Region

Mr. Kuhn provided some background on the meetings being held with Phoenixville Borough, Spring City, and the townships of Charlestown, Schuylkill, East Pikeland, East Vincent and West Vincent to discuss the possibility of entering an intergovernmental cooperative agreement. The group would attempt to develop a joint comprehensive plan to implement a regional planning concept as encouraged by the MPC. He said that such an agreement could serve to address fair share issues. Phoenixville Borough is interested in rehabilitation and infill and may be able to take on density that a township such as Charlestown would prefer to avoid in order to preserve open space. The group would share expenses, with consultants and professionals to invoice each on a prorata basis. The members would share the hosting of meetings, with Charlestown scheduled to host in March and April. Mr. Kuhn had previously circulated the proposed Agreement to the Board for consideration.

Mr. Willig noted that entering into the agreement doesn’t bind the Township to the group’s recommendations, but Mrs. Ewald was concerned with retiring from the agreement in the event it doesn’t work out. Mr. Kuhn said you can get out of the agreement although the steps may be somewhat cumbersome.

Mrs. Ewald said the Charlestown Board met with East Whiteland’s Board on two occasions and they were interested in a joint arrangement. Mr. Kuhn said they haven’t communicated any interest lately and had declined to attend the meetings of the Phoenixville Region group. Mr. Willig said both entities could be dealt with if the opportunity arises. Mr. Kuhn said he’s not interested in pursuing an association with East Whiteland but is amendable if another Board member wishes to do so and meet with them.

Mr. Willig suggested that the board members review the agreement so that comments can be addressed at a future meeting in time to respond to the group before their next meeting in late January.

Adjournment

Mr. Willig moved to adjourn and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 A.M., after which time the Board recessed into Executive Session.

Respectfully submitted,


Linda M. Csete, Secretary