December 17, 2001


Hugh Willig, Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Vice-Chairman, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers, Irene Ewald, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., 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. Hogan announced that he has received 3 estimates for fence repair work at Charlestown Park and that preparation work is already taking place.

Mrs. Ewald wished to thank all the members of the various boards and commissions who have served the Township in the past year and wished everyone in attendance a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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

Citizens Forum for Non-Agenda Items

No items were brought forward at this time.

Award Presentation

Mrs. Ewald presented an award to retiring Tax Collector Andy Viscuso on behalf of the Board. Mr. Viscuso served as Tax Collector for 20 years and as Elected Auditor for 14 ½ years prior to that. She thanked him for his assistance in the transition process for the tax collector-elect and read aloud the certificate presented to him in recognition of his exceptional service to the Township. She also recognized his wife, Helen Viscuso for her support over the years. Mr. Viscuso said it was a privilege to serve the Township and thanked the Board members for their support.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes of December 3, 2001

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of December 3, 2001 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.


Accounts Payable Report – December 17, 2001 General Fund

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable report for the General Fund for December 17, 2001 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor.


Altemose Conditional Use Application

The hearing was opened and a court reporter took proceedings. The applicant requested in a letter dated 12/14/01 to the Township Solicitor that the hearing be continued from this evening due to the unavailability of a witness. The matter was continued to January 21, 2002 with an emergency date of February 18, 2002.

Old Business

Brooklands Final Subdivision & Land Development Plan

Chuck Dobson, P.E. was present from Genterra Corp. to seek approval of the Brooklands application dated 5/19/99 and last revised 10/15/01. He noted that he received approval from the County Sewage Enforcement Officer today on the Sewage Facilities Planning Module.

Mr. Dobson said Mr. Panizza met with abutting property owners, Paul and Patricia Stevens, along with their attorney and they have reached an agreement. Along the back property line of Lot #8 abutting the Stevens’, a 75’ conservation area will be created to coincide with the building setback line. No vegetation removal, other than dead trees, and no earth moving will take place in this zone. Three 8-foot evergreen trees will be planted at the property line at locations to be determined by field conditions in order to provide more of a buffer for the Stevens. Blair Stiner of Fieldstone Partners said the language for this agreement has been faxed to the Stevens’ attorney. Mrs. Stevens indicated they haven’t seen the document yet, and Mr. Stiner acknowledged he forgot to bring the original this evening as discussed previously. Mrs. Ewald asked if this document will be recorded along with the plan, and Mr. Stiner said yes. She asked if the easement is to be set up in favor of the Township, and Mr. Oeste said it hasn’t been drafted yet but will be done in a matter satisfactory to the Board. Mr. Stiner is responsible for drafting the language.

Mr. Dobson referenced Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/3/01 and Mr. Theurkauf’s review letter dated 11/13/01 and stated he will comply with all issues detailed therein with clarification needed for item #4 on Mr. Kohli’s letter. Item #4 states that the basin outfall pipe still encroaches into the easement and the Board should examine this for acceptability. Mr. Dobson said that due to the design of the basin, engineered prior to the stipulation requiring the stream corridor easement, the stormwater must discharge at a given elevation, causing the outlet pipe to be located 30 to 40 feet into the eased area. Mr. Kohli suggests a contour line that would allow for relocation of the pipe. Mr. Dobson said he would agree to make the change if the details could be worked out between him and Mr. Kohli. With that issue resolved, Mr. Dobson said he can comply with all other comments.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the 13 sheet Final Subdivision & Land Development Plan for Brooklands dated 5/19/99 and last revised 11/06/01 prepared by Chester Valley Engineers, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The 75 foot area to the rear of Lot #8 will be subject to a conservation easement disallowing disturbance of any kind except for the removal of dead trees.
  2. The execution of an agreement between the Applicant and Paul and Patricia Stevens.
  3. Compliance with the review comments contained in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/3/01 with clarification on item #4. The basin outfall pipe will be rerouted to align with contour 554 to avoid any disturbance on the conservation easement, with the design subject to approval by Mr. Kohli.
  4. Compliance with the review comments contained in Mr. Theurkauf’s memorandum dated 11/13/01.
  5. Compliance with the Stipulation and Order dated 9/13/01.
  6. Financial security to be posted in accordance with Mr. Kohli’s recommendation.
  7. The final plan to be revised according to the conditions incorporated in this approval.

Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called for further discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.

Mr. Stevens complimented the Board on their work with the applicant on this plan and said the result will be appreciated by the neighbors and for those who will eventually live on the site.

Appointment to the Brightside Farm Committee

Mr. Philips brought forward the Historical Commission’s recommendation that the Supervisors appoint one of its members, Ray H. Ott, to the Farm Committee. Mrs. Ewald moved to appoint Ray Ott to the Brightside Farm Committee, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.

Old Mill

Mr. Philips said the HARB has drafted its recommendation for the old mill and Mr. Kuhn said he would relate information from Mr. Bender during an executive session following tonight’s meeting. The HARB will cancel its meeting for tomorrow at 4:00 P.M.

Commons @ Great Valley Lot 18

Tim Townes was present from J. Loew & Associates to seek land development approval for Lot 18 of the Commons at Great Valley. He said he has clean review letters from Mr. Kohli and Mr. Theurkauf, and that an approval letter from the Valley Forge Sewer Authority was received today for sanitary sewer connection after he provided them with documentation on the ejector pump system proposed to connect to their low-pressure system.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan dated 9/24/01 for Lot 18 at the Commons at Great Valley subject to confirmation of all items on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/13/01. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.

Mr. Philips expressed his appreciation that Mr. Townes and his organization have always been accommodating to Planning Commission recommendations, resulting in the Township’s best interests being met.

Spring Oaks Off-site Traffic Improvements – Memorandum of Understanding

Mr. Willig tabled this item, as the draft memorandum will not be ready until January, according to Mr. Oeste.

New Business

Discussion – 2002 Budget

Phil Staas, chairman of the Board of Auditors, stated that the Board met on 12/10/01 to review the 11/19/01 draft budget for 2002. He said the Auditors were concerned with the decrease in revenue and increase in expenses, causing a decrease of the carryover for the general fund into 2003. He said he spoke to the Township’s appointed auditor, Emory Todd, CPA, today to discuss where interest rates are headed next year. Mr. Todd believes they will remain low and therefore decrease the estimated interest earned for next year. Mr. Staas was concerned with the low rate compared to the rate being paid for the 2000 bond issue. Mrs. Csete said the current bond rate paid for December 2001 was 1.2% compared to interest earned of 1.85%.

Mr. Staas said the Board has been good at controlling expenses and maximizing revenues, but if current trends continue, there will be insufficient carryover going into 2003. He said the budget should be reexamined on a regular basis throughout the year, and that the Auditors would be pleased to participate in this process as well as in preparation of the 2003 budget.

Mr. Kuhn asked the solicitor if this is an appropriate activity for the Board of Auditors. Mr. Oeste responded that this is not one of their statutory duties. He said he has concerns over their participation, since they ultimately would audit the records. He said that in all the Townships his firm represents, none of the auditors participate in any functions other than auditing.

Mr. Willig stated his opinion that the Board realizes it went into reserves this year and acknowledges it can’t continue. All expenditures were worthwhile and necessary, and in the case of roadwork, were making up for years of minimal road repair and maintenance. Mr. Kuhn said the Board wanted to hold the tax rate steady for 2002 and will consider whether an increase is necessary for 2003, which will allow time to inform the public.

Mrs. Ewald said the tax rate proposed for 2002 is the same as that in 1983, and that the Board must be doing something right. If an increase is not needed, it’s not imposed. She said the Board is doing a good job and commended the analyses performed by Mrs. Csete on a regular reporting basis.

Bob Elmer, Chairman of the Brightside Farm Committee, presented the Committee’s detailed budget proposal dated 12/17/01. Mr. Elmer pointed out that a major portion of the budget consists of start-up costs that will be one-time only expenses. The total requested is $101,700. Mr. Willig noted that consulting fees are shown on the proposal and asked Mrs. Csete if they are incorporated elsewhere in the budget. Mrs. Csete indicated that they are incorporated under general consulting categories for the various consultants and do not need to be included in the Brightside Farm budget specifically. With the exclusion of this $25,000 allotted for consulting, the budget requested is in line with the proposed figure of $20,000 for maintenance and $60,000 for improvements.

Mr. Rodgers said he thinks $60,000 is too high for improvements and proposed a decrease to $30,000. He said he attended the Brightside Farm Committee’s budget session and felt they were estimating their costs too high. Mr. Kuhn said he thought the $60,000 was acceptable, but noted that this doesn’t mean the budget proposal crafted by the BFC should be accepted as an approved “To Do” list. As an example, why work on the manure pit if there won’t be any cows in the future? This can’t be determined until the visioning process is completed. He said his understanding of the BFC’s function is to focus on maintenance issues, not restoration and programs. Mr. Willig said he wouldn’t reduce the $60,000 line item but would like to look at ways to reduce costs. He suggests this amount be kept in consideration of additional unforeseen conditions at the historic property next year. Mrs. Ewald said the budget proposal outlines tasks that need to be addressed at the Farm and sees it as a good foundation. There was additional discussion on projects at the Brightside Farm.

Mr. Rodgers was interested in appropriating an additional $20,000 toward paving. He said Howell Road alone will cost over $100,000, and Pickering and Yellow Springs Roads also need to be done. Mrs. Ewald said road maintenance should be better controlled. She gave an example of crack sealing work on 5/25/01 that cost $960.00 for 8 hours of work. She noted that it only takes 17 minutes to walk Union Hill Road and questioned why this job should take 8 hours with vehicular equipment. She proposed making a management change in January.

Mrs. Csete suggested revisiting the budget in the spring after the winter snow season ends to determine if more funds can be directed toward paving via a budget amendment.

Mrs. Ewald requested that the Board of Auditors examine the Supervisors’ salaries and set the pay for next year. Other Board members were not interested in visiting the issue.

Resolution to Levy Taxes for 2002

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Resolution #582-01 setting the real estate property millage at .52 mills. Mrs. Ewald/Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.

Resolution to Adopt 2002 Budget

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Resolution #583-01 adopting the 2002 Budget draft last revised 12/17/01 with the intention of reviewing expenditures in the Spring to determine if more paving can be afforded. Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.

Request for Use of Brightside Farm

Russ Hanscom, member of the Brightside Farm Committee, said the Committee was approached with a request for permission to hold a beagling event on New Years’ Day. About 20 vehicles would be expected to park at the Farm. After some discussion, the Board agreed to the request, and suggested a letter be sent outlining conditions. Certain areas will be marked off as protected.

Altemose Land Development Plan

Mr. Rodgers moved to deny Leon and Carol Altemose’s Land Development plan for Beau Manoir dated 12/27/00 and last revised 11/1/01 based on the areas of non-compliance outlined in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/6/01 unless an extension to the current deadline of 12/31/01 is received prior to the end of the year. Mr. Kuhn seconded and all were in favor.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Planning Agreement for the Phoenixville Region

Mr. Kuhn moved to sign the Intergovernmental Cooperative Planning Agreement for the Phoenixville Region, which group includes Phoenixville Borough, Spring City, and the townships of Charlestown, Schuylkill, East Pikeland, East Vincent and West Vincent. The purpose of the Agreement is for the group to attempt to develop a joint comprehensive plan. Mr. Willig seconded the motion and called for discussion.

Mrs. Ewald said she is vehemently opposed to the Board’s participation in developing a regional comprehensive plan. She said she has no problem with intergovernmental cooperation, but not if the result is the production of a document that binds Charlestown Township to regional planning decisions. Mr. Willig agreed that Charlestown Township should not subject itself to the will of neighboring municipalities; however he said Charlestown Township has the option of withdrawing from the group in the event the discussions are unsatisfactory. Signing the agreement is an indication that Charlestown Township will actively participate in the group.

Mr. Philips noted that similar concerns were raised with the County’s Landscapes plan but were unfounded. As a Planning Commission member, he thinks this intergovernmental cooperation program is important. Mrs. Ewald asked if the Planning Commission discussed this matter, and Mr. Philips answered not this specific program; however, the concept of intergovernmental cooperation is addressed in the Comprehensive Plan.

Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.

Other Business

Turnpike CAC Meeting

Mr. Philips reminded the Board that the Pa Turnpike Slip Ramp Citizens’ Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday, December 20th, and that the group has received additional traffic studies to review.

Horseshoe Trail – Moskowitz and Davis properties

Mr. Kuhn referenced a letter received this week from the Horseshoe Trail Club voicing concerns over the blocking of the trail between the Moskowitz and Davis properties along Union Hill Road. Mr. Kuhn said he spoke to Mr. Davis about a month ago, and that Mr. Davis’s title company had indicated at the time of his purchase that there was no easement for the trail on his property. Dr. Moskowitz was told to remove the rocks he placed to block the trail by Mr. Kohli, but declined stating the trail likewise does not appear as an easement on his title report. Mr. Kohli added that it is not shown on the original Markley subdivision plan so there is no legal course for the Township to take to keep the trail open at this location. Mr. Kuhn suggested approaching the Charlestown Historical Society to see if the trail can be relocated onto the Markley property they now own which is adjacent to the other properties. Mrs. Ewald offered to contact the neighbors to see if a resolution can be found.

Bond Issue 2000 – Discussion

Mr. Rodgers asked, in light of the $450,000 grant award recently won by the Township from the Chester County Parks & Recreation Open Space Acquisition program, if it should be combined with existing bond proceeds so that the outstanding 2000 bond issue funds can be partially repaid to reduce interest payments and the Township’s outstanding debt. Mr. Kuhn said no, this money should be used to purchase additional open space, and noted that the Township has already paid the acquisition costs on this money. Sue Staas asked for clarification on the use limitations of these funds. Mr. Kuhn said the Township must expend the money within two years or be required to repay it to the bond issuer. It can be used to acquire easements or open space, or for construction of a Township building. The Board asked Mr. Oeste to clarify the limitations on the funds.

Check #3996

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve check #3996 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.


Mr. Willig adjourned the meeting at 9:54 P.M., after which time the Board recessed into Executive Session.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Secretary