Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of January 28, 2002

The second business meeting for January was held January 28, 2002 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Hugh D. Willig, Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, James E. McErlane, Esq., Gary Bender, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Ed Theurkauf, Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator and those on the attached list were present.

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

Presentation – Pennsylvania State Police

Lt. Teper, Barracks Commander at the Embreville Barracks introduced Patrol Sergeant Kevin Pierce (well known for singing performances at public events), Community Relations Officer, Sgt. Matt Carr, and Crime Sergeant Frank McCorkel.

Lt, Teper provided a summary of activity for 2001. He explained to the audience that the State Police has primary jurisdiction in Charlestown Township, designated as Zone 18. Lt. Teper said the State Police want to keep primary jurisdiction and believe they have a lot to offer the Township in the way of resources and experience. Statistics and comments for 2001 included:

Total # of Incidents: 997  
Traffic Accidents: 184  
DUI: 12  
Traffic Enforcement: 57 – sharp increase in the Charlestown Playhouse, Pickering Road area
Criminal Mischief: 13  
False Alarm: 193  
Burglary: 18 – very low number for a population of 4,000 residents
Thefts & Robberies: 38  
Special Emergencies: None  

Lt. Teper reported on three recent incidents. On 1/13/02, 21 were arrested for underage drinking and the parents hosting the party were held responsible. Also on 1/13/02, there was an aggravated assault against a state trooper on Church Road. He credited the trooper for using low force to subdue the individual, who struck him with an ax. On 1/15/02, there was a drunk & disorderly incident where an individual tried to strike three juveniles playing basketball.

Lt. Teper opened the floor to questions and encouraged the citizens to communicate their concerns and comments to the state police at any time, providing business cards to contact him at the barracks. He said citizens can make arrangements for tours of the Barracks for groups such as the Scouts.

Mrs. Ewald commended the State Police on their very thorough investigation of an incident that took place in November 2000 at the Kelly residence and also on their handling of the recent underage drinking incident in which the parents were also cited. Lt. Teper said the Kelly residence was nearly destroyed during a drinking party involving at least 75 underage individuals. Hundreds of students were interviewed over several months, leading to 12 good arrests.

Mr. Kuhn asked for some background on the relationship between the State Police and Charlestown Townwatch. He distributed flyers on Townwatch and encouraged residents to get involved. Trooper Carr said that Charlestown Townwatch is a very active group that has frequently been in touch with the police over the years. He said the Charlestown Hunt residents are presently looking into forming a neighborhood watch of their own. He encouraged the residents to take an active role and look out for their community. They should not hesitate to call the State Police thinking that they’re wasting the police’s time if they only have something minor to report. Mrs. Ewald said that the residents of Charlestown Hunt and Charlestown Oaks can also arrange for patrols from Townwatch, and gave the phone number, 610-935-1111.

A resident asked how far away the Embreville Barracks is from Charlestown Township. Sgt. Pierce said it’s located on Strasburg Road between Downingtown and Coatesville, but told the public that they don’t respond from the Barracks themselves. A Zone Officer is always in Zone 18 ready to respond. Lt. Teper also explained that there is mutual aid between the State Police and local police forces. He gave the example of a recent incident in which a resident reported a prowler outside her house. The Trooper was 15 minutes away but contacted the East Pikeland Township Police Department, which responded in 6 minutes. The State Police arrested the individual. Lt. Teper said that in a larger emergency, there are 3 state police stations close enough to respond and provide mutual aid.

A resident asked if coverage is around the clock, and Lt. Teper responded yes.

A resident asked for statistics on how many traffic violators are pulled over during a monitoring campaign as opposed to random enforcement. Lt. Teper said any statistics are deceiving, because the presence of the police acts as a psychological deterrent.

Mr. Hogan said the Township is considering purchasing a “speed sign”, which flashes the speed of oncoming vehicles, for approximately $10,000. Lt. Teper said if the Township does purchase one, they will assist with enforcement on occasion. He added the State Police Highway Safety Unit has a small sign available to borrow.

Sue Staas, Hana Lane, asked if field “keg” parties are still a problem, as she sees discarded cases of beer along Peaks Pike frequently. Mrs. Ewald said this is a case of trash dumping and not partying that the Township has been trying to identify and stop.

Trooper Carr gave some background on the Camp Cadet Program, which is a 1 week summer camp program for 11-13 year olds held at Camp Saginack in East Vincent Township. The camp is run in a military academy style where the kids learn to work as a team. They work hard but also get to swim and enjoy other recreational activities. The application time is between January 1st and May 15th each year, and he made brochures available. He said this camp is not for troubled kids but for all kids. Mrs. Staas said one of her sons attended years ago and thought it was a great experience.

With no further questions, Lt. Teper said the State Police enjoy a very good relationship with the Board of Supervisors and again encouraged residents to contact them with any concerns or complaints.


Mr. Hogan said the geothermal playground construction at Charlestown Park is moving along, and when completed will keep the playing surface (wood chips) soft all winter. A resident asked for the location of the Park, and Mrs. Ewald gave the location at Township Line Road and Coldstream Road. She described some of the activities there and said there are 5 soccer fields, a mini-football field, a field hockey field, a playground, and an extensive new trail system that has been very successful.

Mr. Willig announced that the Board held an executive session on January 21, 2002 to discuss legal matters.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

Michael Koenig, Buckwalter Farm Lane, asked if anything can be done about light pollution from Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Kohli said the ordinance requires lighting at the intersections and parking areas with shielded-bulb lights to minimize spill. He offered to check them to ensure the spillage is minimized. Mr. Willig said that unfortunately, there is likely nothing that can be done to improve the situation assuming the lights comply. Mr. Theurkauf said he can check to see if the requirements can be tightened for future developments.


Turnpike Commission Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

Alternate Committee Member Sue Staas provided a summary of the CAC memo to the Board dated 1/24/02 requesting direction from the Board on the modified slip ramp proposal presented at the 12/20/01 meeting of the Committee. She introduced Wendy Leland, also an alternate to the Committee. Both regular members are out of town.

Mr. Willig explained to members of the audience that the CAC was put together by the Turnpike Commission to allow input from townships, businesses and local school districts on the slip ramp proposal. The recommendations of the Committee are non-binding. Mrs. Staas added that the CAC was organized in response to public pressure, since the Turnpike Commission is not bound by the usual rules of disclosure. They are not required to hold public hearings for the proposal and refused to do so when asked.

Mrs. Staas said the modified proposal is for a slip ramp that will serve both east and west bound traffic. The ramp will empty onto an access road running parallel to the east side of Route 29 until it enters Route 29 opposite the Catanach Quarry entrance. There will be an overpass over the turnpike and Yellow Springs Road. Part of the Devault Foods property and Dee Solitario’s property will be impacted. A sketch was depicted on the board.

The Charlestown CAC representatives request the Supervisors to direct them to accept this proposed plan with some qualifications. First, the exit onto Route 29 should be relocated to intersect at Flat Road. Route 29 should be widened to 4 lanes from Flat Road to Charlestown Road simultaneously with the completion of the slip ramp and access road instead of being phased in years later as Atwater is developed. The Committee members felt that by bringing the exit closer to the Corporate Center and Atwater it would minimize the traffic on Route 29. Second, help should be sought from the County and state representatives to maintain open space in Charlestown. Third, the Charlestown CAC representatives recommend the Turnpike Commission look into the possibility of a slip ramp off Route 113 to help alleviate traffic coming through Charlestown from the West that currently uses Route 401.

Mrs. Staas said the Charlestown CAC representatives feel that the addition of an exit for those commuting from the west could be of benefit to Charlestown by taking traffic off Route 401, but the real impact is hard to foresee.

Louise Cantrell-Kehoe, Country Lane, asked how the Turnpike Commission interfaces with PennDOT on the Route 29 traffic improvements. Mr. Kuhn said that Atwater has agreed to pay the costs of these improvements and that neither the Turnpike Commission nor PennDOT is responsible for them.

Mrs. Ewald asked if the limestone cavitations in the Route 29 area have been assessed for safety purposes. Mrs. Staas said they have no information on this and had not requested it in the past. She said they could ask the question. Ms. Cantrell-Kehoe said a geological survey is needed.

A resident commented that since Flat Road is restricted from traffic between certain hours, this will be a “T” intersection. Mrs. Staas said most likely East Whiteland Township will keep Flat Road restricted. Mr. McErlane added that there’s presently a petition in East Whiteland to vacate a portion of Flat Road so there would be no access at all.

Mr. Kuhn asked about Charlestown’s risk of challenge in the Limited Industrial district to increase density. Mr. McErlane said there’s no “fair share” question for industrial zoning, only for residential. Having a quarry in Charlestown’s LI District basically satisfies the question of providing sufficient industrial land use in the Township and he’s comfortable that there’s not a great risk of potential challenges to require increased density in the LI zone.

Mr. Willig said the Board must consider the whole concept of the slip ramp. He said there has been no comprehensive impact study for the slip ramp project and no consideration of environmental impacts particularly. He is unwilling to support the project without having an opportunity to review such studies. He said all talk is about traffic, but he is also concerned with land use, increased sprawl and the subsequent worsening of traffic in the future. Traffic count figures and future land use growth are not finite.

Mrs. Ewald said her position has not changed. She stands firmly opposed to any interchange, which she says will have a devastating effect on the Township. She said the original purpose of the slip ramp was to divert traffic from King of Prussia but the focus has now shifted to Atwater. Tredyffrin and East Whiteland Townships have betrayed Charlestown by wanting to burden Charlestown with the traffic that will be created by Atwater, located in those two townships.

Ms. Cantrell-Kehoe said she moved to Charlestown Township to live in the country. She would prefer to drive out of her way to access the turnpike than to have a slip ramp. A resident asked, wouldn’t the slip ramp get people off Charlestown’s smaller roads?

A resident asked what the Township officials can do. Mr. McErlane said the Township has spoken with state legislators for four years. The Township took the Turnpike Commission to court to require a public hearing process but lost the case. It has been rescheduled before the state court. The resident asked what the completion date is for the project. Mrs. Staas said there is neither a start date nor completion date at present. Mrs. Ewald said that the Turnpike Commission is above the law and they should not be. The CAC is unbalanced with too many representatives from the business community.

There was some discussion on contacting Bob Flick and Jim Gerlach to seek support.

Mrs. Staas said the Charlestown CAC representatives are seeking direction from the Board. She asked if the Township will be better or worse off if it continues to oppose the slip ramp and it goes through anyway. Mr. Rodgers asked if the Township can get more concessions from them through cooperation.

A resident said the slip ramps will utilize EZ pass only, disallowing truck traffic. Mrs. Ewald said that could change in the future to become a full interchange, and that thinking of it as an EZ pass slip ramp is short sighted.

Bill Fell, a representative of the Charlestown Oaks Homeowners Association, objected to the continued discussion on this issue and asked the Board to table it and address the residents of Charlestown Oaks, who were present to voice concerns on another agenda item. Mr. Willig said the CAC needs direction tonight, as the next Committee meeting is in two days. The Secretary e-mailed all the Charlestown Oaks residents to advise them their issue was later in the agenda. Several other Charlestown Oaks residents asked that their issue take precedence over the one under discussion. Mr. Kuhn said the members of the CAC have spent hundreds of hours over the past year and a half on the slip ramp proposal and that the Charlestown Oaks residents concerns over the requirement of automatic sprinkler systems in new multi-dwelling unit construction pales in comparison. He asked them not to diminish the importance of the slip ramp issue. At this time, Mr. Willig tabled the slip ramp discussion.

Fire & Hazardous Materials Ordinance

Mr. Hogan began by referring to over twenty e-mails forwarded to the Supervisors and Fire Marshal from the Township Secretary this morning. The e-mails included petitions from Charlestown Oaks residents who are opposed to Section 12 of the proposed ordinance. Section 12 reads:

“All buildings constructed in any hydranted area within the Township after the effective date of this Ordinance, except single-family detached dwellings, shall be equipped with an automatic sprinkler system approved, designed and installed in accordance with Section 906.0 of the BOCA National Building Code/1996 or successor code.”

The petition read as follows:

“It is our Understanding that on January 28, 2002 at your supervisors meeting you will be discussing the approval of a new zoning ordinance regarding the Safety and General Welfare for all residents of Charlestown Township. This ordinance proposal contains Twenty-Three (23) sections. It is my feeling that we are in general agreement with the ordinance with exception of Section 12 that concerns sprinkler systems. We ask you to please either eliminate Section 12 or Grandfather all of Charlestown Oaks for this proposed ordinance because our existing homes in Charlestown Oaks will be at a disadvantage in the future for home re-sale. Thank you for representing my interests.”

Mr. Hogan read his e-mail response to these individuals as follows:

“We have all received numerous e-mails today in the form of a petition to not require sprinklers on new construction at Charlestown Oaks. I can understand the potential for a have and a have not sprinklered home when it comes to selling, but safety takes priority over money.

Philadelphia enacted an ordinance around 1876 requiring masonry walls between housing units. I favor that, but after 127 years it still has not reached Chester County. I have noticed that when one house catches fire in unprotected homes, the entire unit of 4 or 6 or however many also go up in flames. So while I can appreciate the problem, I look at the bigger question of safety for the residents, especially the children. What is a life worth? Certainly more than a sprinkler system. Had I been on the board when Charlestown Oaks was first constructed I would have done my best to require sprinklers. Times change. We have seat belts that didn’t exist 40 years ago, then air bags, then fire alarms, then sprinklers. I would recommend that your group contact Sal Lapio Homes and try to work out an equitable contract to have him sprinkle all the existing homes. Rather than keep down the value of the newer homes, isn’t it better to raise the value of the existing homes? We have around 30 signatures to the petition and I wonder what the others are feeling. I’m sorry to disappoint you. I favor the Fire Ordinance. A strong wind can create a firestorm that can jump from unit to unit. There should not be that threat from the new construction that has sprinklers.”

Mr. Hogan said that safety takes precedence over money, especially for children. What is a life worth?

Mr. Willig said Section 12 is only one portion of the ordinance, and the Township is researching whether or not the new phase of Charlestown Oaks is grandfathered.

Paraphrased comments made by those attending the meeting follow.

  1. A Charlestown Oaks Resident said safety should come first. However, the townhouses have firewalls and are close to the fire department. Resales will suffer if the new section has sprinklers.
  2. A Charlestown Oaks Resident said this will create two completely different neighborhoods. If the ordinance is passed tonight, how will the determination be made as to whether Charlestown Oaks should be grandfathered? There are lots of stay-at-home parents who keep an eye on the neighborhood and can call 911 in a fire emergency. Mrs. Ewald asked if this resident had had a choice of purchasing his townhouse with or without sprinklers, which would he choose? He responded, without sprinklers because they can malfunction and drive up the insurance rates. Mr. Kuhn asked if representatives from Sal Lapio Homes had spoken to the residents. He pointed out that the new townhouses would have other differences as well. He said this issue is about saving a life and is a no-brainer.
  3. Jim Hunt, Sal Lapio Homes said safety should be an issue in single-family homes too. Sprinklers are not cheap to put in. The houses have the same footprint, just with a different façade. Sprinkler systems do add value to a home. Mr. Willig asked for the cost of each installation, and Mr. Hunt responded they would cost $7,000.00 each. Mrs. Ewald asked if a life is worth this amount. Mr. Hunt responded that if so, it should be in the ordinance for single-family homes because it takes longer to exit a single family home.
  4. Bill Fell, a Charlestown Oaks Resident and Homeowners Association Representative said this issue will divide the Homeowner’s Association. Mr. Kuhn asked for the base price and the optioned out price of a townhouse in the new section and was given a range of $228,000 to $280,000. Mrs. Ewald questioned the use of the term “devalued” when residents say sprinklers in the new section will devalue their home. Do they mean their home won’t appreciate at as dramatic a rate as sprinklered homes, or that they will actually go down in value? If a non-sprinklered home was purchased at $175,000 and sells at $245,000, and a new buyer of a sprinklered home pays $220,000 and later sells for $250,000, neither house has gone down in value. Mr. Fell said they want the neighborhood to be consistent. Mrs. Ewald said residents are also assuming a sprinklered and non-sprinklered home will be up for sale simultaneously.
  5. Michael Koenig, Buckwalter Farm Lane, said he is in sympathy with Mr. Kuhn’s no-brainer comment. He said the term devaluation means “less value”, but some purchasers don’t see the value in sprinklers. Also, most appreciation in a community is seen in the lower valued houses. Installing sprinklers in the new townhouse section may actually increase the value of the non-sprinklered townhouses. The logic being employed by Oaks residents tonight is backwards.
  6. Peter Parisi, a Charlestown Oaks resident, said the concept is that Charlestown Oaks is a community. The Board approved the standards for it. He said he would have bought his house with sprinklers if they had been available, and he can’t retrofit his house now. Mr. Hogan asked if the builder could provide an estimate on the cost of retrofitting. Mrs. Ewald asked if Mr. Parisi’s home was up for sale now and he said no. Mr. Willig asked if he believes it’s wrong for a government agency to increase safety standards. Mr. Parisi responded that the Board is changing the Oaks community. Mr. Kuhn said construction hasn’t started in the new phase yet and the plan was only approved 6 months ago.
  7. Barbara Rufe, a Charlestown Oaks resident asked if the existing townhouses will be required to retrofit with sprinklers, and Mrs. Ewald responded no.
  8. A Charlestown Oaks Resident: asked what will be required in Charlestown Oaks. Mr. McErlane responded that the after the ordinance takes effect, new multi-family dwellings will be required to have sprinkler systems. He is researching case law, Toll Bros Inc V Whitehall, and other references, in order to prepare an Opinion for the Board as to whether the new phase of Charlestown Oaks will be grandfathered. The resident responded that he doesn’t see the townhouses in Charlestown Oaks as multi-family dwellings, but Mr. McErlane responded that the Code does. Mr. Willig said the Code defines them as multi-family dwellings because they share a wall. Mr. Kohli agreed, stating these are attached units. Mr. Willig said the term firewalls are a misnomer. They slow fires but don’t stop them. Mr. McErlane pointed out that the reason single-family homes aren’t included in the ordinance is because the vast majority are on well water, and sprinklers require public water.
  9. Bonnie Weaver, Charlestown Oaks Resident asked if having the new units installed with sprinklers could increase the homeowners’ association fees for the rest of the development, for example, if a pressurized line burst in a common area. Mr. Kuhn said if this is the case, the homeowners’ documents could be altered to adjust for this.
  10. Stuart Patterson, a Charlestown Oaks Resident said he is an insurance agent, and insurance rates for sprinklered houses is not much different than for non-sprinklered houses. Sprinkler leakage accidents are costly to insurance companies. The rate for sprinklered systems is only about 4% less. Mr. Hogan asked him if sprinklers save lives, and Mr. Patterson said yes. Mr. Kuhn said any plumbing leak in a house could cause an insurance claim, not just sprinklers.
  11. A Charlestown Oaks Resident asked the Supervisors if they believe it is necessary for the new units to have sprinkler systems. Mrs. Ewald, Mr. Kuhn, and Mr. Hogan said yes.
  12. A Charlestown Oaks Resident asked why sprinklers are not being required for single-family homes. Mrs. Ewald repeated that the majority are on well water and can’t handle a sprinkler system.
  13. A Charlestown Oaks Resident asked the Board if they thought their homes were safe enough without having required sprinklers in the past when they were being built. Mr. Hogan said his 1982 Ford truck doesn’t have airbags, but his newer truck does.
  14. Mr. Parisi said the Board is trying to change the concept for Charlestown Oaks in the middle of the project. Mrs. Ewald said she’s glad to see so many residents of Charlestown Oaks here this evening but is surprised by their concerns. She said if this ordinance had been on the books when Charlestown Oaks was originally approved, she would have made them comply.
  15. A Charlestown Oaks Resident said the community should be uniform throughout; otherwise there are maintenance issues. Mr. Kuhn repeated that this can be resolved through the homeowner’s documents.
  16. Pete Seaborg, a Charlestown Oaks resident, asked what studies have been done to support sprinklers. Fire Marshal Fred Alston responded that the National Fire Protection Agency, numerous insurance companies, BOCA, and others have proved the efficacy of sprinkler systems. Mr. Alston read the following statement he prepared:

    “The fire suppression sprinkler systems have been proven to save lives and substantially reduce damage caused by fire. To deny any party the opportunity to live in a safer environment because “our existing homes in Charlestown Oaks will be at a disadvantage in the future for home re-sale” is unconscionable. This logic is akin to banning the sale of automobiles with advanced safety features because that would adversely affect the trade-in value of cars lacking those features. Further, I find it curious that these citizens are not asking the developer why fire control sprinklers were not installed voluntarily in the existing sections of the development instead of waiting until they are mandated.”

  17. A Charlestown Oaks Resident said he’s lived in the Township for 13 years and moved into Charlestown Oaks more recently. He said he doesn’t think sprinklers will affect their property values. He said Mr. Hogan’s earlier comment on Seton Hall is not relevant. He has a problem with Government telling him what to do. Mr. Koenig said there was a fire in a 1970’s built townhouse community he lived in years ago and no one saw the fire to report it. There were 17 units within 50 yards of one another. The Resident responded that codes have changed since the 1970’s. Mr. Willig said this proves the opposite argument.
  18. Chris Perkins said she also lived in another condo development that had a fire and it never traveled.
  19. Wendy Leland, Great Woods Lane, said that when she bought her house 5 years ago she asked if sprinklers were an option and was told no. Her development is one of the few single-family home communities that does have public water, and she would have added the sprinklers as an option if it had been available. She suggested including single-family houses on public water in the ordinance. It would affect only a few homes, but would make the ordinance all-inclusive. Bill Fell asked how many single-family homes would be affected, and Mr. Kohli answered approximately 5 or 6 still to be constructed in the Whitehorse Meadows development.
  20. Mr. Fell said Charlestown Township forces developments to go elsewhere because the approval process takes so long here. Mrs. Ewald said the approval process for Charlestown Oaks, over twenty years, was so long because of an unusual circumstance. The plan originally proposed a 6 million gallon earthen dam to hold stormwater on the slopes above the Aspen Woods development in East Whiteland Township. This stormwater issue took years to resolve, and finally the plan was changed so that the stormwater basins were handled underneath the cul de sacs of the community.
  21. Mr. Fell said the residents of Charlestown Oaks want a united neighborhood and ask that the Supervisors work with them on this issue. Mr. Kuhn said the residents themselves are dividing themselves from their future neighbors. Mrs. Ewald said the Oaks residents are neighbors of the larger Charlestown community, too.
  22. June Gorman, a Charlestown Oaks resident, said she doesn’t feel like a member of the Charlestown community. She said she’s attended 7 or 8 other meetings and is ignored by other residents. She feels she is not welcome here and is treated as though she lives in the slums of Charlestown. Mr. Hogan said he met with Ms. Gorman and others at Charlestown Oaks to consult with them at no charge on recreation plans. He asked to be excluded from her comments on the attitudes of Charlestown Township residents. Mrs. Ewald invited her to become involved with Township organizations as such activities bring residents together.
  23. Mr. Fell said the Township should have a map on its website. Mr. Willig clarified that the website is owned and managed privately by a citizen of the Township and is not the Township’s website. Mr. Kuhn said there are maps on the website. Mrs. Ewald said maps are also available at the Township office.
  24. Steve Lupin, an attorney representing Sal Lapio Homes said he agrees with all statements made tonight. He presented the following arguments:

    The Township will be making a legal and factual mistake in not grandfathering the new phase of Charlestown Oaks from the requirement to install automatic sprinkler systems in the townhouses.

    Neither the International Building Code nor the International Residence Code requires sprinklers.

    He read Section 508.4(2) of the Municipalities Planning Code relating to impact fees and cited Toll Bros Inc. v. South Whitehall Township, quoting from the case. He believes the sprinkler issue relates to this case decision and asks the Township to consider grandfathering Charlestown Oaks as a result. A Charlestown Oaks resident said Sal Lapio Homes Inc. could sue the Township. Mr. McErlane acknowledged that the Whitehall case is a real issue. He can’t give an Opinion on the grandfathering question tonight but will prepare one.

Mr. Willig suggested to his fellow board members that the Ordinance be tabled until the February 4, 2002 meeting in order to allow time to discuss and review the remainder of the ordinance and obtain Mr. McErlane’s Opinion on the sprinkler issue.

Resolution to Set the Fire & Hazardous Materials Fee Schedule

Mr. Willig tabled this item to February 4, 2002.

Turnpike Commission Community Advisory Committee (CAC) – Continued Discussion

Mr. Willig reiterated that he can’t support any of the CAC’s recommendations in absence of a full land use and environmental impact statement.

Mrs. Ewald stated she remains absolutely opposed to any slip ramp.

Mr. Staas said if the Township doesn’t alleviate the traffic from the west, it will continue to back up.

Mrs. Staas said she agrees with Mr. Willig that in the long run, no interchange is going to alleviate traffic. However, she feels the slip ramp is inevitable and asked if the Township should focus on working with state officials such as Sen. Gerlach to support Charlestown in upholding its zoning and obtaining funding for open space acquisition. She asked the Solicitor what recourse the Township has. Mr. McErlane responded that from a legal standpoint, once the slip ramp is substantially outside Charlestown, there is little recourse. Politically, few legislators outside the area have sympathy for the situation, one they would like to have themselves.

Mr. Rodgers said that with Route 29 widened to four lanes, sprawl will occur regardless. The slip ramp will at least alleviate traffic from the west.

Mrs. Staas asked the supervisors to work with East Whiteland Township.

Mr. Kuhn suggested communicated that the Supervisors endorse the direction the Turnpike Commission is moving in subject to them substantiating their representations with a comprehensive impact assessment and public hearings. Mr. Willig said he can’t determine that they are moving in the right direction.

Mrs. Ewald asked about the list of 30+ questions the Chester County Planning Commission was going to submit to the Turnpike Commission.

A resident said the long term traffic impact and occurrence of sprawl will happen regardless of installing the slip ramp. He asked why the Township can’t simply zone the area to prohibit sprawl. Mr. Willig said the Township must have reinforcement at the state level. Mrs. Staas asked what the Township can do to defend its zoning. Mr. McErlane said the Township has been fairly successful in doing so to date. The goal is to be able to withstand challenges without overdoing it.

Mr. Willig said that there is no consensus of the Board at this time.

Mrs. Staas asked if the Supervisors could communicate with the County Commissioners. Mr. Willig said yes and proposed a face to face meeting. Mr. Willig will contact Andy Dinniman, and Mrs. Ewald offered to call Karen Martynick to arrange a meeting.


Minutes of 1/7/02

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of the Reorganization meeting on 1/7/02 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for an amendment to indicate he was the one nominating Mr. Willig for Chairman. Mrs. Ewald accepted the amended motion. Mr. Willig called the vote, and all were in favor.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of the Business meeting on 1/7/02 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.


Treasurer’s Report December 1- 31, 2001

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for December 1- 31, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.

Old Business

Spring Lane Farms – Sketch Plan for Settlement Purposes

John Panizza, Genterra Corp., was present to discuss an alternative sketch plan he would like to have considered by the Board as a settlement plan for Spring Lane Farms. Mr. Panizza said that the plan before the courts shows a large lot with the existing house and outbuildings plus eleven new lots.

At the Board’s suggestion, he went to the Planning Commission with a sketch plan revising some of the aspects of that plan. This included a compromise on the number of lots (10 instead of 12), placement of the lots and the location of the entrance road. The Planning Commission reviewed the sketch and recommended that the Board accept it as the settlement plan.

Mr. Panizza described the proposed settlement plan as follows. The “homestead” lot would be approximately 20 acres in size to protect the integrity of the historic structures and with all structures remaining intact. The driveway was moved as far west as possible and terminating in a cul de sac. Items requested by the Planning Commission were added, including:

  1. A buffer between the access road and the existing buildings
  2. A new buffer to protect Lots 1, 2 and 3
  3. A buffer along the back of Lots 8 & 9
  4. A tree conservation area to the east of Lot 7
  5. A buffer behind lots 1 through 5
  6. A trail along the front of the site along Hollow Road (Not shown on the plan but to be added)

Mr. Panizza requests that the Board consider this plan as the settlement plan to resolve the outstanding litigation between his firm and the Township.

Mr. Kuhn said the plan is similar to the Saddlebrook situation, where a choice must be made between protecting woodlands or preserving historic integrity. Mr. Panizza said only 7 houses are in the woods, and that this plan minimizes the damage to the woods. The lots would have restricted building envelopes. None of the lots would be denuded. He gave examples of similar plans he’s done in Charlestown, including Wyndham and Oak Hill.

Mr. Kuhn said that adding buffers doesn’t help the existing environment. Mr. Willig asked how hard it would be to configure this lots outside the woods. Mr. Willig said they would be too close to the historic structures in that case.

Mr. Willig asked for the size of the homes, and Mr. Panizza said they’d be similar to Somerset across Hollow Road, approximately 4,500 – 5,500 square feet. Mr. Willig asked if Mr. Panizza thinks the homeowners will be satisfied with the restrictions to be imposed.

Mr. Rodgers asked for confirmation that Mr. Panizza made a statement at a prior meeting that 50% of the woods on a lot would be lost by developing it. Mr. Panizza agreed this would be about right for a one acre lot. Mr. Rodgers asked why lots 5, 6 & 7 couldn’t be moved behind lots 8 & 9. Mr. Panizza said Mr. Theurkauf suggested that and the Planning Commission didn’t like it. Mr. Panizza said he has no problem moving it. He is willing to do the plan either way.

Mr. Theurkauf said there is a dichotomy here. He gave his personal opinion that it’s easier to mitigate the impact on a viewshed than to mitigate woodland disturbance.

Mr. Rodgers asked Mr. Panizza to consider eliminating Lot #9. Mr. Panizza declined, saying he already compromised from his original plan, although he would be willing to accept Mr. Theurkauf’s plan if the Board prefers it. Mr. Theurkauf displayed his sketch, which he cautioned the Board was rudimentary.

Mr. McErlane asked if all the homes would be visible from Hollow Road. Mr. Theurkauf said yes, but the existing building compound is the most prominent and the new houses would be buffered.

Mrs. Ewald asked if the original driveway could be used as is to access the lots. Mr. Kohli said it would not be wide enough, and Mr. Theurkauf said that widening it would lose the appeal of the entrance for the existing home.

Mr. Theurkauf said his sketch plan depicts no impact on steep slopes at all, and minimal tree disturbance.

Mr. Kuhn asked if Mr. Panizza has had any success with potential buyers he’s spoken to about the homestead lot. Mr. Panizza said he has two potential buyers who would be interested if his plan were used, but not if Mr. Theurkauf’s was used. Mrs. Ewald asked about any potential buyers of the whole parcel. Mr. Panizza said he hasn’t spoken to anyone who was interested in the entire parcel.

Mr. Kuhn asked who will enjoy the woods depicted in Mr. Theurkauf’s plan if they are blocked from both sides. Mr. Theurkauf said the public has access because the Horseshoe Trail runs through there.

Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Panizza if he would be willing to place a conservation easement on the original homestead lot, and Mr. Panizza said he would have no problem with that. He noted that as a historic setting, the proposed 20 acre lot compares favorably to similar historic lots along Hollow Road, which are this size or less.

Mr. Theurkauf suggested moving lots 5, 6 & 7 behind lots 8 & 9, which could be done by eliminating two of the less important outbuildings on the homestead lot. Mr. Kuhn asked if one of those outbuildings, a barn, could be incorporated into one of the new building lots. Mrs. Ewald suggested an adaptive reuse of the buildings, but Mr. Kuhn said this would take away from the homestead itself. Mr. Panizza said he could move lots 6 & 7 and reconfigure lot 5 to impact less on the woods including an easement. Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Willig said they’d like to see this, and Mrs. Ewald said it’s a step in the right direction. Mr. Theurkauf said anything that protects the woods is an improvement.

Mr. Panizza thanked the Board members for their input.


Spring Oaks Business Park – Conditional Use Application

Mr. McErlane opened the hearing. He said his office received a fax letter from applicant Tim Townes requesting that the hearing be continued to the second meeting in February. The hearing was continued to February 25, 2002 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, 7:30 P.M.

Spring Lane Farms – Conditional Use Application

Mr. McErlane opened the hearing. He said his office received a fax letter from the applicant requesting that the hearing be continued. No date was set.

Altemose – Conditional Use Application

Mr. McErlane opened the hearing. He said his office received a fax letter from the applicant’s attorney, Joe Ryan Esq. requesting that the hearing be continued. No date was set. The applicant will notify the township when they wish to resume the hearing. Mr. McErlane is meeting with the applicant and his attorney tomorrow.

New Business

Great Valley School District – Public Improvement Construction Agreement

Mr. Kuhn said he spoke with Glen Diehl, Esq. this afternoon about two options for setting up an agreement with the Great Valley School District with regard to the improvements scheduled for the Charlestown Elementary School. The first would be to employ the standard Subdivision & Escrow Agreement (Tri-Party Agreement) and Subdivision and Land Development Agreement forms. The second would be to accept from the School District an alternate agreement pledging its taxing powers as security for the improvements being constructed. Mr. Diehl recommended the standard agreements, as the second option has no “teeth”. Mr. Kuhn asked if the township has more standing using the first option if the improvements are not constructed satisfactorily, and Mr. McErlane responded in theory, yes but in practicality, no.

Mr. Kohli stated that the applicant has not yet submitted its schedule of improvements that would be used to calculate the security required. Mr. McErlane will communicate this to Mr. Linderman.

Mrs. Ewald moved to table the Public Improvement Construction Agreement. Mr. Willig seconded and all were in favor.

Resolution Authorizing Fire Companies to Seek Reimbursement

Mrs. Ewald moved to adopt Resolution #589-02 recognizing the authority of the Kimberton Fire Company and the East Whiteland Township Volunteer Fire Association to seek reimbursement for hazardous abatement materials, environmental incidents and safety and rescue responses. Mr. Kuhn seconded, and all were in favor.

Charlestown Woolen Mill – HARB Resolution & Recommendation

Mr. Bender provided some background on the Charlestown Woolen Mill, a historic structure listed on the National Register for which the owner, the Bartschi Foundation, applied for a demolition permit in July 2001. The Mill is located in the Historic District, which triggered the requirement for a HARB review and recommendation. Concurrent with the hearings on this application, the owner made a proposal to donate the mill and one acre to the Township so it could be stabilized and later restored, primarily through grant funding. In a letter dated 12/27/01, the owner’s attorney, Mr. Goldberg requested that the Bartschi Foundation remained willing to go forward with this offer and requested that the Board either accept it and begin the paperwork process, or otherwise promptly issue a decision on the demolition permit.

On 12/11/01, the HARB issued a Resolution stating there is an immediate danger that the condition of the Mill will deteriorate due to either snow fall or ice storm, which could cause irreparable damage. They recommended and outlined specific stabilization work to be accomplished. On 12/18/01, the Township sent an Agreement of Sale to Mr. Goldberg, who faxed a response on 1/25/02. Prior to this response, the HARB met again and issued a recommendation for the Supervisors to deny the demolition permit except for the Period 3 additions.

The owner’s response to the Agreement of Sale was to name additional conditions as follows, that the Agreement be accepted provided:

  1. That the Bartschi Foundation be exempt from any costs associated with subdivision of the Mill parcel;
  2. That the Township perform no work on the Mill while the subdivision application is pending;
  3. That they receive assurance that the Township will not attempt any condemnation of the remaining property;
  4. That the Township accept indemnification of liability prior to taking title;
  5. That the Township include 3 building lots to remain in ownership by the Bartschi Foundation, with the plan to subdivided the Mill property with its one acre to be transferred to the Township;
  6. That the Township use its influence to eliminate the easement in place with the French & Pickering Creek Trust precluding the subdivision of additional building lots.

Ms. Bumeder, Trustee for the Bartschi Foundation, could not be reached today to respond to the Township’s request that they drop these conditions.

Mr. Bender went on to state that the Supervisors had authorized him to offer to purchase 3 additional acres surrounding the Mill and one acre for $100,000.00. This offer was conveyed to the Foundation’s first attorney Mr. Weber and later to Mr. Goldberg. A response from Mr. Goldberg on 1/25/02 indicated the owner was not interested in conveying more than the original 1 acre along with the Mill.

Mrs. Ewald asked if proof has been provided that the individuals involved in the negotiations for the Bartschi Foundation are their legal representatives. Mr. Bender responded that the deed of trust had been requested but not provided. Mr. Weber indicated at one time that Ms. Bumeder instructed him not to provide it. However, Mr. Bender did speak with a Bank Representative, who, while not authorized to release a copy of the 1958 Deed of Trust, did indicate to Mr. Bender that the Trustees were the Bank and Henriette Bumeder. Mrs. Ewald asked if this could have been a more recent change to the original Deed.

Mr. Bender read from the 1/22/02 HARB Resolution recommending the Bartschi Application for a Permit to demolish the structure known as the “Old Mill” be denied and that a “Certificate of Appropriateness” not be approved.

Mr. Willig said he recommends the Board adopt the decision of the HARB except for the permitting of demolition of the Period III portion. He is concerned that any work performed on the Mill will compromise the remainder of the structure. Mr. Bender said an alternative would be to permit the Period III demolition in accordance with the maps and drawings, with 48 hour notification to the Township, and with a township representative present. Mr. Kohli said he recommends that no demolition be permitted, and Mr. Kuhn agreed.

Mr. Kuhn asked what authority the Township has to enforce the resolution requiring immediate stabilization. Mr. Bender said the Township could go to court and obtain an injunction, possibly even a preliminary injunction if potential irreparable damage could be demonstrated.

Mr. Willig asked about condemnation. Mr. McErlane said it would take 31 days to enact, and then if the applicant filed preliminary objections, a year or longer could go by before anything could be done to stabilize the Mill.

Mrs. Ewald moved to deny the application for a Demolition Permit for The Old Mill and that a Certificate of Appropriateness not be approved, as set forth in the HARB Resolution dated 1/22/02 with the exception of further denying the demolition of the Period III additions. She further moved to require the stabilization of the Old Mill in accordance with the HARB resolution dated 12/11/01, to take place within 30 days, and authorizing Mr. Bender to seek an injunction if this stabilization does not take place within that timeframe. Mr. Kuhn seconded the motion. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. Mr. Bender will communicate this decision the applicant within 10 days and copy the Zoning Officer and Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission as required by the Charlestown Township Zoning Ordinance.

Escrow Release #7, Commons @ Great Valley Lot 15

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #7 for Lot #15 at the Commons at Great Valley in the amount of $27,255.00. Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.

Other Business


Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. McErlane to look into the status of the by-right plan for Deerfield, which was not withdrawn when the settlement agreement was reached on the open space option plan.

Road Matters

Mr. Rodgers asked for the Board members’ input on placing a “skin coat” on Howell Road to temporarily correct the condition of the road until it can be paved at a later date. Mr. Kuhn and Mrs. Ewald both indicated they were not in favor due to cost considerations.

Mr. Rodgers asked for the Board members’ input on extending the existing guard rail on Union Hill Road thirty feet. The members indicated they were not in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 12:25 A.M. The next meeting will be held on February 4, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary