Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of March 18, 2002

The second business meeting for March was held March 18, 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 Rodgers, Thomas F. Oeste, 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 7:35 P.M.


Mr. Hogan said he met with Parks & Rec Chair Mark Connolly, Planner Ed Theurkauf, Bill Werkheiser of the Valley Forge Christian College, and the Assistant Vice Principal of the Renaissance Academy to discuss recreation needs. A tentative agreement was reached among the parties, with Charlestown Township to provide one basketball court, the Renaissance Academy a second basketball court, and the VFCC to provide 2 tennis courts opposite the parking lot. He said the Renaissance Academy was very amenable to the discussions.

Mr. Willig announced that an executive session was held March 13, 2002 at the Township Office to discuss legal matters.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

John Harbison, 116 Three Ponds Lane, recommended that the Board consider requiring abutting landowner notifications at the sketch plan phase of new projects so the residents can be involved in the process at the beginning and hopefully work more cooperatively with developers. He was speaking specifically of the proposed Dixon subdivision, which abuts Three Ponds. Mr. Davison said the Planning Commission has directed their Solicitor, Gary Bender, to look at drafting an ordinance to require this notification, in addition to that required at the Conditional Use and Preliminary Subdivision Application phases. He said the Dixon subdivision is a unique situation where the sketch plan phase has gone on for nearly two years. He noted that all the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors’ minutes are posted on the website, so information is available, but the Commission will see what it can do to fill the gap. Mr. Willig said this subject was discussed months ago, and the Board’s concern was that the sketch plan process is meant to provide an informal sounding board for applicants and shouldn’t be too burdensome. Mrs. Ewald said the Board wants the residents included in the process and that solutions are often brought forward from the community.


Minutes of 3/4/02

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of 3/4/02 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report for 3/18/02

The Treasurer explained that the report consisted of one check to Kohli & Associates to supplement the payment made on 3/4/02 for an amount less than shown on the invoice. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report for 3/18/02 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

New Business

Seibert- Winnich Subdivision

Abby Schiff, Esq. and Mike Murray of Riley, Riper, Hollin & Colegreco, and Carl Wright, P.E. were present to seek approval for a minor lot line change for two parcels on the south side of Pikeland Road. The proposed change would increase Lot #1 from 6.4 to 15.53 acres, and reduce Lot #2 from 13.4 acres to 4 acres. Ms. Schiff said a feasibility study had been provided for on-site septic. Mr. Murray addressed the outstanding items in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated March 12, 2002 as follows:

  1. Mr. Murray produced a copy of a letter dated 2/13/02 from the Chester County Health Department verifying the soil testing for Lot #2 to satisfy item #1.
  2. A note will be added to the plans indicating that a shared maintenance agreement will be proposed as part of any future subdivision of Lot #2, to satisfy item #2.

With regard to the Horseshoe Trail, Mr. Oeste will provide language for an easement to be included on the plans.

Mrs. Ewald asked if the existing driveway to Lot #1 had been considered as the future shared driveway for both lots. Mr. Davison said the Planning Commission looked at it but determined the site lines were better if the existing driveway continue to serve just Lot #1, with the second driveway located to the west. Mrs. Ewald said she was pleased that provisions would be made to maintain the Horseshoe Trail.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the subdivision plan entitled “Winnich Property Subdivision” dated 8/24/01 and last revised 3/6/02, subject to the completion of the Horseshoe Trail agreement and a note to be included on the plans indicating that no building permit will be approved for Lot #2 until a sewage permit is obtained. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.


Altemose Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and continued to April 15, 2002 per Mr. Ryan’s request in a letter dated 3-18-02.

Pomanti Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and continued to April 15, 2002 per Ms. McLean’s request in a letter dated 3-14-02.

S.G. Souder Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and continued to April 15, 2002 per Ms. McLean’s request in a letter dated 3-14-02.

Spring Oaks Business Park Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and testimony given. The hearing was continued to April 1, 2002.

Scipione Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and continued to May 20, 2002 with an emergency date of June 3, 2002.

Dixon Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was opened and testimony given. The hearing was continued to April 15, 2002.

Old Business

Baughman Mill

Mr. Willig announced that the Board has received a signed Agreement of Sale from the Bartschi Foundation agreeing to sell the Baughman Mill and approximately 60,000 square feet of area to the Township for consideration of $10.00. Mr. Willig said the mill is in a state of disrepair and is listed on the National Register for historic structures and reportedly provided woolen blankets for George Washington’s troops at Valley Forge. Last year, the Bartschi Foundation submitted a request for a Demolition Permit, which was reviewed by the Charlestown Historical and Architectural Review Board. Their decision was to deny the permit, after which time the Township entered into negotiations to seek ownership of the mill. The Township intends to preserve and ultimately restore the structure.

Mrs. Ewald commended the generosity of Bartschi Foundation manager Henriette Bumeder, who is making the mill and land available to the Township for $10.00. Mr. Willig thanked the HARB for standing firm in its convictions that the Mill should be saved. Mr. Kuhn disagreed with Mrs. Ewald’s statement that Ms. Bumeder’s actions were generous. He said the deterioration of the mill was a violation of Township Ordinance and this agreement of sale is the result of 1 ½ years of trying to uphold the ordinance. Mr. Davison asked if the Mill property is under a restrictive covenant, and Mr. Kuhn said there is a covenant against building, but the sale will not be a violation of the easement, and the French & Pickering Creeks Trust, which holds the easement, is aware of the Agreement.

Mr. Willig moved to execute the Agreement of Sale between the Bartschi Foundation and Charlestown Township, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for comments, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

New Business

Toll Bros. Inc. – Charlestown Meadows Settlement Agreement

Mr. Oeste provided a review of the Charlestown Meadows application and events leading to tonight’s consideration of a Settlement Agreement with Toll Bros Inc. Toll Bros. filed an application in January 2000 for a Planned Residential Development (PRD) consisting of townhouses on a 76 acre tract at the corner of Newcomen and Conestoga (Route 401) Roads. After a series of hearings, the Board of Supervisors denied the first application in June 2000. Prior to the denial date, Toll Bros. submitted a second application on 5/19/00, referred to as Charlestown Meadows II. After another round of hearings, the Board approved the plan on 10/30/00 subject to 41 conditions. Toll Bros. appealed 14 of those conditions named in the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. These 14 conditions primarily focused on stormwater management, open space, landscaping, the recreation center, and traffic improvements. In August of 2001, settlement discussions commenced between the Township and Toll Bros. and including consultants for both parties. Several drafts of a proposed settlement document were reviewed at numerous meetings in order to develop the settlement agreement under consideration this evening.

Mr. Oeste briefly outlined the proposed Settlement Agreement, which includes negotiated changes that bring the Agreement very close to what the Board sought in its original decision. The Settlement Plan displayed at the meeting will be attached to the Agreement as part of the Agreement. Items in the Proposed Settlement Plan include the following:

  1. With regard to the existing flooding conditions over Route 401, Toll Bros. agreed to control post-development flows to a 5 year pre-development flow while trying to reach a 2 year pre-development flow using best management practices.
  2. With regard to recreation and open space, the proposed recreation center will be more centrally located with unstructured open space behind it that will include a handicap-accessible trail with benches, gazebos and similar accoutrements. An 8 foot wide macadam trail will circumnavigate the plan.
  3. With regard to tree replacement, trees will be replaced in accordance with the Township Ordinance to the extent possible. A monetary contribution will be given the Township to use for parks and recreation purposes for those trees that are required by ordinance but won’t physically fit on the site.
  4. With regard to traffic, the existing intersection of Newcomen Road and Route 401 will be signalized, with all necessary lane markings and improvements and an advanced signal warning approaching the vertical curve on Route 401.

He indicated that a phrase on Page 12, end of the first paragraph should be stricken, reading, “subject to use of such amenities for reserve parking as set forth above”.

Mr. Willig said that the 41 conditions imposed in the original decision were the most the Board felt could be included. He described the Settlement as something the Township can live with, although not as desirable as no development at all. Mr. Oeste said all the other conditions of the original decision must be complied with, including the requirement to leave 50% of the tract as open space and to landscape and screen the perimeter of the tract adjacent to residential areas.

Residents of West Pikeland and Charlestown Townships made the following comments and asked questions on the Proposed Settlement Plan.

  1. A Resident asked how much property will be taken on the West Pikeland side of Newcomen Road in order to install the traffic signal? Mr. Oeste said this won’t be known until PennDOT designs the signal. However, the majority of the widening will take place on the Toll Bros. property.
  2. A Resident asked what if the land to be taken is part of her drainage field? Mr. Kohli said the tiles would be relocated or otherwise adjusted as needed. She asked if the setback lines on the Toll Bros. site would change as the result of any widening, and Mr. Oeste said the 100 foot buffer would be adjusted.
  3. Joe Nimifro said that his view will be of the backs of townhouses and asked about landscaping. Mr. Oeste said that the landscaping plan will be subject to the review of Thomas Comitta Associates and the approval of the Board.
  4. Stephanie Skerchok said that the West Pikeland citizens were forgotten in the settlement agreement. She wants more berms and evergreens to buffer their properties on Stonecroft Lane. Mr. Oeste said the landscaping language in the settlement agreement is very broad and should serve to provide the landscaping desired. Mr. Kuhn said there will be a surplus of trees and that they can be used in this area if needed. He said he personally thinks berms are unattractive. You see both the unnatural landscape and the backs of townhouses instead of just the townhouses.
  5. Joe Nimifro said that the new access road is directly across from Stonecroft Lane, which is a narrow cul-de-sac street. He is concerned that people will see it as a throughway. Mr. Kuhn suggested the homeowners on this private lane put up signage. Mr. Nimifro said he wants suggestions from Toll Bros as to the possibly of fencing and gates, and a role for them in producing sketches and financing for same.
  6. Michael Dixon read from a prepared statement, which will be incorporated into the minutes in its entirety. He also provided a copy of his Deed of Grant of Conservation Easement and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants for his property known as Newcomen Valley Farm. He said there is a conservation easement on his 10.024 acre property that may have bearing on any plans to widen Route 401. Mr. Kuhn said the Township would like to have an opportunity to videotape a portion of the Dixon property to use as a reference in stormwater management planning. Mr. Dixon was noncommittal but indicated this would probably not be a problem. He asked why the stormwater management basin near his property can’t be underground. Mr. Oeste responded that the soils don’t perc for this. Mr. Dixon said he hasn’t seen any studies on the stormwater management plans and would like to have an opportunity to review them and determine their impacts. Mr. Willig said the design must comply with township, county and state regulations once the plan is in the Final Subdivision and Land Development stage. Mr. Dixon asked what the next step in this process is. Mr. Oeste said that assuming the agreement is signed, a final plan will be prepared in terms of the agreement. An opportunity for input will be provided at one or more public meetings before the Board. He explained that the review process for a PRD is different from standard subdivision and land development review in that the plans don’t fall into Preliminary and Final categories. Instead, the applicant first appears with a Tentative Plan, which is presented over the course of a series of public hearings. In this case, the Board of Supervisors approved Toll Bros. 2nd Tentative Plan with 41 conditions, of which Toll Bros. appealed 14. The two parties negotiated to resolve these fourteen conditions, bringing them to this settlement agreement under consideration tonight. The Final Plan will be prepared under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, all applicable Township ordinances, and in compliance with the review letters of the consultants, including their comments on stormwater management. All of the conditions will be addressed and resolved prior to Final Approval. He added that the Settlement Agreement provides for certain timeframes in which the Township must respond. The Plan will not return to the Planning Commission prior to Final Approval, but will be reviewed at the Supervisors level. After the Settlement Agreement is in place, Toll Bros. has an unlimited period of time with which to return with the submission of a final plan. The Township consultants are then obligated to issue review letters within 30 business days. Then the plans will be revised in accordance with those reviews and resubmitted. The consultants will then have 10 business days to re-review. After this, the Final Plan will be placed on the next Board of Supervisors agenda for consideration of approval. Mr. Kuhn said the PRD zoning for this tract was put into place many years previously, before any of the current members of the Board were involved. He said the Charlestown Meadows plan is a frustrating experience for the Board and the members are not excited at the prospect of approving it. Mr. Dixon asked how the Board can approve a settlement document without understanding the total impacts of the intersection. Mrs. Ewald said the Board has met with PennDOT before and during the settlement phase and that Toll Bros. is aware of the basic requirements for the improvements. Now they will plan the improvements as part of the final plan. Mr. Kuhn added that the parameters are in the settlement agreement, but that it acts as a framework with the details to be filled in. Mr. Dixon said the vista entering the Township will detract from the historical and cultural significance of the area. Mr. Kuhn said the Board has limited power over aesthetics with no right to dictate the appearance of the townhouses. He acknowledged that this can be very frustrating.
  7. Aliena Gerhard, Newcomen Road, asked who drafted the settlement agreement and Mr. Oeste responded that he did. She requested a copy and it was provided to her. She asked if the concerns raised tonight fall under the requirements of the ordinances. Mr. Oeste suggested that those with specific concerns put them in writing and sent to the Township office. Mrs. Ewald said the stormwater management and landscaping issues will be addressed per the Settlement Agreement, with control and guidance in the hands of the Township consultants. Mr. Willig said most of the concerns raised tonight fall within the framework of the Settlement Agreement. Ms. Gerhard asked who monitors compliance, and Mrs. Ewald answered the consultants do. Ms. Gerhard suggested the Township take a video of the open space areas on the site following completion of the plan to avoid any future disagreements over its use.
  8. Joe Nimifro asked what the houses will look like. Mr. Oeste referred him to the Toll development in West Whiteland, “Whiteland Woods”.
  9. Rick Reis asked if all 14 items are now addressed, and Mr. Willig responded yes.
  10. A resident asked about the sewage plan. Mrs. Ewald said the development will be on public sewer leading down Route 401 into East Whiteland Township. The water service will be down Newcomen Road.
  11. Mrs. Skerchock asked how tall the lights will be for the Rec Center and Pool area. Mr. Kohli said there are requirements in the ordinance, and that the Homeowners Association will be required to abide by their approved plan. Mrs. Ewald added that the Township will also review the Homeowners Documents. Mr. Theurkauf noted that the Charlestown Meadows plan doesn’t have as much lighting as either Charlestown Oaks or Charlestown Hunt.
  12. Mr. Dixon referred to page 7 of the settlement plan, stating his concern that some of his property could be taken to deal with stormwater management. Mr. Oeste said the language is included in the event this becomes necessary. Mrs. Ewald said the current flooding on Route 401 is a health, safety & welfare issue that needs to be addressed. Mr. Kuhn said the goal is to have more stormwater infiltrate on the site and make the Dixon’s situation better, not worse.
  13. Mr. Nimifro said the Board is acquiescing to Toll Bros. to avoid the lawsuit. Mr. Willig responded emphatically that this is not the case. He said the Board was very confident in its Decision with the 41 conditions, and that this Settlement Agreement is very close to that Decision. Mrs. Ewald said Toll Bros. agreed to 27 of the conditions up front, and that the two parties were able to come together on the last 14. She said the plan meets the Township ordinances in a minimal fashion without grace.
  14. Ms. Gerhard said the Board did an amazing job with this application. They worked hard and did as much as possible within the law. She hopes that in the future, the Open Space Commission can educate landowners in alternatives for the land other than selling to developers.
  15. Mr. Dixon asked what the Board is contemplating if Toll Bros. can’t fix the drainage problem on Route 401. Mr. Kohli said the current pipe under Route 401 is known to be undersized and can’t handle a 10 year storm. The Township will look into this matter. The Township originally wanted the basins to be sized to control a 2 year pre-development to 10 year post development flow. Toll came back with a proposal for 5 year pre- and 10 year post-development flow, with an attempt to reduce the pre-development flow to the greatest extent possible at the final design stage.
  16. A Resident asked if Route 401 will be closed while the sewer line is installed, and Mrs. Ewald said, probably.

Mr. Hogan made a motion to execute the Settlement Agreement. Mrs. Ewald said the Board is sworn to uphold the law, and she regrets if people feel the Board let them down. Mr. Nimifro said Toll Bros. will get what they want, and Mr. Kuhn responded that Toll Bros. builds what the market demands. A resident asked how this plan compares to the other two PRD’s in the Township. Mr. Oeste said it probably compares more with Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Willig noted, however, that both Charlestown Oaks and Charlestown Hunt ended up in court, and he said that negotiating a Settlement Agreement is preferable to court, where all decisions are taken out of the Township’s hands. Mr. Kuhn seconded Mr. Hogan’s motion. Mr. Willig called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Great Valley School District – Request for Increased Pipeline Size for Public Water Service

Mr. Willig referred to a letter dated March 4, 2002 from Schoor DePalma, Engineers for the Charlestown Elementary School Land Development project, which requests an increase in line size from 8” to 12” for the new water service to the school. He asked if calculations had been submitted to substantiate the need for the larger pipe, which PSW Co. said is needed to meet the domestic and fire protection demands of the school. Mr. Kohli said no calculations had been supplied. Mrs. Ewald said she would like Mr. Kohli to have an opportunity to review calculations before the Board makes a decision, and Mr. Kuhn agreed. Mr. Willig tabled the matter until this information can be obtained and reviewed. Mr. Kohli will contact Schorr DePalma to request the calculations.

Other Business

Site Meeting – Hollow and Yellow Springs Road

The Board requested that the Secretary try to reschedule a meeting with PennDOT officials proposed for March 21st to either April 2nd or April 9th to allow fuller participation by Board members. PennDOT’s widening projects on Hollow and Yellow Springs Road, which will require some tree removal, will be discussed, along with the possibility of the Township taking back ownership of Hollow Road.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:20 P.M. The next meeting will be held on April 1, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary