Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of May 20, 2002

The third business meeting for May was held May 20, 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, 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. Rodgers said he attended the PSATS convention in Harrisburg during April and attended 6 work sessions, 3 of which were very worthwhile. One session was on water resources, and gave the statistics that in Pennsylvania the total water use per day is 9.7 gallons, of which $1 million is lost. Mr. Rodgers is concerned about township wells, and suggested that as GIS hydrological studies are available from the county, they be reviewed along with any applications submitted to ensure that additional development won’t affect existing wells.

Mr. Hogan said the old sawmill at the Brightside Farm has disappeared. He questioned the invoices for work at the Ice Dam Bridge last week, saying that Barrett’s Tree Service charged for tree hauling, but hadn’t removed the trees. He also questioned the crane rental on the invoice from H. Guy Haldeman, which appears to include wait time. Mr. Kohli said he checked on the Haldeman bill and that he found it to be in order. A 50’ boom needed to be brought in by flatbed truck, which added about $1,000.00 to the cost.

Mr. Hogan said he looked at the bridge over Pickering Road, which was struck by a vehicle last month. The driver has put in a claim against the Township’s insurance, saying the wood rail juts out too far. Mr. Hogan said the bridge design is fine, and that it is actually a foot wider (14 feet) where the vehicle struck the rail. He recommends the driver be billed $250.00 for damage to the bridge plus any legal costs.

Mrs. Ewald reminded people to vote tomorrow at the Charlestown Elementary School between the hours of 7:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M.

Mr. Willig announced that the Board held an executive session to discuss legal matters on May 13, 2002 following the public meeting at the Great Valley Middle School.

Citizens’ Welcome

Mrs. Ewald presented plaques to the Tranie Family to commemorate the occasion of their recently becoming American citizens.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

Gil Mariano, 1111 Rees Road, asked the Township to repair the trenches forming alongside his property that are caused by repairs to the road a year or so ago. The trenches were filled with gravel instead of dirt and seed at that time, and the gravel has become a problem for him when cutting grass. The Board agreed to direct the Roadmaster to take care of this request. Mrs. Ewald said the Township would only do it one time, however.


Minutes of 5/6/02

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of 5/6/02 with a correction to page 5 under comments for Spring Lane Farms, to include the words “of all” in Mrs. Ewald’s suggestion that the Board ask “the developer for a donation to the Township of all or one of the lots, or that the Township purchase a lot.” Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion and then the vote. All were in favor.

Minutes of 5/13/02

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of 5/13/02 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report for 5/20/02

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable Report with a change in the amount for check #1057 to Barrett’s Tree Service to $6,100.00 from $6,900.00 for ice dam tree removal work until the tree removal portion of the bill can be confirmed. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Open Space Commission

Open Space Commission Chairman Andy Motel introduced three grant projects, explaining that the Open Space Commission was formed last year to focus on open space acquisition projects. There are three current grant proposals, all with deadlines of May 31, 2002. He outlined them as follows:

  1. A grant application for 50% matching funds of $50,000 from the County for the acquisition of easements along the Horseshoe Trail was proposed jointly by the Open Space Commission and Parks and Recreation Board with the goal of preserving a corridor for the length of the Horseshoe Trail as it traverses the Township. Mr. Motel noted that some property owners may be willing to donate easements. A Resolution must be passed by the Township to make application. Mrs. Ewald moved to pass Resolution #593-02 approving the filing of an application for Chester County Landscapes 21st Century Fund Grant Program assistance, and Mr. Rodgers/Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
  2. The Burgoons have applied for a Northern Chester County Agricultural Conservation Easement Challenge Grant, which requires a 50% match from the Township. A letter pledging the availability of funds for this match must be sent to the Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board by May 31, 2002. Mr. Motel said the Burgoons have indicated a willingness to donate toward the Township’s match, and added that the highest appraisal so far in the program was for $15,000/acre. The two parcels under consideration total 72 acres. The Secretary read aloud a draft letter she prepared pledging the availability of funds. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the letter and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion and then the vote. All were in favor.
  3. The Soldas, whose family member Joseph Bonifazio owns Valhalla Farm on Pikeland Road, have collaborated with the French & Pickering Creeks Trust to seek a grant for an easement on their property currently being operated as a horse-breeding farm. Twenty-two acres of the farm are in Charlestown Township with the remainder in West Pikeland Township. The grant would be through the Preservation Partnership Program, which accepts applications from non-profit groups only, hence the involvement of the French and Pickering Creeks Trust. The County will match up to $350,000. The appraisal process is underway but not completed. At this time a letter of support is needed from the Board. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve sending a letter of support to the County for a Preservation Partnership grant for the Bonifazio property and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. Mr. Rodgers asked how much the Township might have to put up for this grant. Mr. Motel said it’s not known yet because the county match depends on the ranking of the property. In some cases the county will go as high as a 65% match, and the proximity of these parcels to other eased properties, namely the Illoway and Kronenberg properties, may make a difference. Also, the parcels are in two townships, which is an attractive situation from the County’s viewpoint. Mrs. Ewald noted that approval of any funds from the Township will require a separate vote in the future. Mr. Hogan asked what West Pikeland’s position is on this grant. Mr. Motel said the Open Space Commission has been working with West Pikeland Township and they are enthusiastic. Mr. Willig called the vote. All were in favor.


Aliano Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceedings. The hearing was opened and testimony given. The record was closed. Mr. Willig moved to approve the application subject to the items on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 4/29/02 and to be confirmed by a written decision. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.

S.G. Souder Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceedings. The hearing was opened and testimony given. The record was closed. Mr. Oeste will try to have a decision drafted by 6/3/02.

Dixon Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceedings. The hearing was opened and discussion took place. Mr. Willig moved to continue the hearing to June 17, 2002 to allow the Three Ponds Homeowners Association to present its material, with the decision deadline being measured as 45 days from this evening. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan moved to close the hearing this evening. There was no second to Mr. Hogan’s motion. Mr. Willig called the vote. Mr. Willig, Mr. Rodgers and Mrs. Ewald were in favor. Mr. Hogan and Mr. Kuhn were opposed. The hearing was continued to June 17, 2002.

Mr. Motel expressed his disappointment that he observed at more than one meeting that the residents of Three Ponds exit after their issue is completed instead of staying to participate in Township-wide matters. Mr. Willig called a 10 minute recess. When the meeting reconvened, Charlie Miller, President of the Three Ponds Homeowners Association, took issue with Mr. Motel’s comment and stated that she intends to stay for the meeting. She noted a general lack of participation and attendance from the public at large at Township meetings and not just among Three Ponds residents.

Seibert/Winnich Request for re-approval of Subdivision with Revised Horseshoe Trail Agreement

Abby Schiff, Esq. was present representing Mr. Winnich. Lewis Patriello, Esq. was present representing Dr. and Mrs. Seibert. Bill Weber was present representing Mr. and Mrs. Bureski. Ms. Schiff provided some background. A lot line change plan was previously approved for two parcels on Hollow Road. The Seiberts own lot #1 and the Seiberts and Mr. Winnich jointly own lot #2. The lot line change increases the size of the Seiberts’ lot (Lot #1) from 6.4 to 15.53 acres, and decreases the size of the Winnich/Seibert lot (Lot #2) from 13.43 to 4 acres. Lot #2 is under an agreement of sale to Mr. and Mrs. Bureski, who have agreed to sign the Horseshoe Trail Irrevocable Perpetual License with some proposed revisions. The Seiberts have objected to signing the agreement primarily due to liability concerns expressed in their attorney’s letter dated 5/13/02 to the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Oeste said he reviewed the “Recreational Land Use Act” which protects property owners from liability related to public-accessible, unimproved land and it should apply to a trail easement. Mr. Motel referred to the Aresto decision in 1988-1989 as case law that indicates a trail qualifies under the Act. Mr. Weber suggested the Board approve the subdivision with a revised license agreement for Lot #2, which Mr. Bureski is willing to sign, and without an agreement for Lot #1, in order to at least secure a portion of the trail. Mr. Kuhn said without an exit and entrance, a trail portion is of little value.

Mr. Davison asked if the Seiberts will agree not to block the trail. Mr. Petriello responded they will not do so in writing. Mr. Motel asked for a summary of the Seiberts’ objections, and Mr. Petriello summarized them from his letter of 5/13/02, including concern over people setting camp fires on the trail, carrying guns, littering, trespassing, trail maintenance, and unfair treatment since not everyone is required to grant a similar easement. Mr. Motel said the Seiberts’ refusal is a typical problem in the Township, but he doesn’t feel an easement should be forced on them. He asked how far the trail is from their dwelling, and Mr. Petriello responded 30 or 40 yards.

Mr. Oeste suggested the Board meet to discuss this issue in executive session before the next meeting so the matter can be decided on June 3, 2002.

Hearing: Altemose Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceedings. The hearing was opened and testimony given. The hearing was continued to June 17, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, 7:30 P.M.

Steven Van Vliet – Zoning Hearing Board Application

Steven Van Vliet presented a Zoning Hearing application to the Board. He wishes to construct a small two story addition to his existing 2,100 square foot house located on Route 29 adjacent to Hartman’s Run. There would be an additional 340 feet on each floor. Variances are needed for encroachment into the front yard setback, setback from the stream, and construction in a floodplain. Mr. VanVliet said the house was built in 1884 and he needs expanded closets and additional living space to accommodate his family. He said that FEMA defined that the entire house is in the floodplain, but Mr. Van Vliet showed evidence that even during the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, he had no flooding problems. A 100-year storm is defined as 7.15” of rain, and there was 9-10” during Hurricane Floyd. For him to design for a 100-year storm, he would overrun his budget on engineering and construction of a drainage basin. Mrs. Ewald asked if the septic system is sufficient to accommodate the additional bathroom, and Mr. Van Vliet said he had it checked out and it is o.k. Mr. Kohli said the County Health Department will have to review and approve it.

Mr. Kohli said the Zoning Ordinance prohibits construction in a floodplain. Mr. Van Vliet must go to FEMA, prove the house is not in the floodplain and get a change to the map. Mrs. Ewald asked if he had flood insurance, and Mr. VanVliet said yes, because he is in Zone A. Mrs. Ewald suggested he check with his insurance company to be certain they will insure the addition. Mr. Oeste questioned whether the Zoning Hearing Board can approve a variance from the floodplain requirements. It may jeopardize other homeowners’ ability to collect on their own flood insurance if it is allowed. Mr. Oeste said he will investigate further. He suggested that Mr. VanVliet meet with a FEMA representative to see what his options are. If something can be worked out, he may proceed to the Zoning Hearing Board.

Blackberry Lane Drainage Easement

Bill Davison submitted a revised easement document to the Board for approval. In September 2001, he granted the Township a 20-foot easement along the eastern border of his Blackberry Lane property to install an 18-inch drainage pipe to mitigate a drainage problem on Blackberry Lane. However, the road contractor misplaced the pipe outside the easement area. Mr. Davison stated his willingness to grant further easement for the actual location of the pipe. Mr. Willig moved to approve the easement agreement as presented, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor. The Board agreed to reimburse Mr. Davison for the expenses incurred due to the error, and in addition will back charge Melchiorre Construction Co. $300.00 for top soil removed from the site.

Ordinance to Enter Intercooperative Agreement with the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission

The hearing was opened. Mr. Oeste said the group will vote on the final version of the Intercooperative Agreement on May 30, 2002. The Ordinance under consideration was therefore tabled and the hearing continued to June 3, 2002.

Authorize Advertising of Road Bid Documents

Mr. Kohli stated he circulated the draft bid documents for road equipment & labor, and for bituminous and stone materials. The Board members commented on the drafts. Mr. Kuhn said he wants the documents worded so entities other than the Roadmaster can direct the contractor. Mr. Kohli said the contract is for all work in the Township, and the Board can designate who other than the Roadmaster can assign and direct work. Mr. Kuhn suggested that the reference to a liaison be removed from the equipment and labor contract. Mr. Willig noted item #10 on the equipment and labor contract stating that all equipment will be scheduled by verbal orders. He asked if this should be changed to written orders. Mr. Kohli said there are often situations where there would be no time to produce a written order and suggested the wording remain “verbal order” but to be followed up with a written order.

The Board determined that all comments on the draft bid documents must be in by June 3, 2002 in order to finalize them for availability June 5, 2002. The Secretary will advertise the bids on June 1st and June 7th, 2002.

Act 537 Sewage Management Plan

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Act 537 Management Plan dated March 29, 2002, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. Mr. Kohli stated that the Plan had been revised to make the requirements less onerous for residents while maintaining a strong educational and informational element. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.

Participation in the Countryside Exchange

The Secretary read aloud the motion left on the table from the May 6, 2002 meeting, “Mr. Kuhn moved to participate in the Countryside Exchange and to appropriate up to $4,000 in funds for that purpose. Mr. Hogan seconded.” Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.

Other Business

Phoenixville Regional Library

There was some discussion on whether to donate funds to help support the Phoenixville Regional Library. Mrs. Ewald said that as a county function, under the County’s supervision and control, funding should come from that source and not locally. (Mr. Rodgers left the meeting at this time and returned in a few minutes.)

Baughman Farm Subdivision

Mr. Kohli stated that the Charlestown Planning Commission recommended approval of the subdivision, which will allow for the Township to take ownership of approximately 1 acre of the Baughman farm encompassing the Mill. A letter of recommendation was also received from the French & Pickering Creeks Trust. The County review letter has not been received yet. The Agreement of Sale stipulates that the subdivision will not take place until the County sends their review letter, or that 30 days pass after their receipt of the application. That deadline has not yet passed. Mrs. Ewald had a question on the right of way lines, which was clarified by Mr. Kohli.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Baughman Farm subdivision, subject to the County’s review, and with approval to be made effective after 30 days of the County’s receipt of the application. Mr. Kuhn seconded and all were in favor.


The Board adjourned at 12:05 A.M. The next meeting will be held on June 3, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary