The second business meeting for July was held July 15, 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., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Thomas J Comitta, 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.
Paul Hogan announced that he met with the Fire Marshal, who determined that the brush at the Brightside Farm must be chipped and ground, not burned. Mr. Hogan indicated that Josh Lord will soon be available to do the work, as his workers compensation certificate should arrive at the Township shortly.
Mrs. Ewald reminded the public to be appreciative of and thankful for the Township’s unique qualities, which were evident to her on her drive over to the meeting this evening. She complimented the new benches at the Brightside Farm set along the walking trail by Mr. Hogan. Mr. Hogan added there are similar benches in place at Charlestown Park.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes for 7/1/02 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Oeste stated that the applicant’s attorney, Joseph P. Ryan, requested a continuance to August 19, 2002 due to a conflict in his schedule. The Board therefore opened and continued the meeting to August 19, 2002 with an emergency date of September 9, 2002.
Mr. Willig asked if it can be communicated to Mr. Ryan that late cancellations of this nature make it difficult for the Board to properly plan its agendas. An hour and a half was allotted to this matter tonight, and other matters could have been scheduled in its place if more notice was given. Mr. Oeste said he will communicate this to the applicant.
Mrs. Csete summarized the comments from the Chester County Planning Commission’s review letter dated June 21, 2002 regarding this ordinance. Their primary concerns were as follows: that any requirements for notification by the applicant be kept voluntary; otherwise a 90-day review period would be initiated according to the MPC. It may be preferable for the Township to issue the notification instead of the applicant. Second, the applicant might regard a notification process as a disincentive when sketch plans should instead be encouraged. Third, the County suggested using similar language for any notification requirements as the MPC requires for public notice of rezonings. Fourth, the County suggesting expanding the notification to all landowners within a certain distance from the tract, not just abutting landowners.
Mr. Willig called for discussion, stating that this Ordinance came from the Planning Commission in order to encourage public participation earlier in the review process. Mr. Oeste cautioned the Board to make any notification process strictly voluntary and to make it clear the time clock for review is not running. Mike Allen, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, said the Commission wanted to avoid another situation like the Dixon subdivision review, where adjacent Three Ponds residents said they weren’t aware of the 1 ½ years of discussions that took place on sketch plans prior to the submission of the Preliminary Plan. He wants to see any notification process as simple as possible so it’s not perceived as an impediment by the applicant. Mr. Philips said discussion of sketch plans at the Planning Commission is conversational in tone and he believes this informal approach elicits the best responses. Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Willig agreed they don’t want the notification requirement to be too demanding. All agreed that early public input was both welcome and valuable to the review process. Mr. Oeste suggested the Township handle the notifications. Mrs. Stewart said communication is extremely important and used the Agenda for example. She said changes are made to the agendas after the drafts are posted, and agenda items aren’t described in enough detail to make them understood. She said the wording on tonight’s agenda was convoluted and tedious and she couldn’t understand it. Mrs. Ewald agreed that more detail could be added to the agenda. The Board decided against adopting the ordinance for sketch plan notification but instead to develop a sketch plan notification policy that will provide for notifications to be sent from the Township office. Mr. Oeste will work with Mrs. Csete on wording a notification policy.
Bob Smiley and Chuck Dobson, P.E. were present from Genterra Corp. to present a revised draft settlement sketch plan dated 6/5/02 for the Spring Lane Farms subdivision application on Hollow Road. Mr. Smiley said the following changes were incorporated in the revised sketch plan per previous discussions with the Board: a shortened cul de sac road, moving lot #6 further from the Homestead lot, and elimination of one lot for a total of eight new lots.
Mrs. Ewald asked if the applicant drafted the settlement stipulation agreement and Mr. Smiley said yes. Mr. Oeste said the agreement itself would not be examined at length tonight, just the sketch plan. Mr. Smiley agreed that they are only looking for acceptance of the sketch plan concept this evening.
Mr. Smiley displayed the sketch plan and indicated that lots 1 through 6 will provide for areas of non-disturbance with the exception of septic systems. Lots 7 and 8 will have buffers between them and the homestead.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the lower green area of wetlands shown on the plan will be part of the homestead lot or lot #1. Mr. Smiley said it could be included with either, or kept separate as a conservation easement. After some discussion, it was determined that the applicant would investigate a conservation easement option.
Mrs. Ewald asked if the road traversing the wetlands has a 50 foot right of way, and Mr. Dobson said yes, but it might be possible to narrow the road and disturbance width somewhat with the Board’s approval. Mr. Kohli said 9 foot lanes with flush curbs and grass shoulders would be acceptable and would work for emergency vehicles.
Mrs. Ewald suggested moving the driveway to the opposite side of the tract. Mr. Dobson responded that there are wetlands in this area as well, and that since it is a part of the homestead lot, which already possesses a wetland crossing for a driveway, a second wetland crossing on the lot would likely not be permitted by the DEP. The present road location was positioned to be opposite Somerset Lane to avoid adding a new intersection location with Hollow Road. The present location is also well buffered from the Homestead lot.
Mrs. Ewald asked if there is a purchase agreement on the homestead and Mr. Smiley said no.
Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission has not reviewed the sketch plan but has discussed it briefly, and he believes the revised plan to be an improvement.
Mr. Theurkauf referred to comments in his review memorandum dated July15, 2002. Item #5 recommends that a permanent easement be established for the Horseshoe Trail along the property. Item #6 notes that there would be less impact on the wetlands if the existing Homestead driveway were used as the access for the new lots. However, the Sycamore trees on one side of the existing driveway would be lost. Mr. Philips said the Historic Commission was adamant that the old driveway should be preserved. They were unanimous in their decision that the new access road should be kept separate in order to maintain the viewscape both from Hollow Road and from the homestead. He said the Planning Commission agreed with this opinion, acknowledging that it is a tradeoff between the historic features of the property and the protection of wetlands. Debbie Kuhn said using the existing driveway would separate the homestead meadow area from the house, which would be undesirable.
Mr. Comitta asked how the new road, as shown on the revised sketch, could be constructed in such a way as to minimize wetland disturbance. Mr. Dobson said the road could be narrowed and lined by low retaining walls. Mr. Kohli suggested the use of an arch such as was recently approved for the Pomantis’ conditional use application for their driveway, which also crosses a wetland. Mr. Dobson said they can span the stream channel and then narrow the road above it. A flush curb would help small wildlife cross the road.
The Board reached a consensus that, although they wished for no development of the parcel, the sketch is a great improvement and the process of settlement should move forward based on it. Mr. Oeste will draft a settlement agreement for the Board’s review and consideration.
Mr. Dobson asked for a response to his letter of July 3, 2002, requesting approval for Mr. Kohli to proceed with a review of the stormwater management plan even though the settlement agreement has not been filed with the court yet. The Board indicated this would be acceptable.
Mrs. Ewald requested the immediate mowing of the thistle on the Deerfield tract, stating that numerous requests have been made and ignored. The thistle is now blooming, and the Township’s noxious weed ordinance states thistle must be controlled. Mr. Kuhn also requested the Volpi tract be mowed.
The Board discussed the two bids received and opened June 17, 2002 for the equipment and labor contract. Mr. Kohli said Melchiorre Construction Co., the lower bidder has now provided a certificate of insurance. The company does not hold a PennDOT certification although another company owned by the same party does. The higher bidder acknowledged in a letter dated 7/15/02 that they would not object to the bid award to Melchiorre in light of this irregularity. Mrs. Ewald moved to award the Equipment and Labor contract for the period of July 1, 2002 through June 30, 2003 to Melchiorre Construction Co. Mr. Kuhn seconded and all were in favor.
Susan Line Boswell of Riley, Riper, Hollin & Colegreco was present to request the Board’s agreement to authorize its Solicitor to sign a petition on their behalf to the PUC requesting the PUC’s appropriation of a Norfolk Southern Right of Way in order to allow construction to begin on the Warner Lane at grade rail crossing. Ms. Boswell explained that it may not be necessary for the petition to be submitted but she wanted the Board’s agreement to do so in the event the PUC required it.
Ms. Boswell explained that the PUC uses the term “appropriation” to define the taking of land, in this case, taking land owned by the Township to make it part of the Warner Lane right of way for Norfolk Southern Railroad’s grade crossing. The land is needed for Trammel Crow to complete the construction of the grade crossing and therefore to complete the Warner Lane road improvements. The PUC has indicated to Ms. Boswell that they will undertake the appropriation as soon as she provides them with the plan and legal description, which will be done tomorrow. They will vote on the appropriation at their August 8, 2002 meeting unless they receive an objection within 20 days from the Township.
Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize the Solicitor to sign the petition requesting the PUC’s appropriation in accordance with the May 26, 1998 Order in the event the approval is not executed by default at the PUC’s meeting on August 8, 2002. Mr. Willig seconded and all were in favor.
Ms. Boswell said a second issue for Trammel Crow is to get approval for a temporary signal plan that can be used until Norfolk Southern completes the circuitry for the permanent signal at the crossing. The circuitry plans won’t be ready until June 2003, and Trammel Crow hopes to open the road sooner than that, perhaps within 4 to 5 months. Norfolk Southern has agreed to allow a flagman operation similar to that at Route 29 and Charlestown Road as a temporary plan. This doesn’t require PUC action but the parties want an acknowledgement letter from the Township to the PUC. Ms. Boswell said she will provide a draft letter.
Mr. Kuhn moved to advertise the hearing for the Demolition Permit Ordinance for August 19, 2002 and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig explained that this will require a HARB review of any structure listed on the Historic Resource Map prior to approval of a demolition permit. All were in favor.
Authorize Advertising of Hearing for Ordinance Amendment: Impervious Surface Coverage Ordinance
Mrs. Csete explained that this ordinance was reviewed and recommended by the Planning Commission some time ago but never followed through to the hearing process. Mr. Comitta explained that the ordinance amends the definitions of Building Coverage, Impervious Surface and Impervious Surface Coverage to reflect measurements of net lot area instead of gross lot area.
Mrs. Ewald moved to advertise the hearing for the Impervious Surface Coverage Ordinance for August 19, 2002, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.
Mr. Oeste asked if the required notifications had been sent to the County and affected abutting municipalities as required by the MPC for a 45 day review period. Mrs. Csete responded yes. Mr. Rodgers moved to advertise the hearing for consideration of adopting the Official Map and Official Map Ordinance for September 16, 2002 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. Mr. Comitta provided an explanation of the Official Map and described it as a land use tool that designates where to reserve land for various public purposes. If a subdivision application is received for a parcel listed on the official map, the Township would have 120 days to take action if they are interested in procuring the property for public use, according to the draft Official Map Ordinance. There was discussion on how to best notify the public of the hearing date. Mr. Comitta’s office will arrange to post the latest draft Map on the citizens’ website, and the township office will arrange for a mailing to all Township residents. If cost feasible, a color Map will be included in the mailing. Mr. Comitta will draft a letter to accompany it. Mr. Willig called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt Resolution #594-02 authorizing the Secretary to sign the Winter Traffic Services Agreement #06275813 for the 2002-2003 winter season. Mrs. Csete noted that the Roadmaster reviewed the list of roads included in Exhibit A and verified that it was correct. Mrs. Ewald seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #3 in the amount of $190,296.00 for Sal Lapio Homes and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor.
There was a question on whether Iacobucci Homes is responsible for the re-striping of Yellow Springs Road. Mr. Kohli said that until the improvement of the intersection and its signalization is complete, the contractor is responsible. However, the signal should be put into operation tomorrow, so the process is at an end. He will contact the contractor and see if they will agree to striping the road one more time, and if not, the Township will take care of it.
Mr. Rodgers moved to execute two separate agreements with the County to award the Township grant funding for the update of the Zoning Ordinance and the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance provided the work is done in accordance with the County’s Vision Partnership Program Scope of Work. Mr. Hogan seconded and all were in favor.
The Board asked Mr. Kohli if it will be possible to provide a bicycle lane along Howells Road after it is repaved this August. Mr. Kohli said the road is wide enough to provide a 4 foot path, which must be posted as a bicycle/pedestrian lane. Mrs. Ewald asked if this would present any additional liability for the Township, and Mr. Oeste responded no, it may actually create less.
Mr. Hogan moved to send a letter to the Valley Forge Christian College congratulating them on their recently attained accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:37 P.M. The next meeting will be held on July 22, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154 to continue the visioning sessions for the Brightside Farm.