Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of August 5, 2002

The first business meeting for August was held August 5, 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., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, 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. Kuhn announced that the settlement for the Township’s purchase of the Woolen Mill (Baughman Mill) on Charlestown Road took place as scheduled on July 30, 2002. There was an existing lien on the property for $1,000.00, but this was determined to be of no consequence since it expires in less than two months.

Mr. Hogan distributed prints of the Charlestown Consolidated School signed by the artist, Milo Winter. He suggested some prints be framed for sale at the upcoming Charlestown Historical Society fundraiser dinner.

Mr. Hogan said he’s been looking into the Longwood School ruins at Valley Hill and Bodine Road to determine whether a modest memorial can be planned for the site. The Longwood School was a segregated school built in the 1800’s.

Mr. Hogan said he’s in the process of obtaining bids on poles to be used in constructing a barricade at the two entrance roads leading into the Brightside Farm and new parking area.

Mr. Willig announced that Board members attended a meeting on July 29th that included the County Commissioners, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission representatives, and Supervisors from Schuylkill, Tredyffrin and East Whiteland for an update on the Route 29 slip ramps. He said the Turnpike Commission provided the following schedule:

2002-2003 Preliminary Design Work
2003-2005 Final Design, Permitting, Regulatory Process
2005-2007 Construction
2007 Completion of the Slip Ramps

Mr. Willig said the County Commissioners requested a Memorandum of Understanding with the Turnpike Commission. The Commissioners asked for input from the attending Townships, including Charlestown, for the drafting of this Memorandum, including possible conditions. Mrs. Ewald said the Turnpike Commission has run out of funds to continue the turnpike widening project between Norristown and Downingtown and will now stop the widening to 6 lanes at Charlestown. This may or may not affect the slip ramp project.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

Howard Crawford was present on behalf of the Charlestown Hunt Homeowners Association to express concerns to the Board as follows:

  1. The playing field is poorly finished, with large ruts and bare spots in the turf. Additional topsoil and seeding is needed.
  2. Many homes have siding that is curling near the windows.
  3. There are numerous landscaping issues, including excessive slope on some trail sections and washouts on the trails.

Mr. Kohli said he met with the Homeowners Association and is waiting for an itemized list of these concerns. He noted that there is a substantial amount remaining in escrow to assure that the project is completed according to the plan. Mr. Willig noted that the field, landscaping and trail issues are the Township’s purview, but the siding is a warranty issue that is a matter between the homeowners and Realen.

Mr. Willig said Realen Homes has asked for dedication of the roads to go forward with the Township. Mr. Kohli said he is still waiting for as-built descriptions and legal indentures prior to setting up final inspections leading to dedication.

Another Hunt resident said there is a problem with trees that were planted too close to the flat end units. They started to block the lower flats and now are beginning to block the view from the upper flats. They need to be either trimmed or removed. Mr. Kohli said there should have been maintenance on these trees all along to prevent this from happening.

Mrs. Ewald encouraged the Homeowners Association to copy the Board on their concerns and continue to work with Mr. Kohli as the point person on these concerns.


Minutes of 7/15/02

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes for 7/15/02 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.

Minutes of 7/22/02

Mr. Kuhn noted that he did not attend this meeting so would not participate in the vote to approve the minutes. Mr. Hogan moved to approve the minutes for 7/22/02 and Mr. Willig seconded. Four were in favor, and Mr. Kuhn did not vote.

Treasurer’s Report July 1- 31, 2002

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for July 1- 31, 2002 and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report for 8/5/02 – General Fund

Mr. Hogan moved to approve the Accounts Payable for August 5, 2002 for the General Fund with the exception of check #1241, which was made out as a reimbursement to him instead of being charged against the Home Depot Account. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote, and all were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report for 8/5/02 – State Fund

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Accounts Payable for August 5, 2002 for the State Fund and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote, and all were in favor.


Zoning Officer

The Zoning Officer stated that the Building Permit report for July is on file.

Mrs. Ewald asked if there is any recourse on Genterra’s slow response on cutting the thistle at the Deerfield property. She said about five weeks passed since the Township’s first request that the property be mowed and it caused contamination of the entire neighborhood. State, county and township laws require control of noxious weeds. Mr. Kohli said the Township ordinance on weeds doesn’t give a specific deadline, and there is only a minimum fine. The Board may wish to revisit this ordinance.

Mr. Willig asked for the status of the water main installation work on Charlestown Road. Detour signs were posted, removed, and then reposted over the last week or so. Mr. Kohli said the School District put the signs prematurely. The PennDOT road occupancy permit was assigned to PSW Inc., and until PSW assigns the school’s contractor to this work, the School District can’t post the signs. He said he’ll contact them again about removing them.

Mr. Kuhn said directional signs to the Pickering Valley Golf Course must be taken down. Mr. Rodgers said the Golf Course has already been notified that their signs are not permitted.

Planning Commission

Mr. Comitta said the meeting for August 13th is cancelled due to the lack of an available quorum. The agenda for August 27th will be split into two parts, the first part for application reviews and the second for comprehensive plan implementation planning.

Historical Commission

The Secretary stated that the July Report is on file. The Historical Commission did not meet in July. Mr. Kuhn said that Ann Orth (French & Pickering), Bill Gladden (County Parks), Andy Motel and he walked the Solda Farm last week, for which grant funding for easement acquisition is being sought. Mrs. Ewald asked about the appraisal, questioning the value on the 21 acres. Mr. Kuhn added that there is additional acreage in West Pikeland included in the appraisal. The Secretary will distribute copies of the appraisal to the Board members.


Mr. Hogan said the stop signs on Rees Road were checked, and “Stop Sign Ahead” signs were added to both sides of the road approaching the problem intersection with Blackstone Road.

Mr. Rodgers reported that the paving work on Howells Road is about 60% completed, and the remainder will be finished tomorrow or the day after.

Fire Marshal/EOC

Mr. Alston read his July report in its entirety, stating there was one automatic fire alarm, one open burning, one smoke (CO) detector, one unlicensed fireworks display, two wires fires, one odor investigation, one Railroad signal failure, one helicopter landing and four vehicle accidents. He inspected the four hydrants at Charlestown Park, which need some mechanical work. He coordinated the installation of the temporary railroad crossing at Warner Lane. Mr. Alston announced that Potassium Iodide tablets will be made available to all residents and employees who live or work within the 10-mile radius of the Limerick Generating Station and described how they will be distributed.

Brightside Farm Committee

Mr. Hogan reported that clean up at the Brightside Farm is nearly complete, with approximately $1,500.00 overrun on the $20,000 budget for this project. This is due to the charges for the dumpsters, as many more loads were collected than anticipated. Mrs. Ewald said the farm looks beautiful and that an excellent job was done.

Mr. Kuhn said the installation of two roads accessing the Park were done without the Board’s knowledge, and stated his concern that the Brightside Farm Committee is overstepping its original charge of overseeing maintenance only. The roads shouldn’t have been constructed when a visioning process is still going on that is intended to lead to a plan for the property. The roads were cut in to Yellow Springs Road without PennDOT permits, a parking lot was added, and footers have been installed for some type of structure on the property without direction from the Board or discussion with the planner or engineer. Mrs. Ewald said the two roads were existing farm roads that were simply upgraded, so no permits were required. Mr. Kuhn sees the road leading to a picnic grove area as an invitation for a “hang out” area with no way to police it. Mrs. Ewald said security is one of the caretaker’s responsibilities. Mr. Willig said the clean up work directed by the Brightside Farm Committee was clearly their responsibility, but the recent work has gone beyond it. Mr. Rodgers said the work was done prematurely and is disrespectful to the public, who have been participating in the visioning process that was to be completed before any improvements are made to the farm.

Mrs. Ewald criticized the visioning process work done by Thomas Comitta Associates and called it inaccurate and poorly done. She said she’s never been consulted on the process and Thomas Comitta Associates should be fired. She said she considers the visioning process to be over. Mr. Willig disagreed with her criticism of Thomas Comitta Associates. He added that the Brightside Farm Committee is not supposed to be driving the Visioning process, which he said is not over. The next step is to form committees to present their proposals at an upcoming event at the farm this fall. The Farm Committee offered to organize the event which will be in the format of a Harvest Festival. Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Rodgers both commented that they have been happy with the performance of Thomas Comitta Associates, and Mr. Willig said the dissatisfaction is coming from only one of the five board members. He said it’s important that decisions and direction come from the Board as a whole instead of from 5 different directions, which has led to similar problems in other areas. Mr. Kuhn said his only concern with Thomas Comitta Associates has been in holding costs down.

Mark Connolly, Parks & Rec Chairman, said he agreed with comments that the Visioning process was intended to involve the public with the Board driving the process. He said he’s been satisfied with the process though he acknowledges he might have done some things differently. He said the process provided multiple options to consider for the future use of the farm. Two of the five Brightside Farm Committee members are also members of the Board of Supervisors, who have their own prerogatives as to what should be done. He understands that the committee must come to the Board for approval on expending funds over a certain amount. Mr. Willig said he recalled a list of work items that was submitted with the 2002 Budget that the Committee was authorized to proceed on. The Committee brought in Bob Elmer to be Chairman and act as a point person. Mr. Rodgers said there are no line items in the $80,000 maintenance budget for the Farm, and he’d like to see this changed for 2003. If any line item goes over the limit by a given percentage, an explanation must be given. Mr. Connolly said the Brightside Farm Committee should work the same way the Parks & Recreation Commission works, where any expenditures not of an incidental, routine maintenance or emergency nature get approval from the Board. He said budgeting is not planning, and larger items should have a scope drawn out and plans prepared that are reviewed by the Board.

Mr. Connolly said he was not in favor of the roads and the Brightside Farm Committee did not approve their construction or the addition of the parking lot. There was no design made or approval for this work by the Committee. Mr. Kuhn asked who authorized the work. Mrs. Ewald said the Brightside Farm Committee authorized filling in the ruts of the existing farm road. She went over to check on the work and found that additional work was being done. She clarified that it isn’t two separate roads but one loop road. She said the Roadmaster told her the cost differential was very minimal to upgrade the roads and recommended the additional work. Mr. Hogan said this was his understanding as well. Mr. Kuhn said the Roadmaster reported that 15 truckloads of stone were used for the roads, and that’s not an incidental cost.

Russell Hanscom said Mr. Elmer asked him to handle the budget for the Brightside Farm Committee for next year, as he would be tied up with other matters. Mr. Hanscom said the Committee should give thought as to what needs to be done. He said work is being done at the farm without all the committee members being aware of it. One item he feels should be addressed before winter is the need for new windows at the farmhouse. Alix Coleman said finances have been a major concern at the committee’s recent meetings. The consensus was to fill in the ruts with stones, not to construct roads. She said she is not happy with the roads, and questioned why the Roadmaster had the authority to put them in without prior approval.

With regard to the Harvest Festival to take place at the Farm, Mr. Connolly said some clean up is needed along with the creation of a reception area. Eight committees were defined at the last visioning session, and each one will be asked to prepare a display. He said the Committee is considering the upper level of the dairy barn for the displays. Existing bathroom facilities must be improved, and water treatment is needed. He said these matters will be discussed at the Brightside Farm Committee meeting on August 15th. Mr. Kuhn said he’s in favor of proceeding with these plans for the Harvest Festival. He also suggested the Committee have a display booth at the fall election polls to get public input on future uses for the Farm.

Mr. Connolly said the Brightside Farm Committee has no assigned role in the Visioning Process, and he has concerns over how the farm will be managed in the future. He suggests a similar arrangement as Charlestown Park, where concessionaires manage their own programs.

Parks and Recreation Board

Mr. Connolly said the basketball courts for Charlestown Park have been redesigned by Thomas Comitta Associates, with the elimination of an expensive drainage basin. Plans should be ready by the end of next week. He requested that Mr. Kohli review the design so the job can be put out to bid. Access from the playground is shown in the design via a paved trail, but this would be constructed at a later date and would not be included as part of the court construction. The courts will be constructed utilizing Round Ten 50% matching grant funds from the County. Mrs. Ewald said she doesn’t like the courts constructed at the proposed location next to the tot lot, which should be reserved for playground expansion. She suggested placing them near the Park entrance off Township Line Road. Mr. Connolly said this area is set aside in the Park Master Plan for future parking. Other locations had been considered before selecting the current location. Mrs. Ewald said the Christian College has indoor basketball facilities and she questions the need for additional ones at the Park. Mr. Connolly said there’s no assurance that the College’s facilities would be made available to the general public, and he doesn’t think they satisfy the Township’s needs. Mrs. Ewald said younger siblings of the organized sports players should have a larger playground to use while games are going on. Mr. Willig said he attends many of these games and generally the younger children stay with the parents to watch the games. The existing playground is underused during games. Mr. Hogan said he recently added some items to the existing playground and it’s not overused at any time, even when games are going on. He said courts should not be placed near the Park entrance, which should be a passive, serene area. Park activities are typically not designed near park entrances. Mr. Connolly said there is plenty of other area for expansion of the playground in the future if it becomes necessary. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the design subject to Mr. Kohli’s review, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed. The Secretary will prepare a bid package and advertise it when ready.

Mr. Connolly said St. Patrick’s Church sent a letter to the Township expressing an interest in developing a Lacrosse field at the Township’s 6 acre parcel in Devault. They plan to partner with the Great Valley Lacrosse League on this effort. He asked if the Board was still interested in considering this use and whether St. Pat’s should proceed with a design plan to present to the Township. Mr. Kuhn said he would be concerned with the scope of work, parking and bonding, and would want input from the Township consultants. Also, the Township would need assurances that the fields and Lacrosse program would be open to the General Public. Mr. Willig suggested they bring in a proposal for review, with the consultants to provide general comments at the meeting. Mrs. Ewald suggested that Mr. Connolly obtain playing field construction criteria from the Chester County Parks & Recreation Department. She also wants assurance that the program will be available to both boys and girls and low-income individuals.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority

Mr. Rodgers said elections were held and Dan Reese from Schuylkill Township was elected Chairman, and Mr. Rodgers elected Vice Chairman. He added that he’s on the construction committee and communicated the Township’s wishes for the Charlestown Meadows project to utilize a four-inch pressure pipe for their sewer line.

Hearing – Major/Minor Subdivision Ordinance

The proceedings were taken by Mark Hagerty, Court Reporter. Tom Comitta gave testimony and the hearing was closed. Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt Ordinance #102-02, amending the Charlestown Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to add definitions, procedures and requirements for Major and Minor subdivisions. Mr. Rodgers seconded and Mr. Willig called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.

Old Business

Memorandum of Understanding for Off-Site Spring Oaks Improvements

Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates referred to his firm’s offsite improvement package relative to their Preliminary Plan Approval for Spring Oaks Business Park. Trammel Crow proposes to undertake the improvements themselves acting as a contractor to J. Loew and Associates. Mr. Townes requested a return of the escrow funds in place with the Township for these improvements so they can be turned over to Trammel-Crow. Mrs. Ewald called for a recess into executive session. Mr. Willig called for a ten minute recess at 9:20 P.M.

The Board reconvened at 9:35 P.M. Mr. McErlane informed Mr. Townes that Charlestown board members recently attended a meeting with the County Commissions, Trammel Crow, PennDOT, and other neighboring townships where these road improvements were discussed. The Trammel Crow representative confirmed that they are responsible for all the improvement costs; therefore, the Township is looking to retain the $157,000+ from J. Loew & Associates and other developers presently on deposit with the Township to help cover the costs of perpetual maintenance. Mr. McErlane agreed that the $175,000 plus interest in a bank escrow account placed at the time of the Commons @ Great Valley approval should be returned to J. Loew & Associates. Don Jacobs, of Traffic Planning & Design, said the statement at the meeting was probably his response, but what he meant to say was that developers would cover all the improvements, not necessary Trammel-Crow alone. Mrs. Ewald said the $157,000+ in the Phoenixville Pike Improvement Fund escrow account was collected from developers over a fifteen year period when the Township was engaged in an 80%-20% match with PennDOT for these improvements. At the recent meeting, the Board asked for confirmation in writing from Trammel Crow that they would now be covering the full cost. She pointed out that Charlestown will have future costs for maintenance of these improvements indefinitely.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the release of the $175,000 in escrow funds held at Hudson United Bank to J. Loew & Associates. Mr. Kuhn seconded, and all were in favor. The Secretary will arrange the release of funds after Mr. Townes supplies the account information.

Warner Lane At-Grade Rail Crossing: Proposed Interim Opening Plan

Susan Line Boswell Esq. from Riley, Riper, Hollin & Colegreco was present to request that the Township petition the PUC for approval of a proposed interim plan for a crossing on Warner Lane. The plan proposes that a flagman will be provided by Norfolk Southern to control the Warner Lane/Phoenixville Pike intersection while the train is crossing. The interim plan is needed because the detailed circuitry plans will not be ready until next summer from Norfolk Southern. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve a draft letter to the PUC from the Township Solicitor to petition for approval of the Interim Opening Plan. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote, and four were in favor. Mrs. Ewald did not vote.

Howells Road Paving – Bike/Pedestrian Lane

Mr. Rodgers said there is a question of whether the road width of Howells Road will allow for a 3 or 4 foot wide bike/pedestrian lane on the north side of the Road. He said measurements are still needed to determine the width. A 24 foot width will allow for a 4 foot wide lane, and a 22 foot width will allow for a 3 foot wide lane. There won’t be any additional costs associated with the lane other than the striping paint. The lane will be made as close to a 4 foot width as possible.

New Business

State Police in Charlestown

Mr. Kuhn said he spoke to Lt. Teper this morning regarding traffic speed control issues, and confirmed that the State Police would be interested in having a desk provided for them at the Township office for their use. The Board agreed to provide keys and a designated parking space for the state police at the Township office.

Woolen Mill Stabilization

Mr. Kohli stated that the total cost estimated for the scope of work on file from Dale Frens for stabilization of the Woolen Mill is $216,000. A $100,000 match is available from the PA Museum & Historic Commission. Mr. Kuhn suggested putting the Historic Commission in charge of overseeing the work and reporting to the Board. The Secretary was directed to request to the Historic Commission that they proceed with obtaining estimates on the removal of vegetation from around the Mill as the first step in stabilization. The Historic Commission will be asked to provide a report for the Board’s September 10th meeting and provide any additional recommendations on proceeding with the project at that time.

Martellucci Subdivision Application – Request for Extension of Review Period

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve a 90 day extension on the review period for the Martellucci application from the date of their current review period deadline of September 10, 2002 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.

Brooklands Escrow Release Request #2

Mr. Hogan moved to approve Brooklands Escrow Release #2 for $155,458.00 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. All were in favor.

Michael Allen Escrow Release Request #3

Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Michael Allen’s Escrow Release #3 for $1,380.00 and Mr. Hogan seconded. All were in favor.

Other Business

Korean Church Property

Mr. Hogan said Rev. Kim responded to his letter which requested the removal of two dead sycamore trees from the Church property on Sycamore Lane. Ellen Behrle, 20 Moses Way, suggested that an agreement be made with the Church that the Township will provide tree care in perpetuity in exchange for a deed restriction on the property. Mr. Hogan will draft a letter for the Board’s review.

Rescheduling September 9, 2002 Meeting

Mr. Rodgers asked that the September 9, 2002 meeting be rescheduled as it conflicts with his meeting at the VFSA. Mr. Rodgers moved to reschedule to September 4th. Mr. Kuhn moved to cancel the meeting and combine its agenda with that for September 17th. After some discussion, an alternate date or cancellation couldn’t be decided upon. The Secretary was asked to e-mail the draft agenda to the Board so they could determine if the meeting could be cancelled with the agenda matters taken up on September 17th.

Fortress Group Inc. Request for Landscape Plan Change at Charlestown Oaks

The Secretary referenced a letter dated 7/12/02 from the Fortress Group Inc. requesting approval to change the landscape plan for Charlestown Oaks Phases 1-6. After some discussion, the Secretary was directed to ask the Applicant to present the proposed changes to them at the August 19th meeting.

104 Beaufort Court – Request for Construction of Driveway in the Setback

Mr. Kohli stated that he received a sketch plan from the homeowner at 104 Beaufort Court who wants to add a two car garage to his home after converting the existing garage into other living space. The side loaded addition, as mandated by the Homeowners Association, will cause the new driveway to be located in such a way that it will encroach on the 10 foot setback from the neighboring property line. As part of a PRD, this request can be handled by the Board or go to the Zoning Hearing Board. The Supervisors instructed the Secretary to contact the applicant and request that he petition the Board of Supervisors for approval of the setback encroachment and provide a sketch plan with his letter. The matter will be heard by the Supervisors.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 P.M. The next meeting will be held on August 19 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary