The first business meeting for May was held May 5, 2003, at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Mike Rodgers, Kevin R. Kuhn, Thomas Oeste, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, Melanie M. Lammers, Recording Secretary, and those on the attached list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 7:38 P.M. Mr. Willig said that Mr. Hogan’s chemotherapy is finally catching up with him, so he asked Mr. Willig to chair the meeting in his absence. Mr. Willig said he is sure everyone would join him in hoping everything continues to go well for Mr. Hogan.
Mrs. Ewald congratulated the Open Space Committee on a very successful Township tour and that Rosemary Philips and Sue Staas deserve special recognition for their efforts.
Mrs. Ewald announced she was privileged to attend the dedication of the Samuel W. Morris building for gardening and earth studies at the Kimberton Waldorf School. She said she used to work for Mr. Morris, and he was a very special mentor to her, so the occasion was of personal as well as governmental interest to her. She stated that the gardening center is a resource that Charlestown can benefit from.
Mrs. Ewald announced the passing of Martha Griffiths at the age of 91. She stated Ms. Griffiths was mostly recognized as a congresswoman from Michigan, but had also been a judge and lieutenant governor. One of the key things she did was to work to include gender in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As a result, the opportunities in employment, the inequities in Social Security and insurance, as well as other gender-related concerns, were dramatically changed by her efforts. Mrs. Ewald said she was very much a pioneer. She asked Mrs. Csete to copy the article from the Los Angeles Times regarding Ms. Griffiths’ life, make it available, and attach it to the minutes.
Mr. Michael Allen asked for an opportunity to clarify the Planning Commission’s role in the Devault Village. He said there is some discussion going on in the Township which he feels is erroneous and said he unfortunately believed this information was coming from someone on the Board of Supervisors. He wished to make it very clear that there is no one on the Planning Commission who has a stated position for or against the Devault Village concept. He said the Commission is simply listening and gathering information, and trying to understand whether there is or is not a better way to deal with future development in Devault.
Resident, Ms. Janet Colleran, asked if Devault Village was going to be on tonight’s agenda, and Mr. Willig said it was not. He explained that there is no application or project underway; it is simply a concept at this time. Ms. Colleran asked how she could have input into the Devault Village discussions, and Mr. Allen said she should attend the Planning Commission meetings. Ms. Colleran’s concern was that decisions are being made within sub-committee meetings that are closed to the public. Mr. Allen assured her that decisions are not being made in those meetings, rather they are being used to sift through the information the developer is providing to determine if that data is reasonable.
Ms. Colleran asked if Devault Village was scheduled to be on the agenda for the next Planning Commission meeting, and Mr. Allen said it was not. He said, in fact, there are no further discussions scheduled at this time.
Mr. Willig said he was in attendance at the last Devault Village sub-committee meeting, where discussions took place. An informal presentation from J. Loew & Associates may be requested in the future if there is sufficient interest.
Mrs. Ewald objected to township funds being expended for this purpose. Mr. Allen responded that he had already discussed this expense with Jack Loew & Associates and that they agreed to cover the costs.
Mrs. Ewald said it concerns her that the sub-committee meetings are being held in private without the public in attendance. She said the May 5th Accounts Payable Report includes $889.20 of taxpayer money being used for this concept discussion. She said when expending Township money, the process falls under the Sunshine Act. She suggested Mr. Allen go back to the Planning Commission and consider having the sub-committee meetings open to the public. She added that the members of the Board of Supervisors are attending these meetings when not all the Board members are aware of when these meetings are being held. Mr. Allen said if this is the case it is a communication problem between the Chairman and the rest of the Board members. Mr. Allen stated they are following the Sunshine Act rules, and that he has checked with their legal counsel to make sure they are doing absolutely everything correctly. Mr. Willig said, as far as Sunshine Act goes, there was not a quorum of the Planning Commission or of the Supervisors. He said he received an e-mail from Paul Hogan asking him to attend, which he believed had been copied to everyone. Mr. Kuhn added that Mrs. Ewald knew about these meetings, and Mrs. Ewald said she was not aware they were not open to the public. Mrs. Ewald said she thought Mr. Allen was then given clear direction not to continue with the Devault Village concept. Mr. Kuhn asked who he was given that direction from, and Mrs. Ewald answered it was from the Board of Supervisors. The rest of the Board members said that was absolutely not the case.
Mrs. Ewald told Mr. Allen she believes he is biased toward seeing the Devault Village concept implemented. Mr. Willig said that is not true, as did Mr. Allen.
Resident, Mr. Joe O’Brien, said he thinks any meeting should be publicized, because the residents may be able to provide input.
Ms. Colleran said it was a huge leap of faith to accept that what is happening in the sub-committee meetings will not just be a done deal. She is concerned that, by the time the public is allowed to have input, decisions will already be made which may affect the residents. Mr. Allen assured her it will not be too late, and Mr. Kuhn said there may not even be a Devault Village, and at this point, the concept is leaning in that direction. Mr. Kuhn told Ms. Colleran that she, along with any Township resident, should never hesitate to contact any member of the Board of Supervisors if they have questions or concerns.
Mr. Allen added that there is a video on villages she could borrow. Mrs. Ewald encouraged Ms. Colleran to look at the video, because she feels it does look like a city and said that is something that should be kept in mind.
Mr. Willig asked if there were any other questions for the Planning Commission or if there were any other Citizen’s Forum items. There were none.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes as written. Mrs. Ewald requested a correction to the paragraph regarding the Earned Income Tax which stated, “Mr. Willig asked if there was a disagreement among Board members in levying this tax, and Mrs. Ewald said yes.” She said her disagreement was on the basis of the letter that was being sent, not on the tax itself. Also, she had asked to be able to submit a minority opinion with that letter so the taxpayers of the Township would know why she objected, and that a majority of her colleagues said a minority opinion would not be included, despite the fact that the Supreme Court issues both majority and minority opinions. She added that this Board does not feel it should hear all points of view, only a few peoples’ points of view.
Mr. Willig said the way this Board functions is to make a decision and act on it. He said this has always been the practice, and the idea of a dissenting letter was not in keeping with the way the Board conducts its business. He said, as to the other objection to the minutes, that Mrs. Ewald made it very clear it was not because of the letter that she was not in support of the tax, but the tax itself that she objected to. Mrs. Ewald disagreed, saying she had been very clear on her position. Mr. Rodgers said he questioned her on that very point and she admitted she was not in agreement with the tax. Mr. Willig suggested the Recording Secretary go back through the audio tape of the meeting and determine whether the minutes are correct as written or whether they need to be revised. Mr. Kuhn revised his motion and asked to table the minutes until this can be done. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote. Three were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald did not vote.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the April 1-30, 2003 Treasurer’s report as presented, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the May 5, 2003 Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Emory Todd, CPA, explained his functions as Auditor. For Fiscal Year 2002, he prepared three items for the Township, including a certified, independent audit of the Township’s financial statements, a DCED report which is filed with the County and the State, and a management letter with any recommendations he may have for the improvement of operations in the Township. Mr. Todd gave an overview of the highlights of his findings. Mr. Todd stated that the Township’s assets amount to approximately $3 million, half of that being cash and investments, and the other half being real estate. He said liabilities amounted to $2.1 million and were solely related to the general obligation fund to buy the Brightside Farm. He stated expenses were budgeted to be $1,277,000, but the actual was only $1,184,000. He attributed some of the decrease in spending to lower legal costs. He said the budgeted deficit was $217,000, but the actual deficit was $197,000. Mr. Phil Staas had several questions on the reports which Mr. Todd was able to answer to his satisfaction.
Mrs. Ewald asked if the Annual Audit and Financial Report would go only to the Township and not to the State, and Mr. Todd answered yes. Mrs. Ewald suggested having it posted to the Township’s web site.
Mr. Frens reviewed his document, Guidelines for the Preservation of the Charlestown Woolen Mill. At the conclusion of the review, he asked for the Board’s concurrence to go forward with preparing the construction documents to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission for review, as required by the grant award, before bidding the project. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Historical Commission was unanimous in their recommendation. He thought there may have been prior discussions along the lines of turning this building back into a working mill. Mr. Frens said he did not think there was anyone on the Historical Commission who ever thought of it as being an operating mill. Mrs. Rosemary Philips agreed, stating there was not enough of a description or existing old mill machinery to know what type of equipment was in there and when it was last used as a textile factory.
Mr. Oeste asked if the cost to restore the mill had been estimated, and Mr. Frens said it was estimated to cost approximately $240,000 total. Mrs. Ewald asked the proposed project could be done for that amount of money, and Mr. Frens said that was his best, professional judgment, but the actual numbers would be unknown until the project went out for bid. He added that the bids would be structured so that items could be pulled out if necessary in order to meet budgetary requirements.
Mrs. Ewald asked if there was enough pitch on the existing roof, and if that had been a factor in causing its collapse or whether it was simply due to age and rot. Mr. Frens said the cause of the collapse was actually due to vines crawling up the walls. He said they lay on top of the metal, causing the metal to rust, which in turn allowed water to get in and rot out the metal plate attached to the rafters.
Mr. Kuhn asked if Mr. Frens and the Historical Commission attempted to weigh the cost and originality differential of doing all three sections of the Mill or just the two oldest sections. Mr. Frens indicated it was the Board of Supervisors who urged them to keep the third section as well. Mr. Kohli said the third section could be separated in the bidding process as a separate item.
Mrs. Ewald said people have been looking at the building as it is for the past 100 years. She asked why the Township would want to change the roof to something they think may have been there in the past, but have no firm documentation to support it. She added that, with regard to the third section, she thinks one of the conditions of accepting the building was that the Township wouldn’t do any demolition. She said she thinks the previous owner would consider that to be a violation. Mrs. Ewald said the previous owner expressed that she would be disappointed to see that demolished. Mr. Frens said he had not been made aware of that.
Mr. Kuhn questioned whether the monies to restore the third section could be better spent elsewhere, but Mr. Kohli reminded him that the cost would not be much different whether there were two sections or three, because if there was not a third section, the second section would still have to be closed off.
Mrs. Ewald said that when she first came to the Township there were very old milk trucks inside the mill and asked if anyone knew what became of them. No one responded.
Mr. Frens and Mrs. Philips asked if they could have the Board’s approval of their approach to move forward with preparing the construction documents.
Mr. Willig asked if the decision not to reconstruct the former milling operation was solely driven by cost, and Mrs. Philips said there were a number of different milling uses, but little is known about specifics. Mr. Frens said if more information became available at a later date, changes could be made at that time.
Mrs. Ewald asked when a rededication could be expected, and Mr. Frens felt it might be ready in the late summer to early fall of 2004.
Mr. Rodgers moved to direct Mr. Frens to prepare and transmit the construction documents for review to the Pennsylvania Museum & Historical Commission, in accordance with his report and the Historic Commission’s recommendation, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. Mr. Willig asked whether some portions would be protected before winter approached, and Mr. Frens said this would be the responsibility of the contractor.
Mrs. Ewald asked if it is possible to start sooner, fearing that additional rainwater could cause more damage. Mr. Frens responded that a tarp is in place covering the hole in the roof and said he wouldn’t recommend anything else be done.
Mr. Willig asked if landscaping and geology were being addressed in the plans, and Mr. Frens said that was not considered. He said, at this point, they are just trying to clear vegetation in addition to restoring the structure.
Mr. Willig asked if there were any more questions, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. Mr. Frens left the drawings with Mrs. Csete.
Mr. Kohli reported there is grading work underway at the Altemose property for which he needed to determine whether a Soil & Erosion permit was required. He spoke to Mrs. Altemose and Lance Altemose and was told they are only smoothing out the ground. Mr. Kohli said there is no impact to life safety, health, etc. Mr. Oeste said that based on Mr. Kohli’s input, it doesn’t appear that Mr. Altemose is doing out of the ordinary. Mr. Kohli feels it is not necessary to take any action. Mrs. Ewald said she has been receiving reports of houses being buzzed by low-flying aircraft originating from this property and asked Mr. Oeste to look into whether the Township can do anything about it.
Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Kohli if he could give an update on the lighting dispute between the Krisches and Hallorans. He said he was away the prior week and would be meeting with Mr. Halloran on Wednesday night. Mr. Kuhn asked if the lighting is in violation, and Mr. Kohli said the language in the Township’s ordinance is vague. There are no wattage stipulations. He said he will make sure the Hallorans abide by the ordinance.
The Planning Commission report is on file.
Mrs. Rosemary Philips said that Mr. Ray Ott, the Historical Commission’s representative member on the Brightside Farm Committee, has asked to be replaced. She added that Mrs. Janet Baldwin has agreed to take that position, and the Historical Commission recommends she be appointed. After some discussion, Mr. Willig moved to approve the appointment pending approval by the Brightside Farm Committee, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald recommended the appointment be tabled. Mr. Willig asked if someone else was interested. Mrs. Ewald said it was her understanding the Brightside Farm Committee wanted someone with farm experience, which is what Ray Ott brought to the table, and there is a member of the Historical Commission who has farm experience. She suggested that Mary Ellen Joos be asked but Mrs. Joos, who was present, declined. Mrs. Philips said Mrs. Baldwin is willing to serve and would do a good job. Mrs. Ewald said at the last Brightside Farm Committee meeting, the Committee felt Janet Baldwin was not an appropriate appointment. Mr. Kuhn added that the person they do want is not interested and asked what was left to do in this situation. It was his opinion the Board should proceed with making the appointment. Mrs. Ewald suggested talking to Jacob Merriwether and Alix Coleman to get clarification of their concerns, and again requested tabling the appointment. Mr. Willig said the motion stands, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig said if there are any strong objections from the Brightside Farm Committee, the Board will reconsider. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none further, called the vote. Four were in favor, and one was opposed.
The Roadmaster report is on file.
Mrs. Ewald asked for the total cost of sweeping the roads. Mr. Alston responded it took 40 hours at $90/hour plus the cost of an additional pick up truck. Mrs. Ewald questioned whether a pickup truck was needed, and Mr. Alston said it was.
Mr. O’Brien asked if any decisions were made on installing speed bumps on Union Hill Road, and Mr. Kuhn said a decision had previously been made to approve them. Mr. O’Brien said, after getting 114 signatures opposing them, he was hoping the Board would reconsider. He added that the residents consider them a hazard as do Fire, Police and Ambulance service representatives. Mr. Kuhn asked how Mr. O’Brien would propose to solve the speeding/traffic problem, and Mr. O’Brien said he doesn’t feel there is a problem.
Mr. Rodgers said he believes the topic should be revisited. Mr. Willig said he recalled this was a 3-2 vote and that in order to revisit it, one of the members who originally voted in favor of the speed bumps, must ask it to be revisited. Mr. Rodgers moved to revisit this topic, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig asked that it be added to a future agenda.
Mr. Alston said, based on PennDOT guidelines, at least 70% of neighbors should be in agreement before speed bumps are installed. Mr. Willig asked how the term ‘neighbor’ is defined, and Mr. Alston said it encompasses people living on that street and also streets immediately adjacent.
Mr. Willig scheduled this item for the June 2, 2003 agenda. Mrs. Csete said she would send postcards to the residents to make them aware that this topic is being revisited.
The Fire Marshal report is on file.
Mr. Alston reminded residents that there is a process to follow in order to get permission for the use of fireworks. He said there is no cost, but there an application must be submitted.
Janet Baldwin said the Open Space Commission should be complimented on the great Tour of the Township they provided on April 27th, and Mr. Kuhn agreed they did a great job.
There was no one in attendance from the Parks and Recreation Board.
The Brightside Farm Committee meeting minutes are on file. Mrs. Ewald asked if there were any other questions, and Mr. Willig asked if the Committee had started yet to move ahead on the items discussed at the prior meeting. Mrs. Ewald replied they have begun to do so.
Mr. Rodgers said there is no written report available yet from the last meeting, and nothing substantial to report. He added that negotiations for the union are still ongoing. He said the holdup seems to be with the subcontractor. He said there will be a negotiator at the next meeting and they will try to break that log-jam. Mr. Kuhn asked who the solicitor was, and Mr. Rodgers replied Vince Pompo.
Mr. Willig confirmed with Mr. Kohli that no changes need to be made on the plans following a field meeting held on site with the DEP. Mr. Theurkauf recommended that field adjustments be made for buffering during construction, but agreed the plan is satisfactory. Mr. Oeste indicated this is ready for approval, subject to the January 31, 2003, memo from Comitta and Associates, Inc. and the letter dated March 5, 2003 from Kohli & Associates, Inc. He added that this approval is also subject to a rather extensive conditional use decision, dated July 1, 2002. He said there are two items needing attention. Regarding Condition 14, which requires determination by the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Oeste recommended giving ownership of the parcel on the east side of the land to the Homeowners Association. He added that approval has to be made subject to receipt of the appropriate Homeowners documents.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Dixon Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan subject to these conditions being met, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed. Mr. Oeste said the standard conditions of posting security and paying any outstanding review fees to the Township are required prior to the plan being released for recording.
Mrs. Csete indicated the need for a Resolution to approve the Sewage Facilities Planning Module for the Dixon subdivision. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Resolution, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mr. Oeste indicated he received a letter from the Mahers’ counsel for their Conditional Use application. He said they no longer need to disturb the steep slopes for installation of the septic system. They have submitted a revised plan to the Township office and asked that the record be closed. Mr. Kuhn said he would prefer to table this topic, and Mr. Oeste said the matter would open and continue to May 19, 2003.
Mr. Comitta reviewed his memo dated May 5, 2003. With regard to comments made by the County, Mr. Comitta suggested the Township respond by saying they respectfully note the County’s comments, but have decided to keep their own language at this time. He noted that the building height document was attached for future consideration.
Mr. Willig moved to schedule the hearing for the June 2, 2003 meeting, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Comitta suggested tabling the scheduling of this hearing. He said the upcoming meetings between Robal and Associates and the Planning Commission will likely cause revisions to the ordinance. He said those changes will need to be reviewed at the next Planning Commission meeting before it is ready for Board approval. Mrs. Ewald suggested the scheduling of this hearing be tabled.
Mr. Comitta indicated the FR revisions would not be ready until July, because the Official Map text and exhibit and the Open Space Option documents must first go to the Chester County Planning Commission, which then has a two-week review period. Mrs. Ewald suggested the scheduling of this hearing be tabled. Mr. Willig moved to table the scheduling of the hearings for both the PRD and FR ordinance revisions, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kohli said his review of the escrow release request has not been completed, therefore, this issue was tabled.
Mr. Kuhn requested that the Board consider sponsoring the “French Creek Iron Tour for Open Space” to be held June 22, 2003. It is sponsored by the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. Mr. Willig scheduled this matter for June 2, 2003 to allow the Board members time to receive and review the letter requesting sponsorship.
Mr. Willig moved to adjourn the meeting, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. The vote was called and all were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 10:04 P.M. The next meeting will be held on May 19, 2003, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.