The first business meeting for June was held June 2, 2003, at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Paul Hogan, Chairman, Hugh Willig, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Mike Rodgers, Kevin R. Kuhn, Thomas Oeste, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Mark Hagerty, Court Reporter, 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 7:30 P.M.
There were no announcements.
There were no Citizen’s Forum/Non-agenda items.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the May 19, 2003, minutes as written, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Hogan called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the May 1-31, 2003, Treasurer’s report as presented, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the June 2, 2003, Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and Mrs. Ewald asked that it be noted she still objects to check number 1827, which is for $1,164.75 to be paid to Allen G. Heist Consulting Services. When asked by Mr. Hogan what her objection is, she said she does not agree with spending taxpayer’s money for regional consulting. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Four were in favor, and one was opposed.
Mr. Kohli reported that two Fridays ago there appeared to be activity at the corner of Route 29 and Yellow Springs Road. He said the property is owned by Clement DiFilippo, an absentee landlord. He said that because no one could be reached regarding this property, he posted a sign on a bulldozer stating the work must cease. He said a Stop Work order had been issued on May 22, 2003. He added that he did finally reach Mr. DiFilippo, and Mr. DiFilippo said his contractor did not make him aware of the posting. Mr. DiFilippo said the building was considered a danger, and he could not obtain insurance until it had been demolished. He was unaware he needed a permit for demolition.
Mr. Kohli reported on the lighting issue between the Krisches and Hallorans. He said he asked Mr. Halloran to lower the wattage and put the metal shields back in place. He said he will return to ensure this has been done.
Mrs. Ewald asked about the huge mound of dirt on Raven Hill Road at the new property that was built there. Mr. Kohli said there is construction of an addition going on in the back and that the excess dirt will need to be removed off-site. Mr. Hogan said if it is good dirt, it can be used at the entrance to the Park, and Mr. Kohli said he would inquire about it tomorrow.
Mrs. Ewald indicated the traffic signal at the intersection of Whitehorse Road and Route 29 has been covered for a long time and asked if it is planned to be activated soon. Mr. Kohli responded it must be activated in conjunction with the traffic signal at the intersection of Warner Lane and Phoenixville Pike.
Mr. Hogan indicated the Planning Commission cancelled their last meeting, because it coincided with the election, therefore, there was nothing new to report. The Planning Commission report is on file.
The Historical Commission report is on file.
The Roadmaster report is on file. Mrs. Ewald asked if there were any updates on the continued accident problems on Cold Stream Road. She asked if a skid test was planned to be done, and Mr. Alston responded he had not yet talked to the appropriate person, but would follow up tomorrow. Mrs. Ewald also reminded Mr. Alston to make sure the corrected signs were up on Tinker Hill Road. He said he believed they were already in place, but would make sure.
The Fire Marshal report is on file.
The Open Space Commission report is on file.
Mr. Hogan announced that work had begun on the basketball court, and the only thing left to do is the blacktop, which has been held up due to the weather.
He also said that Wendy Leland and her Girl Scout Troop met with Mr. Theurkauf to inventory the trees along the different trails. Once inventoried, tags will be posted on the trees identifying the leaf, tree name, Latin name, and a brief description. He added that this is a good Girl Scout project.
Mrs. Ewald said the Community Gardens area is established. She said the land was plowed and prepared, and the deer fencing is in place. She said there is all but one subscribed to. She added there is still land available outside of the deer fencing. Mr. Hogan said this effort is very well organized and encouraged people to stop by. Mrs. Csete asked how many plots there are, and Mr. Hogan replied there are eight plots, seven of which have already been signed for. There is a twenty dollar land preparation charge and water is available on-site.
Mr. Tom Babacz, a member of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority Board, read a letter regarding the Valley Forge Sewer Regional Act 537 Plan, dated April 2003. Additional details can be found in the attached document.
Resident, Joan Conroy, is requesting a zoning variance to allow her to enclose a 9-foot by 16-foot area on an existing concrete foundation. She said she spoke to all of her neighbors, and they have no objections. She added that the utilities are already in place.
The enclosure would encroach upon the setback area. Mr. Willig asked how far into the setback area the room would extend, and Ms. Conroy said it was 30 feet from the property line. Mr. Hogan asked what was there previously, and Ms. Conroy responded it was an old graphite mine.
Mrs. Ewald asked if anyone had a copy of the Perrone subdivision. She said it would be better to look at that plan to see how the subdivision was done, rather than to speculate about it. Mrs. Ewald asked Ms. Conroy how she determined where the property line was, and Ms. Conroy said she was told of its location by the prior owner and the original architect. Mrs. Ewald said it is possible that may not be the case and said it would serve everyone well to pull the Perrone subdivision plan in order to confirm it, as oral history is not always accurate. She asked Mrs. Csete to pull a copy from the Township archives. Mrs. Csete will call Ms. Conroy when the plan has been located.
The Zoning Ordinance Amendment hearing testimony was taken by Court Reporter, Mark Hagerty, and is on file. This hearing was continued to August 4, 2003, at 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.
The Altemose Conditional Use Application hearing was continued to July 7, 2003, at 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.
At 8:17 P.M., Mr. Oeste requested a 10-minute Executive Session take place prior to this decision. Upon their return at 8:30 P.M., Mr. Oeste announced the Kalogris decision would need to be tabled until June 16, 2003, due to his not providing the Board with the necessary information earlier.
Resident, Mrs. Stewart, mentioned that, per Roberts Rules, it is necessary for a person who originally voted in favor of putting speed bumps on Union Hill Road, be the one to revisit the issue. Therefore, Mr. Rodgers moved to revisit the installation of speed bumps on Union Hill Road, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Resident, Mr. Joe O’Brien, opened the discussions by stating that everyone concerned are neighbors and friends. He acknowledged that there may be differences of opinions, but that, in the end, everyone should try to come to the best situation possible for all, and in doing so, to look out for the safety of the children. He added that he had no idea a decision had already been passed to install speed bumps when he came to the Board with his petition.
Mr. O’Brien explained how he spent 2 hours in the morning, from 7:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. counting cars. He said he counted 282 cars from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M. and 221 cars from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. He also said he spoke to the 7:15 A.M., 7:30 A.M. and 4:30 P.M. bus drivers and asked them all the following questions:
All drivers indicated they have no problems in the snow on this road, and they never had any cars pass them when they were stopped to pick up or let off children. The 7:15 A.M. driver did indicate the road should be plowed back further under the bridge. Mr. O’Brien added that all but three cars stopped at the stop sign at Tinker Hill Lane, and he thanked the Board, specifically Mrs. Ewald, for persevering and putting signs in.
Mr. O’Brien asked an Engineer friend of his for suggestions on dealing with the speeding situation on Union Hill Road, and the Engineer recommended 25 mile per hour speed limit signs, with red flashing diamonds on top, be posted 100 to 150 feet from the stop sign. He also suggested having the buses turn into Tinker Hill Lane rather than use the hill.
Mr. O’Brien’s friend said the Fire and Police Departments are not in favor of speed bumps, and they’re a hazard for ice and snow removal vehicles. Mr. O’Brien said he would be in agreement with their installation as a last resort, but would like to investigate other alternatives first.
Additionally, Mr. O’Brien said there are 29 families on Tinker Hill, 28 of which are against speed bumps. Union Hill has five families against them, and Mt. Laurel Lane has three families against them. It was his understanding that in order to put speed bumps in, 70 percent resident approval is needed. and currently approximately 75 percent of residents are against it.
Mr. Hogan asked what Mr. O’Brien thought of the possibility of a speed dip, and Mr. O’Brien said he believes that anything put on the road will be an obstruction. Mrs. Ewald said she was impressed with Mr. O’Brien’s car count numbers, and said they are dramatically down from a year ago. She said it looks as though there has been a significant reduction from the 860+ cars she counted during the same time period the prior year.
A resident of Union Hill Road said speed bumps are not something that can be tried on to see if they fit. Once installed, they are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and for all seasons. He believed that speed bumps would ruin the beautiful, hilly terrain, and asked that concrete facts be presented supporting the need for speed bumps. Rather, he asked the Board to urge the State Police to patrol and ticket on a more regular basis.
Jean Theiss, a resident living at the corner of Union Hill and Tinker Hill Roads, said there are far less vehicles coming up the hill than in the past. She said she has also seen the State Police patrolling that area. Resident, Bridget Gross, added she would like to see the State Police come to the corner of Union Hill and Tinker Hill Roads. She said being there really helps to slow the traffic.
Resident, Mr. Gil Mariano, said everyone heard a lot about the hazards of speed bumps, but said the advantages were not discussed. He also said the road is a liability. He noted that the issue is speed, not traffic, stating that speed bumps are not designed to reduce traffic, but rather to reduce speed. He said a reduction in cars, in his opinion, could actually provide an opportunity for cars to speed, due to the increased distance between vehicles. He feels the liability of school children or a school bus being hit is being overlooked. He questioned the Board’s intention to build speed bumps in the Spring as was previously voted upon. He also said if 70 percent of residents are needed in order to install the speed bumps, first the area that affects that percentage should be defined before looking at petitions. He added that if speed bumps aren’t the answer, the Board is responsible for finding a measure to effectively reduce the speed and to provide safe transportation to the children on school buses, as well as people who travel the roads and live on the roads.
Mr. Pete Bunten, a resident of Union Hill Road, said he has witnessed cars going through the bus stop. He agrees with Mr. Mariano that this is not specifically a traffic issue, but rather an issue of health and safety.
A woman asked how it will be possible to get up the hill in the wintertime if it is necessary to slow down for speed bumps. Mr. Willig responded the speed bumps were not proposed to be on the incline portion of the road.
Resident, Cindy Thompson, offered another alternative. She asked what happened to the option of having No Thru Traffic during certain hours. Mr. Rodgers responded that PennDOT would not allow it because it is their road. Mrs. Ewald explained it was PennDOT’s conclusion there was no safety reason for it, because there is little opposing traffic turning left from Route 29 onto Union Hill.
Resident, Mr. Bill Stewart, said he thought the speed bumps were discussed as a last ditch effort, because the Township has been unsuccessful at slowing the traffic down. He said he is not there often, but the little amount of traffic he does see is speeding down the hill. He feels the Supervisors must find a solution, even if it is to have a Police force in the Township.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the residents were in favor of closing the road during certain hours over having speed bumps, and the response was a resounding ‘yes’.
Union Hill Road resident, Ms. Fran Nodland, offered some comments based on her memories. She said over the years her family has graciously accepted many changes since first moving there. She said she believes installing speed bumps on Union Hill Road to be a most extreme measure and is in favor of exploring further steps before speed bumps are decided upon. She added that having adults attend to children at a school bus stop has become an accepted and expected behavior, and therefore, feels it is unlikely the children will be in danger of speeding cars. She outlined issues she felt should be considered, such as problems the speed bumps could cause to drivers in bad weather, the annoyance to those having to travel that road several times a day, the irritation to emergency vehicle drivers, the annoyance to residents from noise caused by large trucks traveling over the speed bumps, the aesthetic affects, or the reprisal commuters might present when showing their displeasure by going onto someone’s property in order to prevent going over the speed bumps. She added that although it is an outrage that someone would pass a school bus while its red lights are flashing, it is not solely a Union Hill problem. She said if someone is willing to break the law in this manner, they are likely to do it on any road, and speed bumps will not be a deterrent to this behavior. She respectfully requested that further studies be made and possible intermediate steps be taken before resorting to the installation of speed bumps.
Dr. Stewart said he believes the special sign suggested by Mr. O’Brien will have no affect. He added that is was his feeling the Board has already looked into every conceivable way to control the speed and safety and requested concrete action be taken on this one area.
Mr. Kuhn said he believes there were a couple of errors the Supervisors made as a Board. He said a survey was done 2-2.5 years ago, which showed that approximately 50 percent of the cars going down Route 29 were turning left onto Union Hill Road. He said one of his goals is to stop the cut-through traffic and force cars to stay on the main roads. Additionally, he said the stripes painted on Union Hill Road are not visible and should be repainted. Finally, there was no additional, recent traffic study done. He said before taking action on the speed bumps, they should enhance the signage, repaint the stripes, and perform another traffic study. He added that he doesn’t feel speed bumps are a hazard.
Mr. Mariano asked what the next steps are for the Board, and Mr. Rodgers said they would look into the possibility of closing the road or hiring Police to patrol the area. Another resident asked how often the State Police would respond to our requests, and Mrs. Ewald said they have been regularly responsive, and that the Township should meet with them and ask that they increase ticketing.
Mr. Rodgers moved to look at other alternatives, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion at which time Mr. Kuhn asked what the timeframes are for getting this done. Mrs. Ewald suggested September in order to have time to conduct a traffic study, etc. Mr. Kuhn requested it be done within 30 days and asked if another traffic study was necessary. Mr. Willig said there should be a step-by-step plan.
Mr. Alston quoted the Pennsylvania Traffic Calming Manual, stating that, in order to determine the need for traffic calming measures, the average daily traffic volume has to be calculated and should exceed 1000 vehicles per day or 100 vehicles during peak hours. Additional criteria required are that there should be either speeding or cut-through traffic, or both. He said community approval is one of the most important steps in any traffic calming program, and the best way to determine community approval is through a neighborhood survey. A minimum of 70 percent approval from households and businesses is a good basis for further traffic calming studies. Mr. Alston suggests following these guidelines.
Mrs. Ewald asked that the Traffic Calming Study and Approval Process document be attached to the minutes and posted on the web site. Mr. Kuhn reminded everyone that this is a recommended process and does not need to be following exactly. He added he would like to either see a Police officer hired within 30 days or the road closed within 30-60 days.
A resident recommended doing the simplest possible solution first, and said he is in favor of trying the new signs proposed by Mr. O’Brien.
It was decided to move forward with the immediate installation of the proposed signage and re-striping of the road. Mr. Kuhn asked what amount of time should pass once the signs are in place before a study is done to see if they have been effective, and Mr. Kohli answered that they should wait at least 3-4 weeks. Mrs. Ewald suggesting setting Labor Day as the outside objective, but make all efforts to have it completed sooner if possible.
Mr. Rodgers rescinded the motion to install the speed bumps, and moved to re-stripe the road and install the proposed signage as soon as possible, before Labor Day. Mrs. Ewald seconded. Four were in favor and one was opposed. Mr. Kuhn moved to immediately take steps to close the road at certain hours and put up signs accordingly, rather than take time to investigate other options. Mrs. Ewald said she was in favor of Mr. Kuhn’s motion if it could be done. Mr. Rodgers seconded Mr. Kuhn’s motion. Mr. Hogan called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to table this topic to July 16, 2003, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Oeste indicated both donations are allowable from a legal perspective. Mr. Kuhn moved to donate $1,000 to the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, Inc., and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald voiced her opposition. Mr. Willig asked if the money is available for the donations, and Mrs. Csete responded only $500 was budgeted for donations, $200 of which has already been donated. Mr. Kuhn asked if there was money in other parts of the budget that could be used. Mrs. Ewald said the Open Space Commission’s budget may have funds available. Mr. Hogan suggested the topic be tabled to let Mrs. Csete see if she can find money in the budget to cover the donations. Mr. Kuhn amended his motion pending the availability of funds, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Four were in favor, and one was opposed.
Mr. Comitta said a three-step process for all the ordinance amendments begins with the Planning Commission recommending the changes, which triggers the second step of sending the proposed amendments to the County for their review. Mr. Comitta gave everyone a copy of the County’s comments. The third step is that, if the Board is comfortable with it, they then schedule a hearing. As soon as that is done, either Mr. Oeste or Mr. Comitta sends a final draft to the County for the Act 247 review. Mr. Comitta highlighted the County’s comments and recommended having the Open Space Option reviewed for a final time and a hearing scheduled for August or September. Mr. Willig asked if the Board wanted to schedule the hearing, and Mr. Kuhn asked if all the ordinance amendments could be lumped together. Mr. Kohli responded they could be and suggested they all be done at one time. Mr. Comitta asked if he should send the Open Space Option amendments to the County for final review, and Mr. Hogan replied he should. Mr. Willig moved to schedule the hearing for August 18, 2003, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
This topic was tabled to June 16, 2003.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Resolution #608-03 to adopt an emergency preparedness plan, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to appoint Mr. Bart Davis as acting Zoning Officer while Mr. Kohli is out of the country, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Hogan called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Willig asked if Executive Sessions should be scheduled to form an agenda for the June 16, 2003, Earned Income Tax meeting as well as deciding how the presentation for the Devault Village discussion should be made and who should be involved. Mr. Oeste indicated Mr. McErlane suggested a dinner meeting. The dinner meeting was tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, June 4, 2003.
Mr. Rodgers said East Pikeland Township is still pushing for the Valley Forge Sewer Authority to cover the cost of expanding its sewers. He stated at the last meeting that Charlestown Township will not pay. A letter to this effect had been sent to the VFSA over a year ago.
Mr. Hogan moved to adjourn the meeting, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 10:16 P.M. The next meeting will be held on June 16, 2003, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.