The first business meeting for January was held January 3, 2006 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Kevin R. Kuhn, Chairman, Paul Hogan, Charlie Philips, Hugh Willig, James E. McErlane, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 7:56 P.M.
Mr. Kuhn announced that an executive session was held on December 30, 2005 to discuss employee issues.
No matters were brought forward at this time.
Mr. Willig moved to approve the December 19, 2005 minutes and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
The Treasurer asked to table approval of the December report until the next meeting, as the year end dividend and interest statements have not been received yet.
Mr. Hogan moved to approve the January 3, 2006 Operating Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the January 3, 2006 Open Space Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. He noted a typo on the Lamb McErlane bill but determined that the amount due was listed correctly. Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Hogan moved to accept the monthly reports as submitted, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Richard Orlow, Esq. and Chuck Dobson, P.E. were present from GenTerra to continue discussions on Mr. Orlow’s request at the December 19, 2005 meeting for approval of a revision to the settlement stipulation for Spring Lane Farms. He displayed a revised sketch plan dated 12/27/05 that included the following changes:
Mr. Dobson said that the new, more stringent DEP regulations have necessitated these changes. Mr. McErlane asked if the area marked in yellow would be in the form of an easement reserved from the buyer of Lot #1, George Bullard, and Mr. Orlow said yes, and added that it would be recorded on the deed allowing up to four replacement systems. The easement would be put into place at the time of closing on the purchase of Lot 1. Mr. Orlow said they have permission from Mr. Bullard to fence in the easement area so it is clear that area is in fact eased. Mr. Dobson added that area is not visible from anyone but the owner of Lot 1. Mr. Kohli was concerned that a subsequent buyer may have more of a problem with the arrangement. Mr. Kuhn agreed, saying that a replacement system could be needed twenty years from now when Lot #1 has a different owner. Mr. Dobson said the DEP doesn’t want back up sites reserved but instead wants the municipality to provide operations oversight through an Operations & Maintenance Plan. Mr. Kuhn said that alternative technologies will likely be available in 15 years or so, and in the meantime, townships are resisting the DEP’s recommendation, considering them onerous. He said reserved back up replacement areas are their best option.
Mr. McErlane asked how many lots they expect to yield when they subdivide Lot 2, and Mr. Dobson said more realistically they expect to get six lots instead of the original eight lots, primarily due to the new DEP regulations. Testing for septic locations will be done at the end of the month, and Mr. Orlow said they’ll know more after that is completed.
Mr. McErlane asked if the area marked in pink is wooded or open, and Mr. Dobson said it is primarily wooded, but disturbance will be limited.
Mr. McErlane asked how confident they are that the septic back up systems will fit in the area marked in yellow, and Mr. Dobson responded, reasonably confident. Mr. McErlane then asked how confident they are that they can fit all the primary systems on Lot 2, and Mr. Dobson said they will fit all primary systems, and at least two back up systems, maybe four.
Mr. Philips suggested moving the areas marked in yellow and pink together. Mr. Dobson said it might make sense to do so and will consider it with Mr. Bullard. Mr. Willig said he would be willing to consider providing relief from the 20 foot setback in order to situate the back up system sites on their corresponding lots. Mr. Hogan agreed that it bears looking in to. Mr. Philips said he is opposed to providing setback relief and that the applicant should abide by the original stipulation.
Mr. Dobson said they seek approval of their requests for revisions to the settlement stipulation, including the right to extend the primary systems into the area marked in pink, and relief from the zoning ordinance from the 20 foot setback. Mr. Philips said he takes issue with the setback relief, stating he didn’t want to set a precedent. Mr. Dobson said the County Health Department, which acts as Sewage Enforcement Officer, only requires a 10 foot setback. He asked if the Board will require back up sites even if the County does not, and Mr. Kohli said yes. Mr. Willig said the County won’t step in to help the township when there’s a system failure. Mr. Kohli agreed, saying that the Act 537 Plan is a Township Plan, and at the time of a system failure the DEP will be coming to the township looking for the township’s resolution of the problem.
Mr. Kuhn said the Board has been advised by Mr. Kohli not to allow any primary or secondary systems off site. Mr. Philips agreed, stating that has been his position all along, considering that the township has been working on this plan for many years, and now the applicant wants to take more land away from the open space area.
Mr. Kuhn asked for confirmation that the conservation easement must be recorded before the subdivision is approved, and Mr. Orlow said the easement document is in Mr. Thompson’s hands for review. The easement is to be held by the Natural Lands Trust.
Mr. Orlow said the settlement stipulation called for a two-step process. First, the parcel would be subdivided into two lots. Then, Lot #2 would be subdivided further, realistically up to six additional lots, after going through the standard review process. He said the stipulation was approved in October 2003. The Secretary said the approval was subject to various conditions that were never met, therefore it is not approved. Mr. Kuhn said it would be more accurate to say the stipulation was agreed upon, not approved.
Mr. Willig asked what the next step will be. Mr. Orlow said he’ll revise the settlement stipulation and easement document and forward them to Mr. McErlane’s office for review. The plan and conservation easement should be recorded simultaneously. Mr. Dobson said there will be minor changes to the plan, including the elimination of a 75 foot setback shown from the Hollow Road right of way to the stream line that is not applicable to the front yard setback. Mr. Kohli asked that limitations for clearing be shown on the plans. Mr. Orlow said the plans can’t be revised until after the septic testing is completed in late January. Mr. Philips said he’s not in favor of any changes, and wants the original stipulation followed. Mr. Dobson said Mr. Bullard is anxious to purchase Lot #1 and begin renovations on the house.
Mr. Dobson said that Mr. Theurkauf wants to relocate the existing trail, which would be disrupted by the proposed development configuration. Mr. Bullard asked for clarification on whether the trail on the parcel was part of the Horseshoe Trail, and Mr. Dobson responded no, it is a spur leading to the Horseshoe Trail that the Township Planner says historically exists. Mr. Bullard said his wife and children have complained that one property owner has blocked the Horseshoe Trail, which they enjoy riding horses on, in the Pikeland Road vicinity. Sue Staas, Chairman of the Township’s Trail Committee, took information to contact Mrs. Bullard to discuss the problem.
Mr. Philips asked the GenTerra representatives why the historic “Volpi” house at Phoenixville Pike and Yellow Springs Road has not been secured yet. Mr. Orlow said he’ll look into the matter.
Mr. Willig moved to approve Resolution #659-2006 to deposit all of the 2006 Earned Income Taxes received in the Open Space Account, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the 2006-2007 Signal Service, Inc. traffic signal maintenance contract, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
There was discussion on the timing of the signals along the Route 29 corridor and the signal at Warner Lane and Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Kuhn suggested the Secretary send a letter to PennDOT requesting a re-evaluation of the off-peak timing and take corrective measures. Mr. Willig suggested they consider flashing lights during off-peak, and Mr. Kuhn added to include the entire weekend as off-peak.
Mr. Hogan asked about the signal at the Charlestown Playhouse, which was flashing throughout Christmas break. Mr. Alston said he was told Bill Davison is solely in charge of that light.
Mr. Willig moved to approve the 2006 S.P.C.A. Animal Control Contract, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Sue Staas, Chairman of the Open Space Commission, was present to discuss a draft Easement document provided by the Township Solicitor to be considered in obtaining an easement offered by Jacob Ginder and Carol Boraiko on Ridgewood Road for the Horseshoe Trail Mr. Kuhn said the Board hasn’t seen the document yet. Mr. McErlane said an issue is whether the Township wants to be a secondary grantee of the easement, or just have the Horseshoe Trail Club or other entity hold the easement. Mrs. Staas said she thought the Township should be included so it can provide oversight. Mr. McErlane said if the Township is included, the Board must vote on it. Even though the document states the Township is not liable for injuries on the trail, the reality is that at some point the Township will be sued over some incident on the trail. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Horseshoe Trail Club wants to hold easements, and Mrs. Staas answered yes.
Mr. McErlane said another consideration is that if an easement is put into place, that square footage is netted out of subdivision calculations unless the Township exempts the net out. Mrs. Staas said the particular easement offered to the Township is on a 2.2 acre lot, so subdivision wouldn’t be an issue in this case.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the township can create a binding reservation for ingress and egress of a trail with the location in between to be mutually agreeable by the owner and township. Mr. McErlane said this language is in the draft, but there can be an issue if agreement can’t be reached. Mr. Kuhn asked if a survey is needed to set up an easement, and Mr. McErlane said yes. Mrs. Staas said the $2,000 pledged as a donation to the Township several years ago can be used to defray this cost. Mr. McErlane said that the area can be scaled off from the tax parcel map or from a GIS aerial map.
Mr. Philips said that Horseshoe Trail is a private trail, not a state trail, and that the township can’t force connections to it. He said the Township should concentrate on making their best efforts to delineate the trail when applicants come to the Planning Commission. Mr. Willig said if they don’t work on obtaining connections one property at a time, they won’t have anything. Mr. Philips said he doesn’t want to provide an opportunity for more lawsuits, and that the County should use its muscle to obtain easements, not the Township. He wants to be on record saying the securing of formal trail easements is wrong. Mr. Kuhn asked if the liability exposure for an eased trail is any different than the township’s exposure at Charlestown Park, and Mr. McErlane answered no, it is less. Mr. Kuhn said the board members will look at the document and circulate their comments.
Mr. Philips asked if the owner of the cargo container located at the intersection of Route 29 and Phoenixville Pike is known. He recommended that this container be removed. Mr. Alston said he made inquiries but has been unable to determine its owner. Mr. Philips said the owner of the property on Yellow Springs Road and Route 29 who has had a dumpster in the front yard of a vacant lot for several months should be contacted and asked to remove it.
Mr. Philips proposed that the Parks and Recreation Board be charged with working with Ed Theurkauf of Thomas Comitta Associates on designing a trail at the Brightside Farm. Mr. Kuhn asked the Secretary to schedule the matter for discussion at a future meeting when the Parks and Recreation Board chairman can be in attendance.
Mr. Philips moved to appoint Alix Coleman as Farm Manager for Brightside Farm, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and their being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to authorize the appraisal of the Joos property by Mike Samuels, with the Joos to pay half of the $5,000 fee, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and their being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Solicitor was asked to send a letter to the previous tax collector, requesting the return of the computer system and records from her term of office.
Mr. Kuhn referenced a letter from Chuck Wright, a Bodine Road resident who detailed an accident in front of his house and made a request for a 3 way stop sign at Foster and Bodine Roads and speed bumps on Bodine Road. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Roadmaster had any suggestions. Mr. Alston had the following comments:
Mr. Hogan suggested sending the Bodine Road residents a questionnaire to ask for their opinions on alternatives of what they would like to have done. Mr. Kuhn directed the Secretary to request of PennDOT a full safety and traffic study of Bodine Road and the intersection with Foster Road, and copy Mr. Wright.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:20 P.M. The next meeting is scheduled for January 23, 2006, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.