The first business meeting for February was held February 6, 2006 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Kevin R. Kuhn, Chairman, Michael Rodgers, Vice Chairman, Paul Hogan, Charlie Philips, Hugh Willig, Mark P. Thompson, 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 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Kuhn announced that there was a 10 alarm fire along Wells Road last night. Firefighters were on the scene for nearly 15 hours. 720 hay bales burned, resulting in $44,000 in loss to the farmer. Extreme wind conditions hindered the fire fighters’ efforts. Mr. Kuhn extended his appreciation to all the fire companies that responded. He said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and the Board would not comment until the investigation is completed.
Mr. Kuhn announced that an executive session took place just prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss legal matters.
Paul Schultze, Wells Road, said he lives directly across the street from where the fire took place. He said flames were 30-40 feet high, and if the wind had been coming from the other direction, homes might have been lost. He stated his concerns about the farmer stacking the hay so close to the road and in such gigantic piles, which he feels constitutes negligence. He suggested the Supervisors look into drafting an ordinance that would stop such practices. Mr. Kuhn said the Board will consider it. Mr. Schultze asked who will pay the cost of putting out the fire. Fire Marshal Fred Alston said that the farmer or property owner will be billed by Kimberton Fire Company and the Township. Mr. Schultze said it would be worthwhile to inform the public of the cost for its educational value. Mr. Hogan asked if the hay was covered, and Mr. Schultze said he was not aware of any cover.
Debbie Hausladen, Wells Road, said she lives diagonally across from the property where the fire took place and that she supports Paul Schultze’s comments. She said that Wells Road residents have seen some petty vandalism along the road in recent months, with beer bottles along the long stone wall, damage to signs, mailboxes, and signs of vandalism at the neighbors’ tack room and barn the night of the fire. There have been two accidents where cars hit the stone wall, one a DUI incident and the other due to speeding. She stated her concern for the police response time of 45 minutes when a Great Valley High School student was involved in an accident there. She strongly urged the Supervisors to consider a survey to ask the people in the township what their priorities are with respect to police protection. She said she thinks Charlestown needs a police presence, noting that speed is not controlled. Mr. Kuhn said the Board will schedule a special public meeting within 60 days with the state police and that postcards will be mailed to the residents notifying them of the meeting. He said there are a lot of misconceptions of what a police force can do and what a state police force can and can’t do. He said that through the years, Charlestown has had a very, very good relationship with the state police. Mrs. Hausladen asked, if the outcome is that the residents want a police force, will the Board consider it. Mr. Kuhn said the Board would be obligated to do so.
George Bullard, Hollow Road, agreed with a statement by Mrs. Hausladen that the state police take 45 minutes to respond, and that he has also heard officers say that they have more important things to do. Mrs. Hausladen said a fireman told her at the scene last night that a nonresident first reported the fire, and the Kimberton Fire Company had difficulty locating it. If police or Townwatch had been on the scene, their response would have been faster. She asked if there have been any other recent incidents like last night’s fire. Mr. Kuhn responded no. Mr. Philips said that 25 years ago there was a problem. Nine houses were burned by an individual who was protesting development and was apprehended. Mrs. Hausladen asked the Board to keep an open mind on the subject of a police department. Mr. Kuhn said that when an immediate response is needed, the state police dispatch a closer responder. Mr. Willig said that about 3-4 years ago, there was an urgent call from Mary Hill Road of a break- in in progress, and the State Police dispatched East Pikeland police, which arrived at the scene within 4 minutes. Mrs. Hausladen said that after the slip ramp is built, more and more activity will be brought into Charlestown.
Mr. Kuhn presented an award to Bill Davison in appreciation of his ten years of service on the Township Planning Commission.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the January 23, 2006 minutes and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Hogan moved to approve the January Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the February 6, 2006 Operating Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the February 6, 2006 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Hogan moved to accept the monthly reports as submitted, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. Mr. Philips said the Historical Commission did a good job working out a solution for the Stonorov houses and appreciates their efforts. He also thanked the owners of the Volpi house for withdrawing their demolition permit and agreeing to secure the structure. Mr. Kuhn called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to re-appoint June Gorman to the Planning Commission for a four year term and to appoint Sarah Peck to the four year term vacated by Mr. Davison. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Richard Orlow, Esq. was present from GenTerra to continue discussions on Mr. Orlow’s request at the January 23, 2006 meeting for approval of a revision to the settlement stipulation for Spring Lane Farms. He displayed a revised sketch plan dated 1/26/06, to be included in the stipulation as “Exhibit A”, and indicated that the settlement stipulation included the following changes:
Mr. Kohli referred to his review letter dated 2/3/06, item #4, which states the “B” Lot Sketch Plan, Exhibit C, should be revised to show the same property lines as Exhibit A.
Mr. Orlow said the conservation easement document is in Mr. Thompson’s office for review. He said the prospective owner, George Bullard, is hesitant to have the trail open to the public as a formal easement since it’s blocked by another property owner a few parcels away. Mr. Kuhn said his recollection of the settlement stipulation is that there is absolutely to be a trail easement to link to current or future trails. Mr. Willig said whether another section of the trail is blocked is immaterial. The Township has to start somewhere with providing access. Mr. Orlow asked if other properties have formal easements, and Mr. Kuhn said yes, including the adjacent Burch subdivision. Mr. Kuhn said the recording of a trail easement was a non-negotiable item with the Board. Mr. Bullard asked if the trail can be limited to hiking and horseback riding, as he doesn’t want motorized vehicles. Mr. Allen invited Mr. Bullard to the February 14th Planning Commission meeting, where a draft horseshoe trail ordinance addresses these concerns and will be discussed. Mr. Orlow said he’ll check the language on the Burch subdivision plan. Mr. Kuhn added that other subdivisions, including Stoudt, Whitehorse at Charlestown and Deerfield have trail easements. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Thompson if language can be added to the easement document that the Township has the right to enforce the easement even if the easement holder is another agency. Mr. Thompson said this can be done.
Mr. Kuhn said the settlement stipulation and Exhibits A and C are not finalized for approval and signatures. He requested that Mr. Orlow return to the Board for the February 27th meeting after the Natural Lands Trust has signed off on the conservation easement document and after Exhibit C has been revised per Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 2/3/06.
Mr. Philips asked if the owner of the property has been contacted yet concerning a storage container that has been sitting out front for a very long time. Mr. Kohli said he hasn’t been able to contact anyone but will follow up. Mr. Philips said the board should consider an ordinance requiring that trash containers be removed after a designated period of time.
Mr. Philips asked about the large blue container at the corner of Route 29 and Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Alston said it appears to belong to Norfolk Southern Railroad and they have been contacted with a request to remove it.
Stacy Fuller, Esq., Bob Plucienik, P.E., and Frank Piliero were present to provide some details on Mr. Piliero’s zoning hearing board application to allow for one of the lots on his proposed subdivision to fall under the minimum lot size. Ms. Fuller explained that they have simultaneously filed a conditional use application to permit a conventional lot development and construction of a driveway in steep slopes for two of the lots.
Ms. Fuller explained that Mr. Piliero’s property is listed on the proposed additions to the official map, and he is willing to restrict 26.7 acres of the property from further subdivision and place it under a conservation easement. The conventional four lot subdivision they propose has one lot that falls under the 80,000 square foot net lot area due to the netting out of the wetland buffer. The lot would net only 43,567 square feet; however, the three lots being subdivided from the fourth “conservation” lot are similar in gross area, which is important to Mr. Piliero as they lots will be conveyed to his children. Mr. Kuhn said this application demonstrates that the Board should consider a third open space development option for this type of estate planning situation.
Mr. Rodgers moved to take a position of support for the Zoning Hearing Board application, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. Ms. Fuller asked if a letter of support could be forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board or if someone from the Board can attend the hearing. Mr. Philips said Mr. Kohli attends the hearing and can convey the Board’s position. Mr. Willig asked if the Zoning Hearing Board disapproves the application, what the supervisors can do. Ms. Fuller said they would then petition for an ordinance amendment. Mr. Kohli suggested adding part of the woodlands area to the undersized lot and put it in a conservation easement. Ms. Fuller indicated they will first see what decision they receive from the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.
The conditional use hearing for Frank A. Piliero was scheduled to open on Monday, February 27, 2006 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Mr. Kuhn read the Certificate of Appropriateness drafted by the HARB for AJV Real Partners aloud in its entirety. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness and Mr. Philips seconded. The permit will allow for the demolition of the historic Devault Beaver house on Warner Lane. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. Mr. Philips said it’s a pathetic shame that the owner of the property doesn’t care about the second oldest house in the Township. Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn stated he met with Wade McDevitt with regard to partnering with the Township to have a "sensitive" development on the Richard McDevitt property consisting of 5 to 10 large lots, possibly with a common horse barn and riding arena, making it a high end equestrian development with the Township purchasing the balance of the development rights. Mr. Kuhn said that an appraisal is the next step, to determine the value of development rights. He suggested that the appraisal provide a value for a build out plan, for 5 large lots, and for 10 large lots.
Mr. Philips asked whether this property should be considered a priority for a PDR since it has Charlestown Meadows on one side and the turnpike on another. He recognizes that authorizing the appraisal is separate from the decision to purchase the development rights, but stated his concern over funding limitations. Mr. Kuhn said that although some properties may be more critical, the McDevitt property is proposed for addition to the Official Map. Mr. Willig said some of the properties that may be considered a higher priority may never come in front of the Board. Bob Jones, Parks & Rec Chairman, said that the equestrian use and linkages may encourage others to follow suit, similar to what has occurred in Willistown Township. Mr. Willig agreed there is a possibility of various good outcomes from considering this property for open space conservation.
Mr. Philips moved to authorize the MAI appraisal for the McDevitt property, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips said he wished to move forward with plans to construct a trail at the Brightside Farm and suggested that the Parks & Rec Board work with Ed Theurkauf on a recommendation. Farm Manager Alix Coleman and Jacob Merriwether should be contacted for their input as well.
There was some discussion over whether the trail should be paved or gravel. Mr. Kuhn said they must take the farm operations into consideration. Mr. Philips suggested looking at a combination of porous and non-porous. Mr. Jones favored a paved trail, and said in some natural settings it can blend in surprisingly well. He feels a paved trail will get more use. Mr. Willig said he is leaning away from a paved trail, and instead suggested a compacted gravel trail similar to the Perkiomen Trail. Planning Commission member Mike Allen said a gravel trail would be better suited for the farm than a paved trail.
Mr. Kuhn said the Board needs to consider whether fencing is desirable at the Farm. High tensile fencing is visually unobtrusive. Mr. Jones suggested berming, which Mr. Kuhn said they could consider but might pose a problem with respect to water run off issues.
Mr. Kuhn asked the Parks and Rec Board to consider both the trail and fencing and make a recommendation, along with a time table, to the Board.
At this time, Mr. Kuhn introduced Aliena Gerhard as the new Open Space Director for the Township.
Mr. Kohli explained the Program Education and Public Participation plan to satisfy the requirements for years 3 and 4 of the Township’s MS4 (Municipal Separate Stormwater System) permit. DEP protocols must be followed, including six Best Management Practice categories incorporating minimum control measures, which he briefly explained. The Plans were drafted with the assistance of the Chester-Ridley-Crum Watershed Association and include education components for developers, residents, businesses and schools. Mrs. Csete provided details on what the Township has been doing to satisfy the requirements, including public ads, newsletter articles, website links, bulletin board postings, and flyers included with building permit and development application packets.
Mr. Kohli displayed the stormwater map for Charlestown and explained how the outfalls must be monitored and tested for water quality. He also noted that the Township must revise their May 17, 2004 Stormwater Management Ordinance to comply with DEP requirements. The Planning Commission will review the proposed ordinance changes at their February 14, 2006 meeting.
Mr. Rodgers requested that the Board consider altering its schedule for those meetings that fall on holidays and are now scheduled for one week following the holiday date. He said he prefers the meetings be held the day after the holiday in order not to conflict with his responsibilities at the Valley Forge Sewer Authority meetings. The Secretary had checked with the township consultants and found that only Mr. Kohli had a conflict with some of the proposed Tuesday dates. The Board was mixed on whether to reschedule; Mr. Willig preferred to keep the schedule as it is, and the others had no real preference. After some discussion, it was decided to leave the schedule as currently advertised.
Mr. Hogan will let the Secretary know if he plans to attend the CCATO Spring Convention so he can be registered.
Mr. Philips asked if there is any township ordinance that limits the number of parked cars and trucks. He said there are numerous workers’ cars and trucks parked each day along Charlestown Road north of Country Lane. Mr. Kohli said for residential, no, but for commercial certain restrictions may apply depending on the situation. He said he’ll check this particular area and see if anything can be done. Mr. Kuhn suggested considering an ordinance requiring that vehicles be tagged and registered, or otherwise kept out of sight in garages.
Mr. Philips said that during the last Official Map hearing, residents took a vote amongst themselves indicating quite a few would prefer to give the Township a Right of First Refusal on their property rather than be listed on the Official Map. Mr. Philips asked if the Solicitor could draft an agreement letter as those members of the public requested. He said the Board could communicate that another option to being listed on the Official Map is to provide a property easement.
Mr. Alston said he met with Mr. Kohli and Kevin Sech of Hillbec Engineering and Geosciences to check out the existing septic system at the Brightside Farm today. Mr. Sech’s recommendation was to pump and clean out the system, and then test it to determine whether it needs to be replaced. Mr. Kohli added soil testing has already been scheduled with the County Health Department. Two sites will be tested as possible locations for a replacement system if needed. Mr. Kuhn suggested that Mr. Alston contact Alix Coleman for her preference as to which of the two sites should be used if deemed necessary.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 P.M. The next meeting is scheduled for February 27, 2006, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.