Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of April 3, 2006

The first business meeting for April was held April 3, 2006 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Michael Rodgers, Vice Chairman, Paul Hogan, Charlie Philips, Hugh Willig, Mark P. Thompson, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., Erin Cole, 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. Willig announced that the final of three identical presentations for the regional comprehensive plan is scheduled for April 6th, 7:00 P.M. at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville. He said attendance at the first two meetings was fair.

Bob Jones asked if the township is bound by the regional Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Willig explained that first Charlestown would hold its own hearings to consider adoption of the Plan. After adoption, there would be an implementation phase similar to the one that took place in 2000 after the township’s individual comprehensive plan was adopted. Mr. Jones asked if the regional plan conflicts with Charlestown’s existing comprehensive plan, and Mr. Willig responded there is some conflict but not a great deal. Mr. Rodgers said the plan is available on line and a hard copy is available at the township office for public review.

Mr. Philips expressed his appreciation for the recent State Police coverage of Route 29 and Charlestown Road, stating they have had a major presence in the area since the emergency providers’ meeting with the township last week.

Citizen’s Forum/Non-Agenda Items

No matters were brought forward at this time.


Minutes of March 27, 2006

Mr. Hogan moved to approve the March 27, 2006 minutes and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.

Treasurer’s Report – March 1 – 31, 2006

Mr. Hogan moved to approve the March Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion, and Mr. Philips asked why there were so many checks received for 2005 interim taxes. The Treasurer explained that they were payments received after the former tax collector sent out interim tax bills at the end of 2005. Since her term is now over, and the Central Tax Bureau contract begins with 2006 taxes, any 2005 payments received after January 1st are handled by the Township Office. Mr. Rodgers called the vote and all were in favor.

Accounts Payable Reports – April 3, 2006

Mr. Philips moved to approve the April 3, 2006 Operating Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion and Mr. Hogan asked where he can find details on what projects the historical architect’s invoices relate to. The Treasurer indicated there was a small line at the top of each invoice that gave a project description. Mr. Rodgers called the vote, and all were in favor.

Mr. Philips moved to approve the April 3, 2006 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.

Budget Review

Mr. Philips referred to the amount of $46,000 spent on snow & ice removal this year when the amount budgeted was $38,000. Mr. Alston said that much of the variance was due to the much higher price of salt this year, and the amount of icing that accompanied the February snowstorm.


Mr. Rodgers explained that all the reports listed on the agenda are available for review at the Township Office. The Secretary added that they are also placed in the three ring binder that circulates at the township meeting along with the agendas and sign in sheet. Mr. Philips moved to accept the monthly reports as submitted, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.

Old Business

Brightside Farm Trail

Erin Cole was present from Tom Comitta Associates to go over options for a trail for the Brightside Farm. Bob Jones, Chairman of Parks and Rec, member Karen Davis, Jacob Merriwether and Farm Manager Alix Coleman were involved in previous discussions on these options for the location of the trail and what material, paved or porous, to use. The group also considered fencing for Brightside.

Mrs. Cole referenced a memo from Ed Theurkauf dated March 24, 2006 that included a sketch. She outlined the following options with pros and cons:

  1. Natural – a mowed grass trail would be the least conspicuous option, and have the lowest installation cost but highest maintenance cost. It would have the most use by equestrians but would not be handicapped accessible or usable for rollerblades, strollers, etc. It might be difficult to control erosion in the steeper areas.
  2. Compacted Gravel – a compacted gravel grail would have higher installation cost but would have broader use in more types of weather. Equestrian use would be moderate.
  3. Asphalt – an asphalt trail would have the highest installation cost, lowest maintenance cost, and have the broadest range of uses other than equestrian.

Mrs. Cole said the Supervisors should consider the intensity and variety of uses they wish to encourage at the Farm, and whether to select one option or a combination of options.

Mr. Jones said the Parks & Rec Board looked at completing the trail in sections, and avoided the Hollow Road end of the property due to cost considerations. He said the P & R Board was divided. His own opinion was that if the Supervisors want heavy use, install asphalt; otherwise just maintain a mowed trail.

Mr. Willig said he sees a problem with a mowed trail, because people don’t see it, and horses and mountain bikes tear it up. He said there should be some asphalt, but not for the majority of the trail.

Mr. Philips said his preference would be a combination of compacted gravel and asphalt, feeling that since the property was purchased with some public funding, it should have the widest use potential. Since there won’t be active playing fields at the Farm, a trail is a key identified public use that is appropriate for the site.

Mr. Hogan said be preferred Option 1 with the addition of signage to make the trail more noticeable and with the installation of markers every 100 feet. Benches are already in place at several spots along the trail. He said if the grass trail is overused, then go to gravel.

Mr. Motel noted that the adjacent Burgoon property may be able to connect to the trail and this should be considered during the planning process. Wendy McLean, Sam Hill Road, had concerns about connecting to the Burgoon property because of poor site distance crossing Yellow Springs Road. She suggested the connection point be moved toward the Hanscom property. Mr. Motel suggested that the engineer recommend the best location for crossing. Mr. Philips suggested getting a larger map that shows both the Farm and Burgoon properties.

Ms. McLean said the location of the Trail in option #2 comes close to Jacob Merriwether’s property where there is more slope and an existing stormwater management problem.

Ms. Gerhard said that the she and other township officials are meeting with Fran Rupert of the DCNR tomorrow to visit the Burgoon site and the group could assess the property and get more insight.

Mr. Willig asked what the Parks & Rec Board recommendation is, and Mr. Jones said they hadn’t prepared one yet as they first wanted feedback from the Supervisors on what type and volume of usage they want.

Mr. Motel asked about parking. Ms. Coleman said cars can park down the driveway on both sides.

Mr. Merriwether said he received the materials from Ed Theurkauf on Friday, and had prepared a written response, which he provided to the Secretary for distribution to the Supervisors. Some of his comments included:

Ms. McLean said she participates in providing data for the Pennsylvania breeding bird atlas, and is assigned an area to observe that includes the farm. She said the existing trail is great for bird watching, especially the area near the community garden. Mr. Philips said the material used for the trail won’t affect this activity; only the location would. He disagreed that slopes are a problem, stating they are good for those who want exercise. He agreed that the runoff problem would require mitigation.

Mr. Philips said his preference would be for a combination of paved and crushed material and perhaps some areas with wood chips. Mr. Jones asked what percentages of each, and Mr. Philips said 60% gravel and paving, and 40% other material. Mr. Hogan said that some engineered wood fiber material is suitable for wheelchair use. Mr. Jones was concerned with the maintenance aspect of that material.

Ms. Coleman said the slope, location, and amount of runoff should dictate which material is used. Stone can’t be used on slopes because it will wash out. She thinks the present mown trail is easy to see and all that is needed. Mr. Philips argued the trail can’t be seen from the roads.

Parks & Rec member Karen Davis said she is a 20 year resident and didn’t know there was a mown trail at the Farm, nor that it was for public use. She said signage is a huge issue. She feels that a combination of materials is the best approach.

Mrs. Cole commented that not all handicapped users need wheelchairs. Ms. Davis asked if handicapped parking must be provided if the trail is made handicapped accessible. Ms. Coleman said if you install asphalt, handicap laws must be followed. Mr. Kohli said that for handicap use, there can be no more than a 2% grade, and landing and turning areas must be provided. Mr. Merriwether suggested making the area near Hollow Road a handicapped accessible trail, with a boardwalk area over the wetter areas.

Mr. Jones asked about the parking area. Mr. Rodgers suggested modified stone, and Mr. Kohli added that a pervious checkerboard material is another alternative.

Mr. Rodgers said he thought that having 30% of the trails paved is too high, although he supports having one handicapped accessible loop. He said he prefers more crushed stone.

Mr. Willig suggested starting the project slowly. Designate the parking area for 15 cars in two locations and put up better signage to indicate this is the Brightside Farm Public Trail. Continue with the grass surface for the time being, and if it’s getting torn up from too much usage, move on to a gravel surface in those areas. Ms. Gerhard also recommended a conservative approach, noting concerns with environmental impact, and said that paving can always be added, but can’t be undone. She suggested a site visit by township officials and someone from Mr. Theurkauf’s office. Mr. Willig agreed there should be a site visit, where the map could be marked up with observations.

Mr. Willig asked Ms. Coleman if the manner in which the fields are now being cultivated interferes with the trail’s visibility. Ms. Coleman said no, the trail uses a finer grass seed that is quite distinguishable from the orchard grass in the other areas.

The Board suggested that those involved with the trail planning visit the site and walk the trail prior to the June 5th meeting, where it will be placed on the agenda along with fencing options for the Farm.

The Secretary suggested placing an article in the May newsletter inviting residents to visit the trail and perhaps fill out a short questionnaire with their comments, observations and suggestions. The deadline for the newsletter is April 20th. Improved signage would be needed before the newsletter went out.

New Business

Epstein –Minor Subdivision Plan, 2 lots, Charlestown Road

Wendy McLean, Esq. was present on behalf of the applicants to discuss a two lot subdivision adding about 1 ½ acres to Charles & Roslyn Epstein’s parcel 35-2-142 from Aileen Epstein’s 50 acre parcel 35-4-7.1. They propose to subsequently subdivide parcel 35-2-142 into two lots, each containing an existing dwelling. One of the new lots would include about 1.5 acres and a small cottage that is occupied by Aileen Epstein’s property caretakers, to whom she wishes to deed the property. The other lot would be retained by Charles and Roslyn Epstein, and would consist of 10 acres and remain eligible for Act 319. Ms. McLean said the only outstanding issue is approval of the easement document by the township solicitor that provides access to Lot #1 to the shared driveway traversing Lot 2 and for conservation of 4.667 acres on Lot #2.

Mr. Rodgers asked about the variance that was granted for the property, and Ms. McLean explained that it was to allow relief on the setback of the cottage from the proposed property line. Mr. Kohli said the Planning Commission recommended approval of the minor subdivision at their last meeting, subject to the comments in his 2/28/06 review letter, one of which was the review of the easement document.

Mr. Thompson said his office reviewed the easement document, and that there are some details to be worked out. He added that the Open Space Director hasn’t had the opportunity to review the conservation easement language. Mr. Thompson said the plans should be revised to list the zoning hearing board order on the title plan, and all waiver requests should also be shown. Mr. Philips suggested these details be taken care of prior to the Board’s approval, and suggested the matter be placed on the May 1st agenda. Ms. McLean said the decision deadline is April 6 and agreed to provide a 30 day extension.

Certificate of Appropriateness – Luis Castro

Mr. Philips moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for Luis Castro to permit renovations to his home, which is listed on the Historic Resources Map. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion and there being none, called the vote and all were in favor.

Brightside Farm Open House

The Administrator reported she exchanged voice mails with the tenant at Brightside Farm, Marsha Wertel, who wants to host an open house of the Farmhouse on April 22nd for township officials, personnel and volunteers. This is the same day as the Earth Day Cleanup. The two events could compliment one another, with the clean up from 9 AM – noon, and the Open House starting at 1 PM with refreshments. Mrs. Csete also suggested the Township cover the cost of the refreshments, perhaps with a budget of $100.00. After some discussion, the Board determined this would be acceptable.

Valley Forge Christian College Sewage Facilities Planning Module – Resolution for Plan Revision

Mr. Philips moved to adopt Resolution #661-06 revising the Official Sewage Facilities Plan for Charlestown Township to include additional sewer tap-ins for the Valley Forge Christian College, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Rodgers called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.

Schedule Conditional Use Hearing for Springs Development

The conditional use hearing for Springs Development was scheduled to open on Monday, May 15, 2006 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Schedule Conditional Use Hearing for Bala Investments (Ashford Subdivision)

The conditional use hearing for Bala Investments was scheduled to open on Monday, May 15, 2006 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Bond Investment Maturing On April 15, 2006

The Administrator referred to her email to the Supervisors and Ms. Gerhard circulated this morning providing money market, three month and six month rates for approximately $2.901 million in bonds that mature on April 15th. The question is how soon these funds will be needed for open space acquisition. The rates quoted were as follows:

Current (cash) rate 4.3%
3 month note 4.6%
6 month note 4.8%
Longer terms remain at 4.8% up to two year terms.

It was decided to move the funds into a current (money market) account for the time being, as an appraisal is expected within a few weeks that will clarify when and what portion of the funds will need to be available. The question of where to invest the remaining funds will be dealt with at the April 17th supervisors’ meeting.

Other Business

Spring House at the Brightside Farm

Mr. Hogan said he’d like to initiate a clean up around the spring house at Brightside Farm and proposed arranging for Mark Cabot to do the work. Mr. Philips said that the job should be supervised by Mr. Alston, and that Mr. Hogan and Ms. Coleman should coordinate it through him. Mr. Hogan said he’ll contact Mr. Alston. Mr. Philips added that no approvals are necessary since this maintenance item falls within the budget.


Mr. Hogan made a motion to adjourn and Mr. Philips seconded. All were in favor. The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 P.M. The Board adjourned into executive session to discuss legal matters. The next meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2006, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Secretary