Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of September 11, 2006

The first business meeting for September was held September 11, 2006 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Kevin R. Kuhn, Chairman, Paul Hogan, Charlie Philips, Hugh Willig, Mark Thompson, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 7:34 P.M.


Mr. Kuhn announced that an executive session was held just prior to the meeting to discuss legal matters and a logo design for the Township.

Mr. Willig said the renovation of the Baughman barn in Charlestown Village is coming along well and complimented the work.

Citizen’s Forum/Non-Agenda Items - No matters were brought forward.


Minutes of August 21, 2006

Mr. Philips moved to approve the August 21, 2006 minutes and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Treasurer’s Report – August 1 - 31, 2006

Mr. Philips moved to approve the August Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report – Operating Fund September 11, 2006

Mr. Hogan moved to approve the September 11, 2006 Operating Fund Accounts Payable report and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report – Open Space Fund September 11, 2006

Mr. Philips moved to approve the September 11, 2006 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Accounts Payable Report – State Fund September 11, 2006

Mr. Philips moved to approve the September 11, 2006 State Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Mr. Hogan moved to accept the monthly reports as submitted, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion.

Mr. Willig noted that little has been spent on Brightside Farm so far this year. Mr. Kuhn said they are still obtaining prices on the manure pit roof, and Mr. Hogan pointed out a barn door and overhead door that need repair or replacement. Mr. Alston added that grading/filling will be done by the road contractor in the area of the manure pit barn.

Mr. Philips asked when the Board will discuss Dale Frens’ recommendations for additional work on the Woolen Mill, and Mr. Kuhn added it to the September 18th agenda, asking the Administrator to re-circulate the recommendations to the Board members.

Mr. Alston said in preparation for Charlestown Day, a walkway was created using spare beams at the Mill and a railing will be put up so visitors can view the interior safely.

Mr. Alston asked, in view of the paving work done to date coming in close to budget, whether he can proceed with paving Pickering Road and Spur and Lincoln Road. The Board authorized him to proceed, but not to do any widening to Pickering Road.

Mr. Philips asked about a fallen tree moved off Hollow Road by PennDOT that is still on the side of the road with a cone marking it. Mr. Alston said PennDOT has been notified, but they are behind due to all the storm clean up work needed over the past weeks.

Mr. Kuhn asked about the base repairs on Rees Road, and Mr. Alston said this is in preparation for paving next year.

The Administrator asked for authorization to request a speed study for Merlin Road as requested by one of the residents. The last study, which did not warrant a reduction in the speed limit, was done in 1995. The Board authorized the request.

Mr. Kuhn had several questions on the Budget Review Report, which compares budget to actual figures to date for 2006. Numerous revenue categories indicate less has come in than was budgeted, including the EMS Tax and Firefighters Relief Fund. The Administrator explained that most of the revenue for these items arrives in the last quarter of the year. Mr. Kuhn asked about the high expenditures for leaf sweeping, and Mr. Alston said this was primarily due to all the storm clean up needed this year.

Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.


Zoning Hearing Board Application

John Goslin, 4118 Pickering Dam Road, presented an overview of his application to the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance to allow the construction of an addition in the rear yard setback for his historic house, which is a legal non-conforming structure. The Board indicated they will take a neutral position toward the application.

Old Business

Robal Conditional Use/PRD Hearing

James Tupitza, Esq. was present on behalf of Robal Associates to provide an update to the Supervisors on his discussions with the Charlestown Hunt Homeowners Association following the hearing on August 21, 2006. If an agreement could be worked out between the two parties on the use of Broadwater Lane as an emergency access to the proposed Sycamore Woods development, the hearings would be closed. Otherwise they would continue on October 16th. Mr. Tupitza informed the Board they had reached an agreement sharing the maintenance costs on Broadwater Lane. He said this brings up the question of who else should pay to maintain the road, as he understands the Connollys have an agreement with the Charlestown Hunt HOA, but others who use the lane do not. He said Mr. Willig and his brother in law both have access on Broadwater Lane, and asked Mr. Willig to recuse himself from the Curative Amendment proceedings. Mr. Willig will take the request under advisement. Mr. Thompson indicated the hearing is now closed.

Mr. Tupitza agreed with Mr. McErlane’s request to make both the decision deadline for the PRD application and Conditional Use application 60 days so they coincide. The Conditional Use deadline is normally 45 days. Mr. Thompson clarified that Mr. Tupitza has until October 2nd to submit a brief, and then Mr. Bender and any other parties have two weeks to submit theirs. An additional two weeks is then available for Mr. Tupitza to respond. After that date, the 60 day clock on the decision starts. Mr. Tupitza indicated he may need more time than the due date of October 2nd allows, and Mr. Thompson said in that case, all the other dates would be adjusted accordingly. Mr. Tupitza said he’ll send a letter indicating his agreement to the 60 day decision clock for both applications.

Brightside Farm Trail

Aliena Gerhard said that at the August meeting, before continuing trail improvements discussions, the Supervisors agreed to first put trail signs up on the grass trail at Brightside to see if the number of visitors increased. Mr. Willig said the Board members also planned to visit the site to understand the layout of trail better. Mr. Hogan said he did put up two signs. Ms. Gerhard distributed a memo dated July 2006 to the Board that outlined the restrictions of the country grant obtained for acquisition of the Brightside Farm in 2000. She said she received input from those who visited the Binky Lee trail, which is a wide grass trail with wood chips in the wetter areas and is well-used. While there is a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions on 29.539 acres of the Brightside Farm, there is no conservation easement in place. The Declaration doesn’t preclude a paved trail, but if the Township wants to obtain grant funding from the County for improvements, a paved or gravel trail would not be permitted. Mr. Philips said the Declaration lists restrictions on use but not on impervious surface. He said no one will use a grass trail in the type of wet weather season we had this summer. Ticks are an additional concern. He said the trail at Brightside hasn’t been mowed regularly this year, but even if it was better maintained no one would use it. Mrs. Staas disagreed, saying the Binky Lee Trail is heavily used and is primarily a grass trail with wood chips only in wet areas. Mr. Kuhn said his preference is to start with signs and parking to increase trail use. Mr. Hogan suggested they mow along Hollow Road where people can see the trail from points where they walk along the road now. Mr. Hogan said he’ll work with Sue Staas on adding more signage.

Horseshoe Trail Ordinance

Mr. Thompson said he and Ms. Gerhard amended the language in the proposed ordinance to address the trespassing issue to emphasize that trespassing falls under the criminal code and a property owner who has the trail running through his/her property can call the state police for enforcement. The other items in the ordinance, such as prohibiting smoking, camp fires, noise, etc., would only be enforceable on properties where the Township had an easement. Mrs. Staas asked if the ordinance would be enforceable for those portions of the trail in the road right of way, and Mr. Thompson said yes, if it was a Township right of way, not PennDOT’s. Mr. Kuhn said the enforcement issue will encourage property owners to grant an easement to the Township knowing they will have more enforcement options. Mr. Philips suggested that all current property owners who have the Horseshoe Trail on their property be notified of the hearing and Board Members agreed. Mr. Kuhn asked Ms. Gerhard to draft a letter to the Horseshoe Trail property owners to communicate this and to inform them that the hearing has been scheduled for October 16, 2006.

New Business

Rails to Trails

Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Alston for the status of the railroad, and Mr. Alston said the track is not in service but hasn’t been abandoned yet. Indications are that this is likely to occur in the future. Mr. Kuhn asked the Administrator to send a letter to the railroad officials informing them the Township is interested in acquiring the land for a rails-to-trails program. Schuylkill Township is also interested. Mrs. Staas suggested the Administrator contact Jake Michaels at the County Parks & Rec department for additional information.

Easement Applications – Stevens, McDevitt and Reed Properties

Open Space Director Aliena Gerhard gave a brief description of the three properties under consideration by the Township for the purchase of development rights. She said the McDevitt property is near Charlestown Meadows off Conestoga Road and the Pickering Creek runs through it, as does the Reed property. The Stevens property on Bodine Road has part of the Pigeon Run tributary of the Pickering Creek on it. She said these properties are critical for preservation because the creeks run into the Pickering Reserve, which is the source of public water for much of the township. Grant applications to the DCNR for matching funds will be submitted for these properties. Mr. Philips asked if the grant was a 50/50 matching grant, and Ms. Gerhard said yes, although she will try to get additional funding from the County. She said a site visit is scheduled for September 19th with the DCNR, and asked board members to let her know if they wish to attend. She said the DCNR grant is due September 29th.

Mr. Philips asked when the township will hear about the other DCNR grant applied for in the spring, which included the Coleman and Burgoon properties. Ms. Gerhard said she’s been told they are near the top of the list, but funding is an issue. She said if they don’t get funding in that round, they will get it in the next round.

Mr. Philips suggested a map of Charlestown be prepared for display at Charlestown Day and at the Elections depicting the open space properties in the township. Ms. Gerhard said she is already working on such a map and has become familiar with the GIS system that can print them.

Mr. Philips moved to adopt Resolution #668-06 authorizing the application for DCNR grants for the Stevens, McDevitt and Reed properties, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Mr. Hogan moved to authorize an appraisal for the Stevens property, the cost of which will be split 50/50 with the Stevens, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Resolution to Expend Liquid Fuels Funds

Mr. Philips moved to adopt resolution #669-06 authorizing the use of Liquid Fuels funds for the resurfacing of Raven Hill Road and Union Hill Road. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Open Bids – Charlestown Woolen Mill Interior Parging

The following bids were received at the Township Office by the 2:00 P.M. deadline of September 8, 2006:

Paul Mangan, Mangan Masonry Restoration $19,638.00
Fred Pier, Steinbauten Inc. $ 6,240.00

Mr. Philips moved to award the bid contract to Steinbauten, Inc. and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. The work must be completed no later than September 30th.

Mr. Kuhn said the road contractor, Melchiorre Construction, will do the site work at the Woolen Mill property and that a site meeting should be arranged with Mr. Kohli and Dale Frens. A meeting was tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 15th at noon for the board members, Mr. Kohli, Mr. Alston and Mr. Frens. The Administrator will confirm with Mr. Frens.

J. Loew & Associates – Commons @ Great Valley Lot 15 – Proposal for Auto Claims Center for Progressive Insurance

At the Planning Commission’s recommendation, Tim Townes of J. Loew and Associates and several representatives from Progressive Insurance Co. were present to discuss a site plan showing a revised building configuration for a proposed building on Lot 15 at the Commons @ Great Valley to request a determination on whether the use is permitted, and if so, how to proceed.

Progressive Casualty Insurance Company would operate a drive-in auto claim facility, a one-story building approximately 19,000 square feet in size, smaller than the building originally proposed. Mr. Townes explained that in 2001, J. Loew & Associates received approval from the township to combine lots 13-14-15 into two lots for two office buildings. They now wish to re-subdivide these two lots back into three lots. One building has been constructed. The lot for Progressive Insurance is proposed at 5.7 acres, and they propose a one-story 6,000 square foot office building in the near future for the third lot, which would be 1.3 acres in area that would contain about 40% impervious surface coverage.

Mr. Townes described the services to be provided as follows. A customer with a drivable damaged car would pull the car into the service area and be provided with a rental car. Progressive would process the claims paperwork and have an auto body shop pick up the car for repair. After completion, the car would be returned for inspection and be picked up by the customer. There would be no rental cars stored on the premises; they would be delivered by the rental car company on an as-ordered basis.

Mr. Townes said some concerns voiced by the Planning Commission were on the gated area, staging area, and portico design. He said the gated area will be fenced and secured, and is not used for long-term storage of vehicles but most often overnight or a few days at most. He said the depiction of the portico makes it look more obtrusive than it actually is, and is necessary for the convenience of the customers who may be driving their vehicles up for an estimate in bad weather. The property will be well screened from the adjacent day care center and other neighboring buildings. They agree to do whatever Tom Comitta’s office recommends with regard to landscaping. Mr. Willig asked if Progressive will own the building, and Mr. Townes said yes.

Mr. Willig asked about the tow trucks and flat beds that will bring some of the cars to the facility. Mr. Townes said the other uses in the Commons have delivery vehicles and he doesn’t believe this operation will be a problem. One of the Progressive representatives said they come in to load and unload only and won’t be parked at the site. Mr. Townes added that the majority of cars are driven in, not towed. J. Loew & Associates is the Park Manager and has the majority vote in the association, so no approvals are needed from the Commons group.

Mr. Townes said when the Commons @ Great Valley was approved, the Township agreed to an expedited review of the individual land development plans for buildings less than 20,000 square feet, which this building will be. He asked the Board if the proposed use is acceptable and if the expedited review process guidelines can be followed.

Mr. Philips said the proposed use is less intensive than what has been approved for the site and he has no problem with it. Mr. Kohli indicated he likewise had no objection. J. Loew and Associates will still have to go through the subdivision process to convert the two lots back into three lots, which Mr. Townes acknowledged he understood.

The Board indicated they have no objections to either the use or to the expedited review process for the land development plan.

Schedule Hearing for J. Loew and Associates’ Tyler-Griffin Conditional Use Application

The hearing was scheduled for October 16, 2006, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School.

Authorize Advertisement for Road Salt Bids

The Board authorized the Administrator to advertise for road salt bids to be opened at the October 9, 2006 meeting.

Other Business

Update on Proposed Ordinances

Mr. Kuhn noted that discussions on the TDR ordinance would continue at the Planning Commission meeting tomorrow night. Mr. Philips expressed his wish to expedite ordinance amendments to allow additional uses in the Devault area.

Replacement of Charlestown Elementary School Signal

The Administrator said Mr. Alston obtained two quotes on replacing the damaged school flashing signal for the Charlestown Elementary School. Signal Service Inc. quoted $8,200.00 and Armor Signal Inc. quoted $6,257.00. The Board approved the lower quote from Armor Signal Inc.

Frank Butler – Building Permit Application

Frank Butler requested a waiver from the Board to permit the construction of a shed in a side yard abutting the street at Coldstream and Benburb Roads. He said the area is screened by pine trees. The Board examined the site plan for the property and agreed this was an acceptable location for the shed and granted the waiver.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 P.M. The Board went into executive session following the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2006, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Secretary/Administrator