The first business meeting for April was held April 2, 2007 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Kevin R. Kuhn, Chairman, Michael J. Rodgers, Vice Chairman, Paul Hogan, Charlie Philips, Michael Rodgers, Hugh Willig, Mark Thompson, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E. (arrived later), Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator, and those on the attached list attended.
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the March 19, 2007 minutes and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the March 29, 2007 minutes and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the March Treasurer’s 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 April 2, 2007 Operating Fund Accounts Payable report and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the April 2, 2007 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable report, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn referred to the Open Space report, and said it was Ms. Gerhard’s first day back to work full time after being on parental leave. She worked on and off during her leave to handle ongoing matters. With 2007 the last year for a larger tax break on open space easement donations, Mr. Philips suggested that the larger landowners be contacted as soon as possible with a reminder. Ms. Gerhard said she would send out a postcard with this information by the end of the week to those landowners. Mr. Kuhn said he would circulate a link emailed to him from Ms. Gerhard from the Land Trust Alliance to the other board members. He contacted the Alliance for permission to reprint it in the next newsletter and is waiting for an answer.
Mrs. Staas announced that the Horseshoe Trail Club is holding a brunch at the Nature Center on Sunday, April 15th from noon to 3 PM for the property owners who keep the trail open through their properties as an appreciation of their efforts. She invited the board members to attend.
There being no other discussion, Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to appoint Robert Cottone as the plumbing/HVAC expert to the Charlestown UCC Board of Appeals for a term ending 12/31/08, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Board directed the Secretary to advertise the annual tree work bid for opening on May 7, 2007.
Quotations for mowing at Charlestown Park for the 2007 season were opened, along with bids for removal of approximately 30 trees at the Park. The Secretary indicated she spoke to the insurance broker on the question of requiring $2 million in umbrella coverage when many of the smaller contractors carry only $1 million. She said their agency recommends the $2 million minimum but acknowledged this is often burdensome to smaller companies and the Board can use its judgment as to whether they feel $1 million is sufficient for some contracts. After some discussion, Mr. Rodgers moved to reject bids on both the 2007 mowing work and the tree removal work at Charlestown Park, and to reissue the requests for quotation with a requirement that the contractor have $1 million in liability insurance. Mr. Philips seconded. There being no further discussion, Mr. Kuhn called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Willig indicated he spoke to the farm manager, Alix Coleman, about several projects she proposes at the Brightside Farm, including:
Mr. Philips asked what should be done with rusted farm equipment that has been kept outside next to the woods, suggesting it be removed, or stored elsewhere if it’s still in use. Ms. Coleman will be asked to take care of this.
Mr. Philips asked about the status of the trail. He said the trail was mentioned in a newsletter last year, but Mr. Kuhn said without signs, people aren’t aware of the location of the trail. Mr. Hogan said he posted a few signs that have disappeared. Mrs. Staas suggested the Township invest in decent signs and place wood chips in the wet area of the trail. She will draft another article for the next newsletter. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Willig to work on signage with Ms. Coleman. Mr. Willig suggested using snowposts for trail markers. Mr. Alston indicated there will be extra posts available soon that could be used for this purpose, because these older-style posts now in use along the township roads are not breakaway posts and must be replaced. Mr. Willig said he’ll start with the trail map prepared by Tom Comitta’s office, and have one laminated for the trail head.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Escrow Release #3 for Phase III of Toll Brothers’ Charlestown Meadows in the amount of $44,447.44, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #4 for Phase II of Toll Brothers’ Charlestown Meadows in the amount of $139,597.90, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips said the timing is still not right on these interconnected signals that cause a long wait on Charlestown Road when the Whitehorse Road light changes. Mr. Alston said he’s requested a plan modification from Traffic Planning & Design and will check the status. Mr. Kuhn asked if blinking lights can be used during off peak hours, and Mr. Alston said PennDOT is getting away from using these. There was a question on the future lane expansion of the Route 29 intersections, and Mr. Alston said the design work was done and drawings were available at the township office. Mr. Kuhn asked him to get a contact name at PennDOT to inquire as to start and completion dates for this work.
(Mr. Kohli arrived at this time.)
Bob Joos was present to discuss his request that the Township sign off on the Planning Module Waiver requested for the 3-lot Joos Subdivision. He said the Chester County Health Department informed them planning modules wouldn’t be required but they don’t actually sign off on the waiver. Anyone building on the lots in the future would have to file the Planning Modules at that time. Mr. Kuhn said the waiver is used when there is no intention to build in the future, but the subdivision plans show building envelopes. Mr. Joos said he’d like to remove them, but the Township required he place them on the plans. Mr. Kohli indicated this is a requirement of the subdivision ordinance. He said that the waiver is used when the property won’t generate any additional sewage, but in this case the Township is aware that there will be future construction. He suggested the Township not sign the waiver but send the DEP a letter similar to the one prepared by the Health Department. He said the signature on the waiver is for the County to sign as SEO, Sewage Enforcement Officer, yet they handed it off to the Township. The Township should do the same, and leave it to the DEP to accept or to determine that a planning module is in fact needed now. Mr. Philips moved to authorize the Chairman to sign the letter to be drafted by Mr. Kohli to indicate they Township is agreeable to having no planning module approved at the present time, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Steve Sutton, Esq., Michael and Deborah Hucker were present to provide an overview of the Huckers’ zoning hearing board application requesting a variance from the front yard setback requirements to permit the construction of an in-ground pool within the 75 foot front yard setback area.
Mr. Sutton said steep slopes, very steep slopes and heavy woods prevented them from locating the pool in the back yard, and they will present evidence to the Zoning Hearing Board to support this. Mr. Kuhn said the township engineer indicates there is an area with adequate room for the pool in the back yard. Mr. Philips and Mr. Rodgers indicated they were not in support of the variance. Mr. Philips was concerned with setting a precedent, and Mr. Rodgers said the hardship required for granting a variance is not indicated.
Mr. Sutton disagreed that construction could be done in the back yard without impacting the very steep slopes. Mr. Willig asked for the size of the trees in the back, and Mr. Hucker indicated some were very large. Mr. Kuhn asked where the existing outbuildings are, and indicated a flat area near the house that appeared suitable. Mrs. Hucker said the driveway would have to be relocated if they built in the back. Mr. Sutton said the outbuildings and the house are non-conforming uses, although Mr. Philips said that doesn’t affect this application. Mr. Kohli said they may impact some steep slopes if they build the pool in the back, for which they would need conditional use approval.
Mr. Philips moved to oppose the application, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Four were in favor, and Mr. Willig was opposed. Mr. Thompson indicated the applicants may wish to consider amending their application in order to avoid the need for a variance. Otherwise, he will represent the Board at the April 19th hearing.
Mr. Kuhn asked Parks and Recreation Chairman Bob Jones to outline the scope of the proposed improvements at Charlestown Park, saying the Board has concerns after reading an email from PMYC and Parks and Rec member Chuck McQuiston on the timetable.
Mr. Jones said the proposal includes adding a football field for use starting August 15th, for which the work would have to be completed by June 15th. They also propose expanding the existing field to lacrosse size for a lacrosse program that has already signed up 180 players. Mr. Jones said they’ve met with Bulldog Construction, which would do the grading work. The PMYC would be responsible for all work associated with the Lacrosse field, for which fill is available the second week of May. The Township would share costs for the new football field, and would cover the demolition costs for the pavilions entirely. New pavilions would be constructed at a later date, not in 2007.
Mr. Jones said he got pricing on irrigation of the two fields, which comes to approximately $8,500 per field, and they will have to bid for sod and lighting. Lighting will be the most expensive element of the plan.
Mr. Willig was concerned over costs and whether they would exceed levels for which the Township can have work done without bidding. Mr. Jones said he’s submitted grants for the irrigation work and the sod, though Mr. Willig said the total cost is still what must be considered with regard to bidding requirements. Mr. Jones said the project can be broken down into phases, but Mr. Thompson said similar work can’t be separated into phases to avoid bidding.
Mr. Kuhn asked if they can get the topsoil now and stock pile it even if the work is put off until 2008. Mr. Jones said a worst case scenario is to just do the one field expansion for the lacrosse field this year, or do that expansion this spring and the other field in the fall.
Mr. Willig asked if the engineer has put together a schedule yet, and Mr. Jones said it’s being worked on. Mr. Willig asked about permitting, and Mr. Jones said they have a permit for the earth moving but are amending it. He’ll have more information when he presents the development plan at the next meeting. Mr. Willig said at that time they’ll also need a determination on whether formal bids must go out. Mr. Kuhn said he wants Mr. Kohli to review the development plan in advance of the next meeting. He said when budgeting, no grant money should be assumed. Also, there can only be three grants in process with Chester County, and the Township already has three grants in various stages, all for open space projects. This may still be the case for the fall grant round, which would preclude any grant for the Park.
Mr. Kuhn said the Township has a number of open space projects coming to fruition over the next few months, and they may expend all the open space money on them if needed. Mr. Philips agreed that open space is the top priority, with Mr. Kuhn adding that Park improvements can be done at any time and don’t share the same critical path.
With regard to the lacrosse program, Mr. Philips cautioned that proper backstops must be included for safety purposes. Mr. Kuhn referred to a question the Secretary raised earlier as to whether the contracts with the PMYC and PASC would have to be amended before these improvements can take place. She’ll forward them to the Solicitor for review.
The Secretary distributed three traffic engineers’ proposals Mr. Kohli obtained for a traffic calming study for Bodine Road. Mr. Kuhn said he asked Mr. Alston to speak with someone at West Pikeland Township about including their intersection at Route 113 and Route 401 in these studies, possibly asking for some reimbursement of costs later. Mr. Alston said he spoke to West Pikeland supervisor Harold Holman, who said Charlestown could proceed.
Mr. Kohli recommended the Board review the three proposals and conduct interviews prior to the next meeting, then discuss them during the meeting. This matter was placed on the April 16trh agenda.
Mr. Philips asked if the traffic engineers can give pattern information on the signal at Routes 113 & 401 to determine whether an extended left turn arrow onto Rt. 401 would improve traffic flow. Frank Tavani of F. Tavani & Associates said this can be done via a conflict factor calculation that indicates whether an advanced left turn phase is warranted. For that, traffic counts are provided to PennDOT and a request for the change is made. He agreed that the queue at this signal is excessive. Mr. Kuhn noted that after speaking with the three traffic engineers, some change to the scope of work may be needed.
Leslie John, Rapps Run Drive, said another problem area is turning left onto Route 401 from Valley Hill Road, where she’s waited as long as three cycles to make the turn.
Bob Jones asked if it would make sense to wait on the studies for the widening of Route 202 and the slip ramp. Mr. Willig said the Board promised the residents they would look at the situation now and didn’t feel they could wait. Mr. Jones asked that they look at the intersection of Route 401 and Phoenixville Pike also. Ms. John noted that East Whiteland recently obtained signal approval for Route 401 and Bacton Hill Road.
Mr. Rodgers said he’d like to have a 3-way stop at Bodine and Foster Roads. Presently there is a stop sign at Foster Road only. Mr. Alston said this would have to be approved by PennDOT, because the north section of Bodine Road is a state road, between Seven Oaks Road and Route 401. Mr. Kohli will confirm that this is a state road.
Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Kohli to contact the three traffic engineers and set up interviews beginning at 6:00 P.M. in executive session prior to the April 16th meeting.
Mr. Philip asked if the Board had approved the land development plan for Wagsworth manor with a silo shown in the plans, and Mr. Kohli confirmed that it was included in the plans at the time of approval.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:23 P.M. The next meeting is scheduled for April 16, 2007, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.