A business meeting was held December 1, 2008 at the Great Valley Middle School, room 154. Kevin Kuhn, Chairman, Charlie Philips, Vice Chairman, Michael Rodgers, Paul Hogan, Hugh Willig, Mark Thompson, Esq., Surender Kohli, P.E., and Linda Csete, Township Administrator. Also present were Sue Staas, Fred Alston, Barbara Cohen and Megan King.
Mr. Kuhn called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Kuhn announced that the Township received a very nice letter from Dr. Donald Meyer, President of the Valley Forge Christian College, thanking Mr. Hogan for the recognition he gave the VFCC in his recent newsletter article on Charlestown Park.
No matters were brought forward.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of the November 3, 2008 meeting, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and their being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Hogan moved to approve the November 2008 Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the December 1, 2008 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. Philips asked why there’s a charge for MCI for the township phone service, and the Administrator responded that Mr. Alston reviewed the long distance bills and arranged for the switch from Sprint to MCI to realize a cost savings.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the December 31, 2008 Operating Fund Accounts Payroll Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. The Administrator indicated she will hold the checks for distribution in December 31st. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the December 1, 2008 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips moved to accept the November monthly reports and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. Mr. Philips provided an update on the Design Review Committee review of Spring Oaks. He said the committee is now meeting twice a month with Dewey Homes as they prepare to come in to the Planning Commission with a preliminary plan submission. They expect to request several waivers from the Subdivision & Land Development Ordinance from the Supervisors in January. The Committee is focusing on aesthetics and is supporting the waivers on this basis. He indicated the following waivers would likely be requested:
Mr. Philips noted that most of the details in the sketch plan fit with the Township’s ordinances, and Dewey Homes is rechecking the plan before preparing the preliminary plan. He said the Design Review Committee continues to have a very good working relationship with Dewey Homes.
Mr. Kuhn had questions on the reports. He asked about the chimney liner that was installed at the Brightside Farmhouse. The Administrator said an inspection of the chimney was required by Mack Oil Company prior to their installation of the new oil burner. Mr. Alston said the inspector used a video camera to inspect the interior of the chimney, which had never been lined, and found considerable flaking of the tiles. The new liner is stainless steel. Mr. Kuhn asked if the Wirtels are still interested in a supplemental heating system, and Mr. Alston said probably not, since the new heater will save them up to 50% in oil costs this winter.
Mr. Kuhn asked Mrs. Gerhard about her concerns on trail maintenance funding. She said as the Township continues to acquire open space easements with new trails, more maintenance will be required. The Horseshoe Trail is the only trail maintained by an outside volunteer group. She specifically indicated that while volunteers are available, the Township should consider purchasing some equipment, such as a brush hog. Mr. Kuhn said he wasn’t interested in grooming the trails, which should remain in a natural state. Mrs. Gerhard said the maintenance funding would be more to clear fallen trees and overgrowth. When the easements were obtained from the landowners, there was no language in the agreements to indicate who is responsible for trail maintenance. Mr. Willig was concerned that landowners may not want volunteers on their property with equipment. Mr. Kuhn said they would discuss the matter at another time.
Mr. Kuhn called the vote on the reports and all were in favor.
The Administrator said the final draft of the nine historical interpretive signs has been received from Interpretive Solutions, and the signage committee consisting of herself and Charlie and Rosemary Philips has recommended approval to move forward with the manufacturing phase. Mr. Willig suggested that someone outside the committee do a final read through of the signage text. The Administrator suggested the Assistant Township Secretary, Jan Bird, as she proofs the newsletters and usually finds any minor errors. Mr. Philips said that at the time of installation, they’ll need Mr. Alston’s help in creating small pull off areas for cars. He asked if the signs needed to have breakaway posts, and Mr. Alston said it depends on how the signs are located in relation to the road and pull off areas. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the signage as presented and to approve the $4,762.00 down payment to begin the fabrication process, conditioned on a final read-through of the sign text by Jan Bird. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Barbara Cohen, President of the Schuylkill River Heritage Center, was present to request the Township’s support of their efforts to raise funds to restore the 1895 Asbury Park Phoenix Ferris Wheel, which would then be installed on the former Phoenix Steel property in Phoenixville’s Historic Downtown District. The total cost of restoration is $95,533. The SRHC is requesting donations from private individuals, community organizations, the county, and neighboring municipalities. They request a commitment of $5,000 from Charlestown Township divided over two years beginning in 2009.
Mr. Philips suggested the SRHC seek grant funding from the Pennsylvania Museum & Historical Commission, which provided some money for Charlestown’s restoration of the Woolen Mill. He also suggested approaching the Chester County Visitors’ Bureau. He asked, since the County has budget concerns for 2009, what guarantee does the SRHC have that they’ll come through on their funding? Mrs. Cohen said that funding comes from the 1% hotel tax.
Mr. Kuhn said he had two concerns, the first being where Charlestown could find room for this item in its budget. Second, he asked if this expenditure could be justified to the taxpayers. Mr. Willig said that Charlestown has strong connections to Phoenixville Borough, and many Charlestown residents have real estate investments there. He said that having served on the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee, of which both Charlestown and the Borough are members, he’s more sensitive to projects of regional impact.
Mr. Hogan asked if the Ferris wheel will be operational for rides. Mrs. Cohen said no, although it will move and at some point be lighted.
Mr. Philips said when the Supervisors sought approval for the recent referendum to increase the Earned Income Tax for open space purposes, many residents asked for assurance that the money wouldn’t be spent on projects such as the Mill, but strictly for open space preservation. Mr. Kuhn said he wouldn’t suggest that any appropriation be taken from the Open Space fund, to which Mr. Willig agreed.
Mr. Kuhn asked the solicitor to confirm that the Township is permitted to invest in this project according to the second class township code. Mr. Thompson responded yes, it is allowed. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Alston’s opinion, and he said he thought it was worthwhile to consider.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve a commitment of $5,001 to be divided between the 2009 and 2010 General Fund Budgets toward the restoration of the Asbury Park Phoenix Ferris Wheel, conditioned upon the Administrator finding available budget monies, and further conditioned on Phoenixville Borough’s participation as a contributor. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. Mr. Willig said he’d prefer not to link the motion to Phoenixville Borough’s actions. Mr. Kuhn called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mrs. Cohen thanked the Board for their consideration and approval of the funding request. Mrs. Gerhard asked if the SRHC has approached businesses in the area such as the Iron Hill Brewery for contributions, and Mrs. Cohen said no, saying this was a good suggestion.
Megan King, Esq. was present on behalf of the Alfred Zantzinger estate to obtain input from the Board as to whether it generally agrees with a plan for a lot line change to a 2.3 acre lot on Pikeland Road. Ms. King explained that the entire Zantzinger property is under Act 319, including this parcel. Due to the requirements of Act 319, only 2.0 acres (net of right-of-way) can be sold in any one year, so the Estate wishes to reduce the lot size of the 2.3 acre lot to 2.0 acres, with a net lot area of 81,040 square feet. Reducing the lot size in this manner will save approximately $100,000 in roll back taxes that would otherwise be triggered under Act 319. It will remain a single family residential lot, which the estate would like to sell at some point in the future to raise funds for the estate. There are no plans to build at present.
Ms. King indicated that all the Zantzinger property, except this parcel, is under a conservation easement that was donated to the Township. Mr. Kuhn added that the Township did offer some consideration for the easement, but the family declined. Mr. Kuhn said the Open Space Director brought up the question of whether the Township could acquire a permanent trail easement on the Zantzinger property. Ms. King said she would take that request back to her client. Mr. Kuhn indicated the Township may be willing to make a purchase offer for such an easement, or to cover costs associated with providing it.
The Board suggested that Ms. King proceed with filing a minor subdivision plan for review by the Planning Commission.
The Administrator explained that the agreement is to engage the firm of Kise Straw and Kolodner Inc. to provide planning services for the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee. Mr. Thompson said the contract language was fairly standard. The only provision he wished to bring to the Board’s attention was that if there is any dispute on fees, any municipality that resigned from the regional group would be responsible for its proportionate share of those fees, due immediately. Mr. Philips asked if the regional committee was the entity in control of all expenses with the planning agency, and Mr. Willig said yes. Mr. Kuhn said the provision seemed reasonable to him.
Mr. Willig moved to approve the Planning Services Agreement and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Administrator explained that now that the Township adopted an ordinance on November 3, 2009 requiring mandatory pumping of septic systems every three years, the Township has the opportunity to subscribe to the service offered by Chester County providing data listing which systems have been pumped. The cost per year is $1,200.00, but the Township will be eligible for an 85% reimbursement from the DEP, making the net cost minimal at $180.00 per year.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Chester County Septage Management Data System Data User Subscription Application, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to appoint Linda Csete as Open Records Officer, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Administrator noted that the real estate millage, per capita tax, local services tax, and real estate transfer tax for 2009 remain the same as in 2008. The Earned Income Tax has increased from ˝% to 1% following passage of a ballot referendum during the primary election to approve the additional tax for acquisition of open space. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Resolution #705-08 setting the taxes for 2009, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Administrator said she has some changes to propose to the 2009 draft budget as follows:
Mr. Philips moved to approve Resolution #706-08 adopting the Budget for 2009 with changed #1 through #6 and #8, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The Administrator explained that the reorganization meeting is mandated by the State to be held on the first Monday of the New Year, unless that date is a holiday. This coming year, Monday, January 5th is the mandated reorganization date. Mr. Kuhn moved to direct the Administrator to advertise the Reorganization meeting and first business meeting for 2009 for Monday, January 5, 2009, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, 255 N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, PA. Mr. Philips seconded, and all were in favor.
The Administrator indicated that the developer owes the Township $5,570.00 for review fees that have accrued since September. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve escrow release #3 for the Ashford Subdivision for $66,299.14, releasing $5,570.00 of these funds to the Township for the review fees, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and their being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn asked for the status of the letter Mr. Kohli drafted on behalf of the Board to PennDOT requesting reconsideration of a 4-way stop intersection at Charlestown and Pikeland Roads with Trevor Lane in the Ashford subdivision. The Administrator will check on whether the letter has mailed out, and if not, will prepare it for signature.
Mr. Philips said at the polls a resident brought to his attention a question as to the status of the Charlestown Park property following its acquisition from the Federal Government in the 1970’s. The Administrator said her recollection is that the Township was required to file biennial reports for a twenty year period and after that time the quit claim deed conditions were satisfied. She will confirm this and report back to the Board. Mr. Philips also wanted to know if the Board should consider placing a protective easement on the Park so it can’t be sold, or used for non-public purposes, by future boards.
Mr. Philips asked if there was any update on the code review being undertaken by Keystate Publishers. The Administrator said she hadn’t heard anything but would check into it and report back to the Board.
The Board had a general discussion on the issue of one or more pipelines coming into southeastern PA and possibly into Charlestown. Mrs. Gerhard said Dominion is talking about coming through the Township and it may be advisable for the Board to have a presence with the surrounding municipalities that have formed a group to monitor the situation. Mr. Thompson said the first step is to determine which properties will be affected, noting that park land and open space is often of interest to the utilities. Mrs. Gerhard said she has a map from Dominion, but Mr. Kuhn said it doesn’t provide sufficient detail to determine which parcels may be affected. Mr. Thompson said he can speak with the West Pikeland Township Manager to see if he has any more detailed information.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 P.M., and Mr. Kuhn announced that the Board would hold an executive session to discuss legal matters. The reorganization meeting and next business meeting are scheduled for January 5, 2009, 7:30 P.M., in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.