The first business meeting for June was held May 4, 2009 at the Charlestown Township office, 4030 Whitehorse Road, Devault, PA 19432.
Mr. Kuhn announced that he will chair the meeting in the absence of Mr. Philips this evening.
Mr. Rodgers said he attended the spring PSATS convention and heard a speaker for Gov. Rendell proposing the elimination of local government in favor of county-run government.
Mr. Kuhn said the Spring newsletter will be out shortly and will include an announcement that the Township is launching its own website after relying on the citizens’ website for so many years. It was thought that the time has come for a more official presence on the web. He said the current site will continue to post community information, and he said the Board appreciates all Mr. Merriwether has done.
Mr. Kuhn said the April 18th Earth Day event was successful and expressed appreciation to the Administrator for organizing it. Over forty residents volunteered in addition to her husband and son, who don’t even live in the Township.
No matters were brought forward.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of the business meeting held April 6, 2009, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion. He noted a correction for page 3 to insert the word “initial” in the second sentence under the heading “Trail Clean-up Policy” to read, “Mr. Kuhn said the property owner should be notified they are responsible for initial clean up.” Mr. Kuhn called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the April 2009 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 May 4, 2009 Operating 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 approve the May 4, 2009 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to accept the April monthly reports and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion.
Mr. Willig reported two items from last week’s Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee meeting. He said the solicitor and planning consultant for the PRPC have completed their consistency review of the member municipalities’ ordinances had found them to be generally consistent with the regional plan. They’ll prepare a letter shortly outlining any items each township may wish to address. A discussion of the slip ramp and the Turnpike Commission’s expansion project was also held and it was decided that the PRPC will request from the County that the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission refresh its traffic study. The previous study is 10-15 years old and the document is being relied upon to make current decisions.
Mrs. Csete noted that Mr. Alston should get much of the credit for the successful Earth Day event as they work together on it and it couldn’t be undertaken without his extensive involvement. Mr. Kuhn agreed and extended thanks to Mr. Alston.
There being no further discussion, Mr. Kuhn called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing for Robal Associates and read an email dated April 30, 2009 from Debbie Woodall at Tupitza and Associates requesting a continuance. No testimony was heard. The hearing was continued to August 3, 2009, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing for Holy Ascension Orthodox Church conditional use application and the proceedings were recorded by Tom Corcoran, court reporter. Mr. Thompson placed the following exhibits into the record:
|T-1||Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 4/7/09|
|T-2||Stubbe Consulting review letter dated 3/30/09|
|T-3||Thomas Comitta Associates review letter dated 4/8/09|
|T-4||Thomas Comitta Associates review letter dated 1/20/09|
|T-5||The Charlestown Township Subdivision Land Development Ordinance|
|T-6||Daily Local News Public Notice|
|T-7||Proof of Publication|
Wendy McLean, Esq., placed the following exhibits into the record:
|A-1||Narrative dated 5/4/09|
|A-2||Preliminary subdivision plan last revised 3/17/09|
|A-3||Soil Morphology Evaluation and Stormwater Infiltration Report dated 2/27/08 prepared by Rettew Associates|
|A-4||Color Rendering of site dated 10/17/08 last revised 1/7/09|
|A-5||Color Architectural Rendering of proposed church|
|A-6||Four photographs of the ruins on the site|
The following witnesses gave testimony:
There were no questions or comments from the audience.
Some discussion of the preliminary land development plan was also held on the record.
Mr. Willig moved to approve the conditional use application subject to Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 4/7/09, Mr. Comitta’s review letters dated 1/20/09 and 4/8/09 and subject to the conditions to be determined for the final written decision. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson said he’ll circulate both the conditional use decision and preliminary land development decision to the Board prior to the next meeting, where both will be considered for approval. The record will remain open until June 1, 2009, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, room 154.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing and the proceedings were taken by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter.
Mr. Thompson entered the following exhibits into the record:
|T-1||Copy of letter dated 4/17/09 from Mark Thompson, Esq. to Daily Local News enclosing Public Notice of and the full text of the proposed Ordinance and requesting publication.|
|T-2||Copy of Public Notice|
|T-3||Proof of Publication from the Daily Local News|
|T-4||Copy of letter dated 4/17/09 by Mark Thompson, Esq. to the Chester County Law Library enclosing copy of proposed ordinance|
|T-5||Copy of letter dated 4/17/09 by Mark Thompson, Esq. to the Chester County Planning Commission requesting review of proposed ordinance|
|T-6||Copy of the Proposed Ordinance|
|T-7||Copy of letter dated 4/14/09 from Chester County Planning Commission to L. Csete reviewing ordinance|
Mr. Kuhn asked if there were any comments from the audience and Neal Camens of Chester Valley Engineers was heard.
There being no further comments, the hearing was closed. Mr. Rodgers moved to adopt Ordinance #152-09 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. There being no other discussion, Mr. Kuhn called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing and the proceedings were taken by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter. Mr. Thompson entered the following exhibits into the record:
|T-1||Copy of letter dated 4/24/09 from Mark Thompson, Esq. to Daily Local News enclosing Public Notice and the full text of the proposed Ordinance and requesting publication.|
|T-2||Copy of Public Notice|
|T-3||Proof of Publication from the Daily Local News|
|T-4||Copy of letter dated 4/24/09 by Mark Thompson, Esq. to the Chester County Law Library enclosing copy of proposed ordinance|
|T-5||Copy of the Proposed Ordinance|
Mr. Kuhn asked if there were any comments from the audience and Mike Allen was heard. There being no further comments, the hearing was closed. Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt Ordinance #153-2009 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. There being no other discussion, Mr. Kuhn called the vote. All were in favor.
Damien Kelly of Gardner/Fox Associates was present to provide an overview of Karl and Kristen Buettner’s zoning hearing board application to allow construction of an addition to their home at 540 Clothier Springs Road which will encroach upon the rear yard setback.
Mr. Kelly indicated that since the plan also calls for removing a small addition, the proposed work will not increase the nonconformity of the lot. Mr. Kohli asked for the percentage of total square footage of the addition, and Mr. Kelly estimated it at about 25%.
Mr. Rodgers asked for the distance from the house to the rear property line, and Mr. Kelly said 30 feet, noting that the ordinance calls for 75 feet. Mr. Rodgers asked when the zoning hearing is scheduled, and Mr. Kelley said May 28th.
Mr. Kuhn moved to take a neutral position toward the application, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Brendan Burke Esq. requested a public water connection for Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Cloetingh of 2006 Union Hill Road due to the capacity problems they’ve encountered drilling a well to service their new home. Builder Craig Miller and Stephen Cloetingh were also present.
Mr. Burke referred to the Cloetingh’s request to Aqua PA for public water service and the response from Aqua PA granting approval subject to the Township’s agreement to extend the water franchise to the property.
Mr. Burke said Aqua PA specifies that 20 gallons per minute is standard for residential use, yet the highest they could achieve was 3 gallons per minute. Mr. Burke said the single family home is on a large lot and will have six bathrooms. Their first attempt to drill a well was to 640 feet with no water found. The second attempt was 500 feet deep and obtained water at only 3 gallons per minute. They have concerns that even if they install holding tanks and pumps, they may overwork the well and/or the pump. Connection to the public water system can be achieved with minimum land disturbance because the line is only 1,300 feet away.
Mr. Rodgers said his well produces about one gallon per minute and he’s lived in the house for 42 years and raised a family with nine children. Mr. Kuhn also noted that Aqua PA’s standard of 20 gallons per minute is higher than necessary, observing they’re in the business of selling water. He said he lives across the street from this property, but did acknowledge that while 3 gallons per minute is feasible, he doesn’t see a problem in extending the franchise, considering the lot is in an area located so close to the public water line and this request has been granted for one or two other homes in the area. He also noted the Cloetingh property is restricted from further subdivision. Mr. Rodgers disagreed, saying he doesn’t see the need for public water when a hardship isn’t proved. Mr. Burke said it’s more of a preference for the owners to be assured a continuous supply of water and has the benefit of avoiding impact on surrounding properties or the Township.
Mr. Willig asked if the house will have a sprinkler system and Mr. Burke said no. Mr. Hogan said he didn’t see a reason to deny the request.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the request for public water by allowing an extension of the franchise to service the Cloetinghs’ residence at 2006 Union Hill Road, provided the extension is restricted to that property only, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Three were in favor. Mr. Rodgers was opposed, stating that the resident hadn’t proved a hardship. He said the well produces three gallons per minute from a 500 foot deep well, which yields 1,000 gallons of storage. Further, Mr. Rodgers expressed concern that approval of public water for the Cloetinghs would create a precedent allowing expansion to a nearby larger tract should that owner choose to subdivide in the future.
Mark Notaro, William Conver, P.E. of Conver & Smith Engineers, and Mike Furey, Esq., were present to seek approval for a lot line change plan for the Notaro and Johnston properties. Mr. Furey said they’ve addressed the comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter. Mr. Conver referred to three waivers on the plan listed as note #11. One waiver is from the requirement for an as-built plan, since no new construction is proposed. Mr. Furey explained that the subdivision consists of an even land exchange so the sand mound septic system for the Notaros would be properly located on their own lot instead of on the Johnston lot, a problem discovered by the Notaros after they purchased the house.
Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Kohli if there are any remaining issues, and Mr. Kohli indicated that they have been addressed. Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for Notaro/Johnston last revised 3/27/09 subject to the comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated April 20, 2009 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Neal Camens, P.E., of Chester Valley Engineers was present to discuss the preliminary/final plan last revised 3/23/09 proposing to change the lot line between the Allevas’ parcel #35-4-122.3 and Tom Fillippo’s parcel #35-4-122 and to combine parcel 35-4-136.A with 35-4-122.3 to create a residential lot that meets the 80,000 sq. ft. net lot size minimum. Tom Alleva was also present.
Mr. Camens distributed a copy of a portion of the 3/23/09 plan showing the proposed lot lines highlighted in blue and the lines to be extinguished in yellow. He said they’ve gone through 3 or 4 iterations of the plan trying to remedy the various setback and lot size issues and that this plan resolves all but one issue, that being the location of a commercial garage that straddles three lots. The proposed plan decreases this nonconformity by placing the garage on two lots. The expectation is that this use will be discontinued in the future and the garage will be removed prior to selling either of the two lots. After that occurs, the Allevas will have two conforming lots, one being their present home on Lot 1 and the second being a vacant building lot, Lot 2.
Mr. Thompson asked if there is any way to readjust the lot lines to place the garage entirely on one parcel. Mr. Camens said all attempts to do so created other problems that would require variances. Planning Commission Vice Chair Michael Allen said the older plans didn’t address the legal access needed to be created for Lot 2, and the present plan seemed to be the cleanest approach. Mr. Camens said the Planning Commission deferred the garage issue to the Board and Solicitor, suggesting a note on each of the two deeds might resolve the problem. Mr. Thompson asked why they haven’t gone to the zoning hearing board with this plan, and Mr. Camens said that they’re not adding a property line, which would increase the nonconformance.
Mr. Kuhn asked the Solicitor if the Board can approve the plan subject to the placement of an easement for the garage on Lot #2. Mr. Thompson said there would still be a zoning issue. He said he, Mr. Kohli and Mr. Alleva met over this issue some time ago and he still has concerns about approving a lot line that goes through an existing building. Mr. Allen asked whether the existence of the garage would make it impossible to have a house approved for construction on Lot #2 because it would constitute two principal uses. Mr. Thompson said the question is, which lot does the garage go with?
Mr. Allen said that if the lines were repositioned, it would increase the nonconformity of Lot #1, where the existing house is located. Mr. Camens asked if that would necessitate going to the zoning hearing board, and Mr. Thompson said he’d have to look at it further. An argument could be made that by reducing the nonconformity, a variance isn’t needed.
Mr. Willig asked what Mr. Alleva’s goal is. Mr. Camens said it’s to obtain some square footage from the neighbor’s property while the opportunity is there, and after removing the garage, holding Lot #2 as a saleable lot for a single family home. Mr. Kuhn asked isn’t that lot grandfathered even though it’s under the minimum lot size. Mr. Thompson said yes, although a variance might be needed for the setbacks.
Mr. Kuhn asked what the Township’s risk is if they approve the plan as presented. Mr. Thompson said years down the road, someone could buy Lot #2 and want to use the garage. He added there are numerable possibilities. Mr. Camens said they could add a note to each deed and place a note on the plans that the garage must be removed before a house can be built.
Mr. Thompson said at a minimum, there must be an easement placed on the deeds in perpetuity that the owner of Lot #2 has the right to use the garage. Mr. Kuhn asked if Mr. Alleva would be agreeable to that, and he said yes. Mr. Thompson said he’ll draft the language and circulate it to all parties prior to the June 1st meeting, where they could consider it further. Mr. Kuhn thanked Mr. Alleva for his patience.
Andrew Defonzo, P.E. of D.L. Howell and Megan King, Esq. were present to seek approval for a lot line change to the Zantzinger property on Pikeland Road. Ms. King indicated that she had been to the Board last in December and that the mandatory site walk with the Planning Commission took place last month. She said the property is presently owned by the Zantzinger estate, with the expectation being that two of the three children of Alfred Zantzinger, Gretchen and Daniel, will receive it.
Ms. King said the plan proposes to move the lot line fifty feet toward Pikeland Road in order to reduce the size of a saleable building lot without triggering Act 319 rollback taxes. She said that although the remainder of the Zantzinger estate is under a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust, the building lot is not. A non-building waiver is requested as part of the approval.
Mr. Rodgers asked for the width of the lot, and Mr. Defonzo said 200 feet. Mr. Kuhn asked for clarification as to whether they were taking land out of the eased property, and Ms. King said the opposite; they will be adding to it. Mr. Thompson asked for the total acreage of the Zantzinger property, and Mr. Defonzo said 17 acres.
Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Kohli if there were any outstanding issues, and he said no. Mr. Kuhn asked if the new piece of land will be added to the conservation easement. Ms. King said no, although the family could decide to do so later. She added that it’s too small to do anything with regardless.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Zantzinger Minor Subdivision plan last revised 3/31/09 subject to the comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 4/8/09 and granting the following waivers provided these items are provided at the time of building permit application:
Mr. Kuhn seconded the motion. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Tim Townes was present from J. Loew & Associates to discuss the latest sketch plan for the Tyler Griffin Tract, which is identified as Area 5 of the TND. He said he received approval from the Planning Commission to move forward to the review process with the Design Review Committee, and wanted to obtain feedback from the Supervisors before doing so.
Mr. Townes provided an update on PennDOT’s proposed widening of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road bordering the site. He said they finally had a chance to see the plans and were surprised that the proposed stormwater management facility is a long narrow trench, two feet deep, going up along Charlestown Road. He said J. Loew & Associates had expected the facility to be located on the southwestern area of their property and had planned for such.
Mr. Townes said this sketch differs from those of the past. Area 5 of the TND allows for townhouses only, but Mr. Comitta suggested that more of a housing mix would be desirable and suggested twin houses be added. The zoning ordinance would have to be amended to allow this, along with another amendment to allow for a shorter setback against the school district property. He indicated they wanted deflections in the road in that area to soften it. This still allows room for a 75 foot buffer that would include a berm and trees.
To address a concern of Planning Commissioner Sarah Peck, Mr. Townes showed a sketch of two sets of townhouse buildings that she thought should front the road instead of the greens. He said they flipped the position of the garages and now show the buildings with two fronts and L-shaped porches on both sides.
Mr. Hogan asked if there is a sidewalk leading to the Elementary School, and Mr. Townes showed its location.
Mr. Willig asked about the grade throughout the site. Mr. Townes pointed out one area of prohibitive slopes in the southeastern corner that will remain open space and include a stormwater management area. Otherwise there are some level areas but the site generally slopes upward toward the Elementary School. He said they tried to follow the contours by providing “English basements” for some of the units.
Mr. Willig asked how the open space areas are sloped. Mr. Townes said the top one is an active recreation area that is relatively flat, and the other spaces are 5% or less in grade.
Mr. Allen said a lot of subtle tweaking has been done to the plan with a lot of thought given to the area along Phoenixville Pike.
Mr. Kuhn asked if a commercial use is still proposed for the southeastern corner, and Mr. Townes said yes. They are considering about 5,000 square feet of retail/office space with plaza area included. Mr. Willig asked if the walkway system will connect to this area and Mr. Townes said yes.
Mr. Willig asked about mailboxes, and Mr. Townes said they hadn’t thought about it much yet but expected they’d do something similar to what Dewey Homes proposes for the Spring Oaks site. He said they’d like it to be central to the community.
Brandon Ott, 35 Hollow Drive, said he wants to do some selective clearing in his backyard, including removal of some trees that were left leaning toward the house after the developer graded the area. Mr. Kuhn asked him if he was aware of the deed restrictions against clearing in that area when he bought the house. Mr. Kohli said the restrictions were listed on the title, allowing only some clearing for construction of on-site septic systems. Mr. Kuhn asked if the developer is obligated to educate the buyer on these matters and Mr. Thompson said no.
Mr. Ott said the builder told him he was permitted to clear the area and noted that one of his neighbors has a pool in his back yard. Mr. Kohli said that lot is not part of the restricted area. Mr. Kuhn added that the intention of restricting clearing was to protect the natural habitat as well as provide a sound and visual buffer from the PA Turnpike.
Mr. Rodgers noted that the vegetation is mostly poison ivy and other invasive plants. Mr. Kuhn said he’s concerned that if the Board allows Mr. Ott to clear his property, others will do so and the buffer will be gone. Mr. Willig said he doesn’t think the intent of the restriction was to prevent the removal of all invasives; just that the area not be cleared and replaced with turf lawn. The objective was to preserve the habitat and keep the wood line intact, which could still be accomplished by replacing the invasive plants with native species. Mr. Ott said one of his neighbors has already cleared his lot.
Mr. Hogan asked how close the poison ivy is to the house, and Mr. Ott responded 20 feet.
Mr. Kuhn said he’d like to look at the property and suggested other interested Board members do the same, then determine a resolution and be in touch with Mr. Ott. He informed Mr. Ott that the Deerfield subdivision was approved with a lengthy set of conditions, giving some examples.
Mr. Willig suggested the Board members review Mr. Theurkauf’s 4/27/09 letter which listed some options. Mr. Willig read comment #2 aloud, “The Township could opt for limited enforcement that protects the forest canopy trees, but allows modification of the ground plane and removal of shrubs and saplings to promote active use of the properties by the owners. Under this scenario, property owners could establish lawn areas, but would be prohibited from removing trees of over 12 inches DBH, which would be consistent with the tree protection requirements in Township ordinances. A 30-40 foot zone of no disturbance could be maintained in the rear of the affected lots to create a transition to the 150-foot wide open space portion of the Turnpike buffer.
Mr. Kuhn indicated that the HARB had recommended placing the basket for display at the Fillippo property adjacent to the Devault Post Office parking lot, but when he spoke to Mr. Fillippo about it, he didn’t receive an interested response.
Mr. Kuhn said his suggestion was to hang it in the Woolen Mill, as he questioned the value of having it on display outdoors where there may be security concerns. After some discussion, Mr. Rodgers moved to inform the Schuylkill River Heritage Center that the Board prefers not accepting temporary custody of the basket and requests that it be displayed on their behalf in Phoenixville Borough. Mr. Kuhn seconded. He called for discussion, and there being none further, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson said he circulated a draft amendment to the sign ordinance to the Board earlier this afternoon, and the Board agreed a hearing should be scheduled for June 1, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, to consider it for adoption.
Mr. Allen pointed out a related area of the zoning ordinance that contains a typo that should be corrected. Mr. Thompson will work with Mr. Kohli on this and related issues.
Mr. Kohli showed a site plan of the cemetery property. The Board briefly discussed Mr. Philips’ suggestion that the entrance to the Cemetery be moved to Pickering Road. Mr. Willig said the Playschool must be involved in these discussions, as they rely on the existing parking area for part of their drop off and pick up routine. The matter will be discussed further at the June 1st meeting.
Mrs. Csete indicated that there are $4,637.60 in review fees to be reimbursed to the Township that remain outstanding. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #2 for Phase the Apostolic Christian Church, subject to receipt of the outstanding review fees, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Kuhn called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m. The next business meeting is scheduled for June 1, 2009, 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.