The first business meeting for January was held January 4, 2010 at the Great Valley Middle School, 255 N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, Pa 19355, Room 154.
Supervisors: Charlie Philips, Chairman, Hugh Willig, Vice Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Frank
Consultants: Surender Kohli, P.E., Mark Thompson, Esq.
Staff: Linda Csete, Administrator and Fred Alston, Public Works Superintendent
Public: See attached List
Mr. Philips introduced newly elected Supervisor Frank Piliero and the members welcomed him to the Board.
Mr. Kuhn said he met Mr. Hogan about 15 years ago during set-up for a meeting of the Sycamore Land Protective Association. He said Mr. Hogan has been serving the Township before most of those present this evening came to live here. During his tenure, Mr. Hogan battled cancer, had open heart surgery, and married Jean Helker. He was greatly involved with the Woolen Mill restoration, the preservation of the Longwood School ruins, and clearing the Ice Dam ruins area. He left his imprint on Brightside Farm and at Charlestown Park through the construction of the walking trail, playground improvements and at least two Eagle Scout projects, one of which was to build a lookout and bridge along the park trail. Mr. Kuhn noted that instead of building a bridge to nowhere, Mr. Hogan will build a bridge to anywhere. His attitude was often to get the work done and apologize later for not following protocol.
On behalf of the Board, Mr. Kuhn then presented Mr. Hogan with a photo book depicting various scenes and people of Charlestown and in particular, highlighted those projects in which he was most involved. Mr. Kuhn noted that former Open Space Director Aliena Gerhard took charge of putting the book together.
Mr. Hogan said it’s been a real pleasure serving as Supervisor, and that instead of putting his money where his mouth is he put his service there instead. He said he wants to continue to be involved with Charlestown Park and with safety issues there in particular. He said he has enjoyed working with his fellow board members and Mrs. Csete, and that now he plans to do a lot of writing about his army career, playground safety and his experiences in the 1960’s in the Peace Corps.
Mr. Kuhn said they joked with Mr. Hogan that for many years he was the token Democrat on the Board, but in reality, none of the supervisors who served with him made decisions along party lines, but based them on what was best for the township, for which they’re all proud.
Mr. Willig said Mr. Hogan always reminded his fellow supervisors they’re here to get things done, and that protocol should be designed to encourage, and not prevent, progress.
Mrs. Csete announced that the Chester Ridley Crum Watershed Association along with the Habitat Resource Network of Southeastern PA & Penn State Brandywine is sponsoring a seminar on Natural Landscaping of Stormwater Basins on February 7th at Penn State Brandywine. Flyers were available for those interested in attending.
Mr. Kuhn announced that last week the Township acquired an open space easement on the 41.5 acre Fisher property that will allow just one additional homestead lot. Mr. Willig noted that now nearly the entire corridor from Church Road to Hilltop Road along Charlestown Road is preserved.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes of the business meeting held December 7, 2009, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the December 2009 Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the January 4, 2010 Operating Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the January 4, 2010 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the January 4, 2010 Operating Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion. Mr. Kuhn said the approval of the payment for snow and ice removal is painful but necessary, as this service comes with a price. He thanked Mr. Alston for the job done during the recent large snow storm and noted that the Township roads, as usual, were taken care of better than the PennDOT roads. Mr. Philips called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to accept the December monthly reports and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion.
Mr. Philips said the Design Review Committee met today to review the Spring Oak design manual. Dewey Homes representatives will attend the February 1st Board meeting to request one or two waivers associated with the Preliminary Plan. One waiver requested is to allow an above ground stormwater management system, which is permitted by the TND ordinance provided the applicant proves the aesthetics will create a preferred alternative to an underground system.
Mr. Philips said that on February 22nd, the Board will meet in a work session with Dewey Homes to provide feedback on the design manual. Mr. Kuhn asked if there had been many changes since they saw it two months ago, and Mr. Philips said there have been some architectural design changes in accordance with recommendations by Dale Frens.
Mr. Willig reported that all Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee member municipalities have now adopted the consistency review report, which will make the group eligible for a reimbursement from the County. He also reported that East Vincent Township has sent a letter notifying the PRPC it is starting the process to withdraw from the Committee.
Mr. Philips called the vote on the reports and all were in favor.
Mike Hill, Regional V.P. for Centax, was present to touch base with the Supervisors on Act 32 and on Centax’s performance over the past year. Mr. Hill said that Act 32, which requires each county in Pennsylvania to appoint one earned income tax collector for all its residents by 1/1/2012, should be a seamless transition for the Township. Each employer will be required to withhold the EIT percentage rate from each employee’s place of residence, which will speed up the collection process as well as collect the tax from individuals who might not otherwise pay. He said Centax will submit a proposal to Chester County when they begin the process of appointing the countywide collection firm.
With regard to current performance, Mr. Hill said that the present system doesn’t require that other tax collection agencies provide one another with much detail until the year-end reconciliation. He expects that approximately $126,000 in earned income taxes collected for Charlestown in 2009 will be re-credited to the open space tax from the general EIT. The majority of taxpayers won’t pay the additional ˝% tax due to the open space referendum until they file their returns this April. After that time, the two categories of EIT should even out.
Mr. Kuhn asked if there has been a downward trend this past year due to the economy. Mr. Hill said there’s been a slight reduction, but it’s less that the overall federal decrease of 3-5%.
For the Local Services Tax, the Township will begin collecting the amount of $52.00 per employee in 2010 after the tax was increased from $10.00 per employee in years past. However, since persons earning under $12,000 per year are exempt under the new ordinance, the result will be less than a 5X increase. Mrs. Csete said the 2010 budget has taken this into account.
Mrs. Csete said Per Capita Tax collections have been reduced since the Township assigned their collection to Centax rather than to an elected tax collector, and she acknowledged the main reason for this is the way billing is handled. The former tax collectors used to include the per capita tax with the real estate bill, which Centax cannot do. The method, though common, wasn’t legal. Instead, separate per capita tax bills go out, and many people simply haven’t paid. Mr. Hill said Centax will be sending out a multi-year delinquency bill to attempt to collect some of the outstanding per capita tax. He said they can attach wages in this process.
Mr. Philips thanked Mr. Hill for attending the meeting and providing this update.
Tom Pascocello, Executive Director for the Great Valley Nature Center was present to request a contribution from the Township in support of its education programs.
Mr. Pascocello said the Nature Center is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and through the years it has touched the lives of most Charlestown residents. Located on 10 acres, the Nature Center has educated 40,000 people per year and is one of the largest Nature Centers in Pennsylvania. Most of the children are from the Great Valley School District system, with many programs designed for the Charlestown Elementary School students. About half of those students have also attended the summer camps. Two years ago, the Nature Center was named the best summer camp in Chester County. They have adult programs as well, including kayaking. In addition to the Bird of Prey center, there are programs including the Halloween Trail, annual auction, and maple sugaring. They started a new membership drive where a GVNC membership is also good at over 300 science museums and 200 public gardens.
Mr. Kuhn asked what other townships have been asked for support, and what specific service the Nature Center could provide the Township. He noted that the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust monitors easements in the Township, and the Horse-Shoe Trail Club maintains the trail. He asked if the Nature Center could offer some service to reciprocate if support is provided. Mr. Pascocello said they could offer a special event or participate in activities on a future Charlestown Day. Mr. Kuhn asked if they could adopt a trail. Mr. Pascocello said he’d have to check with his Board of Directors but that should be possible.
Mr. Philips moved to contribute $1,000 to the Great Valley Nature Center and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion. Mr. Willig asked if there was a provision for this donation in the 2010 budget, and Mrs. Csete said yes, there are several line items that can be applied to it. Mr. Philips called the vote and all were in favor.
Mrs. Csete provided some details on the proposed contract and recommended its approval. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the 2010 S.P.C.A. Animal Control Contract, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson summarized the draft conditional use decision for Daniel Aquilante. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the decision as written, granting approval to Mr. Aquilante to operate an equestrian training business at 166 Mine Road, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson said the hearing was concluded on 12/7/09 but no decision was made. He said the Board has until February 1, 2010 to vote, with a written decision to follow. Mr. Kuhn directed the solicitor to draft a decision to approve the conditional use application with conditions based upon the findings, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Thompson summarized the draft conditional use decision for Global Acquisition II, which sought to amend a previous conditional use decision for co-locating on the communications tower at 1 Devault Lane. Mr. Philips moved to approve the decision as written, granting approval to Global Acquisition II to co-locate within the top ten feet of the tower, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Wendy McLean, Esq., Dave Porter, E.I.T. of Rettew Associates, and Father Joseph Butts of the Holy Ascension Church were present to discuss the final land development plan last revised 9/22/09 for the construction of a church on the north side of Phoenixville Pike.
Ms. McLean said they have received their Highway Occupancy Permit from PennDOT and the Fire Marshal’s review recommending the addition of a fire hydrant in the area of the proposed driveway and Phoenixville Pike. She said they’ll look into this recommendation with Aqua PA. Mr. Kuhn asked if the church would have sprinklers for fire suppression, and Ms. McLean said yes.
Mr. Porter referred to item #8 on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 11/3/09, which states that a revision is needed to note #4 on sheet 15 of the final plan referencing Charlestown Township in the Operations and Maintenance schedule relating to stormwater management, which he will provide.
Ms. McLean indicated that she’s confirmed the escrow figures with Mr. Kohli and she’ll prepare the development agreement and provide it to the Solicitor. The plans will be revised and reviewed for changes by Mr. Kohli.
Mr. Thompson asked if all the improvements would be secured, and Mr. Kohli said all but the buildings. Ms. McLean said this includes the parking, grading and sanitary sewer. Mr. Porter provided some details on the construction sequencing for both phases of the project.
Ms. McLean said they anticipate the Turnpike Commission will acquire some right of way from the Church at some point in the future, and this should improve stormwater management.
Mr. Thompson asked if approval for the public sewer had been obtained yet, and Ms. McLean said yes.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the final land development plan for the Holy Ascension Antiochian Orthodox Church last revised 9/22/09, to be further revised, subject to the comments in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 11/3/09 and subject to the provision of a fire hydrant as recommended by the Fire Marshal, unless Aqua PA provides a valid reason why this is not feasible. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the situation with clearing taking place on some of the lots that were to be restricted has been settled. Mr. Kohli said Mr. Theurkauf has been working on it, and that if necessary, there are remaining escrow funds, including contingency funds, still available to address any outstanding issues.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Escrow Release #4 for Phase I and #3 of Phase II of the Deerfield Subdivision with the adjustments provided by Mr. Kohli, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Willig asked for confirmation that the Board wants him to continue as the PRPC representative for Charlestown for 2010, and the members indicated they would appreciate his continuing to serve.
Mr. Willig clarified, in light of East Vincent Township’s withdrawal from the group, that the PRPC’s role is to review plans and proposed ordinance changes from its member municipalities by determining if the proposal is consistent with the PRPC Comprehensive Plan. Members are to enforce the regional Comprehensive Plan, not to advocate for their own municipality. Mr. Kuhn said his understanding is that the PRPC review is not binding, but Mr. Willig said in the case of zoning changes, it is required to be consistent with the regional plan.
Mr. Philips confirmed with the Board members that Mr. Kuhn will continue to work with the Open Space program, Mr. Willig will oversee Brightside Farm, and Mr. Philips will continue as liaison to the HARB and as a member of the Design Review Committee.
Resident Chris Lawrence asked how the negotiations were progressing with Aliena Gerhard on her open space consulting work for the Township. Mr. Kuhn responded that Mrs. Gerhard will be engaged on an as-needed basis for open space related projects. She was given the go-ahead to handle matters relating to the closing on the Hevner easement, which she indicated would take between 10-20 hours. Mr. Kuhn said that prior to her employment as Open Space Director, he and Planning Commissioner Andy Motel did most of the open space contact work and their intention is to return to this level of activity now that Mrs. Gerhard’s position was eliminated. He said Charlestown was the only township that had a dedicated Open Space Director, and in light of current financial considerations, this was the easiest position to eliminate.
Mr. Lawrence thanked Mr. Philips for responding to his email regarding Rails-to-Trails, and said he’d like to address the matter further in February.
Mr. Philips moved to adjourn and Mr. Kuhn seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m. The next business meeting is scheduled for February 1, 2010 at 7:30 P.M. in Room 154 of the Great Valley Middle School.