The first business meeting for April was held April 5, 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
Piliero, Mike Rodgers
Consultants: Surender Kohli, P.E., Mark Thompson, Esq.
Staff: Linda Csete, Administrator, Fred Alston, Public Works Superintendent
Public: See attached List
Joseph End, Bodine Road provided an update to the Board on his complaint regarding new house construction adjacent to his property that has caused stormwater runoff issues. He said he outlined the details in a recent letter to the Township and has been working with Mr. Kohli on resolving the problem. Mr. Philips encouraged Mr. End to continue working with him as Mr. Kohli will stay on top of it. Mr. End said his hope is that the problem will go away once the construction is complete, but at present there’s an ongoing situation.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of the March 1, 2010 business meeting, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the March 2010 Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Piliero moved to approve the April 5, 2010 Operating Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the April 5, 2010 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the April 5, 2010 State 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. Rodgers moved to accept the March reports as submitted, and Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion.
Mr. Rodgers reported that the Valley Forge Sewer Authority is working on a plan to increase capacity at the Wilson pump station. Only 20,000 gallons per day capacity remains, and the VFSA serves eight municipalities. Charlestown anticipates future service for the Spring Oaks and Tyler Griffin development, plus consideration of a possible expansion to serve the Charlestown Elementary School. Mr. Kuhn said when the addition and renovations at the school were approved a few years ago, the applicant went to great lengths to assure the Township that no public sewer service would be needed. Mr. Rodgers said that since that time, they have developed problems with their on-site system. Mr. Philips confirmed with Mr. Kohli that the School District’s 40 acre parcel adjacent to the Elementary School is not included in the Township’s Act 537 Plan.
Mr. Philips asked if Tyler Griffin was already included in the capacity calculations and Mr. Rodgers said yes, but Spring Oak is not as Dewey Homes hasn’t paid for its reserve capacity. John Mostoller of Dewey Homes said they have a dispute with the VFSA that should be resolved this week.
Mr. Philips reported that the Design Review Committee has been meeting on both the Tyler Griffin and Spring Oak submissions and both are moving along well. He said Mike Allen has been working extremely hard on this committee and has received cooperation from both developers.
Mr. Willig reported that East Vincent Township is still moving forward with its plans to withdraw from the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee, and a hearing is scheduled at the PRPC meeting for April 7th. If they do withdraw, the PRPC will have to go back through the planning process and revise its comprehensive plan to redistribute densities and amend other factors. East Vincent Township will still be bound by the regional agreement for a one year period after withdrawal and will be responsible for their share of the costs during that time.
Fire Marshal Mr. Alston announced that April 6th and 7th are “red flag” days where dry conditions and winds increase the potential for wild fires, so no burning will be permitted during this period.
Parks & Rec Chairman Bob Jones announced that their newest member, Matt Finlay, has volunteered his architectural services for the park dam removal project, and will prepare plans for the Board’s approval.
Mr. Philips called the vote on the reports, and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing for Robal Associates, continued from March 1, 2010. The proceedings were recorded by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter.
The following exhibits were entered into the record:
|•||PC-4||Mileage chart generated by Fred Alston showing the distance from the Robal property to various assisted living/retirement communities in the area.|
The following witness testified for the Planning Commission:
Mr. Bender then rested. The hearing was continued to June 7, 2010, 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, 255. N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, PA 19355, Rm. 154, at which time Mr. Tupitza will have an opportunity for rebuttal.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing for DL Charlestown LP, seeking to obtain seven waivers from the Traditional Neighborhood Development Ordinance for the Spring Oak project. The proceedings were recorded by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter.
The following exhibits were entered into the record by the Township:
|•||T-1||Letter dated 3/23/10 from Mr. Thompson to the Daily Local News requesting public notice advertising;|
|•||T-3||List of Spring Oak TND Waiver Requests|
The following exhibits were entered into the record by the Applicant:
|•||A-1||Portions of the Spring Oak TND Design Manual;|
|•||A-2||List of Waivers Requested|
The following witnesses were sworn in and provided testimony for the applicant:
The Board members and resident Sue Staas asked questions of the applicant, after which time the hearing was closed.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the seven waivers requested by Dewey Homes LP for the Spring Oak Traditional Neighborhood Development plan last revised 2/25/10, with corrections to the list of waivers as discussed this evening. Mr. Philips seconded, and called for discussion. There being none further, he called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson opened the conditional use hearing for Paul Gluchanicz, seeking to obtain approval to construct a driveway through steep and very steep slopes. The proceedings were recorded by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter.
The following exhibits were entered into the record:
|•||T-1||Letter dated 3/16/10 from Mr. Thompson to the Daily Local News requesting public notice advertising;|
|•||T-3||Memo dated 2/22/2010 from Thomas Comitta Associates;|
|•||T-4||Conditional Use Application dated 2/17/2010;|
|•||T-5||Letter dated 4/5/2010 from Greg Davis requesting continuance of hearing;|
|•||T-6||Letter dated 3/1/2010 from Surender Kohli, P.E.|
At the applicant’s request, no testimony was heard and a continuance was requested. The hearing was continued to June 7, 2010, 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, 255. N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, PA 19355, Rm. 154.
Mr. Thompson opened the hearing for Michael Bowell, seeking to obtain a waiver from Zoning Ordinance Section 1607.A.3 to allow a garden structure, a pergola, in his front yard. The proceedings were recorded by Tom Corcoran, Court Reporter.
Mr. Thompson entered the following exhibits into the records:
|•||T-1||Letter dated 3/11/2010 from Mr. Kohli to Mr. Bowell notifying him that his building permit for the pergola was denied;|
|•||T-2||Letter dated 3/20/2010 from Mr. Bowell to the Board of Supervisors requesting a waiver;|
|•||T-3||Materials provided by Mr. Bowell to Mr. Kohli including drawings of the structure|
|•||T-4||Set of pictures of the structure|
|•||T-5||Letter dated 3/25/2010 from Paul Stevens to Township Secretary Linda Csete for distribution to the Board of Supervisors|
Mr. Bowell was sworn in to testify.
The following residents spoke on Mr. Bowell’s behalf:
Comments were made by Planning Commission Chairman Andy Motel.
Mr. Thompson closed the hearing. Mr. Kuhn moved to grant the waiver request to allow the structure in the front yard, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson referred to a proposed agreement from American Tower that would permit trail users to cross their property to access the McDevitt Trail. He said he has yet to hear back from American Tower as to whether the changes he made to the agreement are acceptable to them. The changes clarify that trail users will be granted access.
Mr. Philips moved to execute the Revocable License Agreement as amended, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mrs. Staas asked Mr. Motel for the status of the revisions to the Horseshoe Trail Ordinance to expand to include other trails. He said he’s about half done with the edits and will try to complete them within a week.
Mr. Philips asked for the status of the Township’s subdivision application for the Jenkins property. Mr. Kohli said on 2/14/09 he worked with the engineer preparing the plans to mark them up with needed revisions, and will contact him to get these revisions completed so the plan can be finalized and approved.
Parks & Rec Board Chairman Bob Jones provided background on a proposal from Jeff Bodo of Wilkinson & Associates for design work for the dam demolition at Charlestown Park. The total estimated cost is $8,500.00 and would include obtaining all state permits required.
Mr. Rodgers moved to accept the proposal as prepared, and Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mike Murray, Esq. and Neal Camens, P.E. requested preliminary plan approval for parking revisions at 3222 Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Thompson asked if this plan is similar to the one denied by the Board last year, and Mr. Murray said yes, although there have been some adjustments. He said the first plan was denied because the time clock expired, not for any specific deficiencies of the plan itself. Mr. Thompson asked what the decision deadline is for this plan, and Mrs. Csete said June 30, 2010.
Mr. Murray said the original approval for the 60,000 sq. ft. building, formerly the DecisionOne Building, was outlined in a letter dated 6/13/1985 stating that additional conversion from warehouse to office space had to be approved by the Board because it increases the amount of parking needed. However, a deed search indicates the deed restriction was never placed on the property.
Mr. Thompson recommended that the Board have the solicitor’s office review the application and provide a legal opinion prior to the next meeting so the preliminary plan could be considered at that time. Mr. Philips moved to direct the solicitor to provide this opinion, and scheduled the matter for the May 3rd meeting. Mr. Rodgers seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Murray asked for a determination on whether the Board could grant a waiver on their request to modify the landscape island requirements. Instead of providing an island for every ten parking spaces, they would like to group the islands and leave some areas without islands to allow for truck use and to not conflict with future conversions of buildings between office and warehouse use. Their plan provides for more landscaping than is required by the ordinance, but the configuration would be different. Since islands don’t exist presently, he asks that it be considered a nonconforming use, and that their landscaping plan would constitute an improvement to that use. Mr. Thompson said he’ll provide an opinion on this question.
Mr. Murray said they can resolve the outstanding issues in the three review letters from Mr. Kohli, Stan Stubbe and Thomas Comitta Associates. He said they request a waiver to allow for 9 foot wide parking stalls instead of 10 as required by the ordinance. He added that all the stormwater management improvements and landscape islands shown on the plans would be installed during Phase I. Mr. Camens added that the new parking lot would only be added at the end phase if it was found to be necessary due to additional conversions from warehouse to office space. Mr. Philips said the Board will wait to hear from the Solicitor before getting into these details on the preliminary plan.
Mr. Motel said the applicant met the Planning Commission’s concerns on the application and they recommended preliminary plan approval. He referred the Board to the Planning Commission minutes for details.
Mr. Philips placed the matter on the May 3rd agenda.
Mr. Philips referred to Mr. Kohli’s letter dated 3/16/2010 which reviewed the bids for tree equipment and labor. Mr. Kohli noted that Davey Tree Company is the lowest of the four bidders but lacked several required items, as did the Kellerman’s Tree and Lawn Service and Philadelphia Horticulture bids.
The Board directed the Administrator to contact Davey Tree Company along with the other two lowest bidders requesting all missing information by April 19th. The bid will be awarded on May 3rd to the lowest bidder that provides the required items by the deadline.
Mr. Philips referred to Mr. Kohli’s letter dated 3/16/2010 which, similar to the tree bids, indicated that several lower bidders had items missing from their bids.
Bob Jones said the award for mowing can’t wait until next month because the park needs to be cut starting next week. Mr. Philips noted that Puhl’s Landscaping is the only complete bid, but Kellerman’s Tree and Lawn Service is lower. He moved to award the bid to Kellerman’s subject to the Townships receipt of their certificate of insurance and provision of other items as noted in Mr. Kohli’s letter by April 19th, otherwise the bid will be awarded to Puhl’s Landscaping. Mr. Rodgers seconded the motion. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor. David Jaramillo was in attendance from Kellerman’s and said he’ll get the certificate of insurance faxed to the office as soon as possible.
Mr. Philips opened the discussion on the road bids. He notes that the lower of the two bidders, DePaul and Company, meets the bid specifications with the exception of the requirement that the successful bidder’s base of operations be within roughly a 12 mile radius of the center of the Township. DePaul and Company is located 13.7 miles from the center. Mr. Rodgers said he visited the company’s base of operations and learned they’re planning to move to a location approximately 20 miles away, which is a concern because of the cost of paying for their time portal to portal as well as how they will get to the Township during bad snowstorms.
Mr. Kuhn said he asked Mr. Alston to contact DePaul and ask if they would be willing to drop the travel clause from the contract. Mr. Rodgers said he asked this question when he visited the site, and at first was told yes, and later told they’d consider dropping the cost one way.
Mr. Rodgers said he determined on his site visit that DePaul and Company lacks some of the specified equipment for snow removal, for example, 20 ton trucks. They propose to use a triaxle truck but charge the 20-ton truck bid price. Mr. Kuhn asked how he can quote for equipment he doesn’t have available, and asked if the contract allows him to rent it. Mr. Rodgers said the contract states the contractor must own the equipment or have a lease for it at the time of the bid. He further noted they didn’t have 10-ton trucks, which are needed for clearing snow from the cul-de-sac streets, as the other equipment is too big.
Bob Jones said the 20 mile distance is too far to be practical, asking what would happen if a piece of equipment breaks down.
Mr. Philips said he’s aware of the difference in the two bid prices, but doesn’t want to receive the complaints that would arise using a contractor further away from the Township. He said that despite the bad winter this year, the Township received very few complaints. In that type of weather, the 20 mile distance could be a great concern if Route 23 or Route 202 were shut down.
Mr. Kuhn said his long term concern continues to be that the Township’s road costs are out of control, and are higher than others. He asked if Charlestown is overly zealous in clearing the streets. The budget is overspent and the roads are deteriorating with no funds to repair them. He agreed that Melchiorre Construction does good work, but he feels the Township is paying primarily for labor with very little material put down to improve the road surfaces.
Mr. Rodgers said he looked into DePaul and Company’s background and found they do a great deal of new construction with commercial clients, but have never provided snow removal services. Mr. Alston said they do curb and sidewalk construction in Philadelphia but aren’t geared for snow removal. In contrast, Melchiorre Construction has 15-20 subcontractors under contractor who have one ton trucks for this purpose.
Mr. Willig said one consideration is whether the contractor should have extended supervision, possibly by making the Roadmaster position a full time job. He said actual coordination and supervision wouldn’t be a bad investment considering roads are the single largest budget item.
Mr. Kuhn said that the Township should select the contractor for those line items they bid lowest on instead of awarding the entire contract to a single company. As an example he cited a damaged pipe and culvert along the Bruder property, where one contractor estimated a cost of $500-$800 to repair it. Mr. Kuhn said Melchiorre Construction would charge thousands to do the same work. Mr. Alston said managing numerous contractors in this way would be more than a full time job and the end result wouldn’t be worth it.
Mr. Kuhn said a local contractor told him Tredyffrin chooses among its contractors for the lowest price on each piece of equipment and that the Roadmaster coordinates it all. Mr. Alston said Charlestown would have to rewrite its bid documents and re-bid the project if this is how the Board wants to proceed. He reiterated he doesn’t advise it.
Mr. Rodgers said Schuylkill Township attempted to separate items a few years ago and found that no company would bid its snow removal work, creating a great deal of problems there.
Mr. Kuhn expressed his frustration that the Township seems to be held hostage by the contractors. No solution is found and they continue to expend great amounts of money for road services to the point that only emergency work is done due to lack of funds.
Mr. Jones said Tredyffrin Township has its own equipment and employees and subcontracts equipment such as back hoes and skid loaders. He said his brother’s landscaping company has 40-50 trucks for snow removal, and it’s important to use a company with this type of breadth or a lack of equipment can be disastrous. He said landscaping companies generally tie their landscaping services and snow plowing services together, often contracting with homeowners’ associations. Each driver carries a book and marks his start and finish times to provide better control of charges for each client.
Mr. Philips said the Board needs to determine how to elicit more bids, noting that they’re not solving the problem. Mr. Kuhn said it’s the Roadmaster’s responsibility to seek bidders.
Mr. Philips suggested that Mr. Kuhn work with the Roadmaster on this issue, but Mr. Kuhn declined, stating the entire Board should review it. He asked the Board members to recognize that the status quo is not acceptable and will lead to doubling real estate taxes in the future if it’s not changed.
Mr. Motel asked if the Board should consider getting a consultant to study the process and provide recommendations for corrective action.
Ben Thompson asked how the Township seeks bidders; is it only through the newspaper notices? Mrs. Csete said in addition to the notices, the bid proposals are posted on the internet, and area companies receive invitations to bid in the mail.
Mr. Philips tabled the bid award for road labor & equipment. Mr. Piliero offered to work with the Roadmaster on the bid process and general road costs. Mrs. Csete said she’ll gather information from similar townships on their bid specifications, budgets and actual costs.
Mr. Alston said he’s waiting to do several projects, including the removal of two broken hydrants at Charlestown Park and connection of water to the playing fields.
Mr. Kuhn referred to the proposed Agreement of Sale to purchase a conservation easement on 200 acres of the Thompson property. The total acreage of the property is 380, with Schuylkill Township intending to purchase an easement on 180 acres located there. The Agreement for the Sale of Development Rights is between the Thompson family and both townships. Each township will pay $3,000,000 to the Thompson family. The conservation easement would be held by the North American Land Trust (NALT) and would allow 23 building lots. The Pickering Valley Golf Course will remain on a portion of the property for the time being.
Mr. Kuhn said Mr. Thompson forwarded a copy of the proposed Agreement to Schuylkill Township’s solicitor informing him Charlestown Township intended to take action this evening. The Schuylkill solicitor said they’ll review the agreement but won’t be ready to act on it at their next meeting, scheduled for April 7th.
Mr. Thompson noted that Charlestown Township can’t execute the Agreement until they hold a hearing as required by the Open Lands Act, but can approve the form of the document this evening.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the form of the Agreement of Sale to purchase a conservation easement on the Thompson property, subject to any changes to be made as a result of Schuylkill Township’s review, and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn said that after approval at the March 1st meeting, the Township entered into the agreement with the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust to prepare a conservation easement on the 25 acres of parcel #35-3-59 containing the farmhouse and outbuildings that is not under restrictions with the County.
Mr. Kuhn said the Board needs to decide what restrictions to include in the easement document. Mr. Philips suggested following up with Dale Frens since he prepared the building inventory on the property and should provide input. He noted that the French & Pickering Creeks Trust was granted a three month extension on grant funds to help cover the costs of the conservation easement preparation.
Mr. Alston circulated a resolution proposed by Chester County for municipal adoption of the County’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt Resolution #731-2010 adopting the Chester County Hazard Mitigation Plan, and Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Philips called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mrs. Csete said that she’s been preparing a submission nominating the Historical Commission for recognition from the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions for the historical signage project in which they developed interpretative sign panels for nine historic sites in the Township. Pa Sen. Andrew Dinniman offered to make the nomination, and Rep. Duane Milne sent a letter of support received by the Township last week. She drafted a second letter of support which she requests the Board of Supervisors sign on the Historical Commission’s behalf to further their nomination.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve signing the letter of support for the Historical Commission’s nomination for recognition of the Historical Signage Project completed in 2009 and Mr. Philips seconded the motion. Mr. Philips called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips said that on 5/4/09, the Board passed a revised Stormwater Management Ordinance (SMO) requiring all stormwater facilities to be underground. In August 2009, a subcommittee consisting of himself, Mr. Theurkauf and Mr. Kohli met to develop the current draft revisions that allow the developer to come to the Board for approval of above ground facilities provided they are aesthetically pleasing.
Mr. Philips said there are a lot of open issues for the Supervisors to decide. A hierarchy of preferences is listed in the new draft, yet it seems to allow the developer to decide what route they want to take. Also, underground facilities aren’t listed in the hierarchy, nor is a waiver process like that included in the TND ordinance.
Mr. Kuhn said that the TND waiver process undertaken this evening during the Spring Oak hearing showed the advantage of this type of procedure. He agrees that underground systems should be added to the hierarchy, but he said he has some concerns regarding them, such as how to determine when an underground system is failing. If an above ground basin can silt up, so can an underground one. He said the Board should have the final say on what type of structure is used. Mr. Willig said that underground systems should have provisions that they’re constructed using sound engineering practices and approved by the Township Engineer.
Andy Motel said the Planning Commission has provided their recommendation after a great deal of back and forth discussion. He said one change that is needed is differentiating between the terminal point of a stormwater system and its method of conveyance. It’s possible that the conveyance portion is above ground while the terminal portion is below.
Mr. Motel said when PennDOT was designing their four basins associated with the proposed Route 29 improvements, the Township had a choice between more than an underground system or an unattractive above ground basin. The SMO incorporates Best Management Practices and would give the Board the ability to consider aesthetics. It should also allow the Board to require an underground system if they don’t like the alternate plan.
Mr. Philips said that as drafted, the proposed amendment to the SMO clearly gives the developer the choice of system. Mr. Kohli said that his review letter dated 11/23/2009 recommended a tiered concept to be considered where the priority is subsurface. He said Mr. Theurkauf hasn’t revised the ordinance to incorporate this and other recommendations in his letter yet as he’s waiting for direction from the Township. Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission endorses those recommendations.
There was some discussion on the mechanism of the process. Mr. Motel preferred a more cooperative process where the developer and Township work together for the best result, as was done for the Spring Oak plan. Mr. Philips questioned whether all developers would be as cooperative, and feels the ordinance needs more teeth, not just for the selection of the type of system but for how it would be monitored.
Mr. Kuhn had other comments on the proposed SMO amendments. He referred to Section 302.E.4., which states that “surface basins shall be subject to conservation easements with provisions for a maintenance protocol to ensure proper functioning of the basin…” He questioned whether any conservation group would have an interest in monitoring basins. He then referred to Section 401.D.1, which requires a long term maintenance bond for a period of ten years, and he thinks it should be in perpetuity. Mr. Thompson agreed.
The Board agreed to circulate their email comments to Mr. Kohli, who will coordinate them with Ed Theurkauf, to be incorporated into a revised draft along with Mr. Kohli’s 11/23/09 recommendations.
Mr. Kuhn asked about the letter from the Simkiss Agency indicating that it’s time for the Township to re-appraise its land and buildings. Mrs. Csete said this is one of the requirements of accounting standard GASB-34, and can be done at a minimal cost as there haven’t been any significant changes since the appraisals were last done in 2007.
Mr. Philips adjourned the meeting at 10:45 p.m. The next business meeting is scheduled for May 3, 2010, 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School.