The business meeting for September was held Sept. 7, 2010 at the Charlestown Elementary School Library, 2060 Charlestown Road, Malvern, PA.
Supervisors: Charlie Philips, Chairman, Hugh Willig, Vice Chairman, Kevin Kuhn, Frank
Piliero, Michael Rodgers
Consultants: Surender Kohli, P.E., Dan Wright, P.E., Mark Thompson, Esq.
Staff: Linda Csete, Administrator, Fred Alston, Public Works Superintendent
Public: See attached sign-in sheet
Mrs. Csete announced that Gary Sheridan requested his item regarding budgeting for the East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Company be withdrawn from the agenda due to a scheduling conflict on his part.
Mrs. Csete announced that the Township has won a second award for the historical signage project, this time from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Preservation PA organization for Initiative in Education. Charlie and Rosemary Philips will attend the award ceremony in Harrisburg on September 17th.
Zoning Hearing Board Chairman John Martin referred to Act 46, which extends all permit approvals made after 2008 to July 2013. He said he was contacted by Exeter LLC’s attorney Mike Murray asking for confirmation that this extension is valid for their zoning hearing board approval granted 7/31/10. Mr. Martin questioned whether Act 46 would pertain to zoning approvals, although Mr. Thompson said the act is very broadly written and he believes it would apply in this case. Mr. Martin said that the $500.00 verification fee for commercial approvals, passed by resolution by the Board last month would apply to Exeter’s inquiry and asked for clarification on that fee schedule.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the minutes of the August 2, 2010 business meeting, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve the Sept. 7010 Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Sept. 7, 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. Kuhn moved to approve the Sept. 7, 2010 Open Space Fund Accounts Payable Report and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Rodgers moved to accept the September reports as submitted, and Mr. Philips seconded, then called for discussion.
Mr. Philips reported that the Design Review Committee met with the Tyler Griffin applicants this morning in preparation for the September 14th Planning Commission meeting where they’ll provide an update on their progress toward obtaining preliminary plan approval.
Regarding the Brightside Farm, Mr. Philips said the Historical Commission will prepare recommendations for the proposed easement to be held by the French & Pickering Creeks Trust following their September 21st meeting. Mr. Kuhn indicated there were some items related to the restrictions proposed by the Trust that he’d like to discuss in Executive Session following the meeting this evening.
Mr. Alston reported that all the school signals in the Township have now been programmed for the 2010-2011 school year.
Mr. Philips called the vote on acceptance of the reports, and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson said the Board voted to approve the conditional use application for Paul Gluchanicz at the August 2, 2010 meeting and the written decision has now been circulated to the Board for review and approval. He explained that this approval relates solely to the construction of a driveway in steep slopes, and mentioned the conditions listed in the draft approval document. These included that there be a restriction from further subdivision, that the applicant agree to abandon the present non-conforming commercial use of the fur shop, and that the approval be subject to the granting of subdivision approval. Mr. Kohli suggested that condition #5 be modified to add a reference to his last review letter dated 9/1/10. Mr. Thompson said this is covered because the language states “or any other review by the same on such revised plans as may be submitted by the Applicants.”
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the conditional use decision as drafted by Mr. Thompson for construction of a driveway to a single family home through steep and very steep slopes. Mr. Rodgers seconded the motion, and Mr. Philips called for further discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.
Mr. Thompson recommended that there be an easement recorded for the driveway to Lot #2 that crosses Lot #1 as a condition of approval. Mr. Gluchanicz indicated he was agreeable to this condition. Mr. Philips moved to approve the minor subdivision plan for Paul Gluchanicz last revised 8/27/10, subject to the comments in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 9/1/2010 and Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 9/2/10. Mr. Kuhn seconded the motion, and Mr. Philips called for further discussion. There being none, he called the vote and all were in favor.
Grange President Florence Guinan was present along with Secretary Debbie Kalpak, Polly Hagan, and several other Grange members to discuss the enforcement notice sent to the Chester Valley Grange informing them that the Grille Stop business being operated from the Grange property on Phoenixville Pike is in violation of the zoning. The members particularly want to see the Grange remain until 2013 when it marks its 100 year anniversary and are concerned about the impact of this notice.
Mrs. Guinan said they’ve asked the Grille Stop owner to remove her signs for the time being, but said the revenue the Grange receives from this enterprise is the only way they can pay their taxes and insurance on the property. She said she thought the Grille Stop owner had applied for a sign permit, but Mr. Kohli said none has been submitted. She explained that the building belongs to the State but the local Grange chapter is responsible for its maintenance. She said the enforcement letter was sent to an old address and they were unaware of it initially.
Mrs. Guinan said the lunch wagon has been on the property for about 12 years and can’t be seen from the road. She said it’s on wheels and can be moved if necessary. Mr. Philips explained that the Township’s issue is that the business is not a permitted use in that zoning district and has been operating illegally all this time. The Board is also concerned with sign pollution. They have a concern that if the business is allowed to continue, others may follow. He said that the Board wants to work with the Grange on alternatives, but granting a two-year extension to the use isn’t among them.
Mrs. Guinan said they’ve petitioned Chester County in the past to request relief from their taxes but it was denied. Many counties in Pennsylvania exempt non-profits under Section 501.C.8 such as the Grange, but Chester County isn’t one of them. Mr. Kuhn asked if they approached the County in the past ten years, and Mrs. Guinan said yes. Mr. Kuhn asked what the total township, county and school taxes are for the property, and Ms. Kalpak said about $1,400.00 per year.
Mr. Kuhn recalled an old letter sent to the original owner of the lunch wagon business, in which the Township notified him if the business changed ownership, there would be no continuance of the business, which had been grandfathered. The Grange representatives were unaware of the letter and believed the new owner was likewise not informed. Mr. Kuhn asked when the current lease expires, and Ms. Kalpak said June 2011.
Ms. Hagan said the members feel the Grange is a wonderful old facility and the organization has recently made efforts to make the building more accessible to community groups. She said, however that it’s difficult to attract new members without updating the facility. Mr. Philips asked where they would obtain funding for upgrades, and Ms. Hagan said they received some income recently and the adjacent Apostolic Church may be renting some space from them while renovating their own building in the near future.
Mr. Kuhn asked if the long term plan is to hold on to the building, and Mrs. Guinan said yes. If they can’t maintain it, it reverts to the State which will likely sell it. Mr. Philips noted that the building is on the Township’s Historical Resources map, so any work or demolition approval would be required to go through the HARB. He said speaking for himself, he considers preservation of the building to be a high priority and further that the Board is dedicated to preservation in general.
Charlestown Historical Society Chairman John Pittock said the CHS faces a similar problem with dwindling membership and have numerous old buildings to maintain. He said the Township has benefited from the Grange in the past and will have a notable place in the book on the history of Charlestown currently being written by the CHS. He suggested that the Board find some way to allow for a source of income for the Grange, which is the only Grange left in northern Chester County and is a victim of an obsolete tax system. He suggested the Grange members at least petition the township and school district for tax relief. Mrs. Guinan said taxes are only half of the major expense, with insurance being the other large cost.
Mr. Willig asked that other than the lease, does the Grange owe any allegiance to the Grille Stop business, and Mrs. Guinan said no. She said they’d like to provide space to more groups, noting that the Boy Scouts want to come back but organizations like that don’t pay to rent the space and create additional utility costs and the need for some improvements to the rest rooms, and heating and lighting systems.
Mr. Willig asked for an idea of the annual costs to maintain the building, and Ms. Kalpak said about $6,000 including repairs and heat.
Mr. Pittock said there’s not much in the township to bring the community together and he finds that lack of unity sadly lacking. He regrets there doesn’t appear to be an immediate solution for the Grange.
Mrs. Guinan said auctioneer Dan Alleva is now in semi-retirement and they’ve lost the income they previously received when he held auctions at the Grange.
Mr. Kuhn asked if they’d like for the Board to go to the County to petition for tax relief on their behalf and Mrs. Guinan was appreciative of this offer.
Mr. Philips said the Board will take no enforcement action for 120 days while they discuss possibilities with Mr. Kuhn’s assistance, and that in the meantime the Grille Stop owner should be advised to look for another location.
Ms. Hagan asked if a copy of the enforcement notice could be sent to her address.
Mr. Martin provided an update on the change to countywide EIT collection to begin 1/1/11. He said the County Tax Committee is holding its annual meeting this Thursday on September 9th, and that all contracts must be in place by November 10th. There’s a vacancy on the management committee and he expects to be appointed to it at the meeting.
Mr. Martin said there was some concern after the Keystone Group won the bid for the 3-year collection contract as to whether it could handle the work load and also handle local services tax collection for municipalities who opt in. They did assure the Committee they have the capacity to do so. However, at this time, the Committee doesn’t recommend moving other tax collection duties for real estate or per capita tax to Keystone for at least one to two years but to stay with the current collector, which for Charlestown is Central Tax Bureau (Centax). Mrs. Csete said it makes sense to move the LST collection to Keystone since they use the same tax base for EIT collection. Mr. Martin indicated the Committee has already requested the collection data from Centax.
Mr. Kuhn moved to direct the Administrator to notify the Central Tax Bureau that Charlestown Township is giving 90 days advance notice that it is terminating the agreement for collection of local services taxes as of 12/31/10, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mrs. Csete indicates that two bids were received at the Township office for Road Labor and Equipment for the 18-month period of October 1, 2010 – March 31, 2012. One was received at 11:55 a.m. and the other at 2:55 p.m., which was after the noon deadline. Mr. Kuhn moved to accept all bids received up to the time of bid opening, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion. Public Works Superintendent Fred Alston objected strongly to allowing acceptance of the second bid since it was received after the deadline. Mr. Kuhn asked what is in the township’s best interest, which Mr. Alston agreed was to receive multiple bids. Mr. Thompson confirmed that the Board of Supervisors has the discretion to extend the deadline. Mr. Philips called the vote, and all were in favor. The following bids were read:
|Delaware Valley Paving Co.||$485,000|
The bids were turned over to Mr. Kohli for review and recommendations so the contract can be awarded at the October 4 meeting.
Mr. Thompson reviewed a number of minor changes requested by Dewey LP in the Spring Oak Preliminary Approval that was signed by the Board following approval on July 6, 2010. He said there were no changes of substance but he wanted the Board to be aware of them. The changes included clarification that rolled curbing was to be used in the alleys and adding a reference to Dale Frens’ review letter. Mr. Thompson said he doesn’t see any issue with these changes although it’s unusual for an applicant to propose changes to an approved decision.
Mr. Philips moved to accept the proposed changes to the preliminary plan approval for Spring Oak and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips asked if everything was in order for this final release, and Mr. Kohli indicated that the defective inlets have been repaired and will be monitored for the next 18 months during the maintenance agreement period.
Mr. Rodgers moved to approve Escrow Release #5 for the Ashwood Subdivision for $221,861.66 and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mrs. Csete said the Township is required to vote each year to provide for the minimum pension plan obligation in each year’s budget. She indicated that a state grant of approximately $3,100 covers a portion of the cost. Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize funding the employee pension plan for 2011 in the amount of the minimum municipal obligation provided by Trustees Insurance of $12,361 and to include this amount in the budget for 2011. Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Jeffrey Bodo, P.E. presented the proposal by Wilkinson Associates for engineering services to the Board for this project. The proposal includes preparation of construction bid documents, coordinating the bidding process and performing construction management for a total of $10,525.00. He said the plans have already been submitted to the DEP for approval, which is expected soon.
Mr. Kuhn asked what the estimated cost of the project is, and Mr. Bodo said last year’s estimate was between $12,000 - $15,000. The sluggish economy may improve this somewhat. Mr. Kuhn clarified that the $10,525.00 proposal is in addition to that estimate and Mr. Bodo said yes. The Board members indicated they would review the proposal and gather comments before moving forward.
Mrs. Csete said the bid document is substantively similar to that for the previous season, requesting a price on 700 tons of road salt. If brining is used this season, it should reduce the amount of road salt needed, but this isn’t an issue since there’s no obligation to order the total bid tonnage. She added that if they are able to use brine, it should cost much less than $10,000 so it won’t have to go out for bid.
Mr. Rodgers moved to authorize advertising of the 2010-2011 Road Salt Bid for opening at the October 4, 2010 meeting, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Philips called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Motel noted that the Board wants to move forward with scheduling a hearing for the sign ordinance, but indicated the Planning Commission wants to make some changes. They want to provide for some exceptions to those signs not permitted in the road right of way. One example would be to allow a real estate sign for that property. Mr. Kuhn said what drove the Board to proposing the amendment was the abundance of unsightly signs throughout the Township. Mr. Motel asked about the large contractor sign still in place on a property at the corner of Whitehorse and Union Hill Roads many months after work was completed. Mr. Kohli said once a use & occupancy permit is issued, contractor signs must be removed. He said he’ll notify the contractor. He said that for smaller projects like roof replacement or landscaping, a contractor’s sign is permitted only while the contractor is physically at the site. Mr. Willig suggested making issuance of a permanent U & O contingent on removing all contractor signs first, to which the other members agreed.
Mr. Motel anticipates that the Planning Commission will be able to provide a recommendation for the ordinance, with added exceptions, following their September 14th meeting. The Board will delay scheduling the hearing until the ordinance is in final draft form for advertising and submission to the Chester County Planning Commission for review.
Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission will address proposed changes to the Agricultural Use Ordinance at its September 14th meeting, and will consider allowing chickens on smaller lots, add some language for items not presently addressed, introduce protective measures for riparian areas, and amend or add various terms and definitions. He said they will consider allowing a period of one year to comply with the riparian protection requirements.
Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission will also discuss solar and wind ordinances at their next meeting. He noted that solar systems are more practical than windmills in Charlestown, and said they must determine whether they’ll be treated as accessory or principal structures, and whether commercial stand-alone systems will be permitted. Mr. Kohli indicated that the Laurabrooke developers are proposing stand alone panels and one building for their property on Phoenixville Pike. He said a logging permit was submitted but he denied it since it must accompany a land development plan and be approved jointly with that plan. The logging permit was submitted previously to the state and the applicant represented on that application that there were no plans to develop the property. Mr. Kohli has been in touch with the State and expects them to deny the application.
There was some discussion as to whether solar systems should be permitted by conditional use or by-right. Mr. Kohli said they should all be permitted by conditional use although Mr. Philips thought they should be allowed by-right for residential use.
Mr. Kohli indicated that he and Mr. Motel will meet with representatives from Buchart Horn, engineers for Tredyffrin Township, to ensure that Charlestown’s future needs in the TND are covered in the Act 537 Plan. That data was provided two years ago and should be incorporated into the Plan.
Mr. Thompson said that he and Mrs. Csete spoke to Ken Rotz at Keystate Publishers and Mr. Rotz indicated he can provide a final draft of the codified ordinance in time to hold a hearing on October 4th. Mr. Thompson explained that the codification doesn’t make substantive changes to the ordinance but rather corrects certain references and serves to compile all the township ordinances into one up-to-date document.
Mr. Philips asked for the status of amending the subdivision & land development ordinance to include roads in the definition of a structure. Mr. Thompson said he’ll draft the language and circulate it to the Planning Commission for review.
Mr. Motel referenced the Demolition by Neglect Ordinance and said the Township should enforce it in an even-handed manner. He expressed concern for the Markley property, where the wagon shed roof collapsed this spring. He displayed a picture of the building, stating that the French & Pickering Creeks Trust, which holds an easement on the property, intervened at the last minute.
Mr. Kuhn said he thinks the structure should be rebuilt since the easement specifically states that all future owners shall keep all buildings in good repair. He added that there was an endowment in Stinson Markley’s will to ensure this is done. Mr. Motel said a good portion of the Markley endowment was used off site at the Rapp House, which Mr. Kuhn said is against the strictures of the will.
CHS President John Pittock said the building was failing for some time, and acknowledged he feels somewhat out of his element with regard to maintenance of so many old structures. He said the consensus among the CHS members is to rebuild it at some time but lack of funds is a constraint. He said Pam Brown and Claire Quinn of the F & P offered to help seek local grants to assist them. He said they want to get the walls stabilized this fall and will have Dale Frens assess the structure. Berks County Barn Builders gave an estimate for the work in April. Mr. Pittock indicated the CHS has approximately $160,000 in funds. Mr. Willig said the CHS should view stabilizing the wagon shed from future failure as a priority for these funds and a portion should be used to get in front of the other problems. Mr. Rodgers noted there’s an unsafe building on the property that has a post propping up a roof.
Mr. Philips asked that the CHS give the Board a plan within the next 30 days to indicate how they intend to go forward including a timeline for each step. Mr. Motel added that the F & P is looking for this information as well. He suggested the CHS retain a lawyer to help negotiate changes to the F & P easement document to help them stay viable in the future. He said their plan to consult with Mr. Frens is good as he can also interface with the Trust. Mr. Kuhn said Mr. Frens can recommend vendors, as he’s done in the past for the Township.
Mr. Pittock said they want to stabilize the wagon shed walls first and then attend to the barn. He said he’s had personal setbacks as has another member of the CHS. Mr. Philips said other officers of the CHS should become involved.
Mr. Philips adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m. and the Board went into Executive Session to discuss legal matters. The next business meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 4, 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School.