Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of February 3, 2020

The first business meeting for February was held on February 3, 2020, at the Great Valley Middle School Choral Room, 255 N. Phoenixville Pike, in Malvern, PA.


Frank A. Piliero, Chairman, Susan T. Bednar, Kevin R. Kuhn, and Hugh D. Willig. Charles A. Philips, Vice Chairman, was absent.
Mark P. Thompson, Esq. and Daniel T. Wright, P.E.
Linda Csete, Manager, Jim Thompson, Roadmaster, Tim Hubbard, Public Safety & Property Coordinator, and Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary. Marie Stone, Assistant Township Secretary, was absent.

Call to Order:

7:00 p.m.


There were none.

Citizens Forum

Mr. John Osborne from West End Fire Company No. 3 EMS introduced himself to the Board to build a better relationship with the Township and community. He said that they were dispatched to the Township 104 times in 2019 and 5 times this year to date. Classes are being offered and registration is required. Information can be obtained from their Facebook page entitled West End Fire company #3 Phoenixville. Classes include Stop the Bleed and CPR.

Corporal Vitali of Embreeville Barracks answered questions for residents and reviewed year to date call data. Ms. Fillippo told the state police officer that there is speeding and stop sign running at the intersection of Devault Lane and Fillippo Way.

Spring Oak Residents

Residents of Spring Oak, located near Devault Foods, attended the meeting to voice complaints and ask the Board to take fast and extreme measures to end the smells and noise that violate Township zoning ordinances.

Every individual complaint is logged by Mr. Wright of Advanced GeoServices since he is the Zoning Officer for the Township. Some of the complaints against Devault Foods, established in 1949, are listed below. The response of Mr. Wright or a Board Member is in italic.

  1. Extremely loud and high-pitched noises randomly occurring in the evening. Residents said they have sent pictures and videos with sound recordings. Mr. Hubbard will be responding as fast as possible to any complaint between 7 pm and 7 am to obtain data that would help build a legally sound citation. There was an isolated instance due to a site problem and a contractor had to be called in recently.
  2. Loud liquid nitrogen deliveries. A new delivery company was used, but the latest delivery was at 4:30 am, and this is unacceptable as well.
  3. There is no one person to deal with or hold accountable, and it seems there is no one in charge at Devault Food at night. There is an intention by management to comply during manufacturing hours, but an inability to control maintenance operations after 7 pm. They do not operate 24/7 but perform maintenance at night.
  4. Obnoxious odors and poor air quality are greatly increased since the development started about 3 years ago. Devault Foods stated they would provide Mr. Wright photos of 6 installed charcoal filters that would greatly reduce the smells. Mr. Wright will follow up. These filters do not require permits but do not seem to be installed yet.
  5. Plant employees and trucks not obeying the traffic signs, drive off of the roadway or idle near homes. If this doesn’t improve, the intersection will be reconfigured.
  6. Intrusive lighting.
  7. Devault Foods disregards quiet hours from 7 pm to 7 am. The Township agrees that due to an increase in sales, the plant is much busier and producing more (and more traffic).
  8. There is an absence of a suitable buffer between residents and factory operations. There are some homes less than 50 yards away. The Township spent 7 years working with Mr. Fillippo and the developer to obtain suitable distances and a buffer. Mr. Wright stated that in March 2020 he will meet with JP Orleans to discuss the installation and design of the buffer yet to be installed, to be sure it is done according to the Plan/Township regulations. The buffer will even cross over onto the Devault property (deciduous and evergreens will be planted).
  9. Suspicious spills that require outside contractor clean-up and higher noise levels above the daily, random, and intermittent ones they are contending with. There was a recent spill that required testing by an outside contractor and it was found to be characteristically close to canola oil and not an environmental hazard.
  10. Concerning sewage capacity. Mr. Wright contacted the VFSA and they are monitoring the flow from the plant. They have a code-compliant mini-treatment plant and it is inspected by VFSA at set intervals. It is in order.
  11. Lack of timely response by the Township to fine, issue citations, or contact police, to obtain compliance with all ordinances that may be disregarded. The Board is very supportive of residents, but it needs legally supportable proof. The Board has accepted a proposal from a sound engineer and a study will be set up over the next few weeks. The study will include ambient sounds, spikes, decibel readings, and suggestions for Devault Foods until there is resolution. Police do not enforce ordinances; this is the purview of the zoning officer.

Mr. Wright is working with the Solicitor but is currently limited in his abilities to enforce fines or citations since no representative of the Township has witnessed any of these specific complaints or taken any kind of readings/collected data that could stand against a legal challenge.

The Board agreed with Mr. Wright and Mr. Thompson and told the residents that the best path forward, although it takes a long time and is expensive, is to:

  1. Proceed with the acoustical sound study, obtain results, and suggest remedies.
  2. Limit nitrogen deliveries to the hours between 7 am and 7 pm.
  3. Continue to log complaints and communicate these with the plant.
  4. Place Devault Foods on notice with a letter drafted today to go out this week.
  5. Mr. Hubbard will be responding to residents’ concerns and collecting data.
  6. Mr. Wright will confirm that the 6 charcoal filters are in operation.


Mr. Kuhn moved to approve:

  1. Minutes for the January 6, 2020, Reorganization Meeting
  2. Minutes for the January 6, 2020, Business Meeting
  3. The January 2020, Treasurer’s Report
  4. The Operating Fund Accounts Payable Report for February 3, 2020.
  5. The State Fund Accounts Payable Report for February 3, 2020.
  6. The Capital Fund - Open Space Projects Payable Report for February 3, 2020.

Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Mr. Kuhn moved to accept the January 2020 reports #1-14 as submitted and Ms. Bednar seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Gold Award Project

Girl Scout Larisa Greway presented her proposed Gold Award Project to the Board. She proposes the construction of a StoryWalk on the nature trail in Charlestown Park. A StoryWalk is a series of wooden signs positioned along a trail that each holds a page from a children’s picture book. As kids walk along the trail, they read the page on the sign, and when they reach the end of the trail, they will have read the entire book. The first book would be Marsh Music by Marianne Berkes. This would promote exercise and early literacy in young children and would be a good activity for younger children and parents to do while the older siblings are on sports practice on the nearby fields. Supervisors and Mr. Lawrence commended Scout Greway on her presentation and proposal.

Mr. Willig moved to approve Scout Greway’s proposal to install a StoryWalk on the nature trail in Charlestown Park and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Old Business – none

New Business

Request for Adjustment of Permit Fee for Pankaj Jain

Mr. Pankaj Jain of 109 Avon Court requested the Board’s adjustment of a building permit fee for his basement project. The building code official, Mr. Anthony Merklinger, set the fee based on the guidelines of the International Construction Code. Mr. Jain expected it to be about 2-3% of his actual estimated cost, an estimate provided by him to Mrs. Csete. Tonight, Mr. Jain learned that the Township is not allowed to collect permit fees as a source of income. Furthermore, the Township is billed by the inspector for each visit, and if the applicant fails an inspection several times, the Township is billed each time. Permit fees are designed to be a “wash”.

Mr. Piliero met with Mr. Merklinger and they are discussing a change to the fee schedules that better reflects smaller projects such as Mr. Jain’s. They will try to decrease the number of his inspections since each visit is billable.

Mr. Piliero said that since Mr. Jain is doing most of the work himself, the Township will simply have Mr. Jain pay the inspection bills – as many as needed, and if they come to more, then Mr. Jain agreed to pay more, but if they come to less, then the Township will reimburse Mr. Jain.

Mrs. Csete said the amount also includes a state fee, an electrical inspection, and a Use & Occupancy fee that would not be included as part of the agreed upon adjustment.

Authorize Advertising of Equestrian Use Ordinance

Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize the advertising of the proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment related to equestrian use in the Farm Residential District for April 6, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Due to advertising restrictions, any hearing can’t be scheduled until the Supervisors’ April 6th meeting.

Conditional Use Decision – Russell Becker

Mr. Thompson read his draft Conditional Use Decision for Mr. Russell Becker approving the construction of a garage with an in-law suite on his 2.3-acre property at 2130 Conestoga Road.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Decision as prepared for Mr. Becker’s Conditional Use Application and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Conservation District Sub-Grant for Riparian Buffer at Brightside Farm – Landowner Agreement

Ms. Carol Armstrong stated she had received additional funding for more trees/maintenance for the new riparian buffer at Brightside Farm which required a signature from the township. Mr. Thompson and Mrs. Csete will review the agreement, which had sections to be completed, and if all is in order, Mrs. Csete will execute it and return it to the Conservation District.

Resolution to Approve Restatement of Pension Plan

Mrs. Csete referred to an Adoption Agreement for the Township’s existing pension plan, which is required by IRS regulations to restate the plan documents to incorporate changes in pension legislation. No changes were made to the benefit provisions already adopted by the Township.

Mr. Piliero moved to adopt Resolution #961-2020 adopting the Defined Benefit Pension Plan Documents as restated by the Trustees Insurance and Retirement Services division of PSATS that was prepared to incorporate changes in pension legislation. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Authorize Advertisement of Bids for Road Equipment & Labor and Extension of Mowing and Tree Work Contracts for 1 year

Mrs. Csete explained that she has prepared the bid documents for opening at the March meeting. Mr. Piliero moved to authorize the advertising of the road equipment and labor contract for a bid opening on March 2, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none called the vote, all were in favor.

Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize the advertising of the landscaping and tree contracts to extend for 12 months, the landscaping contract with Charlestown Landscaping, and the tree contract with Davey Tree Service. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Authorize Advertising of Ordinance to Set Parameter for Series 2015 Bonds Refinance

Mr. Kuhn moved to direct the Solicitor to advertise an ordinance to set parameters for the refinance of the Series 2015 Bond Issue for March 2, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Schedule April 6th Board of Supervisors meeting at Alternate Location since All Schools are Unavailable during Spring Break

The Supervisors directed Mrs. Csete to arrange for meeting space at East Whiteland Fire Company for the April 6th meeting and to advertise as required. A tour will begin at 6:30 p.m. before the meeting at 7 p.m.

Schedule annual Earth Day Clean-Up Event

Mrs. Csete proposed scheduling Earth Day for Saturday, April 18th with an April 25th rain date to stay clear of Easter weekend April 11-12. The Board agreed.

Escrow Release Request – Eastwick Drive improvements and Pickering Crossing

Mr. Wright said that a small amount was held back from the Eastwick release to be sure the grass was well established. Also, for release was The Pickering Escrow Release #32. Mr. Piliero moved to approve Escrow Release #1 for the Eastwick Drive improvements and the Pickering Escrow Release #32. Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Other Business


Mr. Willig would like Mr. Lawrence to look into the possibility of building a boardwalk that is elevated with anchored posts on a section of the Pickering Trail. There is a section near the creek that is wet all year long and this project is too large for a volunteer or Eagle Scout. The location is near the Andersen property, and there are some sections of walkway there, but they continue to get swept away with heavy rain. Mr. Lawrence will consult Mr. Beyer, the head of the Trails Committee.

Resident Tom Kerrigan has offered to take care of some of the graffiti on the bridge.

Devault Foods

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the acoustical proposal from the Township sound engineer and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Mr. Wright sought clarification for what was considered “grandfathered” at the Devault Foods site. Extreme sounds are not. However, the loading dock is a source of loud sudden noises noting that since the development’s start, there has been a large increase in the volume of trucks). Also, they asked if refrigerated trucks that are parked along the border with Spring Oak be moved because their motors run all night. Members discussed the right to continue operations but not when it adversely impacts residents.

Ms. Bednar stated that she believed with multiple complaints the Township had the right to cite. Mr. Willig asked how the Township could be more aggressive. Mr. Hubbard asked if the Nuisance Ordinance could come into consideration.

Mr. Thompson answered these statements with the advice-continue to watch the nitrogen deliveries, receive and review the sound study data, while he will review the draft letter from Mr. Wright, while Mr. Hubbard assists with residential complaints. Members want to focus on what the overall sound level is, what is causing spikes or higher sustained levels, and then help Devault Foods to decrease the noise from the plant.

Devault Trail

Mr. Lawrence gave an overview of the TMAAC meeting (Chester County Traffic Management Advisory Committee) he attended with Mrs. Csete this morning. There are decisions to be made regarding ownership, liability, and maintenance of the trail (the County or a specially formed authority with the County as a presence). Therefore, an application for a planning grant to address these questions for the trail is being prepared. The application deadline is at the end of March with approval in September. Any December work is credited to the grant.

There will be an executive decision following tonight’s meeting.


Mr. Piliero adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m. The next Board of Supervisors Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 2, 2020, 7:00 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room #154, 255 N. Phoenixville Pike, Malvern, PA.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa K. Gardner
Recording Secretary