Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of September 1, 2020

The first business meeting for September was held on September 1, 2020, via remote dial-in/log-in via Webex due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

Present

Supervisors:
Frank A. Piliero, Chairman, Charles A. Philips, Vice Chairman, Susan T. Bednar, Kevin R. Kuhn, and Hugh D. Willig.
Consultants:
Mark P. Thompson, Esq. and Daniel T. Wright, P.E.
Staff:
Linda Csete, Manager, Beth Martin, Assistant Secretary, Tim Hubbard, Public Safety & Property Coordinator, Mike Allen, Staff Planner, and Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary. Jim Thompson, Roadmaster, was absent.
Public:
Lou Rubenfield, Mike Keffer, Lorraine Fillippo, and several others.

Call to Order:

7:08 p.m.

Announcements

There was an executive session this evening before tonight’s meeting.

Citizens Forum

Ms. Janet Toole described property damage by the paving contractor Advanced Paving on August 12, 2020. In particular, she had 4 branches removed from a sycamore tree and noticed many other trees damaged in the area. She will be sending pictures to Mrs. Csete and has notified the HOA. She said there was no forewarning by the Township or the contractor, and when she talked with a Township representative, she was not happy with the response. Supervisors apologized for the reply of the Township representative and have agreed to look at the damage.

Mr. Connolly mentioned a more formal presentation for Supervisors regarding an Energy Transition Plan. Mr. Piliero stated that the EAC has reviewed the documentation for the Phoenixville area and the Board requests a clean review from the EAC prior to considering the request. Items need for the EAC’s review include:

  1. Action items
  2. Goals
  3. Measurable results.

Approvals

Mr. Philips moved to approve:

  1. Minutes for the August 3, 2020, Business Meeting
  2. The August 2020 Treasurer’s Report
  3. The Operating Fund Accounts Payable Report for September 1, 2020.
  4. The Capital Fund - Open Space Projects Payable Report for September 1, 2020.

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

Reports

Mr. Kuhn moved to accept the August 2020 reports #1-16 as submitted and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Old Business

Spring Oak Resident Complaints

Mr. Wright began by stating the acoustical engineer looked at the sound generating sources from a report for Devault Foods and supplied recommendations and notations.

Mr. Rubenfield:

Turning Pointe Conditional Use Decision

Mr. Thompson gave a brief description of the decision for the Turning Point Conditional Use Application, for which a hearing was held on August 3rd. The Board had voted to approve the application with the written decision to follow.

Mr. Piliero moved to approve the written decision for the Turning Pointe Dance Studio to conduct educational classes in a unit of the General Warren Village complex, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

New Business

Devault Foods Final Land Development Plan

Mr. John Jaros, Esq. and Mr. Michael Keffer, P.E. of Light-Heigel Associates, were present to seek approval of the Final Land Development Plan for Devault Foods in the B-1 Zoning District (south of Whitehorse Road).

Mr. Miller requested clarification of the land development process. Mr. Jaros provided Mr. Miller with the background of the Devault Foods expansion. The applicant is willing to agree to an alternate plan that will be engineered, submitted, and approved and if not appealed, they will pursue this alternate. But they must have the original plan approved first to proceed. They will hold the original until the alternate is not appealed, then forego the original. The change in the neighborhood does not change the approval status of the Preliminary Plan. Spring Oak residents are urged to realize that the property owner (Devault Foods aka applicant) has vested rights, being there since the late 1940s. Mr. Miller told the Supervisors that he must trust them since Spring Oak residents have not obtained a lawyer.

Mr. Thompson, in tonight for an absent Mr. Bender, stated that the Board must legally abide by the applicant’s rights and land development process. There have been meetings to adjust the original plan to the current alternate plan, setting aside the original (that was not as mutually beneficial).

Mr. Rubenfield asked the Board what he could do to stop the expansion. Mr. Philips said he can’t by law because the Township must honor the applicant’s vested rights. However, the Board has negotiated a better (alternate) plan. In this plan, the refrigeration operations will be housed in the new building and that will end the use of refrigerated trucks running for hours at the plant (decreasing noise). Other modernizations in the expansion plan will improve current operations and lessen its impact on neighbors. Mr. Rubenfield said he understands the improvements in the alternate plan.

Mr. Subers said it is a major detriment to have an additional road, but Ms. Bednar said it was on the plans for years. This road was in response to the concerns that some Spring Oak residents had about adequate access and traffic. Whitehorse Road would connect to Milton connecting to Pine Road, but it would also connect to Pickering Crossing. Mr. Keffer portrayed the two plans side by side vs where the new road may be. A small pie shaped piece of land is set apart by the access road. Mr. Rubenfield was concerned that workers would use it to go east increasing traffic in Spring Oak at all hours. Mr. Jaros agreed that the connector road wasn’t the best idea since it brings industrial traffic through residential development.

Although the connector road is a positive to the Board, Mr. Jaros said it presents concerns for the applicant. It creates a non-conforming property, dividing the plant property and possibly impairing future development. Permitting then becomes more difficult. He wished to focus on the alternate plan approval.

Mr. Thompson suggested a note on the plan about the connector road. Mr. Jaros did not want any vague language about a road on the plan but would agree to leave it undeveloped (for more green space) so that the Township can use it by eminent domain.

Mr. Willig asked if there was anything that could happen to prevent filing the alternate plan, being uncomfortable with the lack of a time frame. Mr. Kuhn suggested a 6-month window for filing the alternate plan and adding the language Mr. Thompson and Mr. Jaros agreed upon for the access road.

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the Original Plan filed by Devault Foods, as revised, subject to the following conditions:

  1. Compliance by Devault Foods to the following review letters issued by the Township consultants:
    1. Theurkauf Design & Planning, LLC, dated June 17, 2020;
    2. Advanced GeoServices, dated June 22, 2020;
    3. Thomas Comitta Associates, Inc., dated June 25, 2020;
    4. Chester County Planning Commission, dated July 1, 2020; and
    5. Traffic Planning and Design, Inc., dated July 13, 2020.
  2. The payment by Devault Foods of any outstanding review fees, pursuant and subject to the procedure set forth in Section 503 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, including, but not limited to, professional consultants, engineering review and reporting, legal documentation preparation and submittal, legal services, incurred by the Township, within thirty (30 days after invoicing.)
  3. Devault Foods shall, as a condition of final plan approval, document that they have secured all necessary permits and approvals from outside agencies whether or not noted above, including approval by the Chester County Conservation District of Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plans, the issuance of any necessary sewage planning by the Department of Environmental Protection and Valley Forge Sewer Authority prior to the issuance of any building permit related to the plant expansion.
  4. Devault Foods files with Charlestown Township the “Alternate Plan” as more specifically set forth hereinafter.
  5. In lieu of proceeding with the Original Plan, Devault Foods agrees that it will file with Charlestown Township a fully engineered combined preliminary/final plan in accordance with Township Ordinances, or any vested right to non-conformities or prior zoning approvals, and in conformity with the design of the Alternate Plan which was prepared by Light-Hegel which is attached and incorporated herein as Exhibit “A”.
  6. If Devault Foods fails to receive approval of the Alternate Plan from Charlestown Township with conditions acceptable to Devault Foods, within ninety (90) days after the filing of the Alternate Plan by Devault Foods in accordance with Township ordinances, or the Alternate Plan approval is appealed by Charlestown Township or any resident possessing legal standing to bring such a timely appeal, Devault Foods shall have the right to record and proceed with the Original Plan subject to conditions set forth in Paragraphs 1-3 above. If the Alternate Plan is approved by Charlestown Township as set forth herein, and no appeal is taken, Devault Foods agrees the approval of the Original Plan shall be null and void and it will not pursue or record the Original Plan but will record and pursue construction of the Alternate Plan.
  7. There will be a 6-month window for filing the alternate plan
  8. Adding the language Mr. Thompson and Mr. Jaros agreed upon to reserve open space for the future access road.
  9. Agreement to these conditions shall be binding upon Devault Foods and its successors and assigns.

Keystone Municipal Services Agreement for Permit Review and Inspection Services

Mrs. Csete said she and Mr. Willig met with Mr. Rich O’Brien from Keystone Municipal Services LLC, on August 14th to discuss providing permit review and inspection services to the Township while the current Building Code Official remains on medical leave. Stellar references were received from numerous municipalities including East Whiteland Township, and the code official who is now serving East Whiteland would likely be the one assigned to Charlestown. East Whiteland Township manager Mr. John Nagel likewise gave him a good reference.

Due to the uncertainties of the present BCO’s return date, she recommended the Board consider this proposal for new permits received after September 1st. The alternate inspector would continue to handle inspections for outstanding permits issued before this date, and if Mr. Merklinger can return to his duties, he would likewise follow up on all inspections for permits issued before Sept. 1st. Mr. Willig was in favor of this proposal because of the attributes this group brings to the table plus being solely focused on providing services to municipalities. There is some verbiage being agreed upon regarding Indemnification and severability.

Mr. Kuhn moved to accept the Keystone Municipal Services proposal for permit review and inspection services on an as-needed basis subject to the Solicitor’s approval of alternate language regarding indemnification. Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Use of Charlestown Park for Current Groups

Parks & Rec Board Chairman Mr. Chris Lawrence invited guests of various groups to outline the proposed COVID precautions at the August 20th Parks & Rec Meeting in the event they could return to a modified schedule of their usual fall activities. The groups included the Phoenixville Area Soccer Club, Phoenixville Marion Youth Club, an auxiliary rugby group, and Healthy Kids Running Series.

Tonight Mr. Lawrence asked the Supervisors if there were any concerns as the leagues progress to competition or travel. Mr. Kuhn stated that the Park is closed for group activities and the basketball courts and pavilions are closed. This presents a mixed message. Ms. Bednar suggested checking with the Township insurer but was not sure it would make her feel more at ease. Mr. Willig was not comfortable with the travel between communities and felt a delay of a week or weeks may be advisable. But league reps stated that the PASC travel teams are starting later and PMYC is all intermural (no travel). Supervisors were still hesitant since schools weren’t in session and policing rules would be difficult.

Mr. Mauer discussed the difference between the PASC’s playing vs PIAA vs Collegiate. Points discussed by reps are as follows:

  1. Plans were developed according to state and CDC guidelines.
  2. All adults will be wearing masks.
  3. Parents will be responsible to decide if kids wear masks during games
  4. The leagues are following the rules and guidelines put forward by their governing bodies and are as conservative as possible. These measures do work and are tried and tested at camps and clinics already running.
  5. Start times are being staggered.
  6. Gator masks are being using in huddles.
  7. Start dates are pushed back.
  8. Signage will denote closed areas for youth sports groups.
  9. Snack stands are closed.
  10. Stand-alone bathrooms (separate from the Township facilities) are cleaned frequently.
  11. They will police all policies for no congregating or eating at fields in groups, etc.
  12. There is a lower occupancy level with staggered scheduling.
  13. Camps and clinics were successful this summer.
  14. Only one adult is to accompany a player.
  15. COVID waivers have to be signed.

Mr. Piliero stated that it was dependent on the insurance issue and if it is ok then he respects the P&R’s decision due to the tremendous amount of work and commitment brought to the meeting by the leagues on their COVID plans. Mr. Thompson stated that the Township has the authority to close the Park if needed. Mr. Lawrence clarified what was open in the Park according to state recommendations. The Park is very popular now due to the virus. Mr. Hubbard stated the Chester County Health Department said most schools are delaying sports through the fall. Mr. Thompson said the liability on a Township property is the league’s issue since the Township is immune.

Some points were stressed by Supervisors to allow the leagues to proceed:

  1. The need for signage.
  2. The need for communication on the Township website.
  3. Mr. Lawrence will take any questions.
  4. The need for insurance information.
  5. Consideration of County COVID19 numbers.
  6. The ability to stop leagues immediately if needed.
  7. Monitoring of intermural and especially travel teams.
  8. Month-end report of league Park activity.

All soccer leagues should contact Mr. Lawrence following tonight’s meeting. Pending insurance approval to be obtained by Mrs. Csete, while monitoring COVID cases within the County, the leagues are allowed to proceed with a month-end status report for the Supervisors.

Use of Charlestown Park for for-profit businesses

Mrs. Csete said that in the past the Township has had a policy not permitting for-profit businesses to obtain approval to use Charlestown Park for classes and organized activities, but asked if the Board wanted to re-visit this policy in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses are looking for an outdoor venue to provide service. After a brief discussion, the Supervisors decided to continue to only allow non-profit groups to use the Park.

Minimum Municipal Obligation 2020 – Pension Plan

Mrs. Csete stated the Township is required to vote each year to provide for the Minimum Pension Plan Obligation in the next year’s budget.

Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize funding the Employee Pension Plan for 2021 in the amount of the Minimum Municipal obligation provided by Trustees Insurance of $3,342.00 and to include this amount in the budget for 2021. Mr. Piliero seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Adjournment

Mr. Piliero adjourned the meeting at 10:03 p.m. The next Board of Supervisors Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 5, 2020, at 7:00 pm, location to be determined and advertised.

Respectfully submitted,


Lisa K. Gardner
Recording Secretary