Michael Churchill, Temporary Chairman, Rick Reis, June Gorman, Wendy Leland, Sarah Peck, Surender Kohli, P.E., Linda Csete and those on the attached list.

Call to Order:

7:33 P.M.


There were no announcements.

Citizens Forum

No matters were brought forward at this time.

Approval of Minutes

May 12, 2009 Minutes

Mrs. Gorman moved to approve the May 12, 2009 minutes and Mr. Reis seconded. Mr. Churchill called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Plan Review

Hartman Run, LLC

Ivan Wille and Emily Jarngie were present to discuss their inquiry into converting the four dwelling units presently in single ownership on one deed into a condominium development, creating 4 separate deeds.

Mr. Churchill said according to the consultants, the minimum net lot area for each unit can’t meet the zoning ordinance requirements. Mr. Wille questioned Mr. Theurkauf’s interpretation that the proposal constitutes a subdivision, stating it wouldn’t apply to their proposal under the PA Uniform Condominium Act. Mr. Wille explained that the property consists of three parcels, two on the west side of State Road and one on the east. All the houses are on the west side, and are approximately 160 years old and predate the zoning ordinance. He said he and Ms. Jarngie purchased the property three years ago and made substantial improvements, particularly to unit #4. He said they propose no changes to the physical structures, only a change to the form of ownership. The density of the property would not change and there would be no increase in demands for services. The separate ownership would increase the property value of each unit and thereby increase the tax base. He said the only other comment in Mr. Theurkauf’s letter lists a number of typographical errors.

Mr. Kohli said that the Township Solicitor’s conclusion was that this plan must comply with the minimum lot area requirements. Mr. Churchill asked for the total acreage, and Mr. Wille said seven acres, with about half of that across the street. He said there are about three acres where the structures are located.

Mr. Churchill said the Township has to follow the advice of its solicitor and the concerns of the planner, who indicated the change in ownership will change who’s responsible for various items. He asked about the on site septic and well systems and added concerns over buffering since the units are so close together. Mr. Wille said each home has its own septic system, and individual home owners are more vested in taking care of their property. He said Greg Nesspor told him there has never been any problem with the septic systems. Mr. Reis asked where they are located, since they’re not marked on the plans, and Mr. Wille pointed them out. Mr. Churchill noted one is in a wetland area, although Mr. Wille said it’s above the wetland. He said the four units are served by a single well that has never gone dry. Mr. Reis said the wells and septic systems don’t meet the required isolation distances.

Ms. Peck said the applicant is asking the Township to invalidate the underlying zoning. She said if he could meet the minimum lot areas, he would be able to convert the units to a condominium development. She said the land across the street might qualify the property for cluster zoning. She said there’s not enough for four lots but possibly for two or three. Mr. Kohli said the land across the street is primarily in steep slopes, and much of it would be netted out.

Mr. Churchill advised the applicants that the present proposal won’t work, and suggested they consult with their own attorney for alternatives.

Thompson Sketch Plan

John Thompson and Bob Showalter were present to discuss a revised sketch plan for the Thompson property. Mr. Showalter said the previous plan showed a longer road that started at Whitehorse Road and ended in a cul de sac. After learning the cul de sac road length limit in Schuylkill Township is 500 feet, they broke the road into two parts, creating a shorter cul de sac road off Tinkerhill Lane servicing 4 lots. There will be less intrusion into wooded areas of the site with this layout. There were also changes to the trail system, which will no longer go through to Mine Road but will go to Union Hill Road. The mine shaft locations have been surveyed. He said they want a consensus for the revised layout before undertaking the tree survey.

Mr. Churchill asked to which parcel the small triangle of land adjacent to lots 1 and 2 belongs. Mr. Showalter said they haven’t decided yet whether to include it with Lot 1 or 2. Mr. Thompson said it would probably go with Lot 1. Mr. Churchill asked if Lot 1 is still going to Charlestown Township, and Mr. Thompson said yes, if the Township was interested in purchasing it. Mr. Churchill asked how a house on Lot 1 would be accessed. Mr. Thompson said it can be accessed through the field. He said there’s frontage off Union Hill Road but it’s impractical, noting that the low appraisal for that lot reflects this. Mr. Churchill said he’s not sure the Township can accept Lot 1 as a buildable lot. He asked how long the access road is, and Mr. Showalter said it’s 1,500 feet from the cul de sac.

Mr. Reis asked if Lot 9 is still being considered for purchase by Schuylkill Township for a park, and Mr. Thompson said yes, as far as he knew.

Mr. Churchill said Mr. Theurkauf’s 6/4/09 review letter, comment #2a suggests reconfiguring lots 19, 20 and 21 to have more equal road frontage. Mr. Showalter said this could be accommodated.

Mr. Churchill asked about the Phoenix Mine that is labeled on the plan. Mr. Thompson said they just added the name to this revision; the mine was shown on the previous plan. He said the Phoenix shaft was exploratory and travels in a straight line. Shafts range from 65 feet to 1700 feet deep. He said the lead mining exploration was halted after the Civil War and the Army Corp of Engineers sealed the shafts off in the 1920’s. Mr. Churchill asked that the shafts be shown on the engineered plans, and Mr. Thompson agreed.

Mrs. Leland asked about the access to Lots 3 and 4. Mr. Showalter said Lot 3 is accessed from Tinkerhill Road, and Lot 4 off the cul de sac road from Tinkerhill Lane.

Mrs. Peck said the plan layout doesn’t read as a community but said the potential home buyer for these lots may prefer it that way. She asked Mr. Thompson if he’s comfortable with this type of layout. Mr. Thompson said yes.

With regard to trails, he said the Township has raised good questions and he understands their necessity in obtaining grant money for the open space easement acquisition and their desirability to the Township.

Mr. Churchill asked about the 1.5 acre house envelopes and whether this is too large. Mr. Showalter said they need to locate the house, probably a circular style driveway, and the septic and well in this area. Mr. Thompson said this size was recommended by the North American Land Trust (NALT). Mr. Churchill said he’d rather start with one acre envelopes and allow more if needed for the septic system. Mrs. Peck asked if this development is subject to the replanting requirements in the ordinance, and Mr. Thompson said yes. She said in that case the matter is somewhat self-policing. Mr. Thompson asked about a house at the corner of Union Hill and Whitehorse Roads that is under construction. He asked for the size of that building envelope, given that the house is extremely large. Mr. Kohli said it’s a little over an acre, but they’ll be disturbing more to add a pool.

Mr. Thompson said NALT determined the size of the envelopes and asked if they must be shown on the plans. Mr. Churchill said yes, in order for the homeowners to understand the limits and to preserve the integrity of the landscape. Mr. Showalter said a lot of the envelopes are in open fields; there are only five or six in wooded areas. Mr. Kohli said the Board of Supervisors can address the envelope size during the conditional use process, including whether to allow construction to go beyond the envelope for septic or other structures. He said the builder has to have some leeway, and a one acre envelope is probably not sufficient. Mr. Churchill said this is only a sketch plan, and they’ll have to work this matter through. He said he’s receptive to some flexibility if it’s needed. Mr. Thompson said they want this plan to be good for both the family and the Township. Mr. Churchill said no one doubts this plan is superior to the previous Bentley plan, and the Township just wants to be sure it accomplishes the goal of preservation.

Mrs. Peck asked if the next plan can show the roads adjacent to the plan such as Whitehorse Road and Mine Road. Mr. Reis asked if the proposed driveways can be shown.

Mr. Churchill asked Mr. Thompson if he is willing to providing an emergency connection between Lots 2 and 22 to provide an emergency access to Tinkerhill Road and Mr. Thompson said yes. Mr. Churchill said the Township heard a lot of opposition to a full road connection between the two Tinkerhills yet an emergency access is desirable. He said the route shown will accomplish this.

Carol Ryan, 4113 Tinkerhill Road, said there will be a through road near her. Mr. Churchill said this is only a driveway to specifically service lots 3 and 22. Ms. Ryan asked if the right of way shown to Lot 9 for the possible Schuylkill Township park represents a new road, and Mr. Showalter said yes. Mr. Thompson said he met with Schuylkill Township last month at their Planning Commission meeting to address that. Mr. Churchill said it’ll come in from a lower part of Tinkerhill Road.

Ms. Ryan said she supports the emergency access, noting that they were unable to get out for two days last winter due to snow.

Mr. Thompson said the two townships are holding a joint meeting on June 17th to continue discussions on the plan. He indicated the latest revision eliminates 1,800 feet of road way and 500 feet of clearing.

Mr. Churchill said Mr. Theurkauf’s letter of 6/4/09 provides the rationale for conventional lot development rather than an open space development, and this will trigger the need for conditional use approval. He said he has no problem with the conventional plan, and Mrs. Leland agreed that she approves the general concept. Mr. Churchill said he’s still disturbed by the awkward access to Lot 1, noting its location on the edge of very steep slopes. Mr. Showalter said they’ll work out the access during engineering.

Mrs. Leland asked about the houses on Lots 6 and 18, which straddle the two townships, as to which township they’ll pay taxes to and which school district they belong to. Mr. Churchill said buses from two school districts will have to access them, and Mr. Thompson said this is already the case on Tinkerhill Road.

Mrs. Leland said the plan is heading in the right direction.

Exeter 3222 Phoenixville LP – Preliminary Land Development Plan dated 4/21/09

Jason Honesty of the Exeter Group and Neal Camens, P.E. of Chester Valley Engineers were present to discuss proposed additional parking to accommodate the flex space at the former Decision One building at 3222 Phoenixville Pike. Mr. Camens said he met with Mr. Kohli and Mr. Theurkauf and amended the parking islands shown on the plans.

Mr. Camens showed the islands along the back and sides of the building adjacent to the stairwells. He showed the islands in the middle of the truck aisle, which will still allow truck movement. Mr. Churchill said this represents half the required amount. Mr. Camens said yes, and indicated that Mr. Theurkauf recommended it. They’re shown between 13 and 19 feet wide instead of the typical 8 foot wide island. Mr. Churchill had safety concerns with regard to truck traffic. Mr. Camens said they’ll be able to maneuver around the islands. He said he worked for a firm in a flex building and observed the truck activity. He said in this type of plan there would be truck deliveries every day but not constant movement. As long as Aegeon leases their space, that area won’t need to be built out with parking.

Ms. Peck asked if there was anything in Mr. Theurkauf’s review letter dated 6/4/09 that the applicant disagreed with, and Mr. Camens said no. Mr. Kohli noted that since the last meeting, they adjusted the amount of green space in the back and sides of the building, so the square footage now complies.

Mr. Churchill said the County review letter dated 5/22/09 raised concerns about water handling for the new spaces. Mr. Reis asked if there are concerns about limestone formations. Mr. Camens said they haven’t encountered any limestone in the three test areas, and indicated infiltration is generally good on the site. Mr. Reis asked how deep the tests went. Mr. Camens said the actual parking lot construction will only go down five feet, and they have to test at least two feet below that.

Ms. Peck aside for the location of the cross piping under Phoenixville Pike that is reportedly clogged. Mr. Camens showed the area on the plans, along with two other cross pipes. He said they won’t be working near the problem area and will be staying out of the wetland and wetland buffer as well. Mr. Reis asked if they’ll be able to contain all the new water in one basin. Mr. Camens said they’ll decrease peak flows and the volume of run off after a two year storm, which will meet all regulations. Mr. Churchill asked if the flooding problem on Phoenixville Pike would be resolved if the pipes were cleaned out, and Mr. Camens said that’s his assumption. He offered to contact PennDOT about it.

Mr. Reis asked if the next drawing could show the truck template and the parking lot striping. Mr. Kohli said the next step is to develop a phasing plan for the future parking lot construction. The Planning Commission indicated they view the plans favorably and advised the applicant to make the revisions as discussed, develop the phasing scheme and return for further review as a preliminary/final land development plan.

Laurabrooke – Phoenixville Pike – Revised Sketch Plan

Ted Mondzelewski and Walter Kaupp, P.E. was present to continue discussions on the sketch plan for LauraBrooke for construction of three commercial buildings.

Mr. Churchill asked the applicant to address three areas relating to the topographical data, net vs. gross lot area calculations, and intrusion into steep slopes.

Mr. Churchill referenced comment #4 on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 6/2/09, noting that the steep slope delineation shown on the plans is from a plan approved in 1987. The applicant must provide additional details to comply with the zoning ordinance, since the requirements have changed since the approval deadline on the previous plan has lapsed. Ms. Peck asked if the topographical data itself expires, and Mr. Kohli said not unless there have been grading changes. Mr. Kohli explained what additional detail is needed, and Mr. Kaupp agreed that he can provide it.

Mr. Churchill referred to comment #4 on Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 6/3/09, which questioned the impervious coverage percentage calculation provided by the applicant. Mr. Mondzelewski disagreed with the comment, stating that the calculation should be made on total lot area and not net lot area. Mr. Kohli concurred the net lot area requirement only pertains to the farm residential district.

Mr. Churchill asked if portions of Buildings A and C parking areas and the entry drive are located in areas of very steep slopes per Mr. Theurkauf’s comment #2. Mr. Mondzelewski said only the deceleration lane is located in very steep slopes. Mr. Kohli said the slopes need to be delineated so this can be proved.

Ms. Peck asked if the stormwater will be handled in-ground and across the street as discussed previously. Mr. Mondzelewski said yes, indicating that both a storm line and the sanitary line will be run on the opposite side of the road. He said all those easements and rights of way are in place and have been recorded. He noted they have more capacity than is needed. Mr. Churchill asked about stormwater retention, and Mr. Kaupp indicated that information is shown on plan SKC100. Mr. Kohli asked who will extend the sewer line, and Mr. Mondzelewski said it would be his responsibility. Ms. Peck said the plans will have to delineate the wetlands in order to obtain permits for this work, and Mr. Mondzelewski acknowledged this.

Ms. Peck said the Planning Commission can’t comment beyond a certain point without the additional slope information.

Mrs. Gorman asked about the notations for an EOC. Mr. Mondzelewski said he met with the Fire Marshal, Fred Alston, on the road configurations for emergency services, and at that time also discussed whether he could provide a small area for the Township’s emergency operations center. He said they located an area of Building C that could accommodate it. To improve emergency access for the road, he proposes a mountable curb so emergency vehicles could drive up on the curb if needed. Mr. Churchill asked if there was room for this type of curb with the nearby retaining wall, and Mr. Mondzelewski said yes.

Ms. Peck asked why there is parking shown in the middle of the site off the connector road. Mr. Mondzelewski said there was a turnpike access road in that area anyway so they wanted to take advantage of the grade there.

Mr. Mondzelewski asked if the Planning Commission had made a determination on his request to allow 9 foot wide parking stalls instead of 10. Mr. Kohli indicated he is comfortable with 9 foot stalls. The Planning Commission agreed. Ms. Peck asked if the reduced parking area will allow for a reduction in the size of the retention basins, and Mr. Kaupp said yes.

MapleCroft Dairy Building

Resident Lance Altemose asked if there was a variance granted for the Maplecroft Building, where he said a supper club is being operated in violation of FR zoning. Mr. Kohli said the building is located in Schuylkill Township and they handle all permitting for it.

Ordinance Amendment – LED Lighting

Mr. Churchill referred to the County Planning Commission’s review letter on this ordinance amendment, suggesting the Township consider whether to allow limited use of changeable clock or temperature displays. There was a general consensus not to do so.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend the ordinance as drafted to the Board of Supervisors, and Mrs. Leland seconded. Mr. Churchill called for discussion.

The Planning Commission discussed the wording for this brief amendment to prohibit signs with illuminated or moving displays. Ms. Peck said the ordinance should include a minimum size for the prohibited signs.

Mr. Churchill amended his motion to amend the first phrase contained in proposed Section 1404.A.3 to read as follows:

“Internally illuminated signs or signs with moving text…”

Mrs. Leland seconded. Mr. Churchill called the vote. Four were in favor, and Ms. Peck abstained on the grounds that she needed more time to consider the ordinance and review the sign ordinance, and asked the Board to consider a minimum size.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Planning Commission Secretary