Mr. Westhafer moved to approve the minutes of July 13, 2010 and Mr. Motel seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Motel circulated an updated draft of the proposed amendments to the Agricultural Use section of the zoning ordinance to those present and noted that the Planning Commission members and consultants received it this afternoon. He explained that the amendments were discussed at the June and July meetings, clarifying that the existing ordinance has been on the books since the 1970’s and the Planning Commission believes updates are needed. He said the principal objections they’ve been hearing from landowners are to portions of the existing ordinance.
Mr. Motel outlined the following proposed changes:
Mr. Motel called for comments first from the Planning Commission and those members of the Board of Supervisors who were present, and then opened the floor to the public.
Mr. Allen pointed out that although the requirement in existing Section E.3 for livestock shelters to be located at least 100 feet from the property line was struck from the draft, it’s still in effect due to its placement in Article 4, Farm Residential Section 4065. Mr. Churchill questioned the phrase “any structures used for fencing of livestock” in the existing ordinance, the meaning of which is unclear.
Mr. Motel said the reason Section E was simplified as to what is specifically needed for shelter, food and water is that landowners know the needs of their animals best. As an example, he said Bill Andersen, who owns cattle, knows they don’t need any shelter even though the existing ordinance requires it.
Mr. Allen asked why commercial chicken farms or egg sales are not permitted in the Agricultural District. Mr. Motel said it wasn’t his intention to disallow these uses, rather, to expand the right to keep domestic chickens on smaller lots after the Board of Supervisors brought up that point. Mr. Theurkauf said the oversight can be remedied by expanding the definition of fowl to include “non-domestic chickens” which would mean chickens raised for commercial use. Mr. Motel said this question will be addressed.
Mr. Churchill said more time is needed to review the proposed draft, which the members received late this afternoon. He suggested only general discussion be held this evening.
Mr. Allen noted that the Table in Section A seems to have a typo in the acreage required for Fowl, which is listed as .25 acres. Mr. Theurkauf said the current acreage is .01, which is 100 fowl per acre and clearly too high. He suggested a commercial establishment might want .05 per acre, which is 20 fowl per acre.
Lisa Scottoline said the ordinance is too cumbersome and there should be no restrictions whatsoever on use of farmland. She said there’s no persuasive need to enact legislation particularly in light of the present economy when people have greater financial concerns. She said the draft ordinance is loosely written. Mr. Motel said the amendments were drafted after considering input received from 50+ landowner’s emails and meeting remarks and was constructed with broad parameters so as not to be too onerous on anyone. He noted that these types of regulations are typical of every Township in the surrounding area and are in place for consideration of health, safety and welfare. The intention is to ensure sound practices but to keep the figures based on gross acreage with the purpose of drawing an outer limit. Mr. Churchill said he supports the amendments in principal but feels the language needs improvement.
Ms. Scottoline went on to say that she pays a great deal in taxes and gets no services from the Township, including no fire or police protection. She said she loves the Township but only hears from the officials when they want money. She doesn’t want to fence in streams and the Township shouldn’t revise the ordinance simply because they have a problem with one property owner. John Muldoon objected to his name coming up at meetings and in emails and says he’s been crucified. He said he and his wife run a successful business and show horses every weekend and often win recognition. Mr. Motel clarified this ordinance is not about the Muldoon operation. Ms. Scottoline said if the Township wants open space, they need to recognize that the horse owners are accomplishing this, paying for it themselves and not getting handed any money. Mr. Motel disagreed with the last part of her statement, pointing out that many landowners received funds in exchange for conservation easements.
Ms. Scottoline said the previous discussions shouldn’t have taken place in June and July when people are on vacation. Mr. Churchill said discussions started in April and the meeting this evening was well advertised.
Nancy Baldwin asked how the acres per animal figures were arrived at. Mr. Allen said that chart has been in the ordinance for 25+ years, and other than small adjustments the only major changes was to the acreage for chickens, which was erroneous in the current ordinance. Mr. Andersen agreed that the figures seem arbitrary, particularly for beef cattle and dairy cows. Mr. Theurkauf said his family kept beef cattle for a couple of decades and considered 1 pasture acre per horse and .5 pasture acres per head of cattle to be reasonable. Water availability must be taken into account as well, although he noted he’s seen denuded pasture with higher animal density. Mr. Andersen said farming practices have changed in more recent years with the development and observance of Best Management Practices. He said landowners should be given the opportunity to exceed the maximums if they can prove they follow these BMPs.
Ms. Baldwin said the way the draft ordinance is written, it benefits wealthy landowners who have over 4 acres of property, not allowing smaller properties to have chickens. Ms. Baldwin said she has letters from two property owners in the Historic Village requesting smaller properties be allowed chickens. Mr. Motel pointed out that the draft allows properties over 80,000 sq. ft (about 2 acres) to have chickens and the existing ordinance is actually more restrictive. He said they want to take a small step first. Ms. Baldwin said in the City of Seattle, people are allowed to keep 8 chickens and said smaller lot owners in Charlestown are being discriminated against. Holly Bernhard suggested allowing a smaller number of chickens on the smaller lots.
Richard Hevner said the ordinance draft should be broken down into different categories, one for the riparian buffer issue and another to include properties over 24.99 acres in the agricultural regulations. He said his 23 acre farm is registered in the Agricultural Security Area and he’s permitted to have roosters. Mr. Motel again pointed out the restriction to hens only is for properties less than 4 acres. He said the ordinance language was drafted after consulting with the Township Solicitor, who reviewed the Nutrient Management Act, Clean Streams Law, Right to Farm Act and ACRE law and found no conflicts that could lead to a successful legal challenge.
Jessica Whitely asked if testing had been done to prove the streams in Charlestown are degraded and in need of buffering and fencing. Mr. Motel said no, but it’s a safe assumption that animals relieving themselves in the streams is detrimental to water quality. Ms. Whitely said she worked in the heavily regulated chemical industry, and any impacts had to be tested and proven. Mr. Motel said he’d be happy to arrange for testing, although he said the Clean Streams Law was based on the general need to protect streams from the adverse effects caused by animals, a source of non-point pollution due to run off.
April Flipse said she worked for the DEP for 15 years on hazardous materials cleanup, and tested many streams bordering Doylestown. There are no farm animals there, yet high fecal coliform numbers exist due to the geese population. Mr. Allen said in that area that’s probably true, and Mr. Motel added although that may be a problem here as well, it doesn’t mean pollution from horses and cattle shouldn’t be addressed. Ms. Flipse said a lot of what enters a stream isn’t from runoff but infiltrated ground water. Mr. Theurkauf said most transmission is across the surface; otherwise no in-ground septic system would properly function.
Mr. Motel asked the landowners’ opinions as to whether stream health would be improved by buffering. Ms. Whitely said there would be no discernable difference because there is still wildlife and the effect from humans. Mr. Muldoon said PennDOT is running a huge pipe into the Pigeon Creek that brings in silt, road salt and dirt. The pipe is on his property and is blowing the side of his bank off. Mr. Motel said assuming that’s the case, how does it excuse him from the need to prevent nutrient loading from his livestock? Mr. Muldoon said he’s had a post and rail fence as a buffer for over a year. Mr. Motel pointed out to those present that the Muldoons’ situation is different than most others present because they accepted open space funds, which imposed certain conditions on them. Some of the conditions have been met while others are still being worked on. Shannon Muldoon objected to Mr. Motel’s assessment that they are overloading their property. Mr. Motel asked them if they’re in compliance with the French & Pickering Creeks Trust easement conditions, and Ms. Muldoon said no. Mr. Motel asked when they closed on the agreement, and she said May of 2005.
Jim Cracas said a 25 foot buffer is an arbitrary number, and it wouldn’t mitigate the effect of heavy rain after a dry spell, which would create a great deal of runoff and cause more pollutants to enter the streams. He said the Township wants all its property owners to stop having horses, when property value is greatly enhanced by what people refer to as “horse country”. He said he’s spent a fortune on his property to preserve it as open space and he wants open space with a certain look to it that creates value. Mr. Motel said he didn’t follow Mr. Cracas’ logic that a 25 foot buffer requirement will end horse farming in Charlestown. Ms. Scottoline said the Planning Commission should produce studies and convince the landowners these onerous and costly measures are necessary. She said the fencing requirement is abhorrent and she would never be able to sell her property if she fenced her stream. Also, it’s bad for wildlife. Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission has been eliciting dialog on this subject for several years and has been educating themselves on the topic all that time.
Ms. Andersen referred to a farm in Pughtown that is overgrazed and denuded, where animals graze right up to the water. She pointed out that animals don’t foul streams if they have other water sources available.
Mr. Cracas asked how to control invasive species with a vegetative buffer. Mr. Motel said the draft ordinance doesn’t eliminate the property owner’s ability to cut the area or allow limited grazing. Ms. Flipse asked why not have the ordinance incorporate BMPs? Mr. Motel said Section G, Riparian Buffer Areas, does allow the landowner to produce a plan endorsed by the Conservation District. Also, the ordinance allows a one year period to phase in compliance. He said the Conservation District is an awesome resource and anyone can get plan assistance from them. Mr. Andersen asked if existing farms are grandfathered from the proposed regulations, and Mr. Motel said no, because it’s a health and safety issue.
Mr. Motel said a lot of legislation entails finding a balance point. He said he read the Clean Streams Act and it calls for more buffering. He assumed the water in most need of protection would be perennial streams, so he focused on those rather than seasonal streams or farm ponds, which are excepted. The draft language is only concerned with offsite impact. He reiterated he’s willing to arrange for stream testing.
A question was asked as to whether testing can identify the specific types of pollution present, whether from animal waste or fertilizer. Ms. Whitely said an EPA accredited lab can distinguish pollutants. Mr. Motel added that the Planning Commission has also looked at a model ordinance for fertilizer, and noted that Deerfield has a stipulation in its homeowners' association documents that allows only organic fertilizers. He said he’ll follow Mr. Kohli’s advice on where to send samples for testing, and noted that absent Planning Commission member Andre von Hoyer, who works for the EPA, has advised them to observe the proper weather conditions necessary to get good testing results. Ms. Flipse suggested some of these test results may already exist and be available for review.
Mr. Hevner asked if those present could email the Planning Commission with additional comments and suggestions following the meeting, and Mr. Motel invited them to do so, asking everyone to re-read the draft amendments.
Mr. Cracas asked who would enforce the ordinance and what the fines and penalties would be. Mr. Motel said the Zoning Officer is the enforcement agent, and can visit a property following notification to the landowner. Mr. Theurkauf said the Second Class Township Code indicates the procedure for issuing fines and penalties.
Alix Coleman said other townships are rating animals by weight and age; otherwise a foal is counted as a full grown horse. Mr. Motel said they thought it was fairer not to include this detail in the ordinance. Mr. Churchill said property owners wouldn’t want township officials coming around to get this information.
Mr. Allen said the Planning Commission wants to bring this issue to closure soon, and recommended appointing a subcommittee of its members along with a few property owners.
Mr. Richter encouraged constructive suggestions that will enhance the final product, noting that verbal attacks aren’t helpful. He said he traveled 2 ½ hours to the meeting this evening during his vacation because he thought the issue was so important, adding that if it’s important to landowners they need to do the same.
Mr. Churchill said the current ordinance needs adjustment and the Planning Commission thought they should take the opportunity to improve it and provide more balance. He said they’ve seen evidence that stream buffering is important for stream quality and they recognize something must be done. He noted that the total load of animals and how to deal with buffers are two different issues, and the Planning Commission knows the farm owners have both knowledge and experience and should be encouraged to share it.
Mr. Hevner asked if the Township enforces the existing ordinance, and Mr. Kuhn said yes. The Township doesn’t actively look for violations but responds when complaints are made.
Mr. Motel called a recess at 8:55 p.m. and reconvened the meeting at 9:10 p.m.
John Mostoller was present from Dewey LP to update the Commission on the latest developments on the road connection between TND 1, including Spring Oak, and TND 2. Mr. Allen said of two connection points proposed between TND Areas 1 & 2, the Design Review Committee preferred one presented by Mr. Motel and asked the applicant to develop it. Mr. Mostoller displayed a sketch plan showing this option, which included a traffic circle that was reduced from 50 feet in diameter to 20 feet. He referred to a circle in Haverford that is 20 feet and showed a picture. That circle has landscaping in the center, which he is not proposing here. Instead they propose brick pavers in the center with mountable (rolled) curb for access to emergency vehicles. He said he received comments from Mr. Kohli and Mr. Allen suggesting the entrance to Area 2 be increased to a 20 foot cartway rather than 16 feet. This way, when Area 2 is developed in the future, no widening will be needed.
Mr. Allen suggested that something be placed in the center of the traffic circle for aesthetics. Mr. Comitta said low shrubs could also be done. Mr. Motel suggested leaving discussion open on a treatment for the center and Mr. Mostoller said they can include something in the final design. There was some discussion on the traffic circle itself, with Mr. Motel noting that people in Pennsylvania aren’t as used to them since they’re less common. Mr. Comitta suggested pavement arrows be added to the plan to indicate the direction of travel. Mr. Motel said the material presented tonight showed a good result.
Tim Townes, Perry Morgan and Andy Eberwein P.E. gave a PowerPoint presentation updating the Planning Commission on the progress on the Preliminary Plans for Tyler Griffin, which are now under review with the Design Review Committee. Mr. Allen said the intention this evening is to re-introduce the Planning Commission to the site and solicit comments and suggestions to be worked into the preliminary plans. The presentation included the following:
|1||1||Site Plan||Mr. Townes said the utilities, stormwater management and PennDOT issues have
been worked out. PennDOT has reduced their taking to the absolute minimum, which Mr. Eberwein
estimated at .2 acres. Mr. Townes said this allowed them to stay at 76 units.
Mr. Townes said the plan is similar to the original sketch plan, following the contours of the site and using the buildings themselves as retaining walls, with some uphill and downhill units. There are two entrances, one from Charlestown Road and one from Phoenixville Pike.
Mr. Eberwein said that due to PennDOT’s revised plan, they can now conform to the 100 foot setback requirement for all dwellings.
|2||2||Equivalent Lot Plan||Mr. Townes said the plan will be a condominium plan, so this equivalent lot plan was developed as a reference to demonstrate they can comply with the ordinance.|
|3||3||Truck Turning Plan||Mr. Townes said they worked with Fire Marshal Fred Alston to determine that the largest fire trucks serving Charlestown can maneuver in the development, although they will have to jump the curb if they need to enter the alleys. He said hydrants will be located on the main streets.|
|4||5||Overall Conservation & Grading Plan||Mr. Townes said they will save some perennial trees on the site and adjacent to the Great Valley School District property. Mr. Eberwein said the plan works with the grades rather than fighting them.|
|5||5a||Stormwater Plan||Mr. Townes pointed out the underground storage and recharge basins on the plans. He said if PennDOT builds their stormwater system first, it will be removed when the development is constructed. The development plan will manage PennDOT’s stormwater as well as its own.|
|6||13,14 15||Preliminary Utility Plan||Mr. Townes said these sheets show the gas, electric and water services to the development.|
|Image||Sheet||Title||Remarks by Perry Morgan|
|1||3||Site Context||The buildings as retaining walls create aesthetic design opportunities.|
|2||4||Aerial View||The site is wooded but most of the trees aren’t long-established high quality specimens.|
|3||5||Illustrative Site Plan|
|5||10||Open Space||A substantial amount of open space was saved, providing parks and passive areas, extending the Horseshoe Trail and including an exercise trail and town green.|
|9||14||Parking Plan||There are 454 parking spaces. Each unit has 2 garage and 2 driveway spaces. There’s additional parking along the streets and alleys and for the commercial space. Parking is hidden, in character and in scale with the community.|
|13||20||Entry Feature – Primary||An elegant brick and stone entry feature is proposed for the main entrance off Phoenixville Pike, with landscaped brick pavers to calm traffic near the entrance.|
|15||22||Secondary Entry Feature||The secondary entrance is off Charlestown Road.|
|18||25||Community Recreation||This area is about ½ acre in size.|
|19||27||Community Plaza||The Plaza is located adjacent to the mailbox station.|
|20||28||Mailbox||The Mailbox Station was designed in keeping with a historic town post office building.|
|21||29||Commercial Area||This area is extensively buffered.|
|22||30||Commercial Character Sketch||The 5,000 sq. ft. building will be residential in character.|
|23||33||Lighting Plan||Lighting is subdued while providing for function and safety, minimizing the impact of ambient light.|
|24||39||Site Details: AC Units|
|26||54||Street Tree Plan||A variety of deciduous and evergreen trees are selected to provide year-round color.|
|27||55||Alley Tree Plan||Alley trees are more columnar to fit the smaller streetscape.|
|28||56||Buffer Tree Plan|
|30||67||Unit Diversity||Deep complementary colors will be mixed for unit diversity.|
|33||70||Character Sketch: Architectural|
|34||71||Architectural Character: Façade & Material|
|42||80||Streetscape Elevation||Shows elevations for Bldgs 1-4|
|43||81||Streetscape Elevation||Shows elevations for Bldgs 21-24 along Phoenixville Pike|
|44||82||Streetscape Elevation||Shows elevations for Bldgs 6-21 along Charlestown Road|
|45||96||Building 1 (elevations)||Shows townhouse elevations for building 1.|
|46||97||Building 1 (plans)|
|47||105||Building 4 (elevations)||Shows Twin home elevations for building 4.|
|48||106||Building 4 (plans)|
|49||111||Building 6 (elevations)|
|50||126||Building 11 (elevations)|
|51||156||Building 21 (elevations)|
Mr. Motel called for questions.
Mr. Westhafer complimented the clear presentation. He asked about grading in the alleys for the garages where they step down the hill. Mr. Eberwein said small walls will be placed between them.
Mr. Churchill asked how long the driveways are, and Mr. Eberwein said most are between 22-25 feet, with a few as long as 30 feet.
Mr. Westhafer asked where the stormwater infiltration areas are in the grass areas, and Mr. Eberwein said there’s a basin in the recreation area, under the village green and under the paths. Mr. Westhafer confirmed there will be no stone or gravel for stormwater infiltration.
Mr. Comitta asked why some open areas aren’t included in the total open space acreage. Mr. Eberwein said they’re bonus areas that are part of the lot equivalent areas.
Mr. Westhafer said the community gardens are close for five or so units but asked how others will get there. Mr. Townes said there’s a parking facility adjacent to it and a dumpster provided for the gardeners’ use.
Mr. Churchill asked for the typical square footage of the units. Mr. Townes said the 26 foot wide units are about 2,150 sq. ft. and the 36 foot wide units are 2,700 sq. feet with bonus rooms available for additional space.
Mr. Churchill asked if there’s an anticipated use for the commercial building, and Mr. Townes said no. He said they could envision a retail use if TND Area 2 starts development.
Mr. Churchill asked about a sidewalk link to the Elementary School, which Mr. Townes pointed out.
Mr. Richter said noise from the school’s bus depot should be taken into account. Mr. Townes said they plan to meet with the School District to discuss this and transportation issues.
Mr. Allen said the Design Review Committee welcomes any feedback from the Planning Commission now before the preliminary plans are further developed. He referenced a spreadsheet he prepared listing outstanding items to address in preparation for the Preliminary Plans. Items were addressed as follows:
|Item #6||Does the Planning Commission support the waiver request to allow 9’ x 18’ parking stalls?||Yes|
|Item #7||Does it agree to allow both parallel and perpendicular parking to the alleys?||Yes, if workable and safe.|
|Item #8||Should a waiver be allowed from constructing a sidewalk on the South Side of Road B?||Yes, it’s not needed there and its elimination reduces total impervious coverage.|
|Item #9||Should a waiver permit 3 dead ends to alleys?||Yes, there’s no major value to cutting through, as long as safety issues are met with regard to trash truck access and areas to be marked “no parking”.|
|Item #13||Mr. Allen said the last revision to the TND ordinance changed the setback for commercial buildings from the road right of way to 100 feet. Mr. Townes said that’s in the base zoning, as the overlay no longer addresses it. He said it used to be 20 feet in the TND district.||Mr. Comitta determined the setback should be 35 feet from the future PennDOT road right of way. This item will require an amendment to the TND ordinance.|
|Item #20||Mr. Allen said the building setbacks should be 10 feet from the outside edge of the sidewalk. The ordinance currently states 10 feet from the curb. Mr. Eberwein said this can’t be met along curves and for some units depending on the grading needs. He said they’d like to see an ordinance change to allow 15% of the units to exceed the ten feet.||Mr. Comitta indicated this would be acceptable.|
|Item #21||Mr. Allen indicated the applicant is waiting for PennDOT to finalize their agreements.|
|Item #22||Mr. Townes indicated they’ll meet with the School District to work out the connections to the Elementary School.|
|Item #23||There was discussion on whether the exercise trail width should be increased from 5 feet to 8 feet to accommodate bikes.||Leave at 5 feet.|
|Item #24||Should there be a fence for the tot lot?||No, leave unfenced.|
|Item #25||Location of the mailbox enclosure.||There was some discussion on whether it should be moved as it might cause traffic problems from people driving there instead of walking. It was determined this shouldn’t be a problem and will remain as shown.|
|Item #26||Air condition unit locations||It was agreed the locations are suitable as rooftop units would create a maintenance problem as time goes by.|
|Item #27||The lighting plan was based on the parameters for Spring Oak.||Mr. Churchill noted light pollution may be more of an issue here and should be kept in mind.|
|Item #28||Remove white garage doors.||The DRC indicated they don’t want to permit any white garage doors.|
|Item #29||All porch trim is white.||Mr. Morgan said this unifies the units and ties them together since the other features such as siding and roofing vary in color. Mr. Frens pointed out the finish is matte and not glossy, which improves the appearance.|
|Item #30||The plan shows a 25% slope for the sidewalk leading to Phoenixville Pike.||Mr. Townes pointed out the sidewalk meanders and is not a 25% slope. Point A to Point B is 25% but not the sidewalk as shown.|
|Item #31||Add “buyer Beware” language to the HOA documents regarding noise from the bus depot and asphalt plant.|
|Item #32||Add recycling requirements to the HOA documents.|
|Item #33||School pick up points||Mr. Townes said the buses will pick up students at the two entrances. Mr. Allen said he wasn’t comfortable with the buses stopping on these two busy streets. Mr. Eberwein said they can discuss this with the School District when they meet.|
Mr. Motel explained that the proposed sign ordinance amendment originated with the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Churchill said the ordinance seems to have been proposed primarily to solve the problem of realtors placing directional signs on others’ properties in the right of way and insisting they have the right to do so. He suggested adding an amendment to the existing sign ordinance to indicate that homeowners are permitted to remove signs placed on their property within the road right of way.
Mr. Motel said he communicated to the Supervisors that the proposed amendment is ill conceived and he objects to them initiating ordinances without the Planning Commission’s involvement. He distributed a draft that he marked up to provide exceptions to the Board’s more stringent language. He said that any sign ordinance needs to be enforced uniformly.
Mr. Churchill made a motion to recommend that the ordinance not be passed in its current form as it is inadvisable, not well thought out and should be tabled. Further, before moving forward with a draft, problems should be identified so the ordinance is not overly broad and can be integrated with the wishes of the private property owner. The Planning Commission should then be asked to proceed with a draft. Mr. Richter seconded the motion.
Mr. Motel called for discussion. Mr. Comitta suggested Mr. Motel’s amendments to the draft be shown to the Supervisors so they can see what is currently incomplete on their draft. Mr. Motel asked Mr. Comitta to draft a further revision.
Mr. Motel called for a role call vote, which was as follows:
Mrs. Leland – aye
Mr. Churchill – aye
Mr. Richter – aye
Mr. Allen – aye
Mr. Westhafer - aye
Mr. Motel - aye
Mr. Motel said a solar ordinance is needed soon as there’s been some interest expressed recently for solar uses in the commercial district. Mr. Churchill said the current draft doesn’t allow solar structures on accessory structures in the residential districts, only on the principal structure. He said many people have appropriate accessory structures such as barns or garages where they should be allowed. Mr. Motel asked Dan Wright to re-work the draft for review at the October 12th meeting.
The Planning Commission acknowledged that wind generation is a complicated technical issue. Mr. Motel again asked that Mr. Wright re-work the current draft for review October 12th.
Mr. Motel asked Dan Wright to follow up with review comments to Tredyffrin Township on the Final Act 537 Plan for the Valley Creek Trunk Sewer (VCTS).
The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 p.m.