Andy Motel, Chairman, Wendy Leland (arrived later), Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Michael Richter, Andre von Hoyer, Bill Westhafer, Surender Kohli, P.E., Dan Wright, P.E., Tom Comitta (arrived later), Ed Theurkauf, Linda Csete and those on the attached list.

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.

Announcements -


Approval of September 14, 2010 Minutes

Mr. Allen had a correction for page 6, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence, to read, “Mr. Allen suggested that something be placed in the center of the traffic circle for aesthetics.”

With that change, Mr. Allen moved to approve the minutes of Sept. 14, 2010 and Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Six were in favor.


Whitehorse Estates – Sketch Plan

Andy Eberwein of E.B. Walsh & Associates Inc. presented a sketch plan for Carol Altemose and Lance Altemose proposing a 25 lot subdivision of their property at Whitehorse & Ashenfelter Roads on approximately 58 gross acres. Mr. Eberwein circulated a rendering of the plan and said it would be an open space development with most of the open space, 26.923 acres, staying with the existing historic home. He said the open space acreage exceeds the required amount. An additional 1.68 acres of open space is located in an internal loop road serving most of the remaining 24 lots. There’s also a shorter cul de sac road serving a few of those lots.

(Mrs. Leland arrived at this time.) Mr. Eberwein addressed comments in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 9/13/2010 as follows:

Mr. Kohli indicated that the property is not within the public water franchise area but the sketch indicates they propose public water for the development. Mr. Eberwein asked about the process to obtain access, which Mr. Kohli said would be to petition the Board of Supervisors for approval to expand the public water service franchise.

Mrs. Leland asked why some of the building envelopes aren’t shown. Mr. Eberwein said they only showed envelopes for the narrower lots to demonstrate how they would fit. The homes are proposed to be about 5,000 sq. ft. in size.

Mrs. Leland asked why the house orientation on corner Lot #7 was not shown, and Mr. Eberwein said they wanted to give the buyer the option of which road the house would face.

Mrs. Leland asked what will be done with the green space in the center of the loop road. Mr. Eberwein said it would be a passive open area with landscaping.

Mr. Churchill asked what the zoning requirements are if public water is not approved, and Mr. Eberwein said he didn’t know. Mr. Churchill cautioned him not to assume that public water access would be granted.

Mr. Churchill said that instead of retaining all the open space with the homestead, some should be provided for the new homes. Mr. Eberwein pointed out the ordinance permits this open space configuration for historic properties. Mr. Churchill said he’d like to see this change, as the homes will look unattractive in the relatively flat area and they have no amenities. He said the design is not an attribute to the community as it’s been presented and that the existing magnificent homestead doesn’t reflect its character and quality to the new development.

Mr. Westhafer questioned whether the intent of the ordinance is being served, which is to allow the open space to remain with a homestead lot in order to minimize the visual impact to it and to protect the existing scenic values of the property along with the viewshed. Mr. Eberwein said setting the property line for the homestead along the existing ridge line made sense as a separator.

Mr. Westhafer said that the backs of houses will be seen from the public streets and that a green buffer along both roads, including a walking trail, would decrease the intrusiveness. Mr. Eberwein said there’s dense vegetation along Whitehorse Road already, and they’ll plant landscape buffers along Ashenfelter. He said berms could be created within the property lines.

Mr. Westhafer asked why the small cul de sac road is a straight road that makes it the main road of the development. Mr. Eberwein said this was to calm and slow traffic, but Mr. Westhafer said it will make unaware drivers wander into the cul de sac.

Mr. Allen questioned the number of lots, saying he believes the ordinance allows 24 total, not 25. Mr. Eberwein said the ordinance was unclear on this point, and that they’re o.k. with losing a lot if the ordinance requires it.

Mr. Allen said as a procedural note that the Planning Commission likes to see the outlines of the neighboring properties on sketch plans to put them in context with the proposed subdivision. He also asked that the abutting Schuylkill Township neighbors across Ashenfelter Road be notified by the Charlestown Township office the next time a sketch is submitted, or at least notify the Schuylkill Township office so they can do so.

Mr. Allen said some of the lots, including lots 2, 20 and 21, are too narrow. He noted that Lot 24 is very close to busy Whitehorse Road and suggests this lot be removed so the other lots can be spread out. Mr. Eberwein agreed this could be a solution.

Mr. Allen said they should reconsider a 2nd entrance to the development. He said each house generates 10 trips a day on average, which translates to 200 cars moving in and out of the development each day. They exit onto Whitehorse Road from a dead stop and cars are moving fast on that road. He noted that Charlestown Township has petitioned Schuylkill Township several times to jointly request a 3-way stop at Ashenfelter and Whitehorse Road but they have been unresponsive. Mr. Eberwein said if it’s necessary they can place a road off Ashenfelter between Whitehorse Road and the existing Altemose driveway.

Mr. von Hoyer asked to confirm that the open space land would be privately owned by the applicant, and Mr. Eberwein said yes. He then asked if the utilities would be underground, and Mr. Eberwein said yes.

Mr. Richter asked if there will be room on each lot for a well, septic system and back up septic site, and Mr. Eberwein responded they won’t know until the testing is performed.

Mr. Richter asked if there will be a pull in area for school buses. Mr. Eberwein said they’re proposing the interior roads be dedicated to the Township, although Planning Commission members said this doesn’t necessarily guarantee school buses will enter.

Mr. Churchill said the neighboring development of Whitehorse Meadows created real value by designing larger lots, and he asked if this was considered for this site. Mr. Eberwein said he had not been asked to consider it. Mr. Motel said the Dixon property called Ashwood on Pikeland Road has become a great looking community with 50,000 sq. ft. lots. He cautioned however that impervious coverage limits can be reached quickly when adding amenities such as pools and landscaping pavers. Regarding a previous question on conservation development, he noted for the applicants that the nearby Thompson property is proposing large farm lots and that this was determined to be the highest and best use for the land.

Mr. Allen said there’s an open space area at Ashwood that people are seen using frequently. Mr. Motel added it’s a little less than an acre in size.

Mr. Kohli said that if buffers are planned along the exterior roads to be sure not to include them as part of the lots in order to give them continuity. Mr. Eberwein asked how wide the buffer should be, and Mr. Kohli said 50 feet. Mr. Eberwein asked why the buffer couldn’t be included as part of the individual lots by placing easements on it, and Mr. Kohli said the Township has had problems with this in the past.

Lance Altemose responded to two of the comments this evening. He noted that the Three Ponds development, consisting of 26 lots, has only one entrance. He also noted that the adjacent Michael Main property (Whitehorse Meadows) was granted access to public water. Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission is simply pointing out that extension of the franhise should not be assumed, but they may petition the supervisors for public water if they wish.

Mr. Allen said the County Planning Commission is discouraging cul-de-sacs and encouraging communities to have two access roads. He said cul-de-sacs tend to divide communities into sections that segregate them. He also said he’d like to see trails in this development provide connections to other trails.

The applicant will return with a revised sketch plan.

(Mr. Comitta arrived at this time.)

Thompson Sketch Plan

Bob Showalter of Showalter & Associates was present along with Ben Thompson and Jerry Thompson to discuss their proposed conservation subdivision plan.

Mr. Showalter gave the following PowerPoint presentation:

1 Aerial View: The plan showed the location of Whitehorse Road, Route 29, Tinkerhill Lane, Tinkerhill Road, Creek Road and the Pickering Golf Course. The proposed development straddles Charlestown and Schuylkill Townships with a total of 372 acres and 23 lots. 200 Acres are in Charlestown and 172 in Schuylkill.
2 Overall Conceptual Plan: The plan depicted the individual lots in green. 12 lots are in Charlestown, of which 11 are new and 1 existing. In Schuylkill, 11 lots are proposed, nine of which are new with 2 existing. Of the 23 lots, the average lot size is 16.18 acres for a density of .061 dwellings per acre.
3 Steep Slopes Plan: The plan delineates steep slopes and very steep slopes. Mr. Showalter pointed out that the very steep slopes are mainly on lot 1 in the area of the former railroad tracks, and the steep slopes are mostly around the extremities of the site.
4 Lot Layout Plan: This plan shows the house envelopes and lot layouts. Mr. Showalter said some conditional use approvals will be needed for either the houses or portions of the road construction. He noted that Lot 21 will be accessed from Mine Road from an existing easement, although it also has access from the proposed development road.
5 Illustrative Plan: This rendering shows the location of trees and of an old logging road that will be made into a driveway serving two of the parcels.
6 Overall Trail Plan: Mr. Showalter said the trails will be developed in two phases so the golf course can operate for as long as possible before phase 2 is constructed.

Mr. Showalter then addressed comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 9/28/10:

Item #1: Summary remarks only; no comments needed.

Item #2: Mr. Showalter recognizes the need for conditional use approval to allow conventional development rather than an open space development.

Item #3: Summary remarks only; no comments needed.

Item #4: Mr. Showalter agreed to dimension the flag portions of lots 3 and 4 to meet the minimum 50 foot lot width at the street line.

Item #5: Mr. Showalter said feasibility of onsite sanitary and water facilities will be provided, stating they’ve already performed detailed testing with the County Health Department and have located their back up sites for the septic systems. He said the planning modules have also been prepared and will be submitted as required.

Item #6: Mr. Showalter stated the requested drawings to show critical environmental areas were brought to the meeting this evening. He referred to Mr. Kohli’s supplemental review letter dated 10/12/10 and pointed out areas of steep and very steep slopes on Lot 1 and 19 that can’t be completed avoided. He pointed out other lots that will require conditional use approval for steep slope disturbance, most of which are minor intrusions. Mr. Motel asked for the size of the building envelopes, and Mr. Showalter said 1.5 acres. Mr. Kohli noted that for the preliminary plan, 2 foot contours will be required on the topographical plan. Mr. Allen said the house on Lot 19 could be moved to the north to diminish steep slope encroachment.

Item #7: Mr. Showalter said they’ll provide the Environmental Impact Assessment Report at the preliminary plan phase as required. Ben Thompson asked for clarification on what must be included in the EIA Report. He asked if some items can be waived, but after some discussion Mr. Motel indicated the report should be complete, noting that much of the preparation has already been done.

Item #8: Mr. Showalter agreed that the stormwater management designs would be completed for the proposed roadway at the preliminary plan phase. He said that each property owner will provide an individual plan at the time of building permit submission. He said testing on each lot for infiltration feasibility has already been done. He said they may want to have some above ground systems since room is available.

Item #9: Mr. Showalter clarified that the square footage indicated is for maximum disturbance and not maximum building coverage.

Item #10: Ben Thompson clarified that 19 new homes, not 23 as stated in the note, would be built. He agreed that the lots will be restricted from further subdivision.

Item #11: No comment needed, summary remarks only.

Item #12: Mr. Motel suggested addressing this note in conjunction with Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum. Mrs. Leland asked for the diameter of the turnaround at the end of Tinkerhill Road, and Mr. Showalter responded 100 feet.

Item #13: Mr. Showalter agreed to provide a 24 foot cartway width leading up to the cul-de-sac.

Item #14: Mr. Showalter agreed there would be flush curb except where the road grade exceeds 10%, in which case there will be vertical curb.

Item #15: Mr. Showalter said the conceptual soils testing locations have been identified and agreed they will be provided with the Preliminary Plan submission.

Item #16: Mr. Showalter said the dashed line bisecting Lot 22, along with a second line elsewhere on the plan, was added at North American Land Trust’s (NALT) request to delineate the buildable areas of the site, where all the new homes will be located. He said it can be removed. Ben Thompson agreed, noting that NALT has agreed to that delineation now and it doesn’t need to be shown any longer.

Item #17: Mr. Showalter said they have evidence that the existing mine shafts were properly sealed and they can provide the methodology with the preliminary plan submission.

Item #18: Mr. Showalter said this requirement for a plan note indicating the building envelopes act as deed restrictions against buildings outside of the envelope can be incorporated with the note referred to in Item #9. Mr. Churchill asked to confirm that accessory structures are permitted in the eased areas, and Mr. Motel said NALT is permitting it. The building envelope is for the primary residence. Mr. Churchill said he doesn’t mind small structures outside the envelope but would be concerned with more a substantial structure such as a barn in a heavily wooded area. Ben Thompson said there will be a specific conservation easement drafted for each lot depending on its needs. No large barns will be permitted in wooded areas. Mr. Kuhn said he was comfortable with NALT, the Township and the Thompson family coming to an understanding on this.

Item #19: Mr. Showalter said a plan showing the trails and the path system was brought this evening. He clarified there would be no formal sidewalks. He showed the location of the trails, to be developed in two phases. Mr. Churchill asked if they would allow for equestrian use. Ben Thompson said he believed so but noted this would be in the Homeowners’ Association’s control. Mr. Motel said part of the conservation agreement with the Township was that the public would have access to the trails. He wanted to clarify that no elaborate improvements are needed, and wanted that point to be understood this evening before the plan moves further along. Mr. Churchill said some stabilization, i.e., stones, will be needed in a few locations to make the trails useable. He said the trails are an important element of this plan and that access to them is important for the surrounding properties. Ben Thompson said they’ll be accessible to the properties from both Tinkerhill Lane and Tinkerhill Road. Mr. Motel said the trails should be clearly marked and there should be a way for people to get to them. Ben Thompson said they wanted the trails to border the property lines and not traverse the properties in order to give the homeowners some privacy. Mr. Allen noted that the placement puts them very near outside neighbors’ backyards. Mr. Motel said the intent was to make the trails attractive so the lots would be marketable to equestrian users. He understands Mr. Thompson’s concerns about placing trails further onto the properties from an intrusion standpoint and disturbance of any horses.

Mr. Motel addressed the question of connecting the two Tinkerhills. He referred to excerpts from previous minutes where this was discussed, and noted that Mr. Theurkauf’s review comment #4 indicates the Planning Commission had decided not to connect them, but no formal vote had been taken. The main argument for connecting them was for safety. Tinkerhill Road exits to Creek Road, which frequently floods throughout the year and ices in the winter. The present sketch plan shows an emergency connection only, not a through road. He said he feels this resolves the safety issue while negating concerns about cut-through traffic. He asked for comments from the other planning commission members.

Mr. Allen said he preferred a full connection, as he stated in the March 2009 minutes. He said cut through traffic wouldn’t be a problem and the alternative is a cul-de-sac that exceeds 1,000 feet and requires a waiver from the ordinance. He said if the connection is to be for emergency only, it should be upgraded and not left as a field with some distance across. Ben Thompson said when the Route 29 bridge at the Ice Dam was being reconstructed, the Thompson family gave emergency access at times when a second bridge to the north was shut down due to winter conditions. Mr. Allen re-stated his preference that the two Tinkerhills be formally connected as a through road. As an aside, he asked if Schuylkill Township was still planning to purchase Lots 8 & 9 for a township park. Ben Thompson said they’re no longer actively pursuing this.

Mrs. Leland said the two Tinkerhills should not be connected, taking neighbors’ concerns into consideration. She said there would definitely be cut-through traffic, and emergency access makes more sense. Mr. Churchill agreed, provided the emergency access was truly usable. Mr. Westhafer, Mr. von Hoyer and Mr. Richter concurred. Mr. Richter said it was in the community’s best interest to provide an emergency access but a through road would be unwelcome with the volume and speed of traffic.

Mr. Motel agreed with the majority, noting Mr. Allen as the lone dissenter. He said this matter is now settled as a 6-1 vote and the issue shouldn’t be discussed again.

Mr. Allen noted that in the past there was discussion about providing access to Union Hill Road from Lot 1 and this should not be permitted. The other members concurred.

Mr. Allen said Lot 21 connects to Mine Road and also to the new development and asked why. Ben Thompson said they want to allow the buyer to decide which access is preferred and at that time the alternate access will be extinguished.

Jill Maher, Tinkerhill Road, asked what is planned at the top of Tinkerhill Road. Mr. Showalter said there will be a cul-de-sac.

Mr. Showalter asked if there was a consensus from the Planning Commission that they are ready to proceed with a preliminary plan submission, and Mrs. Leland responded yes.

Mr. Motel called for a five minute recess.

Proposed Amendment of ZO Section 1614: Agricultural Uses

Mr. Motel explained that the process to review the Agricultural Use section of the Zoning Ordinance began in May. The Planning Commission discussed various portions of the ordinance at the June, July and September meetings, during which time comments were solicited from the farm community. He said on 9/30/10 he circulated the new state regulations on riparian buffers to a group of farm property owners along with the Planning Commission, supervisors and consultants. He consulted the Township Solicitor about the new regulations and suggested tabling this discussion until later in the meeting, addressing other agricultural use issues first.

He said Section 1614 of the Zoning Ordinance has been unchanged since the 1970’s, and it contains an inexplicable omission of lots over 24.99 acres in size from all agricultural use regulations. In addition, some minor adjustments to the number of various animal types permitted on a lot have now been proposed, along with a separate new ordinance section to allow chickens (hens only) on smaller properties.

Mr. Motel said he discussed the impact of various state regulations on the proposed amendments with the Solicitor, Mark Thompson. These included the Agricultural Security Act, ACRE Law, and Nutrient Management Act. Mr. Motel said the solicitor was comfortable with the animal numbers proposed and with the inclusion of properties over 25 acres in size. Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission wants the Township to have the ability to exercise some control if complaints from neighbors are received while allowing farm property owners some latitude. To this end, they felt they should continue to base animal numbers on gross acreage but should change the ordinance to include 25+ acre properties under the regulations.

Section 1614 was discussed as follows:

Section 1614.A.

Mr. Motel polled the Planning Commission as to whether properties over 25 acres should be included under Section 1614 and the response was unanimously yes. Ben Thompson asked to confirm that the agricultural zoning is still based on requiring a minimum of four acres and when Mr. Motel said yes, Mr. Thompson indicated he was comfortable with the proposed change.

Number of acres required per animal was then discussed. Mr. Churchill asked if the current number of acres for 1 swine, 1.0, was a typo in Mr. Motel’s 10/11/10 memo under Part III. Mr. Kohli confirmed it is a typo and should read 0.1 acres. Other changes included changing the acres required as follows:

Dairy and Beef Cows – require 1.0 acre per animal instead of 1.5
Swine and Sheep – require .1 acre per animal instead of .15
Poultry – remove this category and separate into Fowl and Chickens
Fowl – add this category and require .05 acres per animal
Chickens – add this category and require .02 acres per animal

There were no further comments on this section.

Section 1614.B.

Mr. Motel said that Mr. Theurkauf added a provision that no manure can be stored within 100 feet of steep or very steep slopes.

Section 1614.C.

Mr. Motel indicated the revised draft removes the provision that the premises shall be subject to inspection by the Zoning Officer and instead prohibits livestock or poultry from being permitted at large.

Section 1614.D Shelter and Fenced Area Requirements

Mr. Motel said the draft ordinance proposes removing the shelter requirements and focuses instead on pasture conditions. At the September meeting, resident Bill Andersen pointed out that cattle don’t need shelter. Mr. Motel then reasoned that since there are laws that are enforced by the State Police, shelter requirements seemed unnecessary in the ordinance. Holly Bernhard, Green Lane Road, added that such issues were also enforced by the Large Animal Protection Society (LAPS), so removing shelter requirements from the Ordinance was a sensible change given LAPS has enforcement capabilities. Mr. Motel asked the Planning Commission for their opinion on removing the shelter requirements, and the consensus was to remove them.

Section D will instead address pasture maintenance. It was determined that the provision, “pastures shall consist of well-maintained grasses” would be too subjective to enforce; instead, the ordinance states “muddy, dusty, or un-grassed areas shall be stabilized to minimize erosion.” Mr. Theurkauf said this can be objectively determined.

No changes are proposed to sections 1614.E or 1614.F.

Section 1614.G Riparian Buffer Areas

Mr. Motel said this section was entirely removed from the draft because the State is taking over control and mandating installation at the landowner's cost of 150' riparian forest buffers on certain qualifying lands used for tilling and/or pasturing animals.

Article 2 Definitions

Mr. Motel said definitions for “domestic chicken” and “fowl” are proposed as additions to the Definitions section of the Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Motel moved to recommend approval of the amendments to Article II and Section 1614 of the Zoning Ordinance including those changes to animal numbers per acre made this evening. Mrs. Leland seconded the motion and Mr. Motel called for further discussion. There being none, he called the vote, and all were in favor.

Chicken Ordinance

Mr. Motel said his drafting of this ordinance was prompted by his experience with a friend who has chickens, which made him consider whether residents on Charlestown with smaller lots should have the opportunity to keep chickens, specifically hens only, for personal use. He said he culled language from various ordinances to create the draft, which adds a Section 1620 to Article 16 of the Zoning Ordinance, General Provisions.

Mr. Churchill said he had a question on Section 1620.B, which lists the number of chickens to be allowed per acre and doesn’t mesh with the ratios provided for parcels over 4 acres that are addressed by Section 1614.A allowing .02 chickens per acre. He also added that he knows of people who keep 12 hens on ¼ acre lots. After some discussion, it was decided to stay with the proposed numbers as a starting point to see how the new regulations work out before making any adjustments.

Nancy Long, Church Road, said residents in the Historic District should be allowed to keep a small number of chickens, but most of those lots are less than 1 acre in size. After some discussion, it was determined that this should be added to the ordinance, to allow up to 6 chickens per property in the Historic District. Mrs. Leland said she’ll communicate this to the HARB and seek their recommendation for approval. Mr. Kohli said most of those properties would have to seek a variance from the 50 foot setback requirement for chicken coops. The Planning Commission determined that no setback would be required in the Historic District, but it would remain at 50 feet for the other residential districts.

Mr. Motel called for questions from those present. Mr. Kochler, Green Lane Road, asked why roosters aren’t permitted, and Mr. Motel said primary due to noise.

Mrs. Leland moved to recommend adoption of Section 1620 including the changes made this evening to allow residents on smaller properties to keep female chickens, and Mr. Motel seconded. He called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

New State Regulations on Riparian Buffers

Mr. Motel provided some explanation of the new state regulations on riparian buffers, which are quite lengthy and challenging to interpret. He consulted with the Township Solicitor on some of the language. He said the regulations were promulgated under the Clean Streams Law with pressure from statutory federal laws, the result of which has become Chapter 25 of the PA Code, to become effective on November 19th.

Mr. Motel said the new law will regulate earth disturbance activities and heavy animal use in riparian areas. Charlestown Township has Valley Creek, an Exceptional Value stream, and the Pickering Creek, a High Quality stream, for which 150’ buffer zones would be required if other criteria are met. Any disturbance of 1 acre or more must be at least 150’ from either perennial or intermittent streams.

Mr. Motel said buffers are required if an Earth Disturbance Activity is proposed within 150’ of a protected waterway. There are many different types of EDAs but an “Animal Heavy Use Area” will likely be the EDA at issue for Charlestown residents keeping livestock. An AHUA includes includes barnyards, feed lots, loafing areas and exercise lots where vegetative cover of a certain type can’t be maintained. Mr. Theurkauf noted that stream crossings are exempted. Mr. Churchill said a pasture is not heavy use, although Mr. Theurkauf said there’s no grazing permitted in the buffer so there’s some overlap of intent.

Mr. Motel said the law doesn’t require fencing; however, he doesn’t understand how an effective riparian buffer could be created without one. Lisa Scottoline, Wells Road, said her property has a stream in a forest so she wouldn’t be affected by the law. Mr. Motel said the Chester County Conservation District and DEP are the enforcement agents for the new law.

Mr. Churchill asked for feedback on how the Township could help ease the burden of the new regulations for its residents. Mr. Motel said there are generous waivers allowed in the law under Section 102.14.(d) which, for example, will justify a request for a waiver if imposing the buffer requirement “is not feasible” due to “site characteristics” such as a smaller pasture that is bisected by a stream losing the bulk of the usable pasture area because of a 300’ buffer mandate. He said the individual property owner would seek a waiver, and the Township could provide a letter of support indicating it believes the person is entitled to the waiver.

Mr. Theurkauf said based on the studies provided to the State, a 100’ buffer is needed to filter nitrates, and 300’ is needed for total removal. Mr. Motel said it appears the State took an intermediate approach.

Ben Thompson asked if there is any grandfathering from the law. Mr. Motel said it’s unclear, although there are references protecting existing riparian buffers. He said the Township may be able to support waiver requests for smaller buffers or in some cases, none. Mr. Churchill suggested there be an article for the next Township newsletter informing property owners that if they have been notified by the State of enforcement proceedings, the Township should be contacted so it can offer some assistance. He said would be of interest to the Township to hear if anyone is encountering problems with the new law that is affecting the usability of their land. Mr. Theurkauf commented that he expects the State will focus on the Susquehanna River Basin in Lancaster County at first as there are known problems there.

Ben Thompson thanked the Planning Commission for the time they spent on the agricultural regulations and for listening to the farm property owners who have attended the meetings on this subject.

Proposed Amendment of the Sign Ordinance

Mr. Motel provided background on this amendment, stating it originated with the Supervisors and was sent to the Planning Commission for review. They in turn had numerous concerns and asked Tom Comitta to make some changes.

Mr. Allen said the County Planning Commission review had little feedback on the Supervisors’ draft developed by Solicitor Mark Thompson, but Mr. Allen had questioned why a new section was created when its contents could be associated with existing sections. Mr. Comitta reviewed various other municipal ordinances and concluded that the exceptions proposed by Mr. Thompson were reasonable but more logically placed within existing Section 1404.

Mr. Allen said some of the exceptions now listed under Section 1404.A.5 seem redundant. He gave 1404.A.5.g on home occupation signs as an example. He said he’ll compile a list of other redundancies and transmit them to Mr. Comitta before another draft is developed. Mr. Comitta suggested he compare the items for differences depending on whether they’re on a homeowner’s property or within the right of way.

Mr. Churchill said there are some definitions added that aren’t used in the text, for example, the definition for “temporary sign”. He said the basic structure of the re-draft is good, taking care of most of the problems in the previous draft by allowing signs on a homeowners’ lot outside of the right of way.

Mr. Richter said requiring the day and time of an open house on real estate signs under Section 1404.A.5.h would be too costly for a realtor. He also noted the State already requires the Real Estate Company’s name to be shown on the signs so this isn’t needed in the ordinance. He went on to say Section 1404.A.5.h states that only two off-premise open house signs are permitted, but if there are several turns to make from a major intersection, two signs wouldn’t be sufficient. Last, limiting open house signs to six days a month is too restrictive since often an open house is held every weekend throughout the same month and would be displayed 3 days each weekend. The Planning Commission agreed to strike these items from Section 1404.A.5.h.

Mr. Richter said he was comfortable with the restrictions on the size of real estate signs as outlined in Section 1401.C.

Mr. Westhafer questioned the reference to sign permit fees in Section 1404.A.5.f. and 5.j. The administrator confirmed there are no fees except for commercial real estate, business and election signs. The Planning Commission struck the last half of the last sentence of these sections referring to fees.

Mr. Allen said Section 1404.D should read “No signs shall be erected at the intersection of streets so as to obstruct free and clear vision”, removing the rest of the sentence due to redundancy. He also said Sections 1404.J, L, and M are redundant. Mr. Richter said some of that language can be consolidated.

Mr. Comitta will revise the sign ordinance incorporating the changes discussed this evening. The revised draft will be discussed at the November 9th meeting.

Proposed Solar Energy Ordinance

Mr. Motel said at the last meeting, Dan Wright was asked to draft an ordinance regulating solar collection systems, and now comments from the Planning Commission would be addressed.

Mr. Wright said he started with the ordinance drafted by Mr. Motel and made the following changes:

Section 2200 Purpose: This section states that while the sale of excess power can be sold back to the grid, the excess power must not exceed what is needed for the principal user on an annual basis. Mr. Motel asked how this could be regulated, and Mr. Richter said by obtaining data from PECO. Mr. Wright added that the size of the system would be reviewed at the time the building permit application was submitted. Mr. Churchill said a reference to hot water systems should be added since solar collectors can generate power for them as well as for electricity. Mr. Wright said this is covered in the reference to “solar energy collectors”, but Mr. Allen suggested making this clearer to ensure both uses are covered.

Section 2201 Use Regulations: Mr. Wright said Section 2201.B.2 was stricken, which would have required conditional use approval of systems within the TND District.

Section 2202 General Provisions:

2202.A. Mr. Wright said a permit will be required to add or modify a system. The requirement to obtain a permit for repair will be stricken. Mr. Willig asked if electrical permits would cover system modifications, and Mr. Wright said yes, but a building permit should also be required to check the other requirements under the ordinance.

2202.C.1 Mr. Motel said the reference to the “Charlestown Township Building Code” should be changed to reference the codes under the Uniform Construction Code, and Mr. Westhafer suggested using the words “the then applicable building code”.

2202.C.2 Mr. Kuhn said this section would preclude a user like Devault Foods from setting up solar panels on a lot adjacent to their plant since it states the panels must be located on the same lot as the principal use they serve. Mr. Kohli said the owner could combine the two lots. Other suggestions were to allow this by conditional use, or to allow it if the lots were under the same ownership. Mr. Richter said it should indicate that the power must be used within the Township in order to hinder open market sales. The Planning Commission settled on the language proposed by Mr. Motel to strike the last portion of the sentence so it will read “All solar panels and solar energy collectors shall meet the needs of the principal user and no more.”

2202.C.3 Mr. Wright suggested they add information on vegetative buffers to address how to avoid casting glare on neighboring properties and streets.

2202.C.4 Mr. Wright said this section, which requires that visual impact to neighboring properties be minimized can be demonstrated during the review of the building permit application, indicating that the location and placement of the panels will minimize the impact. This provision will be left as-is.

2202.C.5 Mr. Wright said earlier feedback from Supervisor Charlie Philips asked how heat load on neighboring properties can be measured and enforced. It was determined this item will be stricken.

2202.C.6 Mr. Churchill had asked earlier why panels and collectors can’t be permitted on accessory structures and it was decided to allow them. It was also determined that free standing panels would be permitted in the front yard if approved by a waiver granted by the Board of Supervisors.

2202.C.7 Mr. Wright said this language stating there shall be no commercial use is redundant with the stated purpose of the ordinance and can be removed.

2202.C.8 This item was also removed due to redundancy with regard to set back lines.

2202.C.9 Language was added to require a planting screen to provide a visual buffer from free standing panels and collectors.

2202.C.10 This item says attached panels or collectors may increase the building height by no more than 36 inches above the maximum height allowed in the zoning district. There was some discussion on this but the decision was to leave the language in.

New item to be placed between 2202.C.10 and C.11: Mr. Allen suggested requiring that all framing be black.

2202.C.11 Mr. Wright said he made only minor changes to this item on Abandonment.

The discussion on the Solar Energy Ordinance was briefly tabled.

Zoning Ordinance Amendment: Definition of Impervious Surface

Mr. Motel circulated language proposing an amendment to the definition of Impervious Surface to include solar panels and solar energy collections to those items deemed to be impervious surface. Mr. Allen suggested considering the solar panels and collections as 50% impervious since there are usually gaps in them, but after some discussion it was decided to stay with 100%.

Mr. Motel moved to recommend this amendment of the definition of impervious surface to the Board of Supervisors for consideration of adoption. Mr. Churchill seconded the motion and Mr. Motel called for discussion. There being none, he called the vote, and all were in favor.

Proposed Solar Energy Ordinance

The Planning Commission resumed discussion. They considered whether they were ready to make a recommendation on the Solar Energy Ordinance and determined a recommendation could be made subject to review of the revised draft Mr. Wright would prepare following the meeting.

Mr. Motel moved to recommend the Solar Energy Ordinance as last revised by Mr. Wright, along with any revisions incorporated this evening, to the Board of Supervisors for consideration of adoption subject to subsequent review of a further revised draft to be prepared by Mr. Wright following the meeting, with any comments to be provided to Mr. Wright within 5 days after receipt of the revision. Mr. von Hoyer seconded the motion. Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Proposed Wind Ordinance

This matter was tabled until the November 9th meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Administrator
sheet #1, 10/12/2010
sheet #2, 10/12/2010