Andy Motel, Chairman, Wendy Leland, Vice Chair, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Michael Richter, Bill Westhafer, Surender Kohli, P.E., Dan Wright, P.E., Tom Comitta, Dan Mallich, Linda Csete and those on the attached sign-in sheet.

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.


Mrs. Leland presented Mr. Motel with a plaque on behalf of the Planning Commission to honor his five years of leadership as Chairman. A second, more insouciant gift was also presented in appreciation of his service.

Approval of November 9, 2010 Minutes

Mrs. Leland moved to approve the minutes of November 9, 2010 and Mr. Allen seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor. Mr. Motel did not vote since he was absent for that meeting.


Proposed Amendments to the Sign Ordinance

Mr. Comitta referred to the 11/15/10 draft he circulated of the sign ordinance after a detailed review at the 11/9/10 meeting. He noted the following:

Page 2 – the language was clarified to indicate that residential signs must be set back 1/3 the distance of any required setback from any property line.

Page 2 – Maximum sizes of some business signs were reduced in Section 1402.

Page 3 – Redundant language was eliminated in Section 1403.B. The language in general was standardized and a few typos were corrected.

Page 4 – Numerous small changes were made per the comments on 11/9/10.

Pages 5 & 6 – Awkward language was adjusted, and a clarification was made in reference to directional signs in Section 1404G.

Mr. Comitta expressed appreciation for Mrs. Csete’s careful notes included in the 11/9/10 minutes, which he used as a checklist to create the latest revised ordinance. In summary he said the latest changes addressed consistency, sign sizing, removal of redundancy and general language clean-up. He said he feels that the ordinance is now very close to what the Planning Commission intended.

Mr. Motel asked for comments.

Mrs. Leland asked if digital signs are sufficiently covered in the billboard section 1404.M. Mr. Motel similarly asked if illuminated signs are addressed in this ordinance, and Mr. Comitta said it cross-references the lighting ordinance. Mr. Allen also pointed out they’re prohibited by Section 1404.A.3. Mr. Comitta suggested these areas of the ordinance be reviewed by the solicitor.

With the changes discussed this evening, Mr. Allen moved to recommend adoption of the proposed amendments to the sign ordinance to the Board of Supervisors subject to the Solicitor’s review of Section 1404.A.3, and Mr. Motel seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Blue Howell Minor Subdivision Plan

Christian Wynne of Blue Howell Properties LLC, his engineer, and Michael Gill, Esq. were present for review of Mr. Wynne’s proposed 2 lot subdivision of a 3.9 acre property on Howell Road.

Mr. Gill said in the initial sketch plan, one of the two lots was shown as just under the required minimum net lot area of 80,000 square feet and one slightly over. Mr. Wynne at that time was seeking a de minimis variance on the lot size, but this wasn’t supported by the Planning Commission. He then opted against going to the Zoning Hearing Board. Instead, they examined the plan and realized the original calculation allowed for a 50 foot right of way for Howell Road rather than the actual 33 foot right of way. 33 feet is the minimum right of way provided under state road law. The difference creates an additional 8.75 foot of frontage for each lot, which makes the total net lot area just over 162,000 sq. ft. Using this calculation, each lot would exceed the 80,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size. He reiterated his client’s intention to build one single family home on each lot.

Mr. Motel asked Mr. Kohli for his response to this assertion. Mr. Kohli said the Charlestown SLDO requires that a 50 foot right of way be provided. He said Mr. Gill is correct that state law requires 33 feet, but when a subdivision takes place the SLDO requires the increase to 50 feet. Mr. Gill agreed the SLDO requires that a 50 foot right of way be provided upon subdivision approval; however, Commonwealth Court has supported the argument that the provision of the additional right of way can’t be required prior to approval and therefore can’t be netted out beforehand. He sees this as circuitous logic. Mr. Gill said they’re not eager to press this point however, as they are seeking a simple two lot subdivision for which two single family dwellings is an appropriate use. He said he’s willing to discuss this matter further with the Township Solicitor.

Mr. Churchill said the intention of the 80,000 sq. ft. net lot area requirement is to not include dedicated portions of the tract. Mr. Motel agreed this is part of the Township’s net out provisions. Mr. Gill said only the minimum right of way is called for and that the 50 foot right of way required by the SLDO is to ensure that future buildings meet the setback from this future line in the event the road needs to be widened later on. Mr. Motel asked that Mr. Gill copy him on his communications to the Township Solicitor so he can circulate it to the other members. He also asked him to include Planning Commission Solicitor Gary Bender in any correspondence.

Mr. Churchill asked for clarification that the right of way is only 33 feet in front of this property and Mr. Gill said he had a title company research it and the adjacent properties. Mr. Allen said he knows a portion of Howell Road has a 50 foot right of way, including where his own property is located and in front of the Zeigler subdivision, which is across from the applicant’s property.

Mr. Gill addressed comments on Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 11/30/2010. He indicated that item #1 relates to the lot size question already discussed this evening. Item #2 states that any development should minimize disturbance due to the presence of a high quality native forest. He acknowledged that the proposed homes will be situated so as to maximize the retention of the trees. Those trees that must be removed will be replaced in accordance with the SLDO tree replacement requirements. The last item, #3, notes that the Horseshoe Trail should be preserved or realigned if necessary. Mr. Gill said that Mr. Wynne has already spoken to members of the Trail Committee and is willing to work with them. Mr. Motel said the Horseshoe Trail representatives would be interested in a permanent easement, although Mr. Gill said this points back to the same net-out dilemma discussed earlier.

Mr. Gill then addressed comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 11/16/2010 as follows.

Item 1 This note states the existing driveway should remain entirely within Lot #2. Mr. Gill said this may not be possible as it may need to be re-routed.
Item 2 Mr. Gill agreed that two conventional single lots are proposed with no improvements proposed at this time.
Item 3 Mr. Gill agreed that the net out provisions must be followed.
Item 4 This item states that a site visit by the Planning Commission is required. Mr. Allen suggested the Planning Commission waive this requirement since the property is easily viewed from the road. He asked if the applicant would agree to allow the members to stop by and walk the property on their own. Mr. Wynne agreed to do so. Mr. Motel and Mrs. Leland concurred that the formal site visit requirement could then be waived.
Item 5 will comply with the requirement to provide a brief written report describing the objectives of the subdivision.
Item 6 will comply with showing the location of the sewer and water facilities.
Item 7 Mr. Gill said they will comply with showing the approximate location of man-made facilities within 200 feet. Mr. Allen asked that they include the adjacent properties in Tredyffrin Township as a courtesy.
Item 8 Mr. Gill said they will comply with showing the conceptual building locations and footprints.
Item 9 Mr. Gill said they will comply with showing the proposed driveway location and sight distance for both the existing and proposed driveways.
Item 10 Mr. Gill indicated the right-of-way net out question must be resolved in order to comply with this requirement to submit a title report.
Item 11 Mr. Gill indicated they would seek a waiver from the requirement to provide an E & S plan since no improvements are proposed. Mr. Kohli said the Township would still like to see conceptually where the septic systems, stormwater management facilities and houses would be located.
Items 12 & 13 Mr. Gill said they will comply.
Item 14 Mr. Gill said they don’t think it’s necessary to perform sewer soils testing and provide land planning modules for the site since no building is proposed. Mr. Motel said the township needs to know the ground percs before approving a subdivison. Mr. Gill said they don’t want to cover this expense up front. Mrs. Leland said this comment must be addressed and will stand.
Item 15 – 17 Mr. Gill said they will comply.
Item 18 Mr. Gill said he reserves the right to argue the right of way question further.
Item 19 Mr. Gill said they will comply.
Item 20 Mr. Gill said the conceptual stormwater management calculations will be provided at the proper point in the review process.

Mr. Wynne again invited the Planning Commission members to walk the site and said he’d be glad to meet with any of them to show the monuments.

The applicant will return to the Planning Commission on January 11, 2011 after Mr. Gill has had an opportunity to speak with the Solicitor regarding the right of way net-out question.

Thompson Sketch Plan

Ben Thompson was present to discuss a proposed change to the sketch conservation development plan his family submitted for their property. He said he’s interested in keeping the golf course open as long as possible, and to this end wished to provide access to 4 lots that are presently shown as being accessed through the golf course. The family now anticipates phasing the project over a ten year period and would like to keep the course open to make allowances for the slowly recovering real estate market.

Mr. Thompson said that they now want to propose creating a spur off Tinkerhill Lane to service lots 4, 5, 7 & 20 by extending what is now shown as a temporary cul de sac all the way to Tinkerhill Road. He said if they provide emergency access from the existing gravel farm road, it would be no more than 1,000 feet to the cul de sac. They would take some acreage from Lot 22 to achieve this. Mr. Churchill said when a plan is phased, each phase must stand alone.

Mr. Motel asked for comments. Mr. Kohli had concerns about the length of the emergency access. Mr. Motel said the township must be satisfied that the length is acceptable in case the next phase isn’t built.

Mr. Thompson will submit a revised sketch plan for review at the January 11, 2011 meeting.

Tyler Griffin Preliminary Plan

Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates and Andy Eberwein, P.E. were present to discuss specific items on the preliminary plans for the Tyler Griffin tract located at the corner of Charlestown Road and Phoenixville Pike in TND area 5.

Mr. Townes addressed items on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/1/2010 as follows.

Item 1 Mr. Townes said J. Loew & Associates has taken a temporary stormwater management easement from PennDOT that is shown on PennDOT’s plans so they can design and build a more attractive system that will handle the water for both the development and the road. If PennDOT builds first, the above-ground basin they construct will be re-designed as an underground system by J. Loew & Associates and it will be maintained by the Homeowners’ Association when the development is built.
Item 2 Mr. Eberwein said they can’t adhere to a ten foot setback due to the curvature of the roads and positioning of the units. Also, some units have porches or stoops, others do not, and some push out in back, all of which affects the setbacks. Some of the curved road areas have parking in front and others don’t. He said they’ll need to seek a change to the ordinance requiring ten feet. Mr. Townes says the ordinance currently states they can deviate from the setback requirement for 5% of the units but they’ll need to deviate for 15%.
Item 4 Mr. Townes said they’re meeting with Mr. Kohli tomorrow and will discuss this item regarding the project narrative.
Item 7 Mrs. Leland asked about the smaller parking stalls in the retail parking lot, which will be 7 x 22 feet. Mr. Eberwein said these are nose-in spaces. They’ll discuss this tomorrow with Mr. Kohli, who had concerns about turning movements for vehicles backing from the stalls into the alleyways. Mr. Eberwein said they’ll provide a template.
Item 24 Mr. Townes said he has the same issue brought up earlier this evening by the Blue Howell group about measuring net lot area from the existing road right of way or future right of way. Mr. Kohli asked if the right of way proposed to be taken by PennDOT is shown on the plans, and Mr. Eberwein said yes, and they tried to design the plans to the proposed right of way. Mr. Motel said this can be discussed with Mr. Kohli tomorrow.
Item 26 Mr. Townes said they’ve spoken to the DRC about using keystone or segmented walls for the 1 and 2 foot high retaining walls. They’ll also try to incorporate some of the existing boulders on the site. Mr. Westhafer asked about the corners, and Mr. Townes said those would be stone-faced. He noted that all the retaining walls are less than 30 inches high and will be terraced so they don’t need rails. Mr. Westhafer asked about the two corners, where there will be a 10-12 foot drop from the lower wall. Mr. Eberwein agreed they should consider wooden guardrails, though he noted PennDOT doesn’t require it. Mr. Motel said they don’t want to see “floating” stone such as that at Deerfield. Mr. Townes said they’ll provide the design detail.
Item 33 Mr. Townes clarified that all handicapped ramps will be included as part of PennDOT’s project, but they’ll make a note of it on their plans.
Item 34 Mr. Townes said they can’t make all the sidewalk ADA accessible. Mr. Eberwein said that’s not required as its considered part of the walking trail and not a sidewalk. He said they can flatten some areas but can’t design all of it within ADA standards.

Mr. Westhafer said the perimeter sidewalk along Phoenixville Pike/Route 29 is very long and straight, and he’d recommend it meander a little more. Mr. Eberwein said they’re limited due to the sidewalk running across the top of the berm, but they could add some slight variation.

Mr. Westhafer asked if the sidewalk could be moved back from the curb along Charlestown Road, but Mr. Eberwein said they can’t do so because of the slopes.

Mr. Kohli said they can discuss the sidewalks further at their meeting tomorrow./td>
Item 40 Mr. Townes said he’s spoken with Ingrid Canterella-Fox from the Horseshoe Trail Club about a link along the eastern property line early in the planning process but said they shouldn’t be asked to net it out before it’s created. Mr. Kohli said it’s shown on the plans as an existing easement, and Mr. Townes said they’ll change this to indicate “proposed” which will resolve this item.

Mr. Allen asked that they show a location for a future trail connection to the adjacent school property. Mrs. Leland said she’ll arrange to meet with the school on this issue. Mr. Townes said he was told the Great Valley School District School Board planned to discuss this at their November meeting but he hasn’t heard back yet.

Mr. Kohli asked if the easement could be graded, and Mr. Townes said no, but it would be blazed and follow the existing contour.

Mr. Allen referred to his spreadsheet of outstanding issues last revised 9/16/2010. Mr. Townes said they’re working on these items.

Mr. Townes then addressed Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 12/9/2010 as follows:

Item 2D Mr. Townes said the trail connection to the Elementary School was discussed earlier.
Item 10A Mr. Townes said in his opinion a second mail pavilion is unnecessary for 76 homes. Mr. Allen agreed and also agreed the present location is the best place for it.

Mr. Eberwein noted they will be able to comply with Stan Stubbe’s lighting review comments in his letter dated 12/6/10.

Mr. Allen said at this time they need to focus on the ordinance amendments that will be needed. Mr. Townes asked if the DRC could meet in January and Mr. Allen agreed to call a meeting.

As an aside, Mr. Allen said he circulated LED information to the Planning Commission and noted that there are LED lights along North Valley Road to Paoli that have less glare than standard lights even though they’re open. LED lighting in the TND would be shielded and more decorative.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Administrator
sheet, 12/14/2010