Wendy Leland, Chairman, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Andy Motel*, Michael Richter, Andre von Hoyer, Surender Kohli, P.E.*, Dan Mallich, Linda Csete and those on the attached sign-in sheet. (* arrived later)

Call to Order:

7:00 p.m.


Mr. Allen announced that Daniel Zantzinger gave a membership to the Planning Commission members to the Dark Sky Society, which is much appreciated. He included a sample letter residents can use to communicate to their neighbors when they have lighting issues with them.

Mrs. Csete mentioned the need for a Planning Commission member to replace Rick Reis on the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission. However, the commissioners supported Mr. Reis’s involvement on the PRPC and believe it’s permitted to have that person be someone delegated by the PC and not necessarily one of their members. Mrs. Csete said she’d relate this back to the Supervisors.

Approval of January 25, 2011 Minutes

Mr. Allen had the following corrections to the minutes:

Mr. Churchill had the following correction to the minutes:

With these changes, Mr. Churchill moved to approve the minutes of January 25, 2011 and Mr. Richter seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Six were in favor. (Mr. Motel arrived at this time.)


Tyler Griffin Preliminary Plan

Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates, Perry Morgan and Andy Eberwein, P.E. were present to review the design review manual and EIA report for Tyler Griffin. Mrs. Leland asked if there’s been a name selected yet for the future development, and Mr. Townes said no. He said they’d welcome suggestions for both the development and for street names.

The Planning Commission began a review of several plan sheets which were presented by Tim Townes via PowerPoint as follows:

1 Site Plan: Changes discussed during the 1/25/11 meeting have been incorporated, including moving the walkway inward along Charlestown Road and adding a small retaining wall. Sidewalks were added along the entrance boulevard off Phoenixville Pike, and five more parking spaces were added to the mailbox area for a total of 13. There was a small length of sidewalk added to one of the alleys to link to the tot lot area, a crosswalk added to Alley A, and a link to the Horseshoe Trail added at the top and bottom of the eastern side of the site.
2 Grading and Conservation: Shows the areas being disturbed on the site, which is all but approximately 1.8 acres near the north/northwest property line. (Mr. Kohli arrived at this time.)
3 Larger version of previous slide.
4 Stormwater Management Plan: All facilities will be subsurface. The plan shows the piping and infiltration system, which is under review with Mr. Kohli’s office. The infiltration beds were deepened and the perc tests were repeated to ensure the standards will be met.
5 Preliminary Utility Plan: The “wet” utilities (sewer and water) will be placed under the roadbeds in front of the units. The more obtrusive “dry” utilities that include utility boxes (cable, phone and electric) will be placed along the alleys. Mr. Townes said they will need the Township’s support of this plan to get cooperation from PECO. Mr. Allen suggested the Township approach PECO with both Spring Oak’s and Tyler Griffin’s needs at the same time.

Perry Morgan then presented slides from the Manual of Written and Graphic Design Guidelines by page number as follows:

3 Site Context
4 Aerial View
5 Illustrative Site Plan: Shows how the buildings are custom designed based on grading.
7 Site Analysis: Shows the utility lines and detention areas.
10 Open Space: Various types, including active, passive, links, trails and gardens are shown.
11 Street Hierarchy: Shows the main boulevard off Phoenixville Pike, the main street loop, then alleys, all of which followed the street standards prescribed by the Design Review Committee.
13 Alley standards: Mrs. Leland asked if the crosswalks are pavers or painted. Mr. Townes said on the main road they are pavers, and in the alleys, painted.
14 Parking Plan
16 Vehicular Connectivity
17 Pedestrian Circulation: Promotes walkability to specific destinations to places like the mailboxes or open space areas. Mr. von Hoyer asked if there will be a light at Route 29, and Mr. Townes said yes. They met with PennDOT, which will support a signal when warranted, noting that their AL-2 project is along both frontages of this site.
19 Pedestrian Connectivity
21 Boulevard Entrance: A sidewalk will be added to the west side as discussed previously.
22 Secondary Entry Feature: Shows landscaping.
24 Community Green Entry: Shows a compass garden as a focal point with retaining walls and plants along the back. Mr. Westhafer asked if specialty pavers would be used, and Mr. Townes said yes, either bluestone or slate cap.
25 Community Recreation: This is located in the center of the community, is walkable, has active play for younger children and an open area for older youth. Mr. von Hoyer asked for the slope, and Mr. Morgan said 2%. Mr. von Hoyer asked where lost balls would travel, and Mr. Morgan said the landscaping next to the alley would contain them. Mrs. Leland said the site is deceptive, that when she walked it she was surprised it’s not as steep as she expected it to be. Mr. Townes noted that Charlestown Road is steeper than the site.
27 Community Plaza: The Plaza has seat walls and a landscaped terrace that is more hardscaped and gives a different character than the other areas.
28 Community Mailbox: The building design lends character to the area. Mr. Westhafer asked if the building is open on all sides and illuminated at night, and Mr. Townes responded yes to both questions.
29 Commercial Area: Shows sidewalk linkages and landscaping.
30 Commercial Area Character Sketch: The intention was to keep the design residential in character and scale.
31 Lighting: Mr. Eberwein said they sent the plan to Spring City Lighting and asked them to emulate the Spring Oak design and will space the lights 150-200 feet apart. Mr. Westhafer asked if those were light poles shown along the walkway, and Mr. Morgan said they are bollards. Mr. Townes said the light intensity is designed to be at the same level as Spring Oaks. Mrs. Leland asked if there will be lights along or near the fitness trail, and Mr. Townes said no.
35 Site Characteristics - Furnishings: Shows the trash, recyclable containers, dog bag dispensers, benches, bike racks and picnic tables. Mr. Motel suggested adding dog bag dispensers near the Horseshoe Trail. Mr. Morgan indicated that since the walls provide some seating the open areas don’t include an excessive number of benches. Mr. Churchill asked if all the benches are black, thinking some color may be needed.
39 Site Details: AC Units
40 Site Characteristic: Walls
52 Overall Landscape Plan: Mr. Perry said there are an immense number of trees, thousands of shrubs, and 8,000 perennials to provide lots of color throughout the year. They met with a horticulturist and arborist for advice on what grows best along streets (canopy trees), alleys (smaller columnars) with evergreens for buffer areas while providing a naturalistic look. Mr. Westhafer asked about grouping since it looks as though there are 4 or 5 of the same species grouped together in a row. Mr. Morgan said the arborist at Bartlett Tree Co. advised this. After meeting with him they eliminated some invasive species and those with improper growing habits such as those that break easily due to snow. Mr. Westhafer asked if they would use only one type of tree along the main boulevard, and Mr. Morgan said no, there would be several types. Mr. von Hoyer asked what happens if the trees don’t take and must be replanted. Mr. Townes said that an 18-month maintenance bond is in effect after the development is completed, which provides a period of 4-5 years in which the builder is responsible for any replacements. After that, the HOA would replace them.
44-45 Ornamental Trees: Mr. Morgan said they looked at form as well as color.
46-47 Evergreen Trees: These include spruce, fir, pine and hemlock. Mr. Allen suggested replacing the white pines, as they break easily in snow. Mr. Morgan agreed and will check with the arborist for suggestions.
48-49 Shrubs: These include mountain laurel, red twig dogwoods, azaleas and rhododendrons. Mr. Morgan said he looked for deer-resistant plants that would provide year round color so there’s visual interest in all seasons.
50-51 Perennials: provide a lot of color and interest, including sedum in the fall, day lilies for spring and black eyed susans for summer.
54 Street Tree Plan: includes 3-4 different types
55 Alley Tree Plan: horticulturist recommended certain types
56 Buffer Tree Plan: Mr. Morgan said he’ll look at his again and replace the white pine with hemlock or other species.
66 Building Delineation: Depicts stepped units, flats, some front or back walkout basements for a variety of models that fit with the site conditions.
67 Unit Diversity
68 Energy Efficiency
69 Sustainable Upgrades
71-75 Character Sketch: Architectural design makes the townhouses look more like single homes.
76-77 Materials: a variety of colors is used to provide architectural character.
76-77 Porches: again, diversity.
76-77 Roofs: variety includes dormers and gables to create interest at the roof plane.
76-77 Windows and Shutters: variety, including different styles of hardware.
76-77 Doors: same comment as above.
76-77 Siding: will be hearty plank for which they created a pallet of colors.
76-77 Roofing: two different types of shingles.
78 Streetscapes for Bldgs 1-5 showing the units going down slope.
79 Streetscapes for Bldgs 12-14.
80 Streetscapes along Phoenixville Pike: Mr. Townes showed that for those four buildings the garage is at the second floor level, which includes the main living quarters. The front door is at the basement level.
81 Streetscapes along Charlestown Road: Mr. Townes showed the garage entering from the second floor with a first floor entry. Mr. Morgan said use of walls was minimized by using the buildings themselves as retaining walls. Mr. Churchill asked how high the adjacent buildings are, and Mr. Townes said they can be as high as 30 feet.
82 Bldg 1 Elevation: shows the trim and styles of the building, where even the sides and backs look like building fronts.
96 Bldg 1 Floor Plans – for townhouses
105 Bldg 4 Floor Plans – floor plans for twin
111 Bldg 6 Floor Plans – downhill building, shows brick at the lower elevation
126 Bldg 11 Floor Plans for 26-foot wide units
156 Bldg 21 Floor Plans – uphill building
168 Bldg 9 Alternate Brick
169 Unit Colors: shows the siding color combinations

Other slides not in the Design Manual included details on typical 32-foot wide and 26-foot wide units, and details on a downhill unit, street views and alley views.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if there is extra structural support for the buildings along Phoenixville Pike where the basement walls act as retaining walls. Mr. Eberwein said they have extra rebar and will be poured concrete walls. Mr. Westhafer asked if there would be foundation drains and Mr. Townes said yes.

Mr. Westhafer asked if the Japonica trees shown on the street tree plan are considered ornamental, and Mr. Morgan said yes and added they are very hardy. Mr. Westhafer suggested formalizing the main boulevard, and said red maples are listed as one of the species and they aren’t formal. Mr. Allen agreed, saying there could be multiple species but they should have a similar look.

Mr. Allen had the following comments. He said he’d forward a list of typos later, and suggested that the Manual not be re-printed until final plan submission. At that time they should consider printing it double sided and include the 3 detail sheets shown at the end of this evening’s presentation. Mr. Townes said they’ll specify that these detail sheets are “typical” and not meant to represent the final design. In the Introduction, the last sentence of the 3rd paragraph should add “township approved” to the reference that “architectural drawings take precedence”. On the manual modifications, it would be helpful if they used the same format as Spring Oak. Mr. Townes agreed, asking that the wording be provided. Mr. Allen said the Design Manual is excellent, and others agreed.

Mr. Westhafer asked if the railing design is shown for the stairways in the common areas, and Mr. Townes said, not yet.

Mr. Allen asked why alleys are shown on page 17 of the manual for pedestrian circulation since doing so covers up some of the sidewalks that should be shown.

Mr. Allen referred to page 24, the Community Green Entry, where the long seat wall faces Phoenixville Pike. He asked if there should be some benches opposite it as they would have a better view. Mr. Townes said there are some benches in the green.

Mr. Richter said there are too many garbage cans near the homes. He said the number is suitable for the greens, ball field and commercial area but not in the front yards. He said dog bag dispensers should be added along Phoenixville Pike. He asked if there is trash service at each unit, and Mr. Townes said yes.

Mr. Allen asked why a historical interpretative sign is shown on page 34 when there are no historic resources on the site. Mr. Townes said Charlie Philips asked for it to commemorate the paymaster house across the intersection.

Mr. Allen said some of the landscaping drawings show trees too close to the sidewalks, and suggested this be reviewed and substitutions made as needed.

Mr. Motel said that all purchasers and successors must be made aware of the offsite impacts near the development. Mr. Townes said they’ve discussed this as, under planned development law, the developer is required to have the buyer sign a paper at closing, and to be included in successive closings, acknowledging they’ve been informed. Mr. Motel asked if the Design Review Committee will review that document. Mr. Townes said yes, as will the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Mrs. Leland said it will be reviewed by the Township Solicitor.

Mr. Allen asked about the reference in the manual under sustainability upgrades for ground source heat pumps. Mr. Townes said this will be removed. Mr. Allen then asked if the county has reviewed the preliminary plan yet as he doesn’t recall. Mr. Townes said they have. Mr. Eberwein added they’re working through the December review comments from the township consultants as well.

Mr. Allen asked if they have any issues on the design guidelines, and Mr. Townes said he didn’t think so now that Dale Frens and Dan Wright have been through it. Mr. Wright agreed there were only minor issues; they would defer to Mr. Frens on the architectural matters.

Mr. Motel said the applicants did a fantastic job on the Manual, and moved to recommend its approval pending cleanup of the details discussed this evening and addressing the comments provided in the consultants’ review comments. Mrs. Leland seconded and called for discussion. There being none further, she called the vote, and all were in favor.

Mr. Townes addressed portions of the EIA report. He showed a slide of the traffic counts, indicating 470 trips per day with 70 at the evening peak. Mr. Allen questioned the average of 19 trips per day per unit as this seems high. Mr. Townes said surprisingly, it works out with parents in particular running multiple errands and chauffeuring children to activities. The second slide showed the fiscal analysis for school age children, indicating there would be 15 public school students and 3 private students. Mr. Allen said this seems low, and Mr. Townes said Census data was used. A third slide showed projected revenues and expenses using the Rutgers Study. It shows a loss to Charlestown although he doesn’t think this is accurate. Mr. Allen said the low market value shown for the homes could be throwing this number off. He didn’t feel the Planning Commission needed to spend much time on this. He told the applicants there would be no need to circulate the EIA report to the Planning Commission for further review; it could be undertaken by the consultants.

Mrs. Leland thanked Mr. Allen for all his work on this project as Chairman of the Design Review Committee.

Whitehorse Estates Revised Sketch Plan – Whitehorse & Ashenfelter Roads

Frone Crawford, Esq., Andy Eberwein, P.E., Carol Altemose and Lance Altemose were present to review their revised sketch plan proposing a 20 lot subdivision of their 58-acre property at Whitehorse & Ashenfelter Roads.

Mr. Crawford circulated a memo dated 2/8/11 addressing review comments from the Township consultants. He gave an overview of the site, indicating it’s relatively flat with streams, wetlands and steep slopes primarily in the southeast area of the property. The plan was revised to indicate there will be 19 new lots for a total of 23 homes since there are four existing dwellings on the homestead lot.

Mr. Crawford said the plan utilizes the open space option that allows a single lot containing the historic resources to comprise 40% of the gross tract area and be provided in lieu of open space provided it is permanently deed restricted from further subdivision and land development. He pointed out that the homestead lot also contains most of the woods and other sensitive features of the property.

Mr. Crawford said the plan was revised to better preserve the viewsheds and provide useable, more desirable lots and street layout. To achieve this, they moved lots away from Whitehorse and Ashenfelter Roads and left approximately 5 acres of open space in that corner. Trees will be preserved along the existing driveway even though a portion of that driveway will be removed along the property lines of lots 18 and 19. The remainder of the driveway will be kept from the new road to the homestead, so there will be almost no removal of trees except in the cul de sac area and a few within the lots. Mr. Allen asked to confirm that both the trees and the driveway will remain between lots 7 and 8, and Mr. Eberwein said yes.

Mr. Crawford said the viewshed is an issue on this fairly open tract. Mr. Eberwein expanded the open space with the added five acres at the corner. This area can be substantially landscaped and there will be a swale in the middle. He acknowledged that the depth of the open space along Whitehorse Road doesn’t count toward the open space requirement because it doesn’t meet the minimum width; however, this area isn’t needed to achieve the minimum as this is satisfied on the homestead lot.

Mr. Crawford said they exceeded the 40,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size in order to provide sufficient space for on-site septic systems and to avoid the need for variance requests later on. Mr. Eberwein added that the Township requires a replacement septic site for each lot, which entered into the decision as well.

Mr. Crawford said they intend to require an expansion of the public water line as they want fire protection for the residents of the development. He understands this must be requested of the Board of Supervisors, which has the authority to allow the expansion.

Mr. Crawford said those are the major issues for the plan, adding that landscape design will be developed at the preliminary plan stage. He said although Ed Theurkauf’s recommendation was to reduce the open space on the homestead lot and provide some of it throughout the plan, they don’t feel this is practical. He said that space will be deed restricted and the natural features will be preserved. Mr. von Hoyer asked if that space is common area, and Mr. Crawford said no. Mr. Churchill agreed no public access is required. Mr. Eberwein said that there will be trails in that area that are the exception, and they’re willing to provide them along the perimeter of the homestead lot and line up for a future link to adjacent land.

Mr. Motel asked if there weren’t constraints at the southeast corner of the homestead lot, would the plan be reconfigured differently. Mr. Eberwein said two lots could be moved back but they would be flag lots. He feels the design wouldn’t change a great deal.

Mr. Westhafer said providing the additional open space at the corner was a good move. He asked if the open space buffer along Ashenfelter Road could be expanded to 150 feet wide if the lots along there were narrowed. Mr. Eberwein said it might be possible, or the lots could include a restricted area where the buffer would have to be maintained.

Mr. Westhafer said the relationship of the lots to the open space is very critical and asked if there would be fencing. Mr. Eberwein said they plan to berm and buffer the corner, but don’t feel a fence is right. They would rather have landscaping to soften the visual impact of the houses, which would still be seen from the road. Mr. Westhafer agreed that a fence would not be desirable. Mr. Allen asked if they would be willing to deed restrict some of the lots to disallow fences. Mr. Crawford said perhaps post and rail fence should still be permitted, to which Mr. Allen agreed that might be acceptable.

Mrs. Leland said Lot 1 is too close to Whitehorse Road and will affect the viewshed the most. Mr. Eberwein said it’s buffered by existing trees, but Mrs. Leland said it can still be seen when travelling up the hill. Mr. Eberwein said additional buffer can resolve this. Mr. Allen suggested moving the boundary lines for lots 17 and 18 back so Lot 1 can be moved to the back of the site. Mrs. Leland agreed it should be moved away if possible.

Mr. Motel confirmed that with the 50 foot right of way for Whitehorse Road and a 24 foot roadway, there are 13 feet open on each side of the road. He’d like to plan for a pedestrian/bike trail along the road. He said Spring Oak’s trail goes as far as Union Hill Road and he’s aware of another property owner, one of the township supervisors, willing to add a link across his frontage. Mr. Motel would like to see a trail from the Township line with Schuylkill Township all the way to Devault, if PennDOT will permit it. Mr. Crawford agreed there is room to do this, and Mr. Eberwein said a berm could be designed to work with it. Mr. Crawford was amendable to providing a trail and asked what material they wanted. Mr. Motel thought possibly asphalt, like the Valley Forge trail, for bikes and walkers. Mr. Eberwein said he thinks they can work with the Township on this. The other Planning Commission members agreed this would be desirable, as a safer alternative for bikers and joggers.

Mrs. Leland asked for comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 2/1/11. She asked if they are compliant with the open space requirements per comment #14, and Mr. Kohli said yes, because the requirements were met on the homestead lot so a 150’ buffer elsewhere is not required.

Mr. Mallich referenced Mr. Theurkauf’s review letter dated 2/4/11. He said the process has been collaborative as recommended in comment #1. The letter points out the issue with Lot #1 being too close to Whitehorse Road, as has been discussed earlier. Mr. Mallich said he’ll relate the applicant’s position on the size of the homestead lot and if he still has an issue Mr. Theurkauf will get back to them.

Mr. Allen asked them to consider a teardrop shape for the cul de sac, which makes it easier for larger vehicles to negotiate the turn. Mr. Eberwein agreed to look at this, and also noted they understand a center island, while not shown on the sketch plan, is required and they can provide it. Mr. Allen suggested they visit the Highlands subdivision on Pikeland Road, which has the teardrop shaped cul de sac and looks very attractive.

Mr. Allen asked for confirmation that there are five existing buildings on the homestead lot. Mr. Altemose said there are four dwellings and a garage. The dwellings are located in the main house, a carriage house, and two units in a converted barn. He added there is a sixth building, the blacksmith shop near Ashenfelter Road, that wasn’t shown on the sketch.

Mr. Allen asked the applicants to consider adding architectural detail to the sides and backs of the houses so they will be more attractive when viewed from the roads. It would also go a long way to make the development fit in with the design for Devault. Mr. Motel added the homes will look better from the homestead property too.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if there was going to be any buffer from the homestead lot. Mr. Eberwein said there will be some buffering.

Mr. Churchill reiterated he’d like to see if there’s some way that a part of the homestead open space could be used by the rest of the development. He doesn’t think a trail on the edge is enough and that some access to the wetland area would be desirable. Mr. Altemose said they need to maintain pasture area for their stables. Mr. Churchill asked that they give it some thought, and Mr. Crawford said they’d take it into consideration.

Mr. Crawford asked if they could get approval to move on to the preliminary plan stage, and Mr. Motel said the Planning Commission doesn’t formally vote on sketch plans and the applicant can proceed when they feel they’ve received enough feedback. He suggested they can meet with the planners at Tom Comitta’s office if they need more guidance.

Mr. Eberwein thanked the commissioners for their time and said they’re trying to be responsive to their comments. Mr. Churchill said the revised sketch was an improvement and Mrs. Leland agreed.


Mrs. Leland thanked the planning commission members for coming in early this evening, and adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Administrator
sheet, 2/8/2011