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

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.


Mrs. Leland made the following announcements:

  1. Mrs. Leland attended a meeting with Tom McNamara and Steve Dunlop of PennDOT along with supervisor Kevin Kuhn and planning commission members Andy Motel and Mike Allen to discuss the possibility of providing a bike trail along Whitehorse Road from Devault to the Spring Oak property. She said the outcome of the meeting was not as fruitful as she had hoped but they will keep communications open.
  2. Blue Howell requested that they be removed from tonight’s agenda. Mrs. Csete said they also provided an extension of the decision deadline. The new deadline is May 30, 2011.
  3. Mrs. Leland said she, Mike Allen, and Tim Townes, applicant for Tyler Griffin (Pickering Grant) are meeting with Richard Krumrine from the Great Valley School District this Thursday to discuss a trail connection from the Pickering Grant property to the Charlestown Elementary School. Mr. Allen asked if bus traffic would be discussed at this time. Mr. Townes said probably not, since Mr. Krumrine is the facilities manager and not involved with transportation issues.
  4. Mrs. Leland said she attended the Board of Supervisors meeting last night, and was pleased to note that the attorney and developer for Whitehorse Estates indicated they are open to a collaborative dialogue with the Township regarding the layout of their subdivision plan for 19 new lots.

Approval of February 8, 2011 Minutes

On Page 7, first paragraph, Mr. Allen questioned the anticipated number of public and private school students that would come from the Tyler Griffin (Pickering Grant) development. Mr. Townes said he’ll provide the correct numbers to be replaced in the minutes.

With this change, Mr. Allen moved to approve the minutes of February 8, 2011 and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor.


Thompson Preliminary Subdivision Plan

Mike Beuke, P.E. from Showalter Associates and several members of the Thompson family were present to discuss the preliminary subdivision plan for the Thompson property last revised 1/18/11.

Mr. Beuke began with a reference to the Conservation Easement Agreement dated 8/4/2010 between the Thompson family and Charlestown and Schuylkill Townships. The Agreement reduces the potential 150 lot subdivision to 23 lots. The plans were to be submitted last August, with a timetable to follow that submission date. Instead, the plans were not submitted until January of this year. The timetable calls for the reviews to be completed within one month of the submission date, which was done. The Planning Commission then has two months to review the plan and make a recommendation, followed by two months for the Board of Supervisors to approve it.

Mr. Beuke said this evening he wants to focus on the larger issues this evening and at next month’s meeting, and to leave the minor items to work out with the consultants. He said they’ll be submitting the Conditional Use Application shortly, and hopes action can be taken on that application and the preliminary plan application at the April 12th Planning Commission meeting.

Mr. Allen clarified that the plans indicate they are Preliminary/Final Plans, but the consultants’ review letters and the Township are viewing them as a Preliminary Plan submission. Mrs. Leland was in agreement and indicated this was the County Planning Commission’s view as well. Mr. Beuke agreed.

Mr. Allen also wished to clarify whether the plan is to be considered a Conventional Lot Plan or an Open Space Plan, since it has elements of both. Mr. Beuke said it’s a Conventional Lot Plan; the label on the plan is wrong. (Mr. Churchill arrived at this time).

Mr. Beuke addressed those comments on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 2/7/11 relating to conditional use:

Item #4 – Mr. Beuke agreed that as a Conventional Lot Development, the plan will require conditional use approval, and they will comply.

Item #5 – Mr. Beuke agrees that a second conditional use approval is needed for steep slope disturbance to construct structures, streets and driveways. The main entrance road is the biggest part of the disturbance, but the reason for its placement is that they wanted to take advantage of the existing stream crossing. Ben Thompson said that’s on the Schuylkill Township side, but Mr. Beuke said the road extends into Charlestown and ends in the main cul de sac. Mr. Richter asked if there is steep slope disturbance on the Charlestown side, and Mr. Beuke said yes, pointing it out on sheet 24 of 52 of the plans. He said the access to Mine Road crosses steep slopes, and that some driveways may be able to move out of steep slopes since the home locations shown now are just conceptual at this stage. They want approval to encroach on steep slopes as a contingency. Mr. Kohli said this should be avoided, and the applicant must demonstrate how they can work around the slopes. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said this was originally done for Lot 7 so they could keep the golf course open, likewise for two other lots. Mr. Beuke said if those lots sell later rather than sooner, the homes can be moved out of steep slopes. Mr. (Ben Thompson) said, however, that they will try to sell as many lots as early as possible while the golf course is still operating. Mr. Beuke showed the location of a temporary shared driveway for Lot 7 to access if the house is built while the golf course is still open. Mr. Kohli cautioned that when they file the conditional use plan they will have to demonstrate why steep slope disturbance couldn’t be minimized. Mr. Churchill said they’ll be sensitive to the need to keep the golf course operating but they don’t want to allow this leeway otherwise. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said this is very acceptable. Mr. Kohli said this can be explained during the hearing and that a table should be added to the plan showing how much disturbance is allowed for each lot. This will avoid conflicts with future property buyers later on.

Mr. Allen asked if these are the only two conditional use approvals needed, and Mr. Beuke and Mr. Kohli both agreed, yes.

Mrs. Leland then asked the applicants to address the remaining items on Mr. Kohli’s review letter and they did so as follows. Items #1 and #2 are informational in nature and need no response.

Item #3 – Mr. Kohli noted that the time clock for this application will not start until the Conditional Use Application is filed. Until then, the preliminary plan submission is considered incomplete.

Items #4 & 5 – addressed previously.

Item #6 – Will comply and relocate septic systems for lots 1, 18, 19 and 22 out of steep slopes.

Item #7 – Will comply and provide stream valley restriction information and labeling on the record and grading plans or define them in the Legend.

Item #8 – Mr. Beuke said they will discuss the agricultural use questions with the North American Lands Trust (NALT). Any agricultural uses will comply with the ordinance. Uses are vague at this point and need to be agreed upon among the Thompsons, NALT and the two townships. He said Andy Johnson from NALT emailed him with some information, but he was hoping Mr. Johnson would be present this evening to provide specifics. He said he’d forward the information he received to the planning commissioners. (Mr. Comitta arrived at this time.)

Mr. (Ben) Thompson said 4 or 5 of the lots are farmette size but may still have some agricultural restrictions, due to wooded areas or other constraints. Mr. Beuke said NALT provided the family with sample agricultural uses permitted in conservation easement areas. NALT said caretaker or farm manager homes are acceptable, but specifics are needed. He said they need to get back to work with Mr. Johnson and NALT attorney George Asimos on drafting a revised conservation easement agreement, and that one of them will attend the April 12th meeting. Mrs. Leland agreed that one of them should be there, and asked that information be forwarded to the Planning Commission beforehand. Mr. Kohli noted that all the conditions of the conservation easement agreement should be shown on the plans so they will be recorded.

Item #9 – Will comply and label the wetland and riparian forest buffers on the record and grading plans.

Item #10 – Mr. Beuke confirmed there will be no street lighting provided for this plan.

Items #11 – 23 – Will comply.

Item #24 – Mr. Beuke said the existing 1,000+ foot long Tinker Hill Lane cul de sac will be extended another 750 feet. A second cul de sac road will extend from this lane as well, plus a cul de sac bulb at the end of Tinker Hill Road. From that bulb will be a temporary access driveway to service lots 4, 5, 7 and 20. Those lots will later be accessed from the road off Whitehorse Road. Mr. Churchill asked how many lots will be accessed from the 2nd cul de sac off Tinker Hill Lane, and Mr. Beuke said 3. Mr. Richter asked what will happen to the temporary access from Tinker Hill Road, and Mr. (Ben) Thompson said it will remain as an emergency access and would be closed with a chain or gate, whichever the Township prefers.

Mr. Allen said the cul de sac lengths for both extensions from Tinker Hill Lane exceed the maximum 1,000 feet considerably and he’s concerned that health and safety concerns be mitigated. He said the Fire Marshal should review this. (Mr. Motel arrived at this time.)

Mr. Allen asked how the emergency access between the two Tinker Hills will be kept open during winter weather, and Mr. (Ben) Thompson said it will have to be maintained by the Homeowners’ Association. Mr. Allen asked how emergency vehicles will access locked gates or chains, and Mr. (Ben) Thompson said they can use bolt cutters, although the HOA will provide whatever is specified to give them access.

Mr. Kohli asked if any of the roads are proposed for dedication to the Township, and Mr. (Ben) Thompson said no, although it might make sense to consider dedication for the extension of Tinkerhill Road to simplify plowing operations.

Mr. von Hoyer asked why the two Tinker Hills weren’t connected, and Mr. Allen said because the residents of those roads were greatly opposed to it, citing concerns of cut through traffic.

Mr. Richter asked if the extensions would be built to the same road standards, and Mr. Beuke said yes, and since the Schuylkill Township standard is higher, the Tinker Hill Road extension may actually exceed the Charlestown code.

Mr. Allen said that there will be some underground stormwater storage at the cul de sacs. He mentioned that the Township prefers a teardrop design over a circular one as they are easier to navigate for large trucks.

Item #25 – Mr. Kohli indicated he had no issue with a 12% slope as long as the fire companies can handle it. This will require a waiver from the 10% maximum.

Item #26 – Will comply by showing the limits of the vertical curb on the plans and in the Legend.

Item #27 – Will comply by adding a summary of the street construction requirements to the plans.

Items #28, 30 & #31 – Mrs. Leland indicated these items would not be addressed this evening.

Item #29 – Mr. Beuke said they will request a waiver from the requirement for a landscape plan submission. Mr. Comitta said a landscape plan isn’t just needed to show ornamental plantings. Mr. Kohli said there was logging done on the tract that will have an impact. Mrs. Leland said they will need to submit a plan.

Item #32 – Will comply by adding a note to the plans indicating that an As-Built Plan will be required.

Item #33 – Will provide additional information for the EIA, but Mr. Beuke said they’ll request a waiver from some items.

Item #34 – There was discussion on whether agricultural structures will be permitted outside of the building envelopes. Mr. Beuke said this is a NALT issue, and he disagrees that agricultural structures have to be within the envelope, which should be for the residential structures only. Mr. Churchill said he’d be willing to allow agricultural structures outside but there should still be some sort of a plan. Mr. Beuke said they’d have to get approval for these structures as part of a building permit application, but Mr. Churchill said then there’s no control over placement beyond what the ordinance requires. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said some of the lots are very large in size, and for those, they plan to provide an outline of what lots will be used for what purposes. Mr. Churchill said he’d like to see these lots large enough for caretaker homes or large barns to be identified and footprints for those types of uses shown to determine how they will affect neighbors. He said there’s probably only 3 or 4 on the Charlestown side that would be of concern.

Mr. Motel asked how the building envelope size of 1.5 acres was determined, as he said it seems small. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said he wasn’t sure but thinks it came from a joint meeting with the two townships and NALT. He said he did suggest a bigger envelope for the bigger lots and he’d like a better answer on this from NALT. Mr. (Jerry) Thompson said the present sized envelope acts like a penalty on larger lots. Mr. Motel said the placement of agricultural buildings is a question that needs to be defined for the family’s and township’s needs. The township needs this information to ensure that the future buyers are properly informed. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said that’s their intention, and he’d like to submit a plan for his own lot to confirm that the Township finds it acceptable.

Mr. Westhafer said that even a small accessory structure could be objectionable to neighbors, and said the real focus should be on their setback from the property lines. Mrs. Leland and Mr. Motel agreed this may be the best and simplest approach to address these concerns.

Items #35-57 – Will comply.

Mr. Allen noted that the side, rear and front yard setbacks shown on the plans don’t agree with the Charlestown ordinance requirements for either Conventional Lot or Open Space development. Mr. Beuke said they’ll amend these to comply with the Conventional Lot requirements.

The applicants then addressed comments on Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 1/31/2011:

Item #1 – Addressed previously this evening. Mr. Beuke agrees this will be considered a Conventional Lot Plan.

Item #2 – The question of restrictions relating to the conservation easement agreement was already discussed this evening. Mr. Beuke said these concerns are primarily to be worked out between the Thompson family and NALT.

Item #3 – Mr. Beuke said they’re generally comfortable with the comment concerning the smaller, irregularly shaped lot #22 but they feel it is of sufficient size. Mr. Allen said both Lots #3 and #22 have odd configurations but thinks any change is the applicant’s prerogative. He said Lot #22 is something of an orphan that can’t do what the other lots can do. He further noted that the plans don’t show the existing structures on adjacent lots, which is a requirement of the ordinance. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said they’ll take another look at the lot configurations.

Item #4 – Mr. Beuke said vehicular access was already discussed.

Item #5 – Mr. Beuke said with regard to steep slope disturbance, they’ll relocate the building envelopes for lots #1 and #5 and the driveway for lot #7.

Items #6 & 7 – Mr. Beuke said these will be addressed at a later time.

Item #8 - Mr. Beuke said they will request a waiver from the requirement for a tree survey, stating they already did one. Regarding tree removal quantities on individual lots, Mr. Beuke answered Mr. Allen’s question affirmatively that they propose to address this during the building permit process.

Item #9 – Mr. Beuke said they’ll comply with cross referencing the tree protection fencing shown on the E & S Plan with the detail on Sheet 48, and will add fencing along the hedgerow between Road D and the Fillippo property.

Item #10 – Mr. Beuke said they understand the Planning Commission questions the waiver request from producing a landscaping plan but they want some consideration as far as not expecting a regimented street tree design.

Mrs. Leland asked if they plan to put a sign for the development along Whitehorse Road, and Mr. (Jerry) Thompson said this will be considered much further along in the process.

Item #11 The EIA report was previously discussed.

Mrs. Leland then asked if there were any items from the Chester County Planning Commission review letter dated 2/3/11 to be addressed and began with Item #5.

Item #5 - She said the main point she took away from the review was the importance of the two townships working cooperatively and coordinating their reviews with one other.

Item #3 – Mr. Allen asked how the water resource management recommended by the County Watersheds Plan would be worked out. Mr. Beuke said they’ll work with the DEP directly.

Item #10 – Mrs. Leland said the County suggests connecting Road A and Road D but the Township has already considered this and decided the concern over through traffic was a legitimate reason not to do so.

Item #13 – Mr. Beuke said they will comply with this item, which suggests the applicant contact the Buckeye Pipeline Company to obtain the use restrictions associated with their existing right of way that Lot #1’s driveway will cross.

Item #20 – Mr. Beuke said he’ll look into whether there are any ramifications from removing part of the property from Charlestown’s Agricultural Security Area by contacting the County. Mr. Comitta said this subdivision will change the ASA map and the Township may ask the applicant to withdraw those properties that are no longer eligible for inclusion.

Item #21 – Mr. Allen asked about this comment that some of the parcels are under Act 515, and Mr. (Ben) Thompson said they’re aware of it and will contact the County Assessment Office as recommended.

Mr. Allen asked whether the abutting property owners have been notified of the subdivision as required by the SLDO. Mrs. Csete said they were notified of the February 8th meeting, but not tonight’s meeting. The matter had been taken off the February agenda at the applicants’ request. She said the applicants should send a new notification for the April 12th meeting.

Mrs. Leland asked if there were any further comments. Mr. Richter said the connector road to Road B is shown as a temporary access but since it’s to remain as an emergency access it should be relabeled on the plans. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said they received a complaint from a Tinker Hill Road resident about the connector road being so close to his property, and that he wants the emergency accesses connected instead. Mr. Kuhn said he has to take that up with Schuylkill Township. Mr. von Hoyer asked what will happen if the HOA wants to connect these accesses later. Mr. (Ben) Thompson said they intend to have these remain for emergency only, but if the HOA wanted to connect them they would have to come to the Township to approve any change. He thinks that once they see the increase in commuter traffic they may no longer wish to do so.

The review for the Thompson preliminary plan will continue at the April 12, 2011 meeting.

Tyler Griffin Preliminary Plan

Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates and Andy Eberwein, P.E. were present to review the preliminary plan for Tyler Griffin last revised 10/18/10.

Mr. Allen circulated an updated spreadsheet he maintains that lists issues requiring action from the township and applicant. Five items remain to be addressed, and most relate to the Elementary School and the meeting this Thursday should move these issues along. He said tonight the focus is on reviewing the civil drawings.

Mr. Townes said they’ve addressed most of the items on the consultants’ review letters. He acknowledges they still need to provide detail on the dumpsters. He said he believes they have the stormwater management issues worked out but they need confirmation from Mr. Kohli and Mr. Wright. He said the remainder of Mr. Kohli’s comments from his 12/1/10 review letter have been addressed with a few items to be addressed during the final plan stage.

Mr. Allen said he questioned the supervisors on their request for placement of a historical marker to commemorate historical resources that are near but not located on this site. He said he’s reversing his earlier opposition since Mr. Townes has indicated he’s willing to provide the marker. Mr. Townes proposes placing it in the community mailbox area. Mr. Churchill asked if a location near the main entrance from Route 29 should be considered, but after some discussion it was agreed to keep it near the mailboxes.

Mr. Comitta said he and Mr. Westhafer discussed the landscape plan. Mr. Morgan complied with the ordinance on this plan but they would like to have Mr. Townes relate a question to Mr. Morgan as to whether he feels it’s a good design. Specifically, they’d like to ask, if he had the latitude to reposition some of the plants while keeping the same number, would he wish to do so? Mr. Westhafer said he’d also like to ask Mr. Morgan if he feels the various species are located optimally. Mr. Townes said in the past they’ve flagged areas before planting so a field meeting can be held, and he’d be willing to do so for this project. A note to this effect could be added to the plan. Mr. Comitta said that may be desirable but he’d like to ask Mr. Morgan to look at it first. Mr. Comitta said one question for shade trees is to consider whether they’re located in the right places to provide the desired shade canopy in 50 years.

Mr. Allen asked if the exercise trail along the southwestern corner of the property should turn inward to connect with the sidewalk instead of to the perimeter. Mr. Townes said they envisioned it as a big loop trail.

Mr. Allen asked if they’d made any progress with PECO on locating the utility meters at the backs of the houses instead of the fronts. Mr. Townes said PECO won’t discuss it with them until preliminary plan approval is granted.

Mr. Allen said he’s sent Mr. Morgan his comments on the Design Manual and asked if anyone else had comments. Mr. Westhafer said, regarding Mr. Comitta’s remarks on the landscape plan, that there’s no question on quantity or species, but more a concern over whether the even spacing is desirable or if it would diminish the spirit of the plan. Mr. Townes said he sees some areas as more formal, with other plantings in informal clusters. Mr. Westhafer said species type also speaks to formality.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if the white pines would be replaced with another species since there was some discussion on their tendency toward breakage in the winter. Mr. Townes said Mr. Morgan likes to include some white pines as they provide good screening in the early years of developing a property. He said they’re only one of five species being used.

Mrs. Leland asked about fire hydrants. Mr. Eberwein said they met with the Fire Marshal, and a few hydrants were moved to locations were they’d be less likely to be knocked over by fire trucks.

Mr. Comitta said his understanding is that the plans haven’t changed much. Mr. Eberwein said they’ve been tweaking things, and have added sidewalks and changed some sidewalk locations, but the locations of the streets or units haven’t changed. He said they plan to continue making adjustments until final plan submission. Mrs. Leland said when they meet with the School District on Thursday they plan to show them the proposed sidewalk connection.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if they anticipate any problems with light spillage from the school property. Mr. Townes said this will be addressed in the Covenants with a notice to buyers.

Mr. Comitta asked about timing the approval of the preliminary plan with the adoption of the amendments to the TND ordinance. Mr. Motel said for Spring Oak, the needed ordinance amendment for that plan was adopted and the preliminary plan approved at the same Supervisors’ meeting and that could be done in this case. Meanwhile, the Planning Commission can make a recommendation prior to the ordinance hearing.

Mrs. Leland moved to recommend approval of the preliminary plan for Tyler Griffin (Pickering Grant) subject to the comments included in Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 12/1/10 and Mr. Theurkauf’s review memorandum dated 12/9/10 and further subject to the adoption of the proposed amendment to the TND ordinance. Mr. Motel seconded the motion. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Mrs. Leland announced a series of special meetings hosted by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission beginning March 29th on DVRPC plans and programs. She adjourned the meeting at 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Administrator
sheet, 3/8/2011