TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2012


Wendy Leland, Chairperson, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Richter, Andy Motel, Andre von Hoyer, Michael Churchill, Daniel Wright, P.E, Daniel Mallach, Linda Csete, Lisa Gardner, and those on the attached sign-in sheet. Thomas Comitta arrived at 8:50 p.m.

Call to Order:

7:34 p.m.


Mrs. Leland said she would start the meeting but has to leave early and will turn the meeting over to the Vice Chairman, Bill Westhafer at that time.

Mrs. Leland announced the Planning Commission won’t be meeting in August. The next meeting is scheduled for September 11th, 2012.

Approval of June 12, 2012 Minutes

Mrs. Csete said she received changes from Michael Churchill and those on page 3 were made. On page 3, penultimate paragraph, last sentence, change the reference to Mr. Churchill to Mr. Allen and page 3, last paragraph, change the last sentence to read “Mr. Motel and Mr. Allen stated a recommendation can be made subject to this determination, and Mr. Churchill agreed.”

Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of June 12, 2012 and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Route 29 Improvements

Mr. Wright reported on the pre-construction meeting held at PennDOT’s offices yesterday regarding the improvements scheduled for the Route 29 corridor. He, Supervisor Kuhn, Wendy Leland and Linda Csete attended.

Mr. Wright said it was a standard PennDOT pre-con meeting that included the contractor, Allan A. Myers, PennDOT officials and the utility companies along with representatives of Charlestown and East Whiteland Townships. There was time after the meeting for the Charlestown group to speak with PennDOT officials and the Allan Myers construction manager. He agreed that for the upgraded signal poles the Township wants, they would handle the bidding process and Charlestown will just have to write a check for the difference in cost.

There was a question about the cost of the upgrades, which Mrs. Csete confirmed is now $43,000 according to the agreement the supervisors executed with PennDOT last week.

Mr. Wright indicated that PennDOT is also willing to consider decorative sign posts for the corridor under the same arrangement. Both the poles and the posts would be installed toward the end of the job, so there is time to work out the details. The job is expected to start immediately and be finished in June 2014. They don’t expect road closures although it’s possible there will be some short ones.

Mr. Wright said he and solicitor Mark Thompson have some issues with the proposed detention basin agreement PennDOT has asked the Township to sign. The agreement states that since the Township wants to add plantings to the area, it will be responsible for the functioning of the basin. This has to be worked out with PennDOT. Mr. Wright said PennDOT and Allan Myers are aware of the one large tree in the stormwater management area that is to be preserved, and it’s noted on the construction plans. He commented that Steve Fellin has been very cooperative in this process, and the construction manager for Allan Myers gave him a good impression.

Blue Howell Minor Subdivision Plan

Mr. Wright updated Mr. Allen and the Planning Commission regarding a catch-22 legal issue of the Right of Way vs. Net Lot Area calculation. He advised members that it was discussed at the executive session immediately following the July 2nd, 2012 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Pickering Grant Final Traditional Neighborhood Development Plan

Mr. Allen asked Mr. Wright if Pickering Grant received Final Approval. Mr. Wright said Pickering Grant received final approval with conditions at the July 2nd, 2012 meeting. He elaborated by telling the Planning Commission that Mr. Townes had discussed the meter problem with the PUC. The PUC advised Mr. Townes that PECO may be misinterpreting several points of his utility plan. Additionally, the PUC informed him that in his situation, he can dictate to PECO where to place the meters. There may be a hearing forthcoming.

Dewey Land Request for Acceptance of Spring Oak Final Approval

Mr. Wright informed Mr. Allen and the Planning Commission that the Board of Supervisors formally acknowledged Dewey’s Acceptance of Final Approval. Dewey hadn’t officially accepted their May approval before the deadline. Mr. Allen reminded members that there was a PECO issue here too. Mr. Wright informed the Planning Commission that the Valley Forge Sewer Authority is working on the current plans with Arrow Engineers in East Whiteland Township so that the planning module can be signed off.


Mr. Allen brought up the Altemose sewer application. Mr. Wright referenced an inaccurate description on the Altemose NPDES permit, stating it had public sewer. Mr. Wright will write a letter indicating that Charlestown Township can’t proceed with the application until this is corrected to state that all sewers will be private.

Fillippo Tract

Mr. Allen announced that the Design Review Committee meeting is Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Mr. Mostoller emailed the committee a sketch plan yesterday, two weeks late. The committee will try to accommodate them. Mr. Motel asked if the layout is the same as in the old sketch, and Mr. Allen responded that it was new, showing 22 townhouses, 9 twins, and 32 singles. He requested the members email him any questions and comments for this meeting.

Dewey Homes

Mr. von Hoyer asked Mr. Allen if the bankruptcy of Dewey Homes had any effect on the Fillippo Tract. Mr. Allen responded the bankruptcy was for an isolated project and not the entire company.

Forcine – Request for Waiver for Above-ground pond at Lot #1 Stonorov subdivision

John A. Diemer of Wilkinson & Associates addressed the members regarding his letter of June 21st, 2012. He asked the Planning Commission to review his request for a waiver from the Stormwater Management Ordinance (SMO) Sections 23-303.D(1) and (2) on behalf of the property owner Brian Forcine. Mr. Forcine’s property holds a single family dwelling and garage with private water and a new on-lot septic system. The SMO requires all retention, detention and groundwater recharge systems to be constructed underground while Mr. Forcine proposes to construct an above ground pond by converting an existing sediment basin. Mr. Diemer noted that this pond is for aesthetic purposes, not for stormwater management. Discussion followed as to the need to provide a waiver if the sediment basin is to be a pond and isn’t an active part of Mr. Forcine’s stormwater management. Mr. Diemer added that the DEP said all requirements had been met. Mr. Forcine is going to landscape and fence per ordinance regulations. The driveway water, steep slope of the pond (to be tiered), erosion control, and other runoff is already within regulations with Mr. Kohli’s assistance.

Mr. Motel made a motion to recommend a waiver from the Stormwater Management Ordinance if one is needed. Mr. Churchill seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Bielawski Conditional Use Application

Planning Commission members were addressed by John and Kathy Bielawski for conditional use approval of the construction of an accessory two car garage since it would be in excess of 50% of the footprint of their existing home. Their home, at 2617 Charlestown Road, is in the R1 district. Mr. Churchill asked Mrs. Csete when the hearing was scheduled for the Bielawskis and if the neighbors had been notified this issue was going before the Planning Commission. Mrs. Csete stated the hearing was scheduled for August 6th, 2012 and she was unsure whether the neighbors had been notified of tonight’s meeting.

Kathy Bielawski showed Mr. Allen where the 900 sq. ft. garage was located on the drawing. She stated that three nearby neighbors have garages more than 50% larger than the footprint of their homes. The plan showed a driveway straight back that could be permeable for stormwater reasons.

As an Accessory Use Structure, Mr. Churchill felt there would be a problem with Board approval if the height was out of character with neighbors’ garages. John Bielawski stated it was higher than average (16’ side wall) due to it housing a camper. Also, it was larger than a standard two car garage for storage but not large enough to be considered a three car garage.

Mr. Wright advised the Bielawskis regarding their Attorney Mr. Joseph T. Mattson’s’ need to further explain why this project is worthy of approval. Much of the necessary information for the application is not provided yet, and will be required for the Board to approve it. The majority of what Mr. Wright needed to make a recommendation to the Board was not included. So instead, he made a recommendation to the owners for the builder and Mr. Mattson to call him.

The Planning Commission said the plan needs to be revised to show total lot area, impervious coverage, setbacks, dimensions, context, grading, permits, building schedule, septic location, overhead pictures with neighbors’ lots and lot lines added, and lastly, landscaping ideas. The Bielawskis needs to make a compelling case for the Conditional Use Application.

The Bielawskis also were reminded to make a precursor mailing to neighbors notifying them of the project and the hearing as required by the zoning ordinance. It is necessary for them to bring proof of the mailing to the hearing. Supervisors also would be pleased to see a letter from the neighborhood voicing approval of the structure. Mr. Josiah Schiek of CB Structures, Inc. was advised to perhaps help with a better drawing and to consider stormwater management regulations before returning for approval.

No recommendation was made due to lack of information.

Dennis Ryan’s Hartman Run property

Edmund J. Campbell, Jr., Esq. and Dennis Ryan were present to discuss a proposal to convert Mr. Ryan’s Hartman Run property into a condominium. Mr. Campbell displayed a plot plan for the property with the current four units, each with its own septic system. He wants to progress with Mr. Ryan’s concept after recognizing township condominium concerns as recorded at a 2009 Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Churchill mentioned this non-conforming use precedes current zoning regulations for this 4.5 acre parcel. Mr. Churchill felt that this concept had a legality issue regarding expansion rights of a pre-existing non-conforming property.

Discussion followed regarding issues such as legality of single vs. joint ownership, ramifications of a change in future ownership, and possible HOA responsibilities. Possible responsibilities would be maintenance of common ground, of a common driveway, and the repair of the septic systems. Also considered was the presence of boundaries, the Pickering Creek and Route 29. Two adjacent lots with steep slopes and a railroad bed could be a possible donation to the Township per Mr. Ryan.

Mr. Campbell asked Mrs. Csete if he could meet with Mr. Wright, and she replied that as long as he was responsible for the cost, she would confer with the solicitor to see what could be arranged.

Lighting Ordinance regarding Charlestown Park

Parks & Rec Chairman Bob Jones addressed his concerns regarding Charlestown Park’s upgrade and the limits possibly imposed by the adoption of the revised Lighting Ordinance. He urged members to be careful to remember that the fields are currently at capacity and will be used into the evenings more often in the future. First he wants the members to consider post heights and candle power differences. Dedicated fields (#1, 7, and 9) for lacrosse, football, and soccer may require different lighting levels due to how high the ball travels, etc. Secondly, once off field, the parking lot and trails need consideration. Mr. Westhafer agreed, noting that the distance between fields will change light levels and the distance the light travels. Mr. Mallach said this will be discussed further this evening.

Lighting Ordinance

Mr. Mallach referred to the revised draft dated July 10th, 2012 prepared by himself and Mr. Stubbe following the June 10th meeting and the comments provided by the Planning Commissioners during and after it. The Planning Commission would like the draft in advance for the next meeting.

Mr. Mallach also referenced #6 on page 2 of the draft referencing standards by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES). There are no IES recommendations for residential street and property lighting. But Mr. Stubbe would not recommend mandating a minimum luminance level below 0.2 footcandles for industrial, commercial, and institutional uses. For residential roadways and property lighting the Township is free to choose any level. Page 3 of the document highlighted in red lettering are recommendations from Mr. Stubbe taking into consideration surrounding township recommendations. Here he suggested these lowered maximums as settings for Charlestown Township due to considerations such as light pollution. The Planning Commission members found the three categories would be more helpful if they were shorter (Mr. Motel), contained local examples (Mr. Motel), and clustered them in zoning classifications with consideration to neighbors and edge users (Mr. Westhafer), and listed by district/usage (Mr. Allen). Mr. Churchill found the list strangely tied to activity, but not to size or the number of parking lots/vehicles. Mr. Motel wants the ordinance to be flexible enough to tweak case by case. Debate continued about usage and technical views vs. a zoning approach. The members requested a revised list that would also consider the cutoff hour and especially aggregate brightness. As members strive to eliminate redundancy and obtain greater specificity, the Ordinance will become applicant friendly so applicants clearly know how to comply.

On page 4 section 4, the members wanted a change to reflect specific residential areas. Because the uses in this section are so different, the standards are hard to set. For example, Mr. Motel, Mr. Churchill, Mr. Allen, and Mr. von Hafer all agreed that 40 watts was too high, so Mr. Comitta said all lighting should have full cutoff. Mr. Richter said 40 watts was not enough for a single homeowner in a larger lot or with a long driveway. Opinions of the Planning Commission were in agreement about exempting certain levels for cutoffs, an aggregate rated lamp output not exceeding 500 lumens, and 25 watts with full cutoff but different standards for different zones, specific to certain areas. Mr. Mallach made note of the need to revise this section by also making the phrase “Luminaires, except those containing directional lamps” a separate paragraph. It is to be noted that further documents may use the term “lumens” instead of “wattage” due to an industry shift. This will help when discussing brightness, clear vs. frosted lamps, etc.

On page 5, bottom paragraph of section C, Mr. Westhafer wondered if it was possible to measure compliance, and Mr. Mallach said yes. Mr. Mallach said a limit could be set for vertical candles and for candelas which are a hybrid of vertical footcandles (measured by a Luminance Meter). Page 6 section E, all members liked “photometric center” best. Page 7 section I, was decided to remain as a “glare” tool for the Planning Commission.

Athletic field lighting comments were addressed from Page 7. Mr. Allen suggested Charlestown Park be exempt, then, Mr. Churchill said it could be under the Lighting Ordinance but have different standards. Mr. Motel said it would suffice to name the areas it doesn’t apply to, as in the recreational fields. In section 5 regarding Street Light Dedication, rights are to be directed to the HOAs after dedication, placing this item under “Improvements”. The colored area on page 8 is to be pulled out and the reader is to be told where to look for a cross reference - see Section 35.0, Private Road Transfer to County Ownership. The remaining pages were finished with minor housekeeping changes.

Attached to these pages was another document entitled “Chapter 27 of Zoning Part 16 General Provisions”. On the page called “Model Recreational Lighting Ordinance” Mr. Mallach said these IES specifications regarding parking and maximum mounting heights for recreational lighting (Item #5) should be incorporated into the Lighting Ordinance. For example, it mentions 70’ being an acceptable lighting height for a Lacrosse field.

Vision Partnership Program/Comprehensive Plan

Mr. Comitta distributed a handout containing excerpts of the MPC that indicated that the Comprehensive Plan shall be reviewed at least every ten years. It may be amended as a whole or in part utilizing municipal population forecasts for 2015-2040. Also amendable would be the pages relative to population and housing projections, goals, future land use, and future circulation.

Mr. Comitta focused primarily on page 13-4 of the 2001 Comprehensive Plan. Copied pages in the handout are the ones poised for change. There is a potential need for an ACT 209 Plan for transportation enhancements due to the pending completion of the Slip Ramp by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The focus would be on charging impact fees per vehicle trip, generating funds for future growth of the area, roads, intersections, and the Devault area as a whole. These are Act 209 allowable improvements. Mr. Comitta will contact Carol Stauffer of the Chester County Planning Commission and alert her to the possibility that Charlestown may apply for a VPP Grant in the first round in 2013. He will also contact Terry Woodman of East Whiteland to see if they would like to partner with Charlestown to increase the amount of awardable funds. Mr. Comitta will be contacting Doug Hanley, to see if he would be willing to make a short appearance to explain the experience in Uwchlan with the Act 209 Plan and their Impact Fee Ordinance. He will discuss with the Board of Supervisors funding which may be needed as a budget item for 2013.

Mr. Comitta estimated a possible grant of $25,000-$40,000 out of a competitive pool of $200,000. An estimated fifteen applicants will submit. He will gauge the difference between the lowest responsible bid and the maximum Grant amount, so the Board will have an estimate for a budget allocation amount. Proposals from transportation planning/engineering firms will be sought by him also. This will give supervisors an idea of the amount of money coming in vs. the budget difference.

Mr. Westhafer asked how extensive the application form was, and Mr. Comitta responded that it wasn’t too daunting. Mr. Westhafer also asked Mr. Comitta to keep the timetable for the application of the grant, which will be in the spring of 2013.


Mr. Westhafer adjourned the meeting at 10:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary
sheet, 7/10/2012