Wendy Leland, Chairperson, Michael Allen, Michael Richter, Andy Motel, Andre von Hoyer, Michael Churchill, Daniel Wright, P.E, Tom Comitta, Linda Csete, and those on the attached sign-in sheet.

Call to Order:

7:40 p.m.


Mrs. Leland made the following announcements:

  1. She recognized Patriot’s Day and hoped all present took a moment to remember 9/11.
  2. She wanted to draw everyone’s attention to Supervisor Kevin Kuhn’s Open Space article in the newsletter that was just mailed out. It indicates the Township has preserved close to 30% of its acreage as open space. She sees this as a great accomplishment for the Township and applauds everyone involved.
  3. The newsletter announces a series of Trail Walks so residents can see the land that has been preserved. First is the McDevitt Trail walk on Sept. 16, then the Brightside Trail on Sept. 23 and the Pickering Trail on Oct. 13.
  4. She noted that Mr. Motel had earlier drawn attention to a purchase of land on Sycamore Lane previously known as the Robal tract, for which numerous applications for development had been reviewed. It’s now been purchased by the Andersens, who operate a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm off Charlestown Road and are considering another CSA on this property or to use it to turn out animals. They have no plans to develop the property.
  5. Mrs. Leland told Mrs. Csete she’d done a good job notifying the school district of new developments as is now required under Act 97.

Mr. Motel made the following announcement:

  1. He had overseen a group that planned trees sideways next to the Turnpike that was viewed from the Whitehorse Road intersection and some of those trees were damaged, so some will be replanted.

General Comments

Review Open Space Regulations in Zoning Ordinance

Mr. Andre von Hoyer suggested the zoning ordinance regarding open space development should be reviewed. As an example he says the Ashford subdivision appears nice from the road but the homes are too close together. Mr. Allen countered this, saying the idea of the ordinance is to preserve open space and not all people want large yards. Mr. Churchill said the open space plan works better with smaller houses. Mr. von Hoyer said he thinks the open space plan will work better at Spring Oak in the TND district.

Fall Tour

Mr. Churchill suggested the Planning Commission conduct a tour of the Township this fall.

Approval of July 10, 2012 Minutes

Mr. Churchill praised the new recording secretary, Lisa Gardner for her minutes from the last meeting and the other members agreed. Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of July 10, 2012 and Mr. Churchill seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Gluchanicz Sketch Plan – Minor Subdivision, 2 Lots

Paul Gluchanicz was present to discuss his sketch plan for a 2 lot subdivision of his property on Charlestown Road. He said he’s considering a revision of his approved subdivision plan, and wants the Planning Commission’s thoughts of the new sketch.

Mr. Gluchanicz said presently there are two existing buildings on one lot, and a vacant building lot in the back of the tract off Charlestown Road. He’s considering that rather than build a new home on the vacant lot, he’d use the two existing buildings and re-subdivide so that each was on a different parcel and maintain the rest of the property as open space.

Mr. Allen asked if Lot 1 would be restricted from further subdivision, and Mr. Gluchanicz said yes. The side yard setbacks between the two lots should be 50 feet and there is only 100 feet between the buildings. The spring house is probably within 20 feet as an accessory structure to the farmhouse. Mr. Churchill said he’d need to obtain a waiver from the Zoning Hearing Board to allow the spring house within the setback. Mr. Motel said first he should get a recommendation on the zoning hearing board application from the Planning Commission.

Mr. Churchill asked how the driveway would access the two buildings. Mr. Gluchanicz said he proposes to expand the current driveway beyond the farmhouse yet allow for a small garage for the farmhouse to be added. He confirmed there would be just the one existing main entrance from Charlestown Road. He said the farmhouse resident should have access through an easement from the fur shop property. Eventually he’d like to convert the Fur Shop to a single family home.

Mr. Churchill asked if the farmhouse would be demolished, but Mr. Gluchanicz said it’s been renovated and is in move in condition now. Mr. Motel asked for clarification that the new garage for the farmhouse would be located on the upgrade of the country lane, and Mr. Gluchanicz said yes.

Mr. Gluchanicz asked if the Planning Commission would support his proposed changes to the subdivision, and Mr. Motel said if Mr. Gluchanicz is now sure of his goal, they would work with him. Mrs. Leland also indicated that with no new roads or buildings, there’s no reason not to support him.

Mr. Gluchanicz asked if the zoning hearing board would be likely to support his setback variance. Mr. Churchill said the Board tends to look favorably on this situation with existing buildings, but he doesn’t speak for them. Mrs. Leland complimented Mr. Gluchanicz on fixing up the farmhouse, and agreed with Mr. Churchill that the Zoning Hearing Board will look favorably. Mr. Wright said he has a better chance of getting approval for a variance from the 20 foot setback rather than reducing the 50 foot setback for the residence. Mr. Allen suggested he also obtain feedback from the Board of Supervisors before applying to the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Allen asked if the springhouse is used, and Mr. Gluchanicz said yes. Presently the two buildings share the well, so one new well will have to be drilled. Mr. Richter asked if the septic was shared, and Mr. Gluchanicz said no.

Neighbor Matthew Findlay saw the proposed subdivision as good news since it will maintain the residential nature of the area. He said from what he’s heard he believes the other neighbors would also welcome the change. He asked if the two lots, with Lot 1 at 175,000 square acres and Lot 2 as 91,000 square acres gross meet the net lot area minimums. Also, if Lot 1 is large enough to subdivide again, would it be restricted from doing so. This would allay his doubts. Mr. Allen said the net lot area is shown as met by the table on the sketch plan. Mr. Gluchanicz pointed out that any deed restricted land doesn’t get netted out, to which Mr. Motel agreed. Mr. Findlay said his concern goes away if Lot 1 is restricted from further subdivision.

Mr. Wright indicated that a new conditional use application would be needed and Mr. Gluchanicz agreed. Mr. Churchill said he should try to coordinate the conditional use review with the subdivision review so the engineer representing him only appears once to save money.

Mrs. Leland asked if there’s a sense of where the garage would go, and Mr. Wright said uphill 50 feet back from the house to allow for turnaround space.

Mr. Findlay complimented Mr. Gluchanicz, saying he’s made significant improvements and investments in the farm house and landscape that the neighbors have noticed.

Mr. Comitta added that Mr. Gluchanicz was very gracious to open his property, formerly owned by Ray Ott, for Ray Ott’s memorial service. Mr. Motel added this was greatly appreciated.

Mrs. Leland said the Planning Commission will need to see Mr. Gluchanicz again after the applications are received and both consultants have prepared review letters.

Mr. Allen asked Mr. Wright if he should meet with the applicant, and Mr. Wright responded he already went over some items with Mr. Gluchanicz via phone on September 7th.

Spring Oak PRD Plan Update

John Mostoller of Dewey Homes provided an update on the Spring Oak plan. He said right now he has all sign-offs on the Planning Module for Phase 3. The DEP has given all approvals necessary as has the Valley Forge Sewer Authority. The NPDES permit is approved pending the planning module approval, and the PennDOT highway occupancy permit has to be extended.

Mr. Mostoller said he doesn’t see any issues with the Township’s final approval conditions other than the issue with PECO to place the electric meters in the back alleys. He’s working with Tim Townes, who has the same concern for Pickering Grant. Mr. Mostoller said he just received word today via email that PECO is not willing to work with them, concerned with setting a precedent that they’re meeting township ordinance requirements instead of their own policies. He believes this can be resolved. Mrs. Leland asked to be copied on PECO’s email.

Mr. Mostoller said regarding the ownership of Spring Oak that Dewey Homes is in discussions with an equity group that are just about finalized. Afterward, they will no longer be involved.

Mr. Mostoller said he expects to have everything in line by the middle of the next quarter. Mr. Comitta asked if, as a result of the adjacent Fillippo plan, will he need to work with PennDOT to expand their traffic study. Mr. Mostoller said both developments are using Langan Engineers, so he’ll have them deal with this issue.

Fillippo Tract – PRD Sketch Plan

John Mostoller provided an update of the Fillippo plan. Tom Fillippo was also present.

Mr. Mostoller said Perry Morgan was going to be at this meeting but had a conflict. In July, they met with the Design Review Committee, and afterword he, Langan Engineers and Perry Morgan worked on the sketch plan being presented tonight. He’ll email the electronic version to the Township for distribution to those interested.

He pointed out the jug handle for the PA Turnpike on the sketch, and showed where the main thoroughfare was set up to go past the Spring Oak clubhouse into the Fillippo tract. A Spring Oak lot ties into the Recreation Area which in turn ties into the Fillippo tract.

Mr. Mostoller displayed a color illustrative site plan, showing they eliminated the road that was previously going straight through the tract. The houses are proposed to be of similar size to those of Spring Oak and some will have detached garages. Those with a view from the back won’t have detached garages unless the market calls for it.

Mr. Mostoller said he’ll provide the grading plans to Mr. Comitta and Mr. Wright. He said all the renditions of them are to demonstrate they can meet the ordinance. These will help determine how tall the walls have to be.

Mr. Mostoller pointed out where the stormwater basin will go. Mr. Churchill said it will have to be pumped from somewhere. Mr. Mostoller pointed out the existing communications tower on the site, and that the adjacent proposed house has its side to it. The trails will connect with those of Spring Oak in order to integrate the two developments for lifestyle and create one homogeneous community.

Mr. Richter asked if there is an emergency access. Mr. Mostoller said no, but there are already two accesses. They would like a temporary construction access to be brought in from the Devault Foods property however.

Mr. Mostoller said he wants feedback on the houses facing the square, which he believes has too many roads connecting to it.

Mr. Comitta said the applicant has accomplished all the items discussed at the July DRC meeting, noting he’ll defer to Mr. Wright on how the plan fits with the grades. He noted that the difficult grades are at the ends of the tract.

Mr. Motel asked what the item he described as an “eye” was. Mr. Mostoller said it would be some ecological feature still to be determined.

Mr. Churchill asked what makes this a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND). Mr. Mostoller said it will have a mix of products similar to Spring Oak and provide for bikers and joggers off the roads. Both communities will tie into the Recreation Center.

Mrs. Leland asked where mail delivery will be located, and Mr. Mostoller said that has yet to be integrated.

Mr. Churchill said they should think of how to make the viewsheds a common asset, not just a feature for 10 or so houses. He suggested moving the small park down on the site.

Mr. Motel said it would be nice to have a feature that would draw the Spring Oak residents in, which Mr. Mostoller said was a good point.

Mr. Comitta said an earlier version of the sketch showed stepped terraces in one area, which he compared to Dunbarton Oaks as an example. Mr. Mostoller said they’ll take a look.

Mr. Mostoller said he wants a general o.k. on the layout so they can begin working with the DRC. Mr. Motel said they should visit the site earlier than they had done during the Spring Oak process. He suggested they visit when the leaves are off the trees. Mrs. Leland asked if they could enter the property on their own, and Mr. Fillippo was agreeable.

Mr. Motel asked if there were buildings on the site, and Mr. Fillippo said no, the Turnpike Commission removed them.

Mr. Allen said the right side of the sketch appears to be shortchanged of amenities such as a tot lot. Mr. Mostoller said he’ll take a look at this but suspects the grading is a challenge.

Mr. Motel asked how the five acres of the tract in Tredyffrin Township will be used, and Mr. Mostoller said a recreational use can be considered there.

Mr. Mostoller asked for a general consensus that the layout is acceptable. Mrs. Leland said it is good. Mr. Mostoller asked the other members to provide feedback through Mr. Allen, who’s chair of the DRC.

Mr. Richter asked if this development will share an HOA with Spring Oak. Mr. Mostoller said the Spring Oak clubhouse will be shared, and the Fillippo development will pay a recreational fee to them. He said the two communities are more valuable as a whole, and the new buyer of Spring Oak understands this.

Mr. Comitta said items from the July DRC meeting have been addressed, including the variety of houses, more open space, and clarification of various questions. Mrs. Leland indicated they should proceed to the DRC.

Mr. von Hoyer asked where the stormwater retention is located other than under the square; they need to show where else this is needed.

Mr. Comitta said on 7/25/12 he issued minutes of the 7/12/12 meeting listing 46 items. He said that’s the best checklist to use. Mr. Comitta said the checklist includes adding the following: an emergency access also to be used as the access past the tower, tennis courts in the north central area, and clarification on street parking.

Mr. Mostoller said he spoke to a sound consultant, who said to wait until the slip ramp is operational before evaluating the sound to determine what kind of studies are needed.

Mrs. Leland indicated they should proceed to the DRC.

Whitehorse Estates Subdivision Plan

Carol Altemose, Lance Altemose, Andy Eberwein, P.E. of E.B. Walsh & Associates Inc. and Jeff Miller presented a preliminary subdivision plan for Carol Altemose and Lance Altemose proposing 19 new lots on their property at Whitehorse & Ashenfelter Roads of approximately 58 gross acres.

Mr. Eberwein pointed out the existing features including the house. Four neighboring residents attended, two across Ashenfelter Road in Schuylkill Township. Mr. Eberwein indicated they sent the required notifications to the area residents per the subdivision ordinance.

Mr. Churchill asked how much higher in elevation is the current driveway is from the road, and Mr. Eberwein said 350 feet. He said the development they propose is under the Open Space option with preservation of the historic home. He doesn’t plan to go through the technical comments tonight from Mr. Wright’s and Mr. Comitta’s review letters, but will do so with them individually. Tonight, he said he wants feedback.

Mr. Eberwein addressed several issues as follows.

On-Site Septic Systems in Front Yards

Mr. Eberwein said the ordinance allows on site sanitary sewers but not in the front yards without the Planning Commission recommendation and Supervisors’ approval. They have 10 lots that need this as they were the only locations that percolated for those lots. All but three of the systems are standard, the others are proposed as sand mounds on Lots 3, 18 and 19. For Lots 18 and 19, both the primary and secondary systems would be sand mounds. For Lot 1, the secondary system is a sand mound. He asked if the Planning Commission would support this.

Mr. Allen asked if sand mounds are constructed differently now than in the past. Mr. Miller said for approval, they are the same, generally 3 to 4 feet above grade, but there are techniques they can use after approval to lessen the height. The DEP just doesn’t accept these plans during the review process.

Mr. Motel asked for the size of the sand mounts, and Mr. Miller said the largest is 18 x 70 feet in dimension. Mr. Eberwein said they can grade around it so it doesn’t look like an “ant hill”.

Mrs. Leland said there’s not a lot of room to rearrange a house and sand mound on Lot 18. She said if the house came off the other drive, the mound would be in the back yard. Mr. Eberwein said he’s thought about it and that can be done. Mr. Allen said it would still be along a primary road, and still in everyone else’s front yard. He said he lives along Howell Road, and there are a lot of big bumps from sand mounds along it, and one drip irrigation system. Mr. Miller said that house with the drip system is about 8 years old, and at that time the DEP allowed a few of those systems.

Mr. Miller said new filters and peat can lower mounds. Some mounds are near intersections and act as berms. If landscaped, they can look like features. Mr. Eberwein said he wants input since he has to do drainage revisions and provide other technical changes for Mr. Wright’s review. He asked if that lot should be eliminated, and Mr. Churchill said it’s occurred to the commissioners. Mr. Eberwein said they could just make the other two lots larger.

Mr. Motel asked for the longevity of a sand mound system versus a conventional one. Mr. Miller says data supports that both are equally viable. Mr. Motel said it could create an issue for the Township to supply public sewer if there are failures.

Mr. Allen noted the house on Lot 18 is far back on the lot. Mr. Eberwein said this is because the back didn’t perc though they tested all the back yards first. He said he may have to discuss this issue with the Supervisors.

Stormwater Detention Basins

Mr. Eberwein acknowledged that the Township requires detention basins to be underground, so they would need a conditional use approval to place the system in the open space. Mr. Allen said he doesn’t have a problem with that, but said that piece of open space isn’t required to meet the minimum. Mr. Eberwein said no, it’s for use as a buffer. Mr. Allen said then the adjacent lots could be enlarged and have a deed restricted area for stormwater management. Mr. Churchill said he had no problem with this. Mr. Eberwein said they could do it this way but did want to maintain it as an open area. He showed where the water drains and said most lots have their own system. Mr. Churchill, Mr. Allen, Mr. Motel and Mr. Richter indicated they’re ok with the system in the open space.

Further Discussion on Sand Mounds

Mr. Eberwein said they need to work on the sand mounds. Mr. Altemose said they can’t have ugly mounds selling this level of house, though Mr. Allen said they did so on Howell Road. Mr. Eberwein said with lots over an acre in size, surrounded by open space, they want the plan to have appeal and will go for more expensive alternatives.

Mr. Allen asked Mr. Miller for his experience in getting sand mounds approved by the DEP, then getting the County to approve an alternative at the time of the building permit. Mr. Miller said he has done this in the past.

Mr. Allen suggested another alternative of putting a note on the plan indicating that the final design has to be an alternative to a sand mound or the lot can’t be developed. Mrs. Leland said however that some buyers might not object. Mr. Altemose said the key is that it not look like a sand mound. Mr. Churchill asked if there are any examples, and Mr. Miller said he’d provide some. Mr. Wright said he hasn’t seen good examples but agrees with Mr. Eberwein that they can be blended with the grading.

Mr. Wright said the plans show a primary and secondary system for each lot, and if a primary system failed, it would be removed. Mr. Richter asked if this is required, and Mr. Wright responded he believed so.

Road Design

Mr. Eberwein said he designed the roads with rolled curbs, but Mr. Wright recommends vertical curbs throughout the plan. He said he doesn’t personally like them but will comply. Mr. Motel said rolled curbs causes damage to lawns due to the way people park.

Mr. Allen said for this size development, the road bed shouldn’t be 24 feet wide and asked if it should be reduced as he believes was done at Ashwood. Mr. Comitta noted that for Liquid Fuels, 18 feet is the minimum required. Mr. Motel said with a reduced road width, rolled curbs would be even less desirable. Mr. Eberwein suggested reducing to 20 foot wide roads.

Mr. Altemose noted that reducing the road width will help with stormwater management. Mr. Wright thought 20 feet might be tight, though Mr. Churchill said only at special event or holiday times. Mr. Motel said he’s o.k. with the vertical curbs and 20 foot width. Mr. Allen said he doesn’t have an opinion on the vertical curbing but the 20 foot width is fine. Mrs. Leland says her development of Whitehorse @ Charlestown has 24 foot wide roads and vertical curbs and there are some speeders. She believes the 20 foot width will have a traffic calming effect.

Sidewalks & Trail

Mr. Allen said the trail should go along the perimeter. Mr. Motel said there just needs to be a placeholder shown for the trail for now. Mr. Altemose noted that reducing the road width will help with stormwater management.

Mr. Eberwein asked which side the sidewalk should be on, and where should they go. Mr. Wright suggested placing them on the south of Road A and West of Road B, to which Mr. Eberwein agreed.

Further Discussion on Sand Mounds

Mr. Eberwein said they’ll probably apply for a conditional use approval for the septic systems in front and will seek feedback from the Supervisors. They’ll look for a recommendation from the Planning Commission at the next meeting.

Mr. Comitta said a good example of a sand mound system is at John Milner’s house, which Mr. Miller was familiar with. Mr. Comitta said it’s three times the required size in width and looks very good. Mr. Allen noted another on North Valley Road, where it looks like the same was done.

Other Comments

Mr. Comitta said the second half of his review wants to examine the relationship of the lots and their visibility, and to clarify the additional plantings needed. Mr. Eberwein said they’ll have these details.

Mr. Allen said he agrees with some of the recommendations in Mr. Comitta’s review but not all. He says the farmstead and new houses are two separate communities with no relationship. He said the plan doesn’t meet the open space regulations for a historical homestead since it’s totally isolated with the historic home looking at the backs of houses. Mr. von Hoyer asked why he thinks it’s not in compliance, and Mr. Allen referred him to the Farm Residential section of the Zoning Ordinance, sections 27.404 3.d on heritage farm retention and section 7 of 404 that relates to the cooperation between the owner and the Township as to the relationship of the site to surrounding areas. The smaller lots should be positioned to be subordinate to the major feature. He said this isn’t subordinate, it’s isolated.

Mr. Allen noted that the backs of houses face Ashenfelter Road as well, and he’d like to see the backs to be more attractive.

Mr. Allen said he also disagrees with the perimeter plantings. He understands the desire to have them but at that intersection of Whitehorse and Ashenfelter Roads the tall grasses will be dangerous. Mr. Altemose said there should be a 3-way stop there, though Mr. Allen said Schuylkill Township won’t allow it and they’d be the ones enforcing it. Also, if people queue up on Whitehorse Road in the winter on ice, they won’t be able to stop. Mr. Eberwein said they can modify the plantings to meet PennDOT’s sight distance requirements. Mr. Allen said they should design with the understanding there will be no 3 way stop sign installed anytime soon.

Mr. Eberwein shows the location of the new road, saying that the plan shows its location removes some of the hedgerow, though they want to keep part of it to have a tree lined area at one of the lots.

Mr. Comitta said if the cul-de-sac could be eliminated they would save money, and Mr. Eberwein said he’ll re-examine it.

Mr. Allen referred to the review letter from the Chester County Planning Commission dated 8/24/12, asking what item #1 means when it states “The location of the proposed subdivision is not consistent with the guidelines of the Rural Landscape, although it does reflect local zoning regulations”. Mr. Comitta said he’ll check on this.

Mrs. Leland said the major issues have been reviewed. Mr. Eberwein said they’ll return in October after filing a conditional use application for the septic systems in the front yards and for the detention basin in the open space.

Lighting Ordinance

Mrs. Leland said the group should be prepared to review the proposed lighting ordinance for October.


Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 10:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Manager
sheet, 9/11/2012