Wendy Leland, Chairperson, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Andy Motel (arrived later), Andre von Hoyer, Michael Churchill, Daniel Wright, P.E, Thomas Comitta, Linda Csete, Lisa Gardner, and those on the attached sign-in sheet.

Call to Order:

7:35 p.m.


The Charlestown Township Tour will be Saturday, November 17th, 2012 from 8am to noon. The AT&T building and the Altemose property at Whitehorse and Ashenfelter Roads are to be added to the locations visited. Mr. Grabus will notify the caretaker of the AT&T building. Mrs. Leland asked Mrs. Csete to give Carol Altemose a courtesy phone call the day before the tour.

Approval of September 11, 2012 Minutes

Mrs. Leland told Mrs. Csete to make one change to page 2 where it says Andy, it should state Andre. Mr. Allen moved to approve the minutes of September 11th, 2012 and Mr. Churchill seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor. (Mrs. Csete left at this time)


AT&T Building at Bodine and Valley Hill Roads

Mr. Robert Grabus of the Chester County Economic Development Council came to discuss this deteriorating building that was built to Cold War specifications. It is a positive pressure building built to keep workers, and whatever was inside of it, safe from a nuclear blast. There are still a few issues left at this point such as a small amount of asbestos and molded paint, but it is mostly gutted. It is a 50,000 square foot structure with no windows, perfect for an off-site museum storage facility or as a data storage building. Mr. Grabus mentioned that in fact PECO is shopping for a sight such as this. It has a caretaker available to allow for touring the site, no antenna, but robust connectivity, and ventilation equipment suitable for a thick walled structure, and a tower. The cost to demo this would be very high and still leave the tower beside it, so he asked the Planning Commission members if they had any compatible ideas. Mr. Churchill felt as long as noise and traffic was kept low it would be a beneficial project. A handout portrayed an aerial view of surrounding neighbors. Mr. Grabus thanked the members for the positive nature they had toward the CCEDC efforts to make future use of this bunker style building and said he would keep in contact.

Whitehorse Estates

Mr. Crawford Esq., counsel for Lance Altemose and Carol Altemose who were also present, began by speaking to the Planning Commission regarding three major points. He displayed a diagram of the planned subdivision. He directed his discussion to a row of lots along Whitehorse Road with subsurface stormwater detention basins partially in open space.

Stormwater Facilities

Mr. Crawford first addressed the maintenance issue of a stormwater structure that is located both in open space and in an owner’s lot. The owner would be responsible, the details of the required maintenance to be incorporated into the deeds of the lots, and overseen by the HOA.

Mr. Wright asked who would own the facilities since it was not clear on the plan. Some water drained into the open space leading one to believe it was a community wide system, yet if one owner doesn’t comply it could become an issue where the HOA may need to step in. Mr. Wright explained maintenance procedures to Mr. Westhafer. Smaller community beds or individual capture inlets on lots are less likely to have the need for HOA action (for example if an inlet was not flowing or a pipe was filling in). Mrs. Leland said Full Disclosure needed to be written into the owner’s deed and HOA documents due to subsequent home sales not educating responsibilities to new owners. An HOA document should be submitted to the municipality to be reviewed by the attorney prior to final plan approval.

Sand Mounds

Second, Mr. Crawford looked to the Planning Commission for recommendation toward Supervisory approval of sanitary sewers in the front yards. In many cases the best soil found during testing was in the front and these would be simply standard septic fields. However, Lots 18 and 19 proposed having raised sand mounds blended to appear natural. Mr. Allen asked Mr. Lance Altemose “What if the Planning Commission was to say no to sand mounds in the front yard?” Mr. Altemose’s reply was there would be a development built around the limits of 2 lots’ septic requirements. Mr. Bender was consulted by Mrs. Leland for suggestions. He asked if the ordinance required backup for sand mounds. 100% replacement area is identified and maintained as seen in these plans.

Mr. Churchill stated he was sure the aesthetic blending and shaping would solve problems of being in the Open space so he was not concerned. Mr. Allen was not concerned as long as it was an underground structure, but if it was above ground it raised his concern, since once approved, there was leeway as to what the developer could do for Lots 18 and 19. He wanted to be sure of an acceptable design. Mr. Eberwein, P.E. of E.B. Walsh & Associates Inc. then assured Mr. Allen grading would be shown on future displays to portray the aesthetics, since better aesthetics benefit his client’s interests and satisfy the Township.

Water Origin

Thirdly, Mr. Crawford said they needed to know for well location/separation, or for planning public water, if the Planning Commission had a water origin preference. Mr. Motel told Mr. Crawford that they did not have jurisdiction about public water vs. well water. Mr. Allen and the rest of the Commission did agree, it is a plus to have public water and on-site septic since it brings more water into Charlestown Township. Mr. Churchill said this comment could be passed onto the Board of Supervisors for them. Mr. Eberwein felt public water was a better safety consideration. Mr. von Hoyer felt as though public water encouraged increased development, but Mr. Altemose disagreed, stating the franchise is held by the Township; therefore the Township maintains control. Mr. Crawford also stated in this instance the main water line is already in on Whitehorse Road and would not be laid out for additional development.

Review Comments

Mr. Comitta said he wanted to see a document for the stormwater structures and sand mounds that would be tied to the HOA. Mr. Bender said the Township may still need to be an arbitrator in the future. Mr. Crawford said that he believed keeping the HOA active with ongoing responsibilities would minimize potential conflicts that could build up over time. Mr. Comitta suggested bringing to the Board, contacts and their examples of successful “like-types”. This way the Board could contact them as a reference.

Mr. Crawford and Mr. Eberwein also referenced the Conclusion Part 3 of Mr. Comitta’s October 3, 2012 letter and discussion followed.

3.A   Whitehorse Estates will work with Charlestown Township to provide a continuous looped path system through the Open space, with connections to off-site trails.

3.B   Whitehorse Estates will protect the viewshed by buffering along the northern and right-side of Whitehorse Road. Also included will be additional setback along that area and satisfactory plantings, in consideration of grading, for Planning Commission review.

3.C   Mature trees shall be considered a visual aesthetic of the development and so far 4-6 may need to go, with 8 hickories staying. The trees along the corridor will be a priority for protection during construction but some trees will have to go.

3.D   An evergreen screen was agreed to by Mr. Crawford for a filtered view of backyard amenities and rear facades. The use of evergreens could change if the Planning Commission wishes.

3.E   The Developer will preserve the existing corridor/driveway. EIA will be revised.

3.F   Mr. Comitta suggested the proposed dwellings could be adjusted in orientation so that they achieve the look as though they have been there a long time.

3.G   Mr. Crawford stated the builders would keep to a traditional style home, meaning compatibility with the historic structure of the current farmhouse. Consistency is a term that would gain ordinance compliance. Mr. Westhafer suggested they may provide guidelines for colors and textures, but not styles. The Planning Commission suggested Mr. Eberwein bring pictures to the next discussion.

Other items mentioned included Mr. Allen stating that the screen needed to be pulled back to improve sight distance since there would be no 3 way stop at the intersection. It was suggested to bring pictures of sight sections for the next proposal from both of the roads and corners. Mr. Westhafer felt views from Whitehorse and Ashenfelter roads were both important, and wondered why the field could not be left as is. Mr. Comitta said it would be more attractive from the road with a functional screen at the back of the homes. Mr. Motel felt Whitehorse Road was used more and therefore the more important view shed.

Motion #1

Mr. Allen made a motion to allow Stormwater Management facilities in the Open space as a Conditional Use provided that maintenance of facilities is set forth in the HOA documents and also in the individual deeds of the homeowners with language approved by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Churchill seconded, Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Motion #2

Mr. Churchill made a motion recommending approval of septic systems in the front yards or side yard abutting a street, with the condition that any sand mound system in Lots 18 and 19 or any future lots, shall be approved only if in accordance with plans submitted to and approved by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Allen seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

At this point Mr. Crawford requested a copy of October’s minutes before they were approved by the Planning Commission for the November Board of Supervisors Meeting. Mrs. Leland told him copies are to be distributed only after approval but she would provide the motions following a consult with Mr. Bender.

Other Business

Mr. Churchill wanted it known that it was not necessary to be present at a Planning Commission meeting to weigh in. Someone else can come in place or a written document can be submitted as an option.

Mr. Comitta mentioned that Mr. Gambone was present at the last Board of Supervisors’ meeting with Thomas Fillippo and Perry Filippo to ask the Board for suggestions for TND2 tenants/marketing. Mr. Comitta said they were instructed to revisit their drawing of April 2008 and return to the Board or request a meeting with the Design Review Committee.

Mr. Allen said he had a phone conversation with PECO regarding meter locations.

The next meeting will have the Lighting Ordinance on the agenda, revision date of September 5th, 2012.


Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 9:38 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary
sheet, 10/09/2012