Planning Commission: Wendy Leland, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Andy Motel, and Michael Richter. Bill Westhafer, Chairman, and Andre von Hoyer were absent.
Consultants: Thomas Comitta and Dan Wright, P.E.
Staff: Linda Csete, Township Manager, and Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary

Call to Order:

7:40 p.m.


Mrs. Leland chaired the meeting per Mr. Westhafer’s request since both he and the Vice Chair were unavailable to attend tonight’s session.

Mr. Churchill announced that Mr. Robert Thomas attended two meetings on the proposed Warner Spur, which relates to the Devault Rails to Trails project.

Mrs. Leland asked for volunteers for Election Day on April 26, 2016.

Mrs. Leland read aloud the following invitation-The Chester County Planning Commission has invited municipalities to participate in a multi-municipal planning effort to identify potential improvements to the transportation network in the Phoenixville Region. This plan would help to identify connections to regional trails (particularly the Schuylkill River Trail), safety improvements on local streets, and further improvements to the regional transportation system. This effort would take into consideration and compliment previously completed and currently ongoing planning efforts that have addressed the transportation network, such as the Phoenixville Area Intermodal Transportation Study and the Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan. The Planning Commission intends to apply for funding for the project via the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Transportation Community Development Initiative. Municipalities are not being requested to supply the matching funds for this project. However, each municipality that wishes to be involved in this initiative will be required to complete a Sample Resolution of Intent.

Mr. Allen asked Mrs. Csete to see if it would be possible to disable the redundant traffic signal at the former train track location on Warner Road.

Approval of Minutes

March 8, 2016 Minutes

Mr. Allen moved to approve the minutes of March 8, 2016 (with a minor housekeeping edit) and Mr. Richter seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Plan Reviews

Sketch Plan:

Davis 2 Lot Subdivision, Union Hill Road

Site distance for a driveway was a major factor in choosing the location of the lot to be created. Also this spot on the property will allow a 1-5% incline at the access near Mountain Laurel Lane. Farther towards Route 29, the drop off to the fields becomes steeper, to approximately six feet. Grading is a consideration, but with this sketch plan there is minimum disturbance. Sharing the driveway was not suggested since it would ruin Mr. Davis’ viewshed.

Planning Commission Members gave Mr. Davis some reminders, and asked him to please waive the site visit requirement since several members have already been to the property. They will return to the Commission sometime this summer after site testing and surveying.

Final Plan:

Whitehorse Estates Planning Module Component

Mr. Wright explained the formality of needing a Planning Commission Member to sign the document. Now that the project has been granted public water, and Mr. Wright has reviewed all components, the module officially makes the Township and the County aware of the Whitehorse project. The Sewage Facilities Planning Module for the Whitehorse Estates subdivision will be signed after the meeting.

General Planning Items

Charlestown Cemetery Parking Plan

Mr. Wright distributed copies of a plan to add a gravel parking area at the Charlestown Cemetery that would be accessed from the Pickering Spur. The lot is across the road from the Charlestown Playhouse and will hopefully prevent cemetery visitors from parking at the Playhouse and walking across busy Charlestown Road. Option A showed the lot parallel with the existing stone wall, and Option B shows the lot parallel with the road. The Supervisors briefly discussed the lot at their April 4th meeting and requested comments from the Planning Commission. Mrs. Csete will email the following Commission comments to the Board.

Review 5 Year Long Term Project Plan

Mrs. Csete circulated copies of the revised draft of the long term plan entitled Charlestown Township Non-Recurring Major Project Plan 2016. She requested the Planning Commission’s review of the raw estimates, fielded questions, and asked Members to provide email feedback prior to the project committee’s June meeting.

Suggestions made included:

Sketch Plan Brochure

The Members reviewed the latest revision to the sketch plan brochure dated March 25, 2016. The comments from the previous meeting were focused on needing a section specifically for smaller projects. Mr. Comitta added for the March revision:

  1. Names to the maps (page 1).
  2. Examples of well-designed smaller subdivisions (Integrated Sketch Plan Concept page 2)
  3. Other Considerations for Subdivisions (page 4).
  4. Primary Purposes (page 2).
  5. Critical Items list (page 2).
  6. The website address (page 3).

Tonight’s comments from Members were that the brochure was still not simple enough and still at a more seasoned developer’s level. The developers did not need a brochure; they would have an engineer to navigate this for them. Mr. Comitta’s newest suggested edits were:

  1. Include a clear step by step process.
  2. Consider inclusion of items that might not require a sketch plan, but only permits.
  3. Plan Requirements and the Primary Purposes for Preparing a Sketch Plan sections found on page 2, should have a simple easy flow, listing rules and referring to code.
  4. Tell applicant to bring an aerial photo with neighboring structures.
  5. Remove items found on the top 2/3 of front page.
  6. Add site distance and road access considerations.
  7. Let applicant know that the neighbors should be notified.
  8. Near the end of the steps include a phrase letting the applicant know that the “Township will let you know if you need to hire an engineer”, and suggest they request their rate (fixed and not to exceed).
  9. The only thing that a larger subdivision would need to know is “Talk to the Planning Commission early”.

It was decided that a second document for items like a fence, pool, in-law suite, or garage may need to be drafted. Or these items could be the first considerations in the brochure’s “flow chart style questions” guiding the applicant through the process. Mr. Comitta will revise the brochure again and return.

Review draft of Renewable Energy Ordinance

Mr. Comitta circulated a revised draft (dated April 12, 2016) of an amendment to the Township Zoning Ordinance. The Members are to review the latest revision, with edits suggested by Ms. Elizabeth Compitello, of the DVRPC. Also, Members are to review a model ordinance for Solar and Geothermal energy being distributed this week. Ms. Compitello has suggested that Members consider changing the wording, which is now a Conditional Use in three districts, to an Accessory Use in all districts (except the historical district).

Number of Occupants in Single Dwelling Units

Members briefly discussed the legality of limiting the number of people living in a structure. Mr. Wright mentioned safety, health, and fire concerns. Some HOA documents defer to the Township and do not address the issue. Mr. Wright found Mr. Comitta’s suggestion (Table 404.5 in the International Property Maintenance Code) very helpful since it provided rough numbers. Although these numbers are certainly not very limiting, they are a criteria used by South Whitehall Township, and a few Pennsylvania counties. This item will be on the May agenda.

I/O/B District Zoning

Mr. Comitta described the aerial map of the Industrial/Office/Business district for a discussion focusing on the Conditional Uses in Section 27-1002.A.(3). The Board of Supervisors has given their support for drafting Conditional Use wording to define or restrict truck traffic on Phoenixville Pike.

Mr. Comitta said that the Township can repeal certain uses or determine what criteria to use to control truck and warehouse activity. Currently there is no standard or definition for this, so there is no control. Mr. Motel reminded the Commission that Mr. Bender had suggested getting rid of certain Conditional Uses if the Township is not able to establish objective criteria to control them.

This item might be accomplished by prohibiting outside storage, providing fencing and screening requirements, limiting hours of operation and number of trailers. This item will be on the May agenda.


There being no further business, Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary