Planning Commission:
Andre von Hoyer, Chairman, Michael Churchill, Wendy Leland, Andy Motel, Matt Rogers, Bill Westhafer, and Dan Walker. Michael Richter, Vice Chairman, was absent.
Dan Wright, P.E. and Thomas Comitta
Lisa Gardner

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.


Thank you to everyone that came out to make Earth Day a success. Volunteers cleaned the roadside on Coldstream Road, mulched trees and scraped Lantern Fly eggs at the Park, and among other things, established birdhouses at Brightside Farm.

Please come out and vote on May 21st.

Mr. von Hoyer and Mr. Wright announced that there was a meeting in February regarding the Pickering Dam Bridge. Reps from PennDOT were there to establish a preliminary discussion regarding bridge replacement. The bridge has the lowest classification and will likely remain its current 18’ width, but could expand up to 24’. It is a state road that may need a parking area for fishermen.

Ms. Leland stated that the Charlestown Elementary School is full to capacity and that redistricting will be taking place. The demographics are changing rapidly, many new students are from Spring Oak and East Whiteland.

Approval of Minutes

March 12, 2019 Minutes

Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of March 12, 2019, and Mr. Rogers seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and, there being none, called for a vote. All were in favor.

March 23, 2019 Minutes

Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of the Strategic Planning Meeting on March 23, 2019, and Mr. Churchill seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and, there being none, called for a vote. All were in favor.

General Planning Matters

Act 537 Special Study Supplement for the Valley Creek Trunk Sewer Sale

Mr. Wright referred to his recent review letter about the Act 537 Special Study Supplement for the Valley Creek Trunk Sewer Sale, submitted on behalf of Tredyffrin Township. A 45 day review period was provided in accordance with PA Code Title 25 Chapter 71 Section 71.31 (b) that expires on April 30, 2019.

Mr. Wright said due to DEP regulations there must be an update to document the change to the official plan by the VFSA. The Township has no special interest in the matter since the change has no effect on its residents, but Tredyffrin requests a review by the PC. The PC had no comment so the Township Engineer will provide a letter stating that the document was reviewed and there are no comments.

Conditional Uses, and Standards & Criteria

Mr. Comitta referred to his handout dated April 9, 2019 called Zoning Ordinance Amendments. It listed probable and possible Conditional Uses to be considered for one or more zoning districts. He also referred to Chapter 27 Zoning Revisions (revised 4/5/19) and Conditional Use Standards and Criteria (revised 4/5/19).

Mr. Comitta discussed how townships can anticipate unpopular uses. He said there was another subcommittee meeting that addressed these Standards & Criteria and referred to a grid of Conditional Uses. Discussion followed:

  1. The Private Club for Recreation was deleted because it was not easy to define parameters if left in FR, so something similar was moved to INS.
  2. The name was changed to Private Clubhouse for Recreation to establish parameters. It was placed in PRD-3 since the Use was already there.
  3. The two Uses, Cultural and Religious, were discussed and will be restricted by sound limitations. A Religious Use is one involving worship and ceremony for particular beliefs, as opposed to Cultural which has none of these characteristics.
  4. I/O/B continues to be the location for Uses not allowed in other districts.
  5. On Page 2, #3, of the Zoning Ordinance Amendments there was a change to read (It is unlawful to have 5 or more cars that do not bear), as required by the Motor Vehicle Code of PA all of the following (a) a valid registration plate assigned to said vehicle (b) a current certificate of inspection for said vehicle (c) an ascertainable vehicle identification number.
  6. Ms. Leland voiced her concern about allowing Junk Yard as a Use (see italic in previous bullet). Mr. Wright explained Mr. Thompson’s view about restricting it heavily, and also giving the ordinance teeth to help with enforcement.
  7. Mr. Comitta will look into defining the terms Commercial Greenhouse vs Garden Center/Plant Nursery.
  8. Mr. Rogers suggested setting limits on group homes by using different levels or by acreage. Mr. Churchill said the PC would be unsuccessful removing this use from residential. However, complaints from neighbors of these homes are often about traffic going in and out (whether it be shift workers or food deliveries) parking, and trash accumulation.
  9. Ms. Leland will forward info to the Members about rectifying blight and its remediation from notes obtained at a Phoenixville Regional Planning meeting.
  10. By placing Motor Vehicle Service Station and Restaurant/Fast Food in TND-3 it is controlled by design standards. Mr. Comitta said that there are ways to design driveways that can allow the Use but not be unsightly. He referred to page 22 of the Conditional Use Standards & Criteria handout. Here he lists the controls for Drive-thru establishments.
  11. Other Uses discussed tonight were storage facilities, bed & breakfasts or Airbnb’s, fence-work companies, vineyards, CSA’s, and sanitariums vs 3 unrelated people in a home situation.

Mr. Comitta will return with word-smithing or research for the following terms: commercial greenhouse, group homes, agricultural uses, vineyards, CSA’s, and sanitariums.

Mr. Motel discussed a legal case where a commercial wedding barn venue impacted surrounding neighbors, and a township failed to say why it wasn’t good for that township’s health and safety in an agricultural district. Members discussed restrictions, pending ordinances, and perplexing limitations. The information regarding this decision has been forwarded to Mr. Thompson.

Proposed Amendments to Noise Ordinance

The Planning Commission began discussions on proposed amendments to the Noise Ordinance per the Supervisors’ request. Mr. Walker suggested rewording the ordinance to be clearer where it reads “the increase in the sound level being because the road is being widened”. Further discussion followed regarding the width of the road, the volume that comes with it, the decline in property values, and quality of life. Members agree it is time for a sound engineer, interviews begin soon.

Action Items

  1. Mr. Wright will communicate the “no comment” to Tredyffrin regarding the Act 537.
  2. Mr. Comitta will return with word-smithing or research for the terms-commercial greenhouse, group homes, agricultural uses, vineyards, CSA’s, and sanitariums.
  3. Members are to review the Noise Ordinance draft.

Administrative Note

Any documents referred to in the minutes are available to the public upon request to the Township office.


There being no further business, Mr. von Hoyer adjourned the meeting at 9 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary