Great Valley Middle School Room 154
255 North Phoenixville Pike, Malvern Pa
Tuesday, September 14, 2021


Planning Commission:
Andre von Hoyer, Chairman, Mike Richter, Vice-Chair, Michael Churchill, Wendy Graham, Andy Motel, Matt Rogers, Dan Walker, and Bill Westhafer
Dan Wright, P.E., and Dan Mallach.
Mike Allen, Linda Csete, and Lisa Gardner

Call to Order:

7:33 p.m.


Mrs. Csete presented Ms. Wendy Graham with a certificate of appreciation from the Charlestown Township Board of Supervisors for her years of service including 21 years on the Planning Commission, 14 years on the Historical Architectural Review Board, and 2 terms as Judge of Elections. She was deeply thanked for her impact on Charlestown Township and the future of the community.

Aqua has asked the Township customers to continue the conservation of water until further notice.

Mr. Motel stated that Audubon Society member Daniel Mummert will return to Brightside Farm Park on September 22, 2021, at 6 p.m. to give a talk about next steps to further improve the farm’s habitat.

Charlestown Day is Saturday, September 25, 2021. Mrs. Csete will look into obtaining a current Open Space Map for the Planning Commission’s table.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Churchill moved to approve the minutes of August 10, 2021, and Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Updates & Reports

Mr. Motel and Mr. Allen met with Mr. Greg Richardson, of Traffic Planning and Design, to envision how traffic should be as Township development continues. Safety concerns regarding existing patterns, access issues, and crosswalks were reviewed for the TND-area 3 on August 24th.

Mr. Churchill discussed the need to begin steps to improve the conditions at Charlestown Road and Coldstream Road. The traffic is often very backed up as people return to work and schools are in session. Mrs. Csete said it is on the Act 209 Plan, but to obtain a signal the first step is to have a discussion with TPD who will, in turn, talk to PennDOT. Mr. Wright said that there is already proof that the intersection is failing due to the long backup. Mrs. Csete stated that the intersection of Valley Road and Route 401 is in design with PennDOT, plus the intersection of Yellow Springs/Sidley and Phoenixville Pike is in grant funding review process.

The access road at Rees and Hollow Road for Devault Village at Spring Oak was being established until the Zoning Officer stopped it as the Plan for the improvement had not yet been officially recorded at the County.

Plan Review

Request for a waiver to allow above-ground rain garden for stormwater management at 5 Winter Meadow Lane

Mr. Wright stated that the waiver has already been presented to the homeowner since the property was very large and no action was needed by the PC.

PA Turnpike Commission Conditional Use Application

Mr. Michael Gill, Esq. of Buckley Brion McGuire & Morris LLP, and Mr. Rosenberry, of Maser Construction, were present for a review of the PA Turnpike Commission’s Conditional Use Application. Mr. Gill stated that one of the conditions laid out by the Supervisors was to obtain a Conditional Use for utility construction in Steep and Very Steep Slopes as part of its Land Development Plan.

They want to construct a new maintenance facility along the eastbound lane of Route 76 near the intersection with Valley Hill Road. It is located between Valley Hill Road and Yellow Springs Road and is roughly ¾ of a mile from the current facility but on the opposite side of the TP. However, 4 different utilities (sewer, water, electric, and gas) will pass through the slopes and end at the Yorktown Court bulb in Charlestown Oaks. There have already been discussions between that HOA and the PTC reps. Tonight, the reps seek a recommendation as they go before the Board of Supervisors.

  1. There is no other option to hook up to the utilities.
  2. Eminent domain was obtained from the HOA.
  3. No information was presented regarding the compensation.
  4. The management company controlling the HOA changed mid-course.
  5. An agreement was executed with a single homeowner.
  6. The land was still condemned to give the homeowner an option to address issues before the project closes.
  7. Mr. Kuhn asked Mr. Gill about the conservation easement to the Township and a conservation entity such as The French & Pickering Creeks Trust.
  8. The DEP approved the tie-in to the sanitary line.
  9. The deepest part of the utility line is 15’.
  10. The Plan will include a narrative regarding filter socks for stabilization.
  11. Socks will stay until they disintegrate.
  12. Advanced GeoServices’ first comment received a “will comply” so the Supervisors will have the desired exhibits provided.
  13. Directional drilling could not be done as the sanitary sewer was too steep with a 30% drop going from 655’ to 570’.
  14. Mr. Rosenberry stated that the landscape plan provides grass and brush/shrub growth on the easement.
  15. Stormwater will be controlled especially at higher elevations with the restoration of vegetation that is deer resistant, and the use of grass matting.
  16. The establishment of the line holding the utilities will not cause a potential waterway in a heavy storm because it is in two different watersheds.
  17. Salt runoff is not an issue.
  18. Mr. Mallach discussed clarification of the 30-foot vs the recommended 21-foot proposed disturbance area. The TP rep maintained the need to use 30’.
  19. The landscape plan is sound per Mr. Mallach.
  20. An 18-month landscaping warranty was offered.
  21. Mr. Churchill stated that the warranty needed to be longer due to unknowns (the weather or storms as an example).

The construction schedule for the utility line is very vague since it depends on syncing 3 utility companies but is roughly estimated to start in 2022, with the main part of the facility project starting in October 2021. These two parts of the project, the Conditional Use utility line and the building, can be engineered separately since they are in different watersheds.

There were a few questions unrelated to the Conditional Use recommendation from the audience. Residents Ms. Susan Gannon, Ms. Karen DePew and Ms. Jean Benning asked questions such as the distance from the planned facility vs. the development. There was also a question about landscape buffer disturbance. Discussion followed about noise, truck beeping, deliveries, night spills, storms, Aston Woods, northerly stormwater, construction vehicles on development roads, use of development pipes, etc. Mr. Gill said no to a request for a sound barrier. Ms. Gannon was concerned about water pressure but Aqua has approved the insignificant drop in pressure and the PC was convinced that the utility is watching out for its customers. Mr. von Hoyer ended the discussions since tonight was to focus on the Conditional Use. Mr. Buser, from the TP, distributed his card so that residents can easily contact him.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend approval of the Conditional Use Application for the PA Turnpike Commission subject to the consultants’ review comments and periodic extended performance reviews of the landscaping plan beyond 18 months. Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

General Planning Items

Natural Resource Protection Ordinance Revisions

As a follow-up to the County’s findings presented on July 13th to the Planning Commission, Members discussed the Charlestown ordinances relative to steep slopes, wetlands, woodlands, riparian buffers, and flood plains with recommendations for improvements. Mr. Mallach led the discussion with a handout Top Ten Considerations for Vegetation Preservation Ordinance Amendments (points taken from local township ordinances).

The first enhancement was to clearly state the purpose of the changes such as consistency with the Township Comprehensive Plan. The second and third items, Place Vegetation Preservation, Protection and Replacement provisions into the Zoning Ordinance and then Group Natural Feature Preservation provisions were next to keep the ordinance in good order.

The MPC suggested adding Timber Harvesting definitions and provisions, with discussion following about timber harvesting and selective cutting (usually performed by professional arborists or harvesters). Members also discussed:

  1. Trying to reduce the grey area between administering the definitions and enforcement.
  2. Members discussed item 6 at length (Require a Tree Removal Permit for All Tree Removal) as Mr. Mallach reminded them this important point listed clear and reasonable exemptions. Members discussed enforcement, lot size, etc.

Mr. Mallach felt this PC discussion would help him to focus the next draft on the 5 points heard often as the Members spoke about tying tree removal with:

He discussed proactive landscaping. Mr. Wright will research the County forestry and any former timber harvesting permit protocols the Township may have. Also discussed:

  1. How many instances might the Township need these guidelines?
  2. What triggers enforcement?
  3. Control cutting down trees to remove the encumbrance of the Ordinance to subdivide or develop. Mr. Kuhn suggested looking back 5-10 years at applications to see if they cleared trees intending to subdivide if it is suspected.
  4. What triggers a Chester County harvest permit and why isn’t the Township notified?
  5. The lack of vegetation diversity due to deer.
  6. Mr. Westhafer wanted to increase the green in the ordinance to promote planting trees.
  7. This brought up Item 9 Update and Enhance Tree Protection Requirements During Construction/Disturbance Activities.
  8. The discussion ended with pollinator gardens, invasives, and the need for care, knowledge, and watering when planting and maintaining vegetation.

Lastly, Mr. Mallach will draft enforceable provisions into an ordinance so that a future developer can’t remove trees as encumbrances, with an additional focus on riparian buffers and steep and very steep slopes.

Stormwater Management Ordinance Revisions

Mr. Wright provided information on revisions needed to the Stormwater Management Ordinance. The majority of the changes are phrasing improvements. He recommends the changes go to the Board of Supervisors for Stormwater Management Ordinance amendments.

Mr. von Hoyer moved to approve the recommendation of the changes for the Stormwater Management Ordinance to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Motel seconded. Mr. von Hoyer asked for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

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 9:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary
sheet, 9/14/2021