MAY 5, 1997

The first regular business meeting for May was held May 5, 1997 at the Charlestown Elementary School. John B. Sauser, Chairman, Robin J. Kohn, Irene W. Ewald, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 8:05 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.


Mr. Sauser announced that he attended a meeting on April 24, 1997 hosted by the Phoenixville Area Chamber of Commerce dealing with regional transportation issues including the Schuylkill Valley Metro and the status of the Mont Clair Bridge.

Mr. Sauser announced that an executive session on a potential land acquisition was held on April 21, 1997. He objected to the fact that one of the supervisors called this meeting and invited another supervisor while intentionally not informing him of it. Mr. Sauser stated that the solicitor informed him of a second meeting on the same matter which he did attend on May 1, 1997. He questioned the attendance of the township planning consultant, whose presence he felt to be an unnecessary edpense to the township as wlel as ubproductive. He stated that the Chairman should coordinate all meetings and stressed the importance of following proper procedure.

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of April 7, 1997 and Mr. Kohn seconded. All were in favor.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the minutes of April 21, 1997 and Mr. Kohn seconded. All were in favor.

April Treasurerís Report

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the May 1- 31, 1997 Treasurerís Report. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

May Accounts Payable

Mr. Sauser stated that he had a problem with approving the planning consultantís invoice which included time spent at the executive sessions on April 21st and May 1st. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Accounts Payable for May 5, 1997. Mr. Kohn stated in response to Mr. Sauserís comments that he was aware that Mr. Comitta would be attending the meetings and felt that his presence was appropriate and provided valuable suggestions and input. He seconded the motion. Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Kohn were in favor. Mr. Sauser was opposed.

Zoning Officerís Report

Mrs. Ewald requested an update on the filing of an injunction against Mr. Jonesí property on Valley Hill Road. Mr. Oeste responded that it will be filed this week.

Planning Commission Report

Mr. Churchill stated that the Planning Commission wishes to encourage the Board to consider applying for the available 1997 county open space grants.

Roadmaster Report

Mr. Kohn suggested that road sweeping continue to move forward, noting that the Oak Lane cul de sac needs attention. Mrs. Ewald told Mr. Thompson that some Belgian block has been knocked out of place on Oak Lane by road equipment this past winter and requested that it be replaced. She also commented that the road sweeping must be done so as to avoid sweeping stones onto peopleís properties and suggested using a loading sweeper for this purpose. Mr. Thompson stated that road sweeping will take place this week.

Fire Marshal Report

Mrs. Ewald asked for details on Mr. Alstonís tour of the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, PA. Mr. Alston stated that Conrail is retrofitting its large locomotives with spark arrestors and mufflers, which should help reduce the number of fires caused by the engine exhaust. Locomotives of this type are used on the Devault line, so this retrofitting will benefit the township.

Parks and Recreation Board

Mr. Connolly was not present.

Valley Forge Sewer Authority

Mr. Sauser stated that the minutes from the last meeting are on file and that a meeting will be held May 21st with the partnership townships and the Sewer Authority.

Citizenís Forum - Agenda Items

Neil Kerrigan, Eagle Scout with Troop #67, announced that his troop will be undertaking a clean-up of the old Charlestown Cemetery that will be coordinated with the Charlestown Historical Commission. The troop plans to clear branches, leaves, rebuild a section of the wall, clean dirt off gravestones to make them more legible and possibily to excavate a tombstone found outside the grounds of the cemetery. He distributed a sign up sheet for anyone who wished to join the volunteers and also requested donations. Mrs. Ewald invited residents to call the township office if they wish to become involved.

Liz Willow of Sycamore Lane stated that she supplied some PennDOT information to the Secretary on road clean up aids available. Mrs. Willow then referred to executive sessions held last July in which Mr. Sauser negotiated for some time with Realen Homes over a possible emergency access road from Charlestown Hunt to Sycamore Lane. She stated that the residents of Sycamore Lane should have been notified sooner and hopes this wonít happen again. Mr. Sauser responded that there was no long term negotiation by the Board or any member of the Board and referred to a memo by Mr. McErlane which indicated that Realen instigated the proposal to use Sycamore Lane as a solution to their dilemma over obtaining access from Broadwater Lane. Mr. Sauser stated that part of his counter proposal made through the township solicitor was to include permanent and severe restrictions on the road so that it could never be used as a public thoroughfare. His intention was to provide some protection to Sycamore Lane residents against the possibility of Charlestown Hunt residents coming in with a request for access to Sycamore Lane at a later time. Negotiations had to move quickly to satisfy Realenís timetable, and there was the possibility of a large donation for open space that would have benefited not only Sycamore Lane but the entire township .

Kevin Kuhn questioned a court document in which Realen solicitor Mark Kaplin stated that Mr. Sauser made a demand for $400,000 for access onto Sycamore Lane. Mr. Oeste stated that his response to Mr. Kaplin asserted that there was no initial demand from the township for funds. Also, Mr. Sauser denied making such a demand.

Michael Churchill requested that the Township not extend the arrangement with the PA Fish & Boat Commission for trout stocking of the Pickering Creek. Mr. Churchill observed increased usage of the creek that he believes has exceeded its capacity. With no control on the amount of use there is an influx of out of towners using the creek and the parking problems that accompany them. Mr. Sauser stated that he attended a public meeting on April 10th at the Nature Center discussing this issue and that the Board is waiting for a report and recommendation from the Parks & Recreation Board. Mrs. Ewald asked if Mr. Sauser attended as a resident or a board member, and Mr. Sauser responded he attended as both, but that the views he expressed were clearly his own.

Road Tour

The Spring Road Tour was re-scheduled for Monday, June 9th at 6:00 P.M. to begin at the Elementary School.

Spring Clean Up

Mr. Sauser stated that no substantial progress has been made on this project as no haulers have been found yet who wish to coordinate clean up efforts with the township.

Paving Contract

Mr. Kohli stated that heíll have the paving specification and the advertisement ready for the May 19th meeting.

Somerset - Continuation of Conditional Use Hearing

The proceedings were recorded by a Court Reporter. The record will remain open to allow time for Mr. Kohli to submit comments. The record will close on the date of the applicantís response, and the decision will be rendered within forty five days of that date.

Zeigler Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan

Alfred Zeigler, Vincent Kling Jr. and Chuck Dobson, P.E. presented the revised Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan dated 4/7/97 for Mr. Zeiglerís property along Howells Road.

Mr. Dobson referred to his memo of April 28, 1997 which addresses three main issues with regard to the plan. The first item provided an explanation for the decision not to utilize the existing right-of-way for access from the Charlestown Brae (Whitehorse at Charlestown) development. Mr. Kling (Jr.) presented a sketch which also addressed this question, indicating that the road would come in at a low point, causing drainage problems. He also indicated that the two lots the access road would service are better served by a Howells Road access. Moreover, such an access road would create traffic from the Brae development through Zeiglerís to Howells Road. Lastly, the access road would bisect the site.

Mrs. Ewald questioned Mr. Kling (Jr.) as to whether this was the best he could do for this site, and Mr. Kling responded that it was.

Item #2 on Mr. Dobsonís memo dealt with drainage problems onto Rees Road. By combining lots #1 and #2, the subdivision plan was reduced from 12 to 11 units and allows for a large stormwater retention berm on the new Lot #1 which will result in a reduction of flows onto Rees Road.

Mrs. Ewald asked about the Horseshoe Trail relocation and whether it is navigable by equestrians. Mr. Dobson responded that the topography is similar to that of the trailís former position and was designed for privacy by distancing it as much as possible from the potential houses in the proposed subdivision. Mrs. Ewald asked if it connects to the same trails, and Mr. Kling (Jr.) responded affirmatively, Mr. Zeigler stated that he has been involved in maintaining the Hroseshoe Trail on his property for the past 30 years and intends for it to continue.

Mr. Kohn referred to Item #3 on Mr. Dobsonís memo and stated that he will not approve the subdivision unless testing of the alternative sand mound sites is undertaken and they are prove satisfactory. He was concerned with the lack of a reforestation plan with regard to construction clearing that will take place. He also questioned the plan note requiring pumping and inspection of the septic tanks, which is really outside of township juridiction. Without a sewer department, Mr. Kohn questions the monitoring of these systems by the township when itís not done elsewhere in the township.

Mr. Oeste asked if there will be any covenants and restrictions documents, and Mr. Zeigler responded that there are none. The few restrictions that apply are shown directly on the plan. Mr. Sauser asked about the deed language for the shared driveways and Mr. Kohli suggested that a note be added to the plan outlining ownership and responsibilities to be subject to the solicitorís approval and to be incorporated into the deeds.

Mrs. Ewald stated that she has major concerns about the plan, including the impact of the four sand mound systems, the denuding of the site and the peculiar lot confirmations. Mr. Kling (Jr.) responded that the sand mound systems, located in the front yards, are not in wooded areas and that the lot lines were drawn with respect to the tree lines in order to disrupt the trees as little as possible. Mrs. Ewald offered to meet Mr. Zeigler or his representatives at the site to consider the matter further.

Mr. Sauser asked about the 11 acre site with Mr. Zeiglerís existing farmhouse and other buildings. Mr. Zeigler responded that he intends to keep that lot (Lot 11) in the family and under Act 515.

Mr. Sauser moved to approve the Zeigler Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan last revised 4/7/97 with approval to be conditioned on:

  1. Testing of the alternative sand mound sites;
  2. Deed restricting Lot #1 against further subdivision;
  3. Township review of tree replacement in accordance with SLDO section 512.A.4;
  4. Deeds and plan notes to include easement, maintenance and language for the shared driveways;
  5. Septic system protection notes to be eliminated from the plans; and
  6. An additional note on the delineation of the Horseshoe Trail to be approved by the Township solicitor.

Mr. Kohn seconded the motion. Mrs. Ewald pointed out that all of these conditions must be satisfactorily resolved or the plan is deemed denied. The vote was taken with Mr. Sauser and Mr. Kohn in favor, and Mrs. Ewald opposed.

Other Business

Charlestown Oaks - Recording of Final Plan

Mr. Oeste referred to a letter he received today from Frank Iacobucci Jr. requesting a 90 day extension from todayís date on the deadline for recording the Charlestown Oaks Final Plan.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the extension to August 5, 1997. Mr. Kohn seconded and all were in favor.

Appointment of alternate Zoning Hearing Board Member

Mrs. Ewald stated that the Municipalities Planning Code allows for second class townships to appoint up to two alternates to the Zoning Hearing Board in the event one of the three regular members cannot serve. She moved to appoint John C. Martin Jr. to the position of alternate Zoning Hearing Board member to be effective immediately and for a term length subject to clarification by the township solicitor. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor. The Secretary will send a letter to Mr. Martin.

Easttown Municipal Authority et al. V. DEP & Schuylkill Township

At 10:35 P.M, there was a ten minute recess to conduct an executive session to discuss this litigation issue. The Board reconvened at 10:50 P.M. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the DEPís revised stipulation dated 4/15/97 as presented by Eugene E. Dice, Esq., special counsel to the Board in the matter of Easttown Municipal Authority, Easttown Township, East Whiteland Township, Tredyffrin Township & Charlestown Township, Appellants v. DEP, Appellee & Schuylkill Township, Permitee. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.

Citizenís Forum - Non-Agenda Items

Mark Rectenwald was present to discuss difficulties he has had with Realen Homes encroaching o his territory during the construction of the Broadwater Lane emergency access. A letter signed by him and Mrs. Rectenwald dated May 4, 1997 was distributed to the Board on this matter. Mr. Kohli explained that Realen Homes cannot perform any work on the road until theyíve submitted a plan for township approval. Mr. Oeste will contact Realen Homes to provide Mr. Rectenwald with a contact person he can comfortably deal with since he has been unsatisfied by discussions with Bob Dwyer.

Stephen Schlichter asked if there have been any developments at the Valley Forge Christian College with respect to their proposed zoning change to allow apartments in the Institutional District and Mr. Sauser responded that there has been no change.


The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 P.M. The next meeting will be held at the Charlestown Elementary School at 8:00 P.M. on May 19, 1997.