CHARLESTOWN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The second regular meeting for December was held December 20, 1999 at the Charlestown Elementary School, 2060 Charlestown Road, Devault. John B. Sauser, Robert C. Wert, Irene W. Ewald, Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Ed Theurkauf, Linda M. Csete, Secretary, and those on the attached attendee list were present.
The meeting was called to order at 7:35 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mr. Sauser wished to express his appreciation to the people of Charlestown for their support following the conclusion of his six year term in office and in particular those who stepped forward to serve on various committees and boards.
Mrs. Ewald recognized her colleagues for their service to the Township, and Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert received a round of applause.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Mrs. Baldwin requested that a check be approved for Kory Barrett, who completed the restoration of the Kennedy ledger at the Revolutionary War Cemetery for a cost of $3,360.00. Mr. Wert moved to approve check #2448 to Kory Barrett for $3,360.00 and Mr. Sauser seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor. Mrs. Ewald did not vote.
Mr. Sauser moved to approve the minutes of December 6, 1999 and Mr. Wert seconded. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mr. Sauser read the proposed Tax Levy Resolution setting the millage for 2000 at .4 mils, in its entirety. Mr. Sauser moved to approve Resolution #547-99 and Mr. Wert seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion. She stated that a reduction in taxes at this time doesn’t take into consideration the new Board’s budget needs, especially since approximately $30,000 of the year-end bills aren’t being closed out this evening as has been the practice in prior years. She asked the Chairman to reconsider the decrease in tax millage. Mr. Sauser called the question. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mr. Sauser asked the Secretary if a proof of publication was available for the advertising of the proposed 2000 Budget, and the Secretary produced it. Mr. Sauser proposed a change to the draft, decreasing item #459.10 by $3,000.00 and replacing this amount in account #120.50, the Municipal Office Fund. With this amendment, he moved to approve the draft budget by Resolution #548-99. Mr. Wert seconded. Mrs. Ewald asked her colleagues to reconsider, suggesting the Board roll over the 1999 Budget as it stands in order to be consistent with the new Board’s goals and objectives. Mr. Sauser called the vote. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed, stating that the 2000 Budget is irresponsible.
Frank Iacobucci, Jr., Dan DiMucci of Pennoni Associates, and Frank Iacobucci, Sr. were present to discuss a concept plan for revisions to the Charlestown Oaks Final Plan. In order to satisfy DEP requirements, the plan was modified to minimize disturbance of wetlands, including the elimination of one cul-de-sac in Phase II. The remaining cul-de-sac is shown to be longer than the original, and has been reviewed and approved by the Fire Marshal. Some widening will take place and an emergency access road is shown on the plan. A list dated 10/26/99 quantifying each modification was submitted for the Board’s reference and was previously incorporated into the Planning Commission minutes of 10/26/99. There will be 36 less units and an increase of 2.7 acres of open space under the revised plan.
A second area of modification was presented with regard to landscaping. Mr. DiMucci stated that that the majority of homeowners whose backyards face heavily wooded sections of the subdivision have requested that their yards be left open and not planted with trees as required by the current approved plan. This allows them to have more usable space in their yards and still affords them the wooded vista provided by the surrounding open space. This leaves the subdivision with a number of trees to be relocated from these yards. Some of these trees will be used to restore the wooded buffer along Yellow Springs Road. Mr. Sauser stated his preference for some smaller shrubs for this buffer, and that the plantings be placed away from the open buffer along the road for better visibility and less shade on the road, causing less icing conditions during adverse winter weather. Mr. Theurkauf said these suggestions can be considered during the specific design stage.
The applicant further requested that the approved plan for 6” caliper replacement trees be modified to allow smaller caliper trees, as landscapers won’t provide a one year guarantee on 6” caliper trees due to their higher failure rate. Since there is an exchange formula for substituting a larger caliper tree with a smaller one, namely, three 1 ½-4” caliper trees are needed to replace one 6” caliper tree, there is a surplus of trees proposed as compared with the current approved plan. Because this number of trees, added to the homeowners’ relocated trees, is considerably larger than that provided on the existing plan, there is a large surplus of trees that physically will not fit on the site. Charlestown Oaks Inc. proposes to donate this surplus of trees to the Township to be used wherever they see fit, possibly at Charlestown Park or other open space facility. Mr. Pennoni distributed a chart outlining the proposed changes to the landscape plan, which was previously incorporated into the Planning Commission minutes of 10/26/99.
Mr. Kohli explained that this plan is in the concept stage only, and that the applicant will be required to return to the Planning Commission with fully engineered plans for Phase II. Mr. Sauser moved to approve the conceptual plan modifying Phase II of the Charlestown Oaks approved Final Plan. Mr. Wert seconded. Mrs. Ewald asked for clarification that this concept plan has a sketch plan status and Mr. Kohli responded yes. Mrs. Ewald recommended that the applicant review the plan with the new Board to consolidate their support. Mr. Wert asked if the Planning Commission recommended approval, and Mr. Philips responded yes. Mr. Sauser called the vote. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
Mr. Oeste re-opened the hearing for the Deerfield Conditional Use application. Since a court reporter was not present, Mr. Oeste asked if the applicant would agree to hold the hearing accepting a tape recording of the proceedings. The applicant agreed.
Mr. Oeste marked Mr. Kohli’s letter to the Township dated 12/13/99 as Exhibit B-7 and Mr. Theurkauf’s and Mr. Comitta’s memo to the Township dated 12/6/99 as Exhibit B-8. Mr. Oeste explained that the hearing will continue with testimony given by the Township’s consultants. First he asked if the Board had any questions for the Applicant’s last witness, Mr. Fahir, P.E. of Chester Valley Engineers on his testimony regarding stormwater management. There being none, Mr. Theurkauf was sworn in as the Board’s first witness.
Mr. Theurkauf said Exhibit A-9 is a sketch plan representing what he felt was closer to the plans shown to the Planning Commission earlier this year. He made the following comments as detailed in his memo of 12/6/99.
Mr. Theurkauf outlined the following suggestions to be incorporated into the conditions of approval:
Questions of Mr. Theurkauf:
|Mr. Sauser:||Preserve existing hedgerows – wasn’t this an objective from the beginning?|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||It was always stated by our office as desirable.|
|Mr. Sauser||The Planning Commission made ongoing consistent efforts to communicate this to the applicant.|
|Mr. Theurkauf||Not specifically, but it was communicated as a desirable outcome.|
|Mr. Sauser||The largest hedgerow – they plan to substitute one? They can’t maintain it?
|Mr. Theurkauf||The Applicant has since indicated preserving it might be possible.|
|Mr. Sauser||In its existing condition? Or just the larger trees?|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||We didn’t get into it. At least it will save the significant trees.|
|Mr. Sauser:||The 275 foot wide zone of no disturbance adjacent to the turnpike: is this the depth of the woods?|
|Mr. Sauser:||You suggest moving the two houses that are shown furthest east on the plan?|
|Mr. Sauser:||Can you design a continuous looped path without going through people’s yards?|
|Mr. Sauser:||I’m concerned about any land in common ownership. No-man’s lands invite dumping, misbehavior and delinquents. I’d prefer private ownership with covenants and restrictions. It gives the owner proprietary concerns and responsibility. Using Three Ponds as an example, this works well.|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||A potential downside is the loss of usefulness to residents of the township outside of the owners. For example, the Horseshoe Trail is there. Private ownership would make use of the trail contingent on the largess of many small property owners.|
|Mrs. Ewald:||Is there an insurance difference for public versus private open space?|
|Mr. Oeste:||There are definite benefits to public land.|
|Mr. Sauser:||State statutes indemnify users of the Horseshoe Trail.|
|Mr. Oeste:||Homeowners’ Associations could be required to maintain the open space. If they default, the Township can take over maintenance and charge back the property owners.|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||I like your idea (private ownership) for a by-right plan, not for a cluster plan, which we support for this site. We want the maximum benefit for the Township.|
|Mr. Sauser:||Sidewalks on both sides?|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||Tom Comitta favors it. Personally I thought sidewalks are important, on one or both sides. They could be incorporated with the civic space in the center of the property. It draws pedestrians together. Possibly a school bus stop. More of a community feel as well as safety.|
|Mr. Sauser:||Items G and H of your memo?|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||Admittedly vague.|
|Mr. Hanscom:||After one of our discussions, weren’t the two lots at the extreme northeast of the site to be relocated?|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||Yes, I believe the applicant agreed to pull them in further.|
At this time, Mr. Oeste asked if Mr. Asimos had any questions for the witness. Mr. Asimos stated he’d like to defer his questions until all witnesses have been heard.
Mr. Kohli was sworn in as the next witness. He provided an overview of his review letter dated 12/13/99 along with additional comments as follows:
|Item #4B:||He stated that it was the Planning Commission’s intention to maintain the viewsheds and vistas along Yellow Springs Road, and noted the Applicant agreed to relocate the two northeastern lots accordingly.|
|Item #4C:||Eliminate lots #19 & 20 to preserve the viewshed along Yellow Springs Road.|
|Item #2:||Using the applicant’s computations, the maximum number of lots on this plan is 41. This must be verified at the time of preliminary plan submission. The number isn’t critical if they can comply with the requirements.|
|Item #4D:||Proposed Road “A” should intersect across from Green Lane Road or be 1,000 feet from it to comply with the Ordinance. Of the two, he recommends aligning it.|
|Item #4E:||Expand the traffic study to include nearby intersections as listed in the review letter.|
|Item #4F:||Mr. Kohli said the applicant believes they don’t have to improve Valley Hill Road and Yellow Springs Road along the frontage of the site to a width of 22-24 feet, but he disagrees.|
|Item #4G:||Sidewalks on both sides of the road are required by the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance; however the Board can waive this requirement if they wish.|
|Item #4H:||An Open Space Plan must be submitted with the preliminary plan showing all existing hedgerows and trees maintained.|
|Item #4I:||The Preliminary Plan must provide access to 3 parcels adjacent to the turnpike that are landlocked and not owned by the Applicant.|
|Item #4J:||The Preliminary Plan must address stormwater management for Valley Hill Road.|
|Item #4K:||The Applicant must provide a primary and alternate sewage disposal site for each on-lot sanitary sewage system which proposes a system other than a standard in-ground system.|
Questions of Mr. Kohli:
|Mr. Sauser:||How would Item #4D work? How far apart are these intersections now?|
|Mr. Kohli:||About 230-235 feet.|
|Mr. Sauser:||Slope? Sight Distance?|
|Mr. Kohli:||I haven’t laid it out.|
|Mrs. Ewald:||Does aligning the road have an adverse impact on the adjacent property owners? Does it send headlines into a person’s house?|
|Mr. Kohli:||Another item: the landlocked parcels along the Turnpike – try to get an access easement through them.|
|Mr. Kochler:||Those parcels were originally landlocked by the Turnpike.|
|Mr. Panizza:||(Was sworn in at this time.) Our information by aerial photography shows access from Yellow Springs Road around the area of the water tower on the south side of the Turnpike.|
|Mrs. Ewald:||Mrs. Baldwin, were they bisected by the Turnpike?|
|Mr. Kling:||Key concerns of the Planning Commission…|
|Mr. Sauser:||The Planning Commission minutes are on record. The key concerns have been outlined there.|
|Mr. Kling:||This could be a precursor to a true cluster ordinance.|
At this time, Mr. Oeste stated that the Township had nothing further to present, and asked if Mr. Asimos had any questions. He did not. Mr. Oeste asked if people in the audience had any questions and the following individuals came forward:
|Mrs. DeWilde:||Resident of Valley Hill Road. I walk the Horseshoe Trail weekly in this area. We live north of Valley Hill Road west of Green Lane. We hear the Turnpike noise. I have the following comments:|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||The road is shown where the hedgerow is. We’re trying to move it.|
|Mrs. DeWilde:||That will be important.|
|Mr. Wert:||The plan to plant trees to run parallel to Yellow Springs Road – what will it do to the view?|
|Mr. Smiley:||(already sworn in) At the rear of the six lots, we will maintain a visual corridor.|
|Mr. Theurkauf:||The trees will separate lots from the Open Space.|
|Mr. Wert:||We should be specific in our conditions not to obstruct the view.|
Mr. Panizza provided the following responses to the Township consultants’ comments:
With regard to Mr. Theurkauf’s memo:
|Page 8:||It will be very difficult to maintain open space on Yellow Springs, 275 feet along the turnpike, meet Green Lane, maintain some green for Valley Hill Road and get a reasonable yield. We will try to do it. My comments moderate Mr. Kohli’s and Mr. Theurkauf’s points. I don’t disagree with them but need some flexibility.Item 16A:We will configure our roads and building lots to preserve the existing hedgerows. But if we move the 6 lots, the 650 foot buffer will be encroached on|
|Item 16B:||275 foot zone of no disturbance from the Turnpike Right of Way: We agree. There’s even more woods than we show. It’s tough for the lots near Yellow Springs and Hollow, but we’ll try to move them. Something may have to give. Perhaps 400 feet in some areas, 200 in others.|
|Item 16C:||Protect the viewshed, 400 feet for Yellow Springs and Hollow, 650 feet for Hollow Road north to Valley Hill: need some flexibility on the 650 feet.|
|Item 16D:||Continuous looped path system – O.K.|
|Item 16E:||Sidewalks: Clusters are usually smaller. This doesn’t need sidewalks, especially with continuous lopped paths. I’m against sidewalks on both sides. Need flexibility in the cartway then. 20-22 foot cartway?|
|Item 16F:||Horseshoe Trail: I’ll put it on the plans if you show me where it is.|
|Item 16G:||Central Green – civic amenity. O.K.|
|Item 16H:||“Plan to guide the preservation of the Historical Pyle Farm.” I don’t understand. It’s a preliminary or final plan issue.|
With regard to Mr. Kohli’s review letter:
|Item #2:||We disagree with the need for a detailed computation.|
|Item #3:||We’d agree to consider relocating Road “A” to meet Green Lane Road if it’s safer and works for us. We’ll consider it.|
|Item #4A:||I want to get as many as I can prove.|
|Item #4C:||O.K. – if it works with our lot yield.|
|Item #4D:||We will consider it.|
|Item #4F:||I would agree to improving roads fronting our property only on our side. But Valley Hill Road has banks and hedgerows whose removal would significantly alter the topography. Yellow Springs isn’t too bad. Mrs. Ewald: Your roads are 24 feet but are emptying onto smaller roads.|
|Item #4I:||I’ll know tomorrow whether the Turnpike Commission will sell to us or otherwise granttheir two parcels.|
|Item #4J:||I’d like to follow the ordinance as written. Underground basins are expensive and they fail. Instead, maybe a linear basin, an alternative to protect the viewshed.|
|Item #4K:||Agreed if we can use open space for secondary system. Otherwise I’d like to follow the Chester County Health Department requirements.|
Mr. Theurkauf said that he and Mr. Comitta crafted their recommendations to allow some flexibility, noting that that 650’ buffer coincides with the rear lot lines as shown on the plan. Mr. Panizza referred to his letter dated 12/15/99, which indicates that a buffer of 600 feet would work, and that the 275 foot buffer works in general but not in combination with everything else. Mr. Oeste marked this letter Exhibit B-9.
Mr. Hanscom requested that the traffic studies be undertaken during morning rush hours.
Mr. Oeste closed the hearing.
Mr. Sauser called a brief recess for executive session at 10:10 P.M. and reconvened at 10:40 P.M.
Mr. Oeste framed a motion to approve the Conditional Use Application allowing the Open Space Option Plan for Deerfield subject to the following conditions:
Mrs. Ewald so moved. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Kohli said Rouse Chamberlin hasn’t responded to his last review letter and the acceptance can’t proceed without those items being addressed. The matter was tabled indefinitely until the applicant responds to the Engineer’s comments.
Pam Smith, 2158 Valley Hill Road, was present to seek a waiver from the Board of Supervisors allowing a shed in her front yard. Mr. Kohli stated that the shed was not visually obtrusive and that the applicant had obtained letters from all her neighbors stating no objections. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the request for the waiver with the understanding that the project is subject to the standard permitting process. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
Mr. Coyle, 2281 Valley Hill Road, was present to seek a waiver from the Board of Supervisors allowing a detached garage in his front yard. Mr. Zeigler stated that the Planning Commission reviewed the site plans and determined there was no feasible alternative location. The applicant had obtained letters from all his neighbors stating no objections. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the request for the waiver with the understanding that the project is subject to the standard permitting process and will be designed to blend in with historical structures in the surrounding area. Mr. Coyle agreed that this would be no problem, as he designed the structure to have the appearance of a stone bank barn. Mr. Wert seconded and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Commons At Great Valley Tri-Party Subdivision Escrow Agreements for Lots #16 & 17. Mr. Sauser seconded and all were in favor.
John E. Panizza, Bob Smiley, Chuck Dobson, P.E., of General Residential Properties Inc. and George Asimos, Esq. were present to discuss the Brooklands Preliminary Plan. Mr. Kohli stated that he has not had an opportunity to review Mr. Panizza’s letter of 12/20/99 with regard to the Brooklands Preliminary Plan; however, he stated that the most critical issue is the lack of an alternative sewage disposal site shown on the Plan for lot 8 as stipulated in the Conditional Use Decision, item #7(b).
Mr. Kohli stated that the lot configuration of #4 is too restrictive in the backyard. Mr. Panizza responded that the positioning of the house will be determined during the building permit process and can be adjusted. Mr. Sauser suggested decreasing the restricted area for that lot.
Mr. Kohli commented that the plan shows proposed widening of Bodine Road but not the accompanying curbing or stormwater management plans.
Mrs. Ewald expressed disappointment that the applicant hasn’t met with any of the neighbors other than the Stevens’. Mr. Panizza responded that in consideration of the neighbors, they included restricted areas that protect the neighbors’ views, mature woods, high ground water areas and wetland areas even though it wasn’t required. The only disturbance will be for constructing one of the storm water basins and in effect protects between one third and one half of the site as open space. Mrs. Ewald asked if they would disturb any drip lines, and Mr. Dobson answered they would protect them as much as possible although some encroachment will occur on lots 5& 6.
Mrs. Ewald said the applicant should return to the Planning Commission and work out all issues with them before coming to the Board for approval, noting that the Planning Commission has unanimously recommended denial of the Plan. Mr. Panizza stated that he had an agreement with the Board that the Plan would be approved on December 6th, to which he later provided an extension until this evening. Mr. Oeste qualified that the Board agreed to “make a decision”, not to “grant approval.”
Paul and Patricia Stevens, abutting property owners, were present. Mr. Stevens said they’ve followed the entire process and were in attendance when the Planning Commission rejected the plan, stating that the applicant disregarded their direction to reduce the lots in number from ten to five. He added that a letter sent by Mr. Panizza was misleading, inferring that the Chairman of the Planning Commission and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors acquiesced to the submitted plan. He said he and his wife have many concerns, particularly with a lot proposing a house very close to their backyard. He feels this subdivision, along with the existing Rosewood Farms subdivision, is much too narrow for Bodine Road. He added that the Brooklands site has long been a source of trespassers and party goers that will now move closer to their property as the site is developed. He asked the Board to send the plan back to the Planning Commission. Mrs. Stevens asked the Board to refrain from making a decision and leaving it to the new Board in January. Mr. Wert cautioned her not to assume his intentions. With respect to trespassers, Mrs. Ewald suggested the Stevens contact the State Police and Townwatch, which has been successful in curtailing this type of activity elsewhere in the Township.
Mr. Wert said that he doesn’t intend to vote in favor of this plan tonight in light of the fact that the Planning Commission did not recommend it and the applicant didn’t return to them to work out their differences.
Mr. Panizza questioned the process by which the Board of Supervisors approved the Conditional Use Application with conditions that he has accepted, and yet will not approve the accompanying Preliminary Plan that corresponds to the Conditional Use Decision. He said the Board agreed to make their decision on the Preliminary Plan by following the MPC and that if the Board doesn’t approve the plan this evening he can claim it is deemed approved. Mr. Wert disagreed, stating there are still unresolved issues. He described the Conditional Use/Preliminary Plan process as a bifurcated process whereby approving the former doesn’t preclude denying the latter. Mr. Kohli said that the lack of compliance with item 7(a) of the Conditional Use Decision is a major item outstanding with regard to the Preliminary Plan as it can create the need to reconfigure lot lines. Mr. Oeste said that, as required by the MPC, one of the conditions of the Conditional Use Decision states that compliance with all conditions must be depicted on the preliminary plan, and they are not.
Mr. Asimos said he and his client have reviewed the Conditional Use decision and the Preliminary Plan by comparing them on an item by item basis and are confident that all the changes made to the Preliminary Plan communicate the conditions of the Conditional Use Decision. He said his client will return to the Planning Commission for the Final Plan approval process, where the remaining issues can be worked out. Mr. Wert disagreed, stating that by approving the Preliminary Plan now, the Board will preempt some of the engineers’ ability to satisfy the conditions of the Decision to the greatest extent possible.
Mr. Sauser suggested that the applicant provide the Board with an extension of time in which to render a decision, and to return to the Planning Commission to work out the remaining issues. He agreed with Mr. Wert, stating that there are some impacts of aligning the plan with the Conditional Use Decision that can’t be foreseen. Mr. Panizza agreed to provide the Board with an extension to February 7, 2000 in which to make a decision on the Preliminary Plan, and further agreed to submit revised plans and any other necessary documentation to the Township office two weeks prior to that date.
Chester County Park Land and Open Space Acquisition Grant – Round X – Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions
Mr. Sauser suggested this item be tabled for the new board to review, requesting that they consider whether the requirement that the property be utilized perpetually for park and recreational purposes” can be negotiated to a lesser term.
Mr. Sauser tabled this item until after the first of the year, suggesting more focus on creating a pedestrian crossing from Coldstream Road.
Mr. Sauser tabled this item until after the first of the year.
Mr. Sauser moved to appoint Robert Jones to the Planning Commission to fill the remainder of the vacancy left by Cheryl Atkins-Lubinski’s resignation earlier this fall. This term ends December 31, 2001. Mr. Wert asked Mr. Jones if he was interested in the appointment and whether he’d be able to attend regularly. Mr. Jones responded yes to both questions. Mr. Wert seconded the motion and Mrs. Ewald called for discussion. Mrs. Ewald objected to the appointment, which she added circumvented the Planning Commission’s interview process scheduled for December 28th. She noted that Mr. Jones chose not to participate in the interviews although he had been invited to apply. Mr. Wert said he didn’t second the nomination of Mr. Jones to the Planning Commission when it was first made at the December 6th meeting, but now felt that the interview process has been postponed too long and has since received a number of calls recommending Mr. Jones to him. Mr. Sauser called the vote. Mr. Sauser and Mr. Wert were in favor and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.
No items were brought forward.
Mr. Wert moved to adjourn at 11:50 P.M. and Mr. Sauser seconded. The meeting was adjourned.