The fourth business meeting for January was held January 24, at the Charlestown Elementary School, 2060 Charlestown Road, Devault. Irene W. Ewald, Chairman, Hugh D. Willig, Vice Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Kevin R. Kuhn, Michael J. Rodgers, 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 7:40 P.M. and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Mrs. Ewald announced that the road crew did a good, thorough job during the snowstorm on January 19th.
Mr. Willig said he received five calls from commuters, four of whom were Township residents, who are opposed to traffic restrictions on Union Hill and Rees Roads. Mr. Kuhn said he received one call, and the other three board members received none.
Mr. Rodgers said he’s scheduled a meeting with PennDOT to review road issues. He announced that the Township plans to use its Liquid Fuel Tax funds to pave two roads this spring and summer. He asked why the Liquid Fuel Tax fund has been untouched for several years when it could have been used to pave roads, including the Wells Road paving job last year.
No items were brought forward at this time.
Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the December 1999 Treasurer’s Report and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board, and comments from the public. There being none, she called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mr. Willig moved to approve the Business Meeting minutes of 1/17/00 and Mr. Rodgers seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion from the Board and comments from the public. There being none, she called the vote, and all were in favor.
A meeting of the Community Advisory Committee to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is scheduled for January 26, 2000, and the Board held a discussion on whether to continue sending a court reporter to the meetings. Mr. Kuhn said sending a court reporter after the disruptive effect it had at the last meeting would paint a poor picture of Charlestown and serve to suppress dialog. He sees no positive effect to be gained for the Township. Mr. Hogan agreed. Mr. Willig asked if there was an audio taping policy. Mr. Kuhn suggested requesting a copy of the Turnpike Consultant’s recording. Mr. Oeste commented that a court reporter can’t effectively produce a transcript from the back of the room since it’s difficult to tell who’s speaking. A tape recording itself, though generally inadmissible as testimony in court, would still be a useful tool to the Township.
Mr. Willig asked if the Turnpike Consultant’s minutes accurately reflect the proceedings at the meetings. Mr. Philips said the minutes have been generally accurate. Sue Staas noted; however, that the meetings have had a positive tone simply because no questions of any substance have been addressed by the Consultant. Mr. Willig asked if the unanswered questions have been reflected in the minutes, and Mrs. Staas answered no. Mrs. Ewald said a written record of what’s being said would be desirable, but noted that the Turnpike Commission appears reluctant to participate in a meeting that creates the atmosphere of a hearing. She recommended that the Township’s members on the Community Advisory Committee request a copy of the audio tapes from the Turnpike Consultant. Mr. Oeste said that if they won’t provide them, the Township representatives should take their own. Mrs. Ewald said a letter will be sent to the Township’s representatives on the Community Advisory Committee asking that they request copies of the audio tapes from the Turnpike Consultant.
Mrs. Ewald began a line by line review of the Actual vs. Budget figures for 1999 as a means of considering the proposed budget line item figures shown for 2000. Questions from the Board were directed to the Township Treasurer. Mrs. Ewald noted that the Actual figures for 1999 reflect 11 months of expenditures while the Budget figures for 2000 reflect 13 months of expenditures. Mr. Rodgers noted a budget overrun on road maintenance costs in 1999 by almost 50%.
The Secretary-Treasurer was directed to provide the Board with details on the lease or purchase of a new copier and to investigate electricity supplier options.
Following the line by line review, Mrs. Ewald called for additional questions or comments from the Board. None were brought forward.
Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the public. Mr. Sauser made the following comments:
Vincent Kling asked if the proposed amended Budget for 2000 includes provisions for the Planning Commission to continue work on a shade tree preservation ordinance, which will require the services of an arborist. Mr. Philips responded that the increase in line item #414.10 for Planning Consultants was made to include additional consultants for the various projects being undertaken by the Commission this year. Mr. Hanscom asked for some background on how a shade tree preservation ordinance would work, and the Board and Planning Commission members gave a brief explanation.
The Board concurred with the following changes to be made to the proposed 2000 Budget:
Decrease Account #430.12 (Road Maintenance) by $25,000 and Increase Account #404.11 (Legal Expenses) by this amount.
Decrease Account #430.12 (Road Maintenance) by $2,000 and Increase Account #400.01 (Supervisors’ Salaries) by this amount.
Mrs. Ewald read aloud Resolution #553-00 setting real estate taxes for the year 2000 at .52 mills. Mr. Hogan moved to adopt Resolution #553-00 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald read aloud Resolution #554-00 adopting the amended budget for 2000 including the two additional changes made these evening. Mr. Willig moved to adopt Resolution #554-00 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for questions and comments from the Board, then from the Public. They’re being none, the votes were called. All were in favor of adopting Resolutions #553-00 and #554-00.
Mrs. Ewald noted that the tax rate for 2000 hasn’t changed since 1983, although Mr. Sauser commented there were a few years with increases and decreases during the period of 1983-2000 before it settled back down to the current rate.
Mr. Kohli provided a brief description of the basic maintenance contract for the signal at Route 29 and Charlestown Road. Mr. Willig asked about the turn-around time when a problem is called in, and the Secretary responded that it is typically within the hour, often within 15 minutes.
With regard to the timing of the traffic light, Mrs. Ewald asked Mr. Kohli to look into extending the green time for Charlestown Road. Mr. Kohli responded that he’ll call Signal Service and request that they check the functioning of the loop detector, which should prevent long waits at the light during times of little traffic activity.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Traffic Signal Maintenance Contract with Signal Service Inc. for the period of 2/1/00 - 1/31/01, and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for comments from the public. There being none, she called the vote and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald referred to a letter dated January 9, 2000 from Louis Moskowitz, who requested an extension to the deadline on his approval for a home office at his property on Union Hill Road. He anticipates moving forward this year on building the house for which the home office is intended. Mrs. Ewald said she spoke to Dr. Moskowitz about two weeks ago with regard to his plans and recommends approval of the extension. Mr. Hogan moved to extend the conditional use approval for one year, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for comments and questions from the Board, then from the public. There being none, she called the vote, and all were in favor.
The hearings for Toll Brother Inc.’s Tentative and Conditional Use Plans for the Charlestown Meadows PRD application were scheduled for February 28, 2000.
Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Escrow Release Request #1 for Lot 16 of the Commons at Great Valley in the amount of $60,900.00 and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for comments and questions from the Board, then from the public. There being none, she called the vote, and all were in favor.
Mrs. Ewald asked for an update on Census 2000. The Secretary explained that she took part in the Census Bureau’s 1998 Address List Review Program (LUCA 1998) and reviewed and updated their address lists, made additions, and checked the map sheets provided. This process was completed in 1999. She noted that the Census Bureau recommends the formation of a Complete Count Committee in each municipality, but that Charlestown Township chose not to participate due to its small size and the ability of the Township to get the necessary word out about the importance of the census via simpler means, such as an article in the upcoming newsletter. Census forms are expected to be mailed out to all U.S. citizens the week of March 15, 2000.
Mrs. Ewald asked the Secretary to check with the Valley Forge Christian College on how the Census Bureau will account for the student residents of Charlestown Township.
Mr. Kuhn said he received information from a resident asking the Township to look into producing a map with the Community Map Company, which funds the map with advertisers whose ads border the map. Mrs. Ewald said Charlestown Township had such a map produced some years ago and asked the Secretary to check the file and look into the pros and cons.
Traffic Restrictions - Union Hill & Rees Roads
Mr. Kohli looked into the procedure for placing traffic restrictions on Union Hill and Rees Roads. First, PennDOT must be contacted to undertake traffic studies, which generally take 2-3 weeks to complete once the study is underway. If the traffic studies justify the placement of restrictions, the Township would then adopt them by Ordinance. Mr. Kuhn suggested including Aldham Road as a restricted road.
Mr. Rodgers moved to direct the Township Engineer to initiate the traffic studies with PennDOT, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mrs. Ewald called for discussion. Mr. Sauser said excessive traffic is not a new issue in the Township or unique to these few roads. If they are restricted during rush hour from through traffic, traffic backups will worsen elsewhere. He sees the problem as more of a speed enforcement issue.
Mr. Kuhn asked how to initiate a traffic study for Ashenfelter Road, which borders Schuylkill Township, in order to place a three way stop at the intersection with Whitehorse Road. Mrs. Ewald was concerned with installing stop signs there due to the vertical curve. Mr. Philips said this could be handled with advance warning signs.
The Secretary was directed to send a letter to Schuylkill Township requesting that PennDOT undertake a traffic study of Ashenfelter Road to determine if a 3-way stop sign at the Whitehorse Road intersection is warranted.
Mrs. Ewald said she’d like to schedule several town meetings to address specific issues for various resident groups in the Township. One in particular is for the residents of Charlestown Hunt, who have expressed concerns in working with the builder on various issues. Mr. Kohli mentioned questions in the past over open space concerns, noting that many of the residents are unaware of the approved plan and the requirements for specific ratios of passive vs. active recreation space. This occurred when some residents wanted to exchange future trails to be built with a baby pool, which was not part of the approved plan. He said Tom Comitta’s final inspection of the landscaping and recreation areas has yet to be done, and suggested that residents have an opportunity to talk with the Board before it takes place. Mr. Philips suggested a meeting with Hunt residents where the Township Planner and members of the Planning Commission could present the approved plan to them and answer any questions. The Board will consider options and respond to the Chairman with suggestions on how to proceed.
Mr. Kling discussed his views on working with developers to design communities with civic improvements.
Mr. Philips asked the Board if they plan to schedule additional hearings on the proposed Ordinance to include Historic Properties over 25 acres in size in the Open Space Option. Mrs. Ewald said the Board will work with Mr. Comitta and communicate with the Planning Commission on this issue. It will be placed on the Board’s February 21, 2000 agenda for discussion.
Mr. Willig asked when the vacancy on the Zoning Hearing Board will be addressed, and Mrs. Ewald said interviews need to be scheduled. Mr. Sauser added that other appointments need to be made, including seats on the Historic Commission, Parks & Recreation Board, Valley Forge Sewer Authority and Vacancy Board. Mrs. Ewald responded that the Board had previously announced its intention of making all appointments by the end of the first quarter of 2000.
There being no other business, Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting at 9:45 P.M.