Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of January 22, 2001

The second business meeting for January was held January 22, 2001 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Hugh D. Willig, Chairman, Kevin R. Kuhn, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Paul J. Hogan, Thomas F. Oeste Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Ed Theurkauf, Planner (arrived later), Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator and those on the attached list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 8:40 P.M.


Mr. Hogan reported that a spill of approximately 100 gallons of fuel on Pickering Road near Charlestown Road occurred on January 19th. Cleanup took place this morning, and the EPA has been to the site. Soil samples have been sent out for analysis.

Mr. Kuhn reported that he attended a meeting of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission last week along with Mr. Hogan and Mr. Rodgers. Mr. Hogan was concerned with the group’s disinterest in mass transit and enthusiasm for the influx of jobs in the area, leading to more houses and traffic congestion.

Mrs. Ewald reported that she attended the Chester County Planning Commission meeting last week, where Eleanor Morris of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust Inc. gave a presentation on their organization’s expectations of Landscapes.

Mr. Willig announced that the Board held two executive sessions, one with the Solicitor to discuss land development issues before them, and the second with the road contractor to review his contractual obligations to the Township.

Mr. Willig announced that Mr. Rodgers is attending the Valley Forge Sewer Authority meeting this evening and will arrive late.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

No items were brought forward.

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Reorganization Meeting minutes of January 2, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and Mr. Kuhn indicated that in the listing of liaison assignments for the year 2001, his name as liaison for the Great Valley School District had been omitted. Mrs. Ewald amended her motion to include this addition to the minutes, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. All were in favor.

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Business Meeting minutes of January 2, 2001 and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and Mr. Kuhn asked for verification that Mrs. Baldwin indicated her interest in having a new well drilled for the Rapp House. Mrs. Ewald answered that Mrs. Baldwin did express an interest in a new well. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor.

Treasurer’s Report December 1 –31, 2000

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the Treasurer’s Report for December 1 – 31, 2000 and Mr. Hogan seconded. All were in favor.


Altemose Conditional Use Application

Jane Opie, Court Reporter, took the proceeds. The hearing was continued to February 26, 2001.

Old Business

Advertise Zoning Ordinance Revision – Open Space Option

Mr. Kuhn moved to advertise the proposed zoning ordinance revision to allow the open space option on properties over 25 acres adjacent to currently eligible properties. Mr. Willig seconded and called for discussion. Mrs. Ewald said she respectfully dissents from moving forward with this ordinance revision for reasons stated at a previous meeting. Mr. Philips said the Planning Commission continues to work with a developer who is interested in the new option, and that the Commission is seeing better plans for the site because of it. The Planning Commission encourages the adoption of this ordinance. Mr. Willig called the vote. Mr. Willig, Mr. Kuhn and Mr. Hogan were in favor, and Mrs. Ewald was opposed.

Four-Way Stop Sign at Newcomen Road and Route 401

Mrs. Ewald asked why a new resolution is needed. Since a resolution was passed previously, albeit a joint resolution with West Pikeland Township, can that resolution be amended? Mr. Kohli responded that since West Pikeland Township refused to pass the joint resolution, a new one must be passed naming Charlestown Township as the sole party responsible for the 4 way stop with an advanced warning beacon. Mr. Kuhn asked about the cost of the flashing signal, and Mr. Kohli said Charlestown Township would be responsible for all costs unless an agreement is worked out with West Pikeland Township. He estimates the costs to be slightly over $10,000.00. Mr. Kuhn suggested that Mr. Rodgers, as liaison to West Pikeland Township, communicate with them again about reconsidering a joint resolution. Mrs. Ewald said their consultant advised them to hold out for full signalization of the intersection, feeling that the intermediate step of a four way stop would slow the process of eventual full signalization. PennDOT has indicated they will not approve full signalization with the intersection in its current state. They would require that the roads be realigned and widened to include left turn lanes. She stated her opinion that she wants to see the four-way stop installed as soon as possible, that if it saves one person from injury or worse it is worth it as an intermediate step. She noted that the 4 way stop at Union Hill and Rees Roads works successfully on a vertical curve even without a warning beacon. She notes no unreasonable backup at this intersection due to the stop signs. Mr. Kuhn asked if West Pikeland Township was not actually opposed to the 4 way stop, and Mrs. Ewald said they were not, although they had some concern over traffic back ups. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Resolution #574-01, an application to PennDOT for a Permit to Install and Operate Flashing Warning Devices at Route 401 & Newcomen Road. Mr. Kuhn seconded and all were in favor. Mrs. Ewald will communicate with West Pikeland Township on the Board’s action. Mr. Kuhn suggested she see if they’re willing to share the cost of the installation and maintenance of the signal.

West Pikeland Township – Invoice for Engineering relating to the Paving of Newcomen Road and Review of the Charlestown Meadows PRD Application

Mr. Kuhn read aloud portions of the January 3, 2001 invoice from West Pikeland Township requesting reimbursement of certain costs incurred for their consulting engineering firm, E. B. Walsh and Associates. These costs included review of the Newcomen Road paving project and review of Toll Bros. Inc.’s “Charlestown Meadows” PRD application. After some discussion, the Board agreed that the Toll Bros. related charges are not Charlestown’s responsibility, and that since each township incurred engineering review costs for Newcomen Road, those costs should likewise not be reimbursed, particularly since Charlestown did not include engineering costs in its paving invoice, yet unpaid, to West Pikeland Township. Mr. Willig said he would ask the liaison (Mr. Rodgers) to discuss this matter with West Pikeland.

New Business

Scipione Request for Waiver – Accessory Structure in a Side Yard abutting a Street

Richard Scipione was present to request a waiver for a garage to be constructed adjacent to his existing garage and connected by a breezeway. The structure would be located in the side yard of his Mine Road property, which abuts Whitehorse Road. This location is not only the most practical for him, but is least obtrusive to his neighbors in the Four Oaks subdivision and would keep the structure out of the French & Pickering Trust conservation area of his property. He obtained signatures from all property owners in Four Oaks supporting his request, which would otherwise be disallowed by the restrictive covenants for Four Oaks. Mrs. Ewald moved to approve the waiver request, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and Mrs. Ewald recommended that Dr. Scipione send a note to the French & Pickering Trust notifying them of the action. Mr. Willig called the vote and all were in favor. Dr. Scipione asked what his next step is and Mr. Kohli instructed him to file his building permit application.

Genterra Corporation: Request for Public Water for the Saddlebrook Subdivision, Whitehorse Road

John Panizza was present with a rendered plan of his proposed 9-lot subdivision of 33 acres located on Whitehorse Road across from the Whitehorse Meadows subdivision and near the Altemose property and the Whitehorse @ Charlestown subdivision. Saul & Neila Kun’s property abuts his to the north. He acknowledged receipt of the Chairman’s letter indicating that the Board would hear his request but no decision would be made at this time as the Board felt that would be more appropriately made in conjunction with the overall plan review. Mr. Panizza asked for clarification of this statement. Mr. Willig explained that the Board hesitates to make separate step-by-step decisions on a plan, any one of which could then affect the final outcome.

Mr. Panizza said he was asked about public water at the January 9, 2001 Planning Commission meeting. He indicated no interest in it at that time but has since reconsidered. He is aware that a water main exists under Whitehorse Road and that Whitehorse Meadows on the opposite side of the road was added to Philadelphia Suburban Water Company’s franchise area. He said that having access to public water would change the locations of septic and houses in his subdivision, which is why he is making the request at this juncture. He said he could assure the Board he would not increase the number of lots proposed if the Township granted him access to public water for this site. Mr. Hogan asked why he is making this request after indicating at the Planning Commission that he had no interest in public water service. Mr. Panizza responded that he knows his buyers would prefer it and that it’s desirable for emergency services purposes. Mrs. Ewald said the ground water in Charlestown is superior to public water and that buyers unfamiliar with wells may not be aware of this fact. She added that the fire company has tankers and can pump water from pools in a fire emergency. She said the zoning of the property defines where public utilities are permitted.

Mr. Willig asked about the condition and capacity of the existing well on the site for the Jones house. Mr. Panizza said the caretaker reported the well to be in good condition. Mrs. Ewald asked how deep this well is, and Mr. Panizza agreed to find out. Mr. Willig asked if a well can be provided for each lot, and Mr. Panizza said yes, at an average lot size of 3.76 acres, wells should be no problem. Mrs. Ewald asked who the builder will be, and Mr. Panizza responded Lee Haller, who also plans to live in one of the new houses. He added that horse trails would be located throughout the site. Mrs. Ewald asked him to make sure they connect with those at the Whitehorse Meadows subdivision.

Mr. Kuhn said he was hoping Mr. Panizza would show some interest in clustering the houses on this plan. Mr. Panizza said he notes that a revision to the zoning ordinance to allow the open space option for this property is being considered, and that he will keep an open mind toward that option. In the meantime, he’s waiting for a sketch promised by Thomas Comitta Associates.

Mr. Panizza said he plans to submit a revised preliminary plan next week for the Planning Commission and that the changes in the plan are the reason he is requesting a postponement of the conditional use hearing to March 5th with a letter to this effect forthcoming. He is decreasing the lot number from 10 to 9, moving the access road to a less sensitive area, and relocating a house from a steep slope area.

Commons @ Great Valley Lots 13-14-15

Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates provided some background on the proposed land development plan and provided a rendering of it. The three lots would be combined into two lots with two mirroring commercial buildings to be constructed on them, similar to the two buildings in the center loop of General Warren Boulevard. J. Loew and Associates will retain ownership of the buildings and maintain them as rental properties. These are the last two buildings at the Commons @ Great Valley to be constructed. Mr. Kohli said revisions to the plan must be made in accordance with his last review letter. Mr. Townes said the revisions, which are minor in nature, have been sent to his office in a plan dated 1/17/01. He requested that the Board take action on the plan at their February 5, 2001 meeting. The matter has been tentatively scheduled for that agenda.

Summerhill Construction Company – Lot Line Change for Zeigler Subdivision, Lots #2 & 3

Mr. Kohli said the Board had already reviewed the application in concept and that the Planning Commission recommended its approval. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the lot line change for Lots 2 & 3 of the Zeigler subdivision and Mr. Hogan seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Stoudt Preliminary Subdivision Plan

Ted Gacomis, P.E. and Dan Stoudt were present to discuss their preliminary plan for a 3-lot subdivision on Merlin Road, which has been revised in accordance with the conditional use approval decision and Mr. Kohli’s review letter of January 4, 2001. Mr. Gacomis said he met with Mr. Theurkauf with regard to tree replacement. Since the entire tract is wooded, the trees to be removed must be counted and verified, with replacement of as many as possible. Those that cannot be replaced will be calculated for their value and a contribution of this sum will be made to the Township. Mr. Theurkauf estimates that 125-150 trees would be non-replaceable. Mr. Hogan asked for the sizes of these trees and Mr. Theurkauf answered that this hasn’t been calculated yet.

Mr. Kuhn asked about the reference on page 3 of the Restrictive Covenant Agreement to 12”+ caliper trees. He asked about trees in the 6-12” caliper range. Mr. Theurkauf responded that the ordinance defines the tree replacement conversion number in a tiered fashion depending upon the caliper.

Mr. Willig asked if the remaining conditions on Mr. Kohli’s review letter have been met. Mr. Kohli responded no, but a motion can be made subject to compliance since this is a preliminary plan with a final submission to follow. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the preliminary plan for the Stoudt Subdivision subject to Mr. Kohli’s and Mr. Theurkauf’s reviews and subject to the draft Restrictive Covenant Agreement and License Agreement to be finalized in accordance with the Township. Mrs. Ewald seconded and all were in favor.

Mr. Gacomis requested a letter from Mr. Kohli to PennDOT with regard to the road occupancy permit and Mr. Kohli said he would provide it.

Discussion: Reducing the Planning Commission from Eight to Seven Members

This matter was tabled to a January 2002 date to be scheduled in order to first allow the eighth position term on the Commission to expire on 12/31/01.

Discussion: Completeness Review Process

Mr. Willig asked Mrs. Csete for a summary of the current completeness review process and what difficulties are being encountered. Mrs. Csete said that currently a new plan submission is sent to the Township engineer for review prior to general distribution to the Planning Commission and other parties. This review is more in depth than an administrative review and often causes too much of a delay in the general distribution of plans. She recommends bringing the completeness review process back to the township office where an administrative completeness review would be undertaken by either herself or the Planning Commission Secretary. Content would not be reviewed; the review would be administrative in nature with the submission compared to a checklist of required documents. The Board agreed to try this approach.

Mrs. Ewald asked if the new application forms drafted by Mrs. Campion were being used. Mrs. Csete responded no, the Board or Solicitor had not reviewed them yet. Mr. Oeste will look them over so the Township can start using them.

Schedule: Conditional Use Hearing for The Great Valley School District

Mrs. Ewald moved to advertise the Conditional Use Hearing for the Great Valley School District’s application for the Charlestown Elementary School for February 26, 2001 with a snow date of March 5, 2001 upon agreement by the applicant. Mr. Kuhn seconded and all were in favor. Mr. Oeste advised the Board that he would be recused on this matter If the Planning Commission wishes to have representation from Mr. Bender, the Board will need to seek separate counsel.

Escrow Release #2 – Emma Builders

Mrs. Ewald moved to approve Escrow Release #2 in the amount of $122,699.00 for Emma Builders, and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion. Mr. Kuhn noted that the newly paved Blackberry Lane is breaking up along the edges near the Emma development due to trucks parking on the sides of the roads. Mr. Kohli said he couldn’t be sure the trucks are from Emma Builders. He noted that this escrow release was for part of the wall construction only and that there is a substantial amount remaining in the account. Mrs. Ewald asked if the developer was cooperating in general with the Township, and Mr. Kohli responded yes. Mr. Theurkauf expressed concern over the delay in relocating the trails through this property and the adjacent Dobbs Lane property owned by Emma Builders. Mrs. Ewald withdrew her motion and moved to approve the escrow release subject to a resolution of the trail issue between Mr. Emma and the Township’s consultants. Mr. Willig seconded and all were in favor.

Mr. Oeste informed the Board that the Freedman’s attorney, Wendy McLean, plans to request a meeting between her clients and the Board on issues relating to the Emma project.

Other Business

Refacing of Bridge 178

Mr. Hogan said he received a letter from Mr. Stoltzfus regarding the refacing of 3 sides of the bridge and the repointing of the fourth side. He copied the letter to Pickering Road residents for their comments, and has received no feedback. He recommends all four walls be done at the cost estimate price of $4,800.00 and would like to proceed with sending Mr. Stoltzfus an acceptance letter.

Mr. Kuhn asked if the County is willing to pay the cost of the refacing. Mr. Kohli will contact the County Engineer’s office regarding reimbursement. Mr. Oeste advised the Board that for costs between $4,000.00 and $10,000.00, 2 other quotes must be obtained (phone quotes acceptable) and kept on file. Mr. Kuhn said that he’d like to see if the County will handle it themselves first.

Parks and Recreation

Mr. Hogan said the PMYC and PASC have been invited to the next Parks & Rec meeting on February 21st to provide input on the Charlestown Park improvements being planned.

Charlestown Oaks Inc. – Traffic Light at Phoenixville Pike and Yellow Springs Road

Mr. Willig read aloud a letter dated January 11, 2001 from Frank Iacobucci Jr. to the Board regarding his intention to utilize a portion of the escrowed funds in place for signalization of the Yellow Springs Road intersection with Phoenixville Pike on traffic engineering work. Mrs. Ewald disagreed with this use of the funds, and Mr. Kohli noted that the escrow was intended for construction costs only. He suggested having PennDOT handle the design of the signals. Mr. Iacobucci would then need only forward the as-built condition diagram to PennDOT, which would then begin a warrant analysis, design the signal and issue the permit. The cost to Mr. Iacobucci should only be $4,000.00 or so for the diagram. Mr. Willig said it would be acceptable for Mr. Iacobucci to apply the cost of the survey for the diagram to the $100,000 escrow fund provided there is money left for the bid process and construction of the signal.

Authorization to Appeal

Mr. Kuhn moved to authorize the Solicitor to appeal the Billboard Ordinance decision, and Mrs. Ewald seconded. Mr. Willig called for discussion, and there being none called the vote. All were in favor.

Scheduled on Upcoming Agendas:

February 5, 2001:

Commons @ Great Valley Lots 13-14-15 Land Development Plan, for final approval

February 26, 2001:

Continuance: Altemose Conditional Use Hearing
Opening: Great Valley School District - Conditional Use Hearing

March 5, 2001:

Continuance: Saddlebrook Conditional Use Hearing to be continued from 2/5/01

Tabled Items:

Ordinance to Reduce the Planning Commission from Eight to Seven Members – Tabled to January 2002


The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 P.M. The next meeting will be held on February 5, 2001, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary