Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors Business Meeting
Minutes of August 19, 2002

The second business meeting for August was held August 19, 2002 at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Hugh D. Willig, Chairman, Paul J. Hogan, Vice Chairman, Irene W. Ewald, Kevin R. Kuhn, Thomas F. Oeste, Esq., Surender S. Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Ed Theurkauf, Linda M. Csete, Township Administrator and those on the attached list were present.

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 P.M.


Mr. Hogan said the north side of the ice dam bridge on Route 29 is becoming a dumping ground. He recently arranged for clean up and suggests we request PennDOT take care of it in the future.

Mrs. Ewald requested that a discussion on the West Nile Virus be added to “Other Business” this evening and the other board members agreed.

Citizens’ Forum – Non-Agenda Items

John Martin, Howells Road, complained that residents of the new houses on his street, particularly in the Spring Meadow Farms and the Zeigler subdivisions, are ignoring the drought restrictions by watering their landscaping. He observed that the model house at Spring Meadow Farms has automatic sprinklers that run from 4:00 A.M. – 6:00 A.M. every day. He said this is not socially responsible and asked if the restrictions can be enforced. Mr. Kohli said he’ll check with the County with regard to county and state water restrictions as there is a question on whether they apply to properties serviced by private wells.

Russ Hanscom reported for the Brightside Farm Committee that they met August 14, 2002 and discussed how to cordon off the road leading to the grove. A diagram was produced showing where poles would be installed. For now, a chain would go across the road, but later a gate could be installed. Mr. Hogan noted that in that case, the poles should be 16 feet across instead of 15 feet as shown, as gates are typically manufactured in even-foot increments. Mr. Kuhn asked what will prevent vehicles from simply driving across the field to get around the gate. Placement of “Authorized Vehicles only” and similar signage was discussed but not decided on.

Also on behalf of the Brightside Farm Committee, Mr. Hanscom requested approval for an expenditure of $1,000.00 from the budget to plan and carryout the “October fest” this fall. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the expenditure of $1,000.00 out of the Brightside Farm budget for the October fest, and Mr. Hogan seconded. All were in favor.

Mr. Hanscom noted that the Committee is looking into the amount and type of grass seed they would like to plant along the new farm roads later this season when rainfall allows.


Minutes of 8/5/02

Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the minutes for 8/5/02 and Mr. Hogan seconded. All were in favor.

Presentation: Program for Acceptance of State Roads

John Young, Municipal Services Specialist for PennDOT, explained the procedure for the turnback of a state owned road to a municipality under the PA State Highway Transfer Program. He said up to $70,000 per mile is available from PennDOT to refurbish any state road that is taken back by a municipality, depending on the condition of the road. The municipality would perform all the work with its own contractor and is given up to three years to do so. Filing for one year extensions is not a problem, and many municipalities bank the money until needed. The first step in the process would be to pass a resolution to take back the road or roads. The resolution then goes to Harrisburg, and an agreement, including the scope of work and cost estimates, is drawn up. A municipality can take back as many roads as it wishes on one resolution and agreement. In lieu of liquid fuels funding, a municipality receives $2,500.00 per mile, which is higher than the average liquid fuels allotment, presently about $1,900.00 per mile. PennDOT wants to provide an incentive for the turnback of roads, and is presently trying to increase the funding to $3,500 or $4,000 per mile.

Mrs. Ewald said Charlestown Township has approximately 18 miles of state roads and asked if they can all be taken back. Mr. Young responded yes, with the exception of the major traffic routes of Route 29 and Route 401. Mrs. Ewald asked if all the roads were taken back, could PennDOT ever require that they be widened due to an increase in traffic volume or pressures. Mr. Oeste responded, no. Mr. Kohli said the pressure may come from within the community, but it would be the Township’s decision.

Mr. Kuhn asked what the advantage of taking back state roads would be to the Township. Mr. Young said they would be better maintained. Mr. Kohli reminded the Board that even if the road is turned back, the Township is still required to follow state regulations, so the degree of control over the road wouldn’t necessarily be greater if township owned.

Mr. Oeste asked if the contract sets a specific annual payment amount, or if it is paid out at the going rate since future legislatures could decrease or eliminate the amount. Mr. Young said it is set at the going rate, but said the state is trying to increase this, not decrease it.

Mr. Willig asked for a sample agreement, and asked what townships in the county have taken advantage of the program. Mr. Young said both London Britain and New London Townships have taken back a lot of their roads. Mrs. Ewald said she has heard that some townships returned roads to PennDOT and asked why this would happen. Mr. Young said he is aware of a few but doesn’t have the specifics. He said he’ll get additional information.

Mr. Kuhn asked if bridges are also turned back, and Mr. Young said they can be turned back or they can be excluded. There is no compensation for taking back bridges.

Mrs. Ewald said it would cost over $100,000 per mile to build a road up from base, which would be necessary on many of the state roads in the Township. She said the cost of liability must also be considered. Not only would the insurance premium for the township increase, but the additional legal costs and time involvement due to a lawsuit can be very cumbersome.

A woman in the audience asked if the turnback would affect plowing in the winter, and Mr. Willig said it would be the same, since the Township already plows the smaller state roads under contract with PennDOT.

Mr. Kuhn asked if only a portion of a road can be taken back, and Mr. Young said not usually, however, Tom Stefanic would make this determination and had indicated that they would allow a turnback of a portion of Hollow Road. Mr. Stefanic may also be able to offer additional incentives such as providing guardrails and piping. This would be done out of the county maintenance budget and would not be included in the turnback agreement.

Charlie Philips, Planning Commissioner, said the pros and cons should be carefully researched before any decision is made.


Altemose Conditional Use Application

The proceedings were taken by Mark Hagerty, Court Reporter. The hearing was continued to October 28, 2002 due to the unavailability of the applicant’s witness this evening.

Ordinance Amendment: Definitions for Impervious Surface Coverage

The proceedings were taken by Mark Hagerty, Court Reporter. Following testimony, the hearing was closed. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Ordinance #103-2002, amending the Zoning Ordinance to add the definition of impervious surface coverage and revising the definition of building coverage and impervious surface. Mr. Hogan seconded, and all were in favor.

Ordinance Amendment: Demolition of Historic Structures

The proceedings were taken by Mark Hagerty, Court Reporter. Following testimony, the hearing was closed. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve Ordinance #104-2002, amending the Zoning Ordinance to add a new section under Article 18 regarding requirements for a demolition permit to include all historic structures and following the guidelines already in place for historic structures in the Historic District. Mr. Willig seconded, and all were in favor.

Old Business

Steven Van Vliet – Request for Variance for Construction within a Flood Hazard District

Mr. Van Vliet was present to follow up on his plans to construct a small two story addition to his existing 2,100 square foot house located on Route 29 adjacent to Hartman’s Run and located in a floodplain. He received variance approval from the Zoning Hearing Board from Sections 403.E, 403.F and 1700.B of the Zoning Ordinance subject to obtaining approval from the DEP. The Zoning Hering Board did not decide the variance from Section 1104(B)(2)(a) but indicated that the Board of Supervisors would consider that request. Mr. VanVliet provided copies of his permit dated August 1, 2002 from the DEP in compliance with the decision and requested the Board of Supervisors approval so he can proceed with his building permit application. Mr. Oeste said he checked the regulations and determined that as long as the application follows the ordinance, the construction will not affect the FEMA Flood Insurance Program for Charlestown Township. Mr. Kuhn moved to approve the waiver from Section 1104(B)(2)(a) of the Zoning Ordinance, which requires a 50 foot setback from the watercourse. Mr. Hogan seconded. Mrs. Ewald amended the motion to include “provided that the approval will not jeopardize the FEMA Flood Insurance Program for Charlestown Township. Mr. Kuhn accepted the amendment and Mr. Willig called the vote. All were in favor.

New Business

Matsiras – Request for Driveway Setback Waiver, 104 Beaufort Court

Paul Matsiras was present to request a modification of the driveway setback requirements in the PRD-1 Zoning District in order to construct an addition on his property at 104 Beaufort Court in the Charlestown Hunt development. Howard Crawford was present from the Charlestown Hunt Homeowners Association (HOA) to represent the HOA’s concerns.

Mr. Matsiras said there has been some confusion over the sequence of approvals that would be required for his plan. The HOA requires that any modification of this nature be reviewed first by their advisory Architectural Review Committee (ARC) and, if approved, proceed to the HOA Board of Directors for approval. If denied, the homeowner can appeal to the Board of Directors. The ARC provides the HOA with written proof that the plan is in compliance with Township regulations. In the Matsiras application, the setback issue was overlooked by the ARC and they approved the plan and sent it to the HOA. The HOA denied the plan on the basis that it did not comply with the Township Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Matsiras had not yet come to the Township to request relief from the setback requirement, which, if approved, may have affected the HOA decision. According to the Township’s approval of the Charlestown Hunt PRD application, the Township requires that approval from the ARC and HOA be obtained first; therefore the requirements of the two bodies created a catch-22.

Mr. Crawford asked if an approval is given by the Supervisors, how can the HOA be assured that it will go back to them for reconsideration? Mr. Kohli said that a building permit would not be issued until the HOA approval was given. Mr. Crawford said the HOA rules are contradictory as to whether the ARC is a body that gives approval or simply recommends approval to the HOA. Mrs. Ewald suggested that the document also include a contingency that HOA approval is subject to the Township’s determination of compliance with the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Crawford said the HOA is concerned with approving this plan if it will set a precedent for other property owners in Charlestown Hunt. Mr. Philips agreed this was a matter for concern and said the Planning Commission is careful to avoid this when reviewing applications. Mr. Oeste said any approval would apply only to that property, but in reality, people tend to use such prior approvals in their arguments for similar consideration.

Mr. Oeste said that this plan is essentially requesting a modification to an approved PRD for the requirements for a side yard, and this requires that a public hearing be scheduled and advertised. Neighboring property owners within 250 feet must be notified in advance of the hearing date.

Mrs. Ewald suggested that Mr. Matsiras reconsider his design so an approval of a side yard modification from the Township would be unnecessary, by keeping the garage as is and planning an addition, instead of converting the existing garage into other living space and adding a new garage. Mr. Crawford was asked to return to the HOA and determine if they are willing to reconsider the plan subject to the Township’s approval, or if they would hold to their denial regardless of whether the side yard setback modification is granted, which would make a hearing moot. Mr. Matsiras agreed to grant the Township an extension on the time limit of 60 days from August 8, 2002 for scheduling a hearing to allow time for these matters to be investigated.

Tree Removal Policy

Mr. Willig said this matter will be discussed in executive session following the meeting.

Dixon Preliminary Subdivision Plan

The Secretary stated that a letter was faxed to the township office this afternoon granting a one month extension on the decision deadline for the Dixon preliminary subdivision plan application. The current extension expires on August 31, 2002, so this provides a new date of September 30, 2002. Mr. Oeste said the applicant’s attorney, Joseph P. Ryan spoke with him recently and indicated that a revised plan would be submitted shortly.

Cancel September 9th Meeting

Due to scheduling difficulties, the Board canceled the September 9, 2002 business meeting and will hold the next business meeting on September 16, 2002 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154. Payroll will be prepared and checks signed September 1, 2002 for the August pay period. The Board of Supervisors will ratify the check approvals at the September 16, 2002 meeting.

Other Business

West Nile Virus

Mrs. Ewald asked the other Board members if they would consider spraying for West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes if the County recommends it and offers a regional program. No one indicated outright opposition and agreed that a letter requesting information from the Chester County Commissioners could be drafted by Mrs. Ewald. Mr. Willig said environmental concerns relative to spraying will have to be considered before any action is taken.

Emma Builders – Blackberry Lane

Mr. Kuhn asked if any of the escrow funds requested from Emma Builders could be used to help cover the costs of repairing the subsidence on Blackberry Lane in the area of that development. Mr. Kohli said the subsidence was not caused by the construction and that piping installed by the developer was done according to the plan. A problem resulted when the Township extended the paving over the piping area, which was not designed to sustain that load. Unless there is a break in the piping further into the development, Mr. Emma did what was required. Mr. Kohli said he and the Roadmaster are planning to check into the piping further.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:38 P.M. The next meeting will be held on September 16, 2002, 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete, Township Secretary