The Supervisors held an executive session prior to the meeting to discuss legal matters.
The July meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 5th rather than the usual first Monday of the month due to the Independence Day Holiday.
Mr. Philips said he and Mr. Kuhn, along with their spouses, attended a May 21st French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust function at the Berry farm, which recognized open space preservation efforts, including Charlestown’s.
Ms. Jill Green requested that recorded meetings be posted on the township website. Mr. Heleniak said while some of the meetings are recorded, those recordings are used only to prepare the minutes and are then deleted. No decision has been made by the Board to post them. Mr. Kuhn said members of the public are permitted to make their own recordings.
Mr. Philips moved to approve the reports listed below and Mr. Kuhn seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips asked the Manager to confirm that the mowing at the Devault Basins performed by Charlestown Landscaping is still required and is not interfering with the work done by RES Landscaping.
Mr. Kuhn moved to accept the May 2023 reports #1-16 as submitted and Ms. Bednar seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
EAC Chair Carol Armstrong expressed appreciation to RES Landscaping for attending the May 18th Native Species event at Brightside Farm Park.
Mr. Thompson stated that in accordance with the Open Space Lands Act, a hearing must be held when using referendum funds to purchase interest in property. A public notice was placed in the Daily Local News in order to hold tonight’s hearing for consideration of acquisition of a conservation easement to be held with the French & Pickering Creeks Trust for the Alleva property in Charlestown Township.
He stated that the property is comprised of parcels 35-1-13 and 35-1-13.1 at 1 & 2 Honeysuckle Lane. He asked for public comment and Ms. Green asked for the location of the property, acreage, and cost. Mr. Heleniak responded that the purchase price is $512,500.00 for 20.5 acres located in the area of Merlin and Pikeland Roads. There being no other comment, Mr. Thompson closed the hearing.
Mr. Kuhn moved to adopt resolution #1035-23 approving the expenditure of open space funds in the amount of $512,500.00 for the acquisition of the Alleva property, parcels #35-1-13 and 35-1-13.1, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion. Mr. Willig asked if there were any homestead reservations, and Mr. Kuhn responded no, the two parcels have been recently combined and will consist only of the existing home and accessory structure. Mr. Piliero called the vote, and all were in favor.
Jessie Buckner began with an update on Phase I, which was a one year phase of the Brightside Farm Grassland Sanctuary project. Phase I ends on 6/9/23. This work included removal of hedgerows to increase contiguous grass area. Several rarer birds including the Bobolink, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, and Vesper Sparrow have already been seen.
Ms. Buckner then presented the Phase II proposal, which will include native meadow seeding and strategic spot spraying of herbicide along with continued invasive plant management. Additional invasives in the swale and woody areas will be removed and ecological assessments will continue. The proposal for Phase II is for two years ending June 2025.
Mr. Philips asked if a mowing plan was incorporated into the proposal. Ms. Buckner said Johnson grass areas would be mowed and herbicides spot applied. Before Fall, there would be a secondary mowing of the entire site with Mike McGraw ascertaining that no birds would be affected at that time. Mown grass would remain as thatch and would be followed by additional seeding in October.
Mr. Willig asked if these efforts should be extended to the open space at Deerfield across from the park, suggesting a discussion with the Deerfield HOA. Mr. Philips noted the Deerfield area is approximately 20 acres in size, and Mr. Kuhn added it contains a lot of thistle. Ms. Armstrong stated there is a riparian buffer and a spring, with trees planted in this area. Mr. Kuhn asked if there was a conflict for the Township in working with the HOA and Mr. Thompson said the HOA documents should first be reviewed for Deerfield maintenance requirements. Ms. Buckner said they could have a discussion with the HOA and offer the same template being used at Brightside. She noted that RES left the back hedgerow adjacent to a horse farm after the owners indicated they were using it as a natural fence. Ms. Armstrong asked if it was being used as shade for the horses, and Ms. Buckner responded no, it’s not tall enough.
Mr. Lou Rubinfield asked if RES will post a sign when herbicide is going to be applied and she said yes, they will post 48 hours prior to application. He then asked if the current drought would affect the plans. Ms. Buckner said the seeding won’t take place until October but if there are drought conditions at that time they will need to consider watering.
Mr. Charles Buck, Brightside Garden coordinator, noted that there is a stand of Japanese Kudzu across from the upper parking lot on the Deerfield side of Yellow Springs Road. He also stated the hedgerow between the gardens and the riparian buffer used to be mowed occasionally. Ms. Buckner said they would like to take this hedgerow down but keep quality trees. This would be in Phase 3 creating a selective canopy.
Mr. Andy Motel, Planning Commissioner, asked when the entire park would be mowed, and Ms. Buckner said in October, then cut in selected areas on a three year schedule. There may be an opportunity to do fire management in year 5. Ms. Armstrong said fire won’t control the Johnson grass, to which Ms. Buckner responded that’s why they’ll continue applying targeted herbicides. Mr. Philips noted that Longwood Gardens burns part of its meadow every year except during sever drought, and Ms. Buckner said RES handles this for Longwood and there is preparation and permitting involved before anything is done.
Mr. Philips moved to accept the 4/22/23 proposal from RES in the amount of $163,503 staged over two years for the Brightside Farm Grassland Bird Sanctuary project, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Philips asked for an update on the Devault Basin project, and Ms. Buckner said it is in the maintenance and monitoring phase. Spot herbicide treatment was done in May and the area is doing well, noting these small basins pose a different type of project than a meadow project.
EAC Chair Carol Armstrong explained that while identifying areas in the Township for water quality enhancement, EAC member Pete Goodman saw areas along the Pickering Trail and along French Creek headwaters in Charlestown Park that would be good candidates. Ms. Armstrong had volunteered in the past with Stroud Water Research Center and requested an assessment of the sites. Calen Wylie conducted those assessments, determining that the area at Charlestown Park was too small for their program, but the Pickering Trail area was desirable. The assessment indicated good soil types for planting sweet bay magnolias, oaks, and sycamores. The canopy will be lost if not repaired. David Wise was preparing a Growing Greener grant application and offered to submit one for this project as well with Stroud paying for the installation of the trees and their maintenance for three years.
Mr. Philips asked to confirm the area was entirely on Township property and Ms. Armstrong said yes. Mr. Willig asked if the proposed grant project includes an investigation of why this area has had problems with erosion and loss of vegetation, and Ms. Armstrong said no, though they suggested wind was part of the issue. The area is sometimes dry and other times flooded, and there is a pipeline easement running through it. Mr. Willig said lead mining used to take place on the uphill side of the creek which could still have impact. The area was also submerged in the past by the ice dam breech.
Ms. Armstrong said the grant funds would cover all maintenance tasks, providing herbicide to control invasives, stone mulch, bird netting and an annual assessment. One requirement of the grant is that the Township would agree to performing no timber harvesting in the area.
Mr. Willig said ongoing maintenance needs beyond the grant project scope should be assessed, and Ms. Armstrong said the EAC can develop a plan. She said if under 70% of the trees survive, the Township is not responsible to continue maintenance. Mr. Willig suggested a soil analysis be performed. Mr. Frank Beyer agreed soil assessment is needed, noting that once every two years or so there is significant flooding and wash out of this area. Ms. Armstrong said the trees to be planted would be selected for their tolerance of both wet and dry conditions.
Mr. Kuhn moved to execute the letter of commitment for the Stroud Water Research Center to include with their Growing Greener Grant for stream bank restoration at the Pickering Trail location, and Mr. Philips seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Wright reviewed the four bids received on May 1st and recommended the contract be awarded to the lowest bidder, Long’s Asphalt Inc. He said he’s worked with Howard Jones, who was previously with Dan Malloy Paving which had contracts with the Township in the past. He reviewed the equipment list with Mr. Jones, who indicated Long Asphalt is even more capable and qualified than his previous firm. Mr. Wright was satisfied with their qualifications.
Ms. Armstrong asked who the other bidders were, and Mr. Wright responded they included Innovative Construction, Cedar Springs Construction, and Charlestown Paving.
Mr. Philips moved to award the 2023 Road Improvement Contract to Long’s Asphalt Inc., for $150,767.29 for labor and equipment and $118,455.57 for materials totaling $269,222.86, and Mr. Willig seconded. Mr. Piliero called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Heleniak said he spoke to the broker, Ken Moyer, who informed him that the current provider, Hudson Insurance, had declined to provide a proposal, citing concerns over the historic buildings at Brightside Farm and the Charlestown Mill. The Board took note that the property insurance market has become problematic in the last year. Hudson will issue a non-renewal notice that allows for a 60 day extension to find alternate coverage. Mr. Heleniak said he’s working with Mr. Moyer on submitting documents to Travelers Insurance to obtain another quote. Their response should be coming tomorrow, and if it’s not acceptable they will return to the marketplace to seek additional quotes. Mr. Piliero asked that an additional quote be obtained in addition to Travelers for consideration.
Mr. Piliero asked which property this application represented, and Mr. Kuhn responded it was the former McDevitt property. Ms. Green asked where it is located, acreage, and whether it had an equestrian use previously. Mr. Philips responded it’s over 100 acres located off Route 401. Mr. Heleniak said it had a previous equestrian use but as an academy use it would now involve boarding horses.
The conditional use hearing for William and JoAnna Dougherty and Kara Dougherty was scheduled to open on July 5, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. at the Township Office, 11 General Warren Blvd., Suite 1, Malvern, PA.
Mr. Philips asked where the kudzu near Brightside Farm is located, and Mr. Buck said when traveling north on Yellow Springs Road approaching the radio tower, it’s across from the upper entrance to the farm on Deerfield property. Ms. Armstrong questioned whether it was Japanese Knotweed rather than kudzu. The Supervisors requested that Mr. Wright contact the HOA management company, CRC management, about the issue. The Township may ask Ed Theurkauf, who monitors that open space, or RES to assess it to make recommendations.
There being no other business, Mr. Piliero adjourned the meeting at 7:57 p.m. The next Business Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 5, 2023, at 7 p.m., at 11 General Warren Blvd., Suite 1, Malvern, PA.