The following announcements were made:
Mrs. Leland referenced a 6/14/11 article in the Daily Local News on water quality.
Mr. Churchill said the French & Pickering Creeks Iron Tour took place last week with 1,500 riders participating. Part of the bike tour went through Charlestown, and the route was marked with signs where the F & P had preserved land. Mr. Churchill said he hadn’t realized how much they had preserved and was impressed with their achievements in land conservation for the Township.
Mrs. Leland said the July and August meetings will be held only if there are applications to review. She said she’ll be out of town for the July meeting, as will Mr. Allen.
Mrs. Leland tabled the approval of the 4/12/11 minutes as not everyone had the opportunity to review them.
Randy Patry circulated an Executive Summary of the Valley Creek Watershed Stormwater Management Plan published by the Chester County Board of Commissioners. It provided a basic overview of Act 167 to better understand how the Valley Creek Watershed Plan came about and what Charlestown must do for compliance by the August 3rd deadline.
Mr. Patry displayed a map of the Valley Creek Watershed, indicating its presence in Charlestown toward the southern part of the Township. He noted that 90% of the watershed is in East Whiteland and Tredyffrin Townships.
Mr. Patry said the Act 167 Plan was prepared in two phases. First, the County performed hydrological studies of the drainage areas and the impact on existing and projected pervious and impervious surfaces and woodlands to determine how to decrease peak rates and increase water quality. In the second phase, the County talked to the affected municipalities to identify their issues, such as flooding or erosion problems, and to get an understanding of what they want to accomplish. These guidelines were developed into a model ordinance. Since the Valley Creek municipalities all had current SMOs, they just need to update them to bring them into compliance. Valley Creek is the first watershed in Pennsylvania to be addressed.
Mr. Churchill said the Charlestown Oaks subdivision drains west toward Route 401, but asked where stormwater from Devault goes. Mr. Westhafer said he assumes it goes to Atwater in East Whiteland Township. Mr. Churchill noted that water from Phoenixville Pike drains to the Pickering Creek. Mr. Patry said the DEP determined that the revised SMO will apply township wide even though only a small portion is in the Valley Creek watershed. Mr. Wright said this may be seen as overreaching, but Charlestown did have representation during this process and agreed to enact the minimum standards.
Mrs. Leland asked if this will be expanded to include the Pickering and French Creeks, and Mr. Patry said the DEP will try to implement the standards countywide. He said the Valley Creek was selected to go first because it’s identified as an Exceptional Value Stream. The Pickering Creek is a High Quality Stream.
Mr. Patry said the Valley Creek Plan includes a list of mandatory minimum requirements for Townships within that watershed, and the Township’s Stormwater Management Ordinance (SMO) was re-drafted to comply as required by the DEP. He circulated Table 7-2 of the Plan detailing these requirements along with a marked up version of the draft SMO.
The Planning Commission was concerned with the August 3rd deadline to adopt the revised ordinance, and asked Mr. Patry to determine the consequences of a delay since they weren’t prepared to make a recommendation this evening having just received the extensive materials for review. Mr. Churchill suggested they go through the ordinance this evening to see where the changes are, and make any recommendation of approval subject to the P.C. members having an opportunity to submit comments on the details following the meeting.
Mr. Patry explained the 35 comments on Mr. Kohli’s letter dated 6/8/11 reviewing the draft ordinance in detail, and there was lengthy discussion by the Planning Commission. Mr. Kohli’s letter is included as an addendum to the minutes. Mr. Comitta noted that some of the changes were incorporated into a draft last year that was previously reviewed.
Mr. Allen asked for clarification that any requirements in the current SMO that are stricter than the mandatory minimum requirements will stay in the ordinance. Mr. Patry confirmed this.
Some of the comments on Mr. Kohli’s letter were addressed as follows:
Item #1: Mr. von Hoyer asked how the Township would “promote infiltration of stormwater”. Mr. Patry said the developer will use the Best Management Practices (BMP) of his choice.
Item #2: Mr. Patry noted that Mr. Comitta’s office provided altered standards and added the last objective listed in Section 23-103 to establish standards for habitat enhancements and aesthetics in the design of stormwater management facilities.
Item # 9: Mr. Churchill questioned Section 23-301 that sets the minimum thresholds for the applicability of the SMO. He said he thought the Township ordinance was lower than the 1,000 sq. ft. now shown. Mr. Patry said there are two tiers, the second of which was brought up to 1,000 sq. ft. The first tier, disturbance from 100 to 999 square feet, requires a simplified SMO plan. Mr. Allen questioned whether this is too restrictive. Mr. Churchill said the requirement that all land disturbances within 5 feet of a property line require approval should be given some thought, although Mr. Patry said this is in the current ordinance as well.
Item #11: Mr. Patry said Section 23-301.K is a new section listing exemptions, which took away some of the Township’s control. The DEP compromised by allowing Townships to regulate disturbance less than one acre, after one acre their regulations take over and an NPDES permit is required.
Item #13: Mr. Churchill asked if these changes in the controls for volume would have made a difference in an existing development. Mr. Patry said it’s not the type of control that would have reduced density or changed the layout of a plan. Mrs. Leland asked why 10 year storm events are further restricted, and Mr. Patry said they’re more common, so the DEP gets control over more development by regulating it more stringently.
Item #17: Mr. Churchill said the Solicitor should review the PA Turnpike Commission Authority Act to see if they have the right to the thresholds under which they don’t have to comply with the ordinance. Mr. Patry said attorneys from the DEP, PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission were at the meetings, but Mr. Churchill said the Township’s attorney should review this as well.
Item #30: Regarding stormwater facility maintenance agreements, Mr. Allen was concerned the long term bond or escrow requirement would be onerous to homeowners’ associations.
Mr. Comitta related several “housekeeping” items to Mr. Patry for correction.
Mrs. Leland said she’ll ask Mr. Motel and Mr. Richter to review the materials on their own time and relate any comments to the group.
Mr. Churchill said he’s comfortable with his understanding of the changes discussed this evening but asked if the minimum square footage trigger of 100 square feet could be reconsidered. Mr. Patry said he can provide some information to help determine whether a 500 sq. ft. minimum would be more appropriate.
The Planning Commission indicated that if the August 3rd deadline can be extended to September, they will revisit this ordinance at the July 19th meeting; otherwise they acknowledged that the Board of Supervisors can proceed without a recommendation from them.
Mr. Patry provided information on the existing Wetland Buffer provisions/Stream Valley Restrictions in Zoning Ordinance Section 1612 and 1618. Section 1612 states that no building or other structure shall be erected closer than 100 feet to the nearest bank, while Section 1618 states that no building shall be erected within 50 feet of any wetland. He also provided an excerpt of the state regulations, which range from 50 to 150 feet and disallows more activity than the Township ordinance. Mr. Churchill noted the state requirements would apply to any disturbance over 1 acre where an NPDES permit is needed.
The Planning Commission discussed whether to include a restriction on grading and disturbance activities. Mr. Comitta noted the Solicitor should review any proposed change for consistency with a recent court decision involving Easttown Township.
Mr. Allen asked why the wetland restriction is 50 feet but streams are 100 feet. Mr. Comitta said some wetlands are not perennial. Mr. Wright said the Chester County Conservation District also uses a 50 foot buffer, so the Township is consistent with that. He noted that any water with a defined bed and bank is considered a watercourse in Pennsylvania and the DEP’s restriction of 150 feet for non-exceptional streams is consistent as well. He suggested a clarification could be made for exceptional or high quality streams.
Mr. Allen said the State distinguishes between a riparian buffer and a riparian forest buffer and asked if the Township should do the same. Mr. Patry said the State had to compromise due to push back from certain factions and their two-tier approach is a compromise.
They determined that grading should be permitted by conditional use, and asked Mr. Comitta to draft an ordinance with this revision, along with other minor adjustments he recommended.
Mr. Allen said he had a lot of objections to the solar ordinance that passed last year. He recently became aware of an ordinance Plymouth Township created that includes wind power and other alternative energy. He said the Planning Commission needs to research alternative energy more comprehensively. The group touched on whether a wind power ordinance is needed or whether there are sufficient elements in existing ordinances to regulate it, such as height restrictions.
Mr. Wright offered to find an expert to speak to the Planning Commission, and circulated the latest revisions of the solar and wind ordinances to the group. Mrs. Leland asked the commissioners to do some research in the meantime.
The Planning Commission discussed the offer from J Loew & Associates to transfer two leftover parcels at the Commons @ Great Valley to the Township at no cost. These parcels can provide links to existing and future trails. Mr. Wright showed a map of the property under consideration and the Planning Commission noted areas where links could be made. They indicated they are in favor of the acquisition.
Mrs. Leland said she spoke to Supervisor Kevin Kuhn who related that the Board isn’t going to revise the draft sign ordinance to include Mr. Comitta’s proposed change in his memo dated 5/20/11 to limit individual signs on facades to 50 square feet. Mr. Comitta gave some background on his research, where he found that other ordinances he checked had a limit of 50 square feet. Mrs. Leland moved to recommend the ordinance be redrafted to include Mr. Comitta’s recommendations in his memo dated 5/20/11 and Mr. Allen seconded. All were in favor.
Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m.
June 8, 2011
Linda Csete, Township Manager
7 Great Woods Lane
Malvern, PA 19355
Re: Stormwater Management Ordinance Revisions
Attached, please find a revised version of Charlestown Township’s Stormwater Management Ordinance with revisions in red. The Ordinance has been revised in order to comply with the Valley Creek Watershed Stormwater Management Plan which was enacted in accordance with the Act 167 Plan for Valley Creek. Due to PA DEP regulations, the Township’s Stormwater Management Ordinance must be revised in order to comply with this Plan. Table 7-2 of the Valley Creek Watershed Stormwater Management Plan provides a list of the mandatory minimum standards for land development projects that all Townships within the Valley Creek Watershed must comply with. We have also added revisions to the Ordinance based on input from Thomas Comitta’s Office. Following is a summary of the changes in the order they appear in the Ordinance:
Please note that the deadline for enacting this Ordinance to satisfy the DEP requirement is August 3, 2011.
If you have any further questions, please contact me.
Very truly yours,
Surender S. Kohli, P.E.
Board of Supervisors
Mark P. Thompson, Esq.
Thomas J. Comitta, Jr., AICP