TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2012


Wendy Leland, Chairperson, Bill Westhafer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Richter, Andy Motel (arrived later), Andre von Hoyer, Michael Churchill (arrived later) Daniel Wright, P.E, Thomas Comitta (arrived later), Stan Stubbe, Linda Csete and those on the attached sign-in sheet.

Call to Order:

7:36 p.m.


  1. On behalf of the Planning Commission, Mrs. Leland expressed thanks to Mrs. Csete for her many years of service to the Commission, and presented her with a beautiful plant and card.
  2. Mr. von Hoyer asked about the recent announcement of the County’s Vision Partnership Program offering grant funding to municipalities for planning projects. Mrs. Leland said she’s speaking to Mr. Comitta about it.
  3. Mrs. Csete announced that the Township made settlement on the Thompson conservation easement this month, preserving 200 acres in Charlestown and with Schuylkill Township preserving another 180 acres. There will be 23 homes permitted on the Charlestown portion of the property and 12 homes in Schuylkill. The North American Land Trust is a co-holder of the easement. The property is located along Whitehorse Road, with frontage on Mine Road, Tinker Hill Lane and Tinker Hill Road. Without this easement, there was the potential for 150 homes on this property. An estimated 26% of Charlestown Township is now preserved.
  4. Mrs. Csete offered congratulations to Wendy Leland, who retired from the Army National Guard this past weekend as a Colonel after over 32 years of service.
  5. Mr. Allen said he received an email from John Mostoller expressing interest in setting up a meeting with the Design Review Committee to discuss the Fillippo parcel abutting Spring Oak. (Mr. Motel arrived at this time.)
  6. Mr. Allen asked if there’s been a response from PECO regarding the setup of service at the Pickering Grant project, and Mrs. Csete said no.

Approval of May 15, 2012 Minutes

Mr. Allen said on page 2 of the minutes, the number of metal poles to be installed as part of the Route 29 Improvement project should be changed from 30 to 70+/-. He said he’s not sure if they have to be breakaway poles, and asked Mrs. Csete if PennDOT has scheduled the pre-installation meeting yet. She said no. Mr. Motel said this number of poles will make the area appear very cluttered.

Mr. Allen noted that PennDOT said they don’t use COR-TEN steel any longer. Mr. Motel said they agreed to paint the poles brown, but other poles in the area weren’t brought to their attention by the Township. He suggested asking the Supervisors to express their desire for all the poles to be painted. He said Allan A. Myers Inc. has the contract. He said they need to get a cost estimate for the remainder of the poles as they did on the lighting poles. Mr. von Hoyer asked why the number increased to over 70, and Mr. Allen said this is to meet PennDOT requirements. (Mr. Churchill arrived at this time.)

Mr. Westhafer asked if a copy of the lighting/signal plan is available. Mr. Allen said he has an electronic version he will circulate.

Mr. von Hoyer asked for the status of the replacement of the Turnpike’s Yellow Springs Road Bridge. Mrs. Csete said she’ll circulate the notes she took at the site meeting.

Mr. Allen provided a copy of his draft minutes with minor changes marked up, and moved to approve the minutes of May 15, 2012 with these changes. Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mrs. Leland called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Bluehowell Properties – Minor 2-Lot Subdivision

Michael Gill, Esq, Peter Cokonis, P.E. and property owner Christian Wynne were present for the review of the Bluehowell Properties Final Minor Subdivision Plan for two lots on Howells Road.

Mr. Gill said the property of about 160,000 square feet is just east of Rees Road on Howells Road, where they propose to subdivide into two lots to allow one single family home on each. The one existing home is proposed to be demolished.

Mr. Gill said that there was an earlier question on the calculation of the existing net lot area in 2010 when one lot was less than 80,000 sq.ft. because of netting out a 50 foot right of way for Howell Road. Since then he did title research and determined that the right of way at the frontage is only 33 feet, which allows the lot to meet the minimum area. The applicant then moved forward to engineering the stormwater management, showing the conceptual location for the wells, and preparing and submitting the planning module.

Mr. Gill referred to Dan Wright’s review letter dated 5/24/2012 and addressed the comments as follows.

Item #1 & 2 No comment needed: these are just descriptive paragraphs of the tract.
Item #3 The net lot area calculation must be provided. Mr. Gill said the PECO easement is a co-easement. The steep slopes don’t change the net lot area calculation because the slopes don’t exist over 3 consecutive intervals of 2-foot contours.
Item #4 Mr. Gill said they’d be happy to host a site visit as required for a Minor Subdivision plan, but requests a waiver since the Planning Commission earlier indicated it wouldn’t be needed. Mr. Allen said the Commissioners could walk the site on their own.
Item #5 A brief report describing the objectives of the subdivision was provided, so this matter is resolved.
Item #6 The next plan revision will include the location of the existing sanitary sewer and water facilities.
Item #7 An aerial photo of the adjacent area was provided so this is resolved.
Item #8 Mr. Gill agreed to show the sight distance for the proposed driveways on the plan.
Item #9 Mr. Gill agreed to provide the error of closure of the lots.
Item #10 Mr. Gill said the plans now show the proposed property corner monuments so this is resolved.
Item #11 Mr. Gill asked the Planning Commission to provide their review of the Planning Module as soon as possible. Mr. Wright said it won’t be reviewed until item #15 is resolved.
Item #12 Mr. Gill agreed to ensure that the isolation distance for the lot #2 well is provided.
Item #13 Mr. Gill agreed to include in the plans the distance from the existing right-of-way to the existing monuments along the parent lot boundary.
Item #14 Mr. Gill said they did create a list of all required permits to add to Sheet 1 of the Plan. (Mr. Comitta arrived at this time.)
Item #15 To be discussed later in the meeting.
Item #16 Mr. Gill said the existing right-of-way along the frontage has been determined to be 33 feet.
Item #17 Agreed to list the requirement of the NPDES permit on the plans.
Item #18 Mr. Gill said this item is a series of advisory comments of what to provide at the building permit stage.

Back to discussing Item #15, Mr. Gill said the ordinance requires a road right of way dedication of 50 feet. He spoke to the Solicitor in 2010 and 2011, stating they’re happy to dedicate this space, but the Township shouldn’t let the additional dedication go against their net lot area calculation. He said case law is clear on this. Mr. Gill said Mr. Thompson indicated this would be discussed when the plan is before the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Wright said Mr. Gill has submitted a position paper to Mr. Thompson, and he defers to Mr. Thompson on this matter. Mr. Allen asked if Mr. Thompson’s comments have been submitted to them yet, and Mr. Wright said no.

There was some discussion as to whether the Planning Commission should take action before this net lot question is answered, with Mr. Churchill stating they should wait. Mr. Motel and Mr. Allen stated a recommendation can be made subject to this determination and Mr. Churchill agreed.

Mr. Gill said they want to revise the plans and move on to the Supervisors. Mr. Churchill asked for the age of the existing house, and Mr. Wynne said about 65 years old. Mr. Allen noted it was already condemned so there’s no issue with demolishing it.

Mr. Motel mentioned the Horse-Shoe Trail, noting that the previous owners were against having it on their property so it is now in front along Howell Road. Mr. Wynne said he spoke to Mrs. Cantrell of the Horse-Shoe Trail Club, and that he’s not against including it on his plan as long as it doesn’t affect the net lot area calculation. Mr. Allen said there was the same issue at the Pickering Grant subdivision, so that applicant agreed to remove the trail from the drawings and add it back when the plan is approved. Mr. Gill suggested the plan be recorded just before the trail declaration is recorded.

Mr. Motel asked if a path width was discussed, and noted they usually want 10 feet. Mr. Wynne was agreeable to this.

Mrs. Leland said a neighbor complained about the weeds on the property. Mr. Wynne said they found there was a neighbor who was dumping on the property and has been contacted to remove the debris immediately. Further, Mr. Wynne agreed to cut the weeds and grass.

Mr. Allen asked if the applicant had attempted to obtain some land from one of the abutting neighbors to resolve the net lot area issue. Mr. Gill said yes, but the land they could acquire was not in Charlestown. One of the lots in Charlestown (Armstrong) couldn’t provide any land without it becoming a non-conforming lot itself. Another neighbor, Mr. Calabrese, sent a letter saying he wasn’t sure what his plans were and declined to provide land.

Mr. Allen said across the street from this property is the Ziegler subdivision, which includes several shared driveways. He asked if the applicant would consider a shared driveway for his two lots so there would only be one curb cut onto Howells Road. Mr. Gill said they looked at this and agreed it’s a good idea.

Mr. Allen said Lot 2 shows a 191 foot side lot width when the ordinance requires 200 feet. Lot 1, shown on Sheet #3, shows 200 feet but it measures into the middle of the building footprint. Mr. Wright said it should be measured at the building face. Mr. Cokonis disagreed, stating the 200 feet just has to be shown in the front area and can be within the building. Mr. Gill read the definition from the zoning ordinance, and concurred, as did Mr. Churchill, stating he thought they interpreted it this way as well.

Mr. Allen asked if the beds in the stormwater drainage system on Lot #2 shown on Sheet #4 have overflows. He noted Lot #1 has a level spreader as an overflow. Mr. Cokonis pointed out that there is a level spreader on both lots, and Mr. Allen then saw the piping across the driveway. He asked if Lot #2 has infiltration beds, and Mr. Cokonis said yes, they go into the swale.

Mr. Allen said the existing buildings on the property are marked for removal. He asked if the well and septic will be removed as well. Mr. Cokonis said they’ll follow the guidance of the County Health Department.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend approval of the Bluehowell Properties Final Minor Subdivision plan, last revised 4/11/12, subject to the comments on Mr. Wright’s review letter dated 5/24/12 and conditioned on the Solicitor’s acceptance of the net lot area calculations and a resolution of the lot width question. Mr. Allen seconded. Mrs. Leland called for further discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Lighting Ordinance

Mr. Comitta distributed the lighting ordinance draft revised 6/12/12 that includes suggested revisions by Mike Allen and responses from lighting consultant Stan Stubbe. The draft ordinance moves the lighting provisions from the Zoning Ordinance to the SLDO.

Mr. Comitta referred to pages 9-12, which strikes out the zoning ordinance regulations and instead has the Zoning Ordinance referring to the lighting regulation sections in the SLDO. He noted that when Mr. Stubbe reviewed the TND regulations he found problems with the associated lighting provisions and needs to start over on a blank canvas.

Mr. Stubbe said he’s associated with an organization called Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council, which advocates for dark skies. The Council has a model lighting ordinance that has been adopted by over 40 municipalities in the state. He said he also performs plan reviews for various municipalities.

Mr. Stubbe said he tried to fold in the Council model with what Charlestown had already proposed, noting that most of the Township is residential, and the biggest lighting problems are in commercial areas such as gas stations and shopping centers. He said there should be tools in the ordinance for the code officer to make determinations on lighting, yet by moving the lighting provisions to the SLDO, this would eliminate the code enforcement role without the cross reference from the Zoning Ordinance.

Mr. Comitta said the move to the SLDO was so applicants wouldn’t need to undergo the variance process to obtain an exception, and that the Solicitor, Mark Thompson, crafted the language at the top of page 9 cross-referencing from the Zoning Ordinance to the SLDO.

Mr. Comitta referred to Mr. Allen’s comment for D.2 on page 1 of the draft ordinance, which states that glare control and off-site trespass illumination should apply to all residential zoning districts. He said this can be easily changed.

Mr. Stubbe said an important legal element is to specify lighting levels consistent with an accepted standard. He said IES is recommended for this, addressing aesthetics and the question of whether there’s sufficient light to see what needs to be seen. He would worry about developers or homeowners having liability if the Township required a lower lighting level than IES.

Mr. Westhafer asked if there’s liability if the ordinance states a time, such as 10:00 p.m. for lights to go off, and Mr. Motel said no.

Mr. Comitta referred to page 11, asking if it would be appropriate if the lighting levels were graded by district, using the Use/Task chart shown. Mr. Stubbe said activity levels could be designated, such as high for sporting events or a McDonald’s, medium for a school or church. The chart could be used safely if no category had the foot-candles go below 0.2. He said a maximum would also be appropriate.

Mr. Churchill said he likes the idea of rating levels of activity. A school should be dim in the middle of the night and bright on a winter morning. The ordinance currently has the same level regardless of usage. Mr. Stubbe said one of the requirements should be to turn off lighting within one hour of the close of a business or school. If needed for security, limit the lighting to 25% of the normal lighting.

Mrs. Leland said she wasn’t able to provide comments for the draft ordinance, and there was some discussion on whether there should be another attempt for the remaining commissioners to provide comments or whether Mr. Comitta, Mr. Allen and Mr. Stubbe should work out the draft themselves. Mr. Allen expressed his desire for more comments.

Mr. Churchill said as far as values go it would be very useful to get a list of examples to site visit. Mr. Westhafer said reviewing an approved lighting plan and comparing it to the readings on the site, perhaps in another township, would be useful.

There was some discussion of lighting at various locations, including a Wawa, streets in West Chester Borough and PSU Brandywine, and the eye’s level of adaptation to lighting. Mr. Westhafer said the regulations have much to do about light pollution.

Mr. Churchill asked if the IES standard was used mostly for commercial and not residential sites, and Mr. Stubbe said yes. If a residential site such as an apartment complex has more than four parking spaces, it needs to fall under IES. For residential streets, a lighting level of 1/100 of a foot-candle is acceptable. Mr. Churchill expressed concern for parking lot lighting.

Mr. von Hoyer asked if a 0.2 sodium light and a 0.2 fluorescent light are the same. Mr. Stubbe said the eye is more sensitive to some colors, less sensitive to red than to blue. Some lamps have a shorter life span and require more maintenance.

Mr. Comitta referred to p. 5, item 5.B, stating that the onus of the costs of dedicated street lighting should be on the Homeowners’ Association. He believes this is a relevant issue, which Mr. Allen had questioned in his comments. Mr. Churchill said this could be an annual assessment. Mr. Allen said he didn’t see why this should be part of the lighting ordinance. Mr. Comitta said it could go elsewhere as a condition of approval, requiring an amendment of Section 606 of the SLDO.

Mr. Churchill referred to page 3, item 4.C, suggesting that the phrase “does not exceed” should read “should not exceed” for foot-candles of illumination.

On page 7, item #2, Mr. Motel asked if fifteen feet is a normal height for street light poles. Mr. Stubbe said a 20 foot maximum is reasonable; higher poles appear more uniform. Mr. Motel asked if the pole heights in TND districts should be subject to Design Review Committee approval.

Mr. Motel referred to page 4, item K, where the phrase “is not possible” should be “is not practical”, when referring to permitting building–mounted lights only when pole-mounted lights are not practical. Mr. Stubbe felt the term “possible” will foster discussion and should be kept as is.

Mr. Westhafer said there shouldn’t be anything in the lighting ordinance that precludes LEED requirements.

Mr. Comitta asked for additional comments to be emailed to him within one week so he, Mr. Allen and Mr. Stubbe could revise the draft for further review at the July 10th Planning Commission meeting.

Devault Base Plan

Mr. Comitta circulated a Master Recreation Plan that now incorporates comments from the Supervisors’ June 4th meeting. He said the Board wished to convert the baseball field to a multi-purpose field. He pointed out the index that lists the recreational resources.

Mrs. Leland said she’d like the plan to show the TND areas with their designated area numbers for reference.

Mr. Stubbe said if the recreational area will be lighted, wording needs to be added to the ordinance. Mr. Allen said in his opinion they won’t want lighting in this TND area.

Vacation Schedule

After providing vacation dates and determining that there would be little or no plan submissions to review in August, Mrs. Leland cancelled the August 14th meeting. The next meeting dates are July 10th and September 11th.

Bike Paths

Mr. Comitta said bike paths were mentioned at the Board of Supervisors meeting as part of the Open Space and Recreation Plan discussion. He said the County Planning Commission doesn’t have any bike paths proposed in the northern Chester County areas due to the roads being too narrow and windy and creating a liability concern. At the March 29th session of the Parks & Recreation Board’s review of the Open Space and Recreation Plan, they considered whether Charlestown should propose bike lanes on any roads. He cautioned them to be careful of this, since a 3 foot striped bike lane would be for bikes only. He said his personal option is that a certain comfort level is needed, and the Township roads don’t have the width.


Mrs. Leland adjourned the meeting at 9:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Township Manager
sheet, 6/12/2012