TUESDAY, MAY 8, 2018


Planning Commission:
Bill Westhafer, Chairman, Andre von Hoyer, Vice Chairman, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Andy Motel, and Michael Richter. Wendy Leland was absent.
Daniel Wright, and Thomas Comitta
Lisa Gardner
Mr. Kuhn and Ms. Bednar

Call to Order:

7:35 p.m.


Mr. Allen mentioned the data that reflected the amount of volunteer funding provided by Township residents to the East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Association. Mr. Kuhn said that besides a few businesses, typically the return is only about 4%. He feels that many residents are deceived by the name and think the companies receive Township taxes.

The Members told Mr. Kuhn that they would like to be fully involved in the initial planning of any new Township Building. Mr. Kuhn said they would be, it simply wasn’t even at the point yet where there was anything to decide. The Board is still trying to form goals and a general idea of what is needed. There are two areas being considered, the township owned property in Devault, with challenges such as parking, and the Park. The Park has the infrastructure and is a Township asset that should be promoted. Parking is needed due to voting. This is an excellent topic for a Joint Meeting between the Board and the Planning Commission. Mr. Kuhn gave a big thank you to Mr. Westhafer for donating so much time toward the planning phase.

Mr. Westhafer stated that he would forward Mr. Dettore’s New Township Building Report to the Members.

Approval of Minutes

April 10, 2018 Minutes

Mr. Motel moved to approve the minutes of April 10, 2018, and Mr. Churchill seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

General Planning

Review Specific Conditional Use General Standards & Criteria

Mr. Comitta provided a recap of last month’s progress. Next month, Mr. Thompson will discuss individual districts vs. Conditional Uses that survived the edits discussed in April and May.

Tonight, Mr. Wright began by mentioning the Whisper Lane agenda item at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The applicant wanted to build a pool on steep and very steep slope and had requested waivers and a favorable Zoning Hearing Board recommendation. The Board was very concerned about the very steep slope disturbance and the absence of hardship. No recommendation was given (the applicant plans on revising the plans so they only need to obtain Conditional Use approval and no variances).

Charlestown Township’s steep slopes are not quantified, but simply have a “do not touch” character. The Township’s steep slope is 15-25% and very steep slope is over 25%. These percentages are not going to change. The Ordinance is general, and Mr. Wright discussed putting extra conditions or tools into the hands of the Board and Planning Commission.

Currently, the model being used is from Montgomery County, drafted in the later 1970’s. In 27-1205 Standards for Approval of Conditional Uses, the last chapter of steep slope section gives general descriptions. However, Mr. Wright drafted a suggestion “D” or a quantifier, to vary slopes by quality. These would decrease in quality going 1 to 5.

The following draft of “D” for insertion, was distributed to Members:

  1. In addition to the standards described in 27-1809, pertaining to conditional uses, the Board of Supervisors shall consider the following:
  D. The quality of steep slope areas being impacted with the understanding that the quality of the steep slope areas vary based on the following general categories shown below from the highest quality for natural steep slope areas within a wooded stream corridor to the lowest quality for man-made step slope areas within an open area.
  1. Natural steep slope areas within a wooded stream corridor
  2. Natural steep slope areas within a wooded area
  3. Natural steep slope areas within an open area
  4. Man-made step slope areas within a wooded area
  5. Man-made slope areas within an open area
  2. Any application for a Conditional Use shall provide evidence that:
  D. Permitted uses within the steep slope conservation areas have been designed to minimize disturbance of high quality steep slope areas as described in 27-1205.1D.

Members were very hesitant to designate slopes using the term “man-made”, leaving too much room to challenge. Members also considered covering #4 and #5 with “agreement with Township Engineer may be granted. Mr. Motel suggested that the word “natural” also left room for challenge. However, Mr. Wright said the supportive wording “natural environmental protection” is mentioned in that section of the Comprehensive Plan.

Mr. von Hoyer suggested the applicant show all viable options when requesting relief in steep slope. Mr. Wright pointed out that the second part of “D” was drafted for this purpose. The applicant must have demonstrated an effort to place (example pool) in a lower impact area. Mr. von Hoyer stated that the applicant should prove the slope is man-made or the PC will consider it natural. Mr. Wright said it was very important to characterize the location and see what the owner is doing to the steep slope. There are no state requirements for steep slope, but the applicant must show no other available options.

Mr. Wright felt “D” gave the PC the ability to navigate a priority system. Members could better clarify consideration in Conditional Use applications.

Members discussed if they really needed control measures to stand on, such as “D”. Mr. Wright said as of now, they have none. Members can put Conditional Uses in place and applicants can appeal so why quantify? Mr. Wright reminded Members that Mr. Bender suggested putting standards in place. The agenda item ended with Mr. Churchill discussing setting precedents. Mr. Wright will return with alternative wording for “D” at the next PC Meeting.

Mr. Comitta stated that FEMA dictates the floodplain Ordinance and the Township can not add or subtract to the template. So, there are no changes to consider for floodplains.

Regional Comprehensive Plan -Chapters 2 & 3

The Planning Commission continued its review of the draft Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan, which will also serve as the Charlestown Township Comprehensive Plan. The PRPC is reviewing part of the 10 chapters each month in preparation for their public meeting introducing the Plan in August. It was suggested that each member municipality review 2 chapters per month leading up to that meeting.

Tonight, the Planning Commission reviewed Chapters 2 and 3 and had the following comments:

1.   Figure 3 DVRP Population Forecast
1. 1. Limiting the Forecast period to 2035 (as a Forecast for 2040 and 2045 seems to be in the too distant future, and Members were not sure where all 2,646 persons would fit in the next 30 years given the current level of development, existing zoning, and existing conservation easements).
2.   Future Land Use Map
2. 1. Mr. Comitta suggested that there should be a reduction in the area shown in red for “Mixed Use”. The area across from Spring Oak, on the north side of Whitehorse Road, is contemplated as a Recreational Area (not for intense development) even though it is part of the TND-2 Overlay District.
3.   Household Income
3. 1. Change the title of Figure 20 from Employment Forecast to Household Income on the bottom half of page 2.12.
4.   Housing Plan, Objectives
4. 1. Change the wording for Objective 7 so it reads: “Identify and prioritize housing opportunities for seniors and families”.
5.   Transportation Plan, Objectives
5. 1. Add: “Implement the Act 209 Transportation Plans” as another Objective.
6.   Chapter Three - Land Use Plan
6. 1. Change the word “off” to “of” on the first line of the first paragraph.
6. 2. Change the dates “2007 - 2008” to “2008 - 2009”, relative to the Great Recession.
6. 3. In the last paragraph of section 3.2 pertaining to Historic Land Use, change the last sentence as the TNDs were approved in 2011 and 2012.
6. 4. In section 3.5 Future Land Use Categories, under “Mixed Use” add another bullet point to indicate: “Vertical mixed-use buildings with ground floor non-residential use and upper floor residential use.”
6. 5. On page 11, under LU-7 the term village was discussed (edits are in process).

Other Business

There was none.

Administrative Note

Any documents referred to in the minutes are available to the public upon request to the Township office.


There being no further business, Mr. Westhafer adjourned the meeting at 9:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary