Mr. Westhafer said the Grand Opening of the Charlestown Mill was a success and told Mrs. Csete, and everyone who helped plan the day, that it was a job well done.
Mr. Allen asked about the details of the Marshall settlement. The Marshalls agreed to pay $25,000 for fines and costs.
Mr. Allen moved to approve the minutes of October 9, 2018, and Ms. Leland seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Tim Townes presented a revised sketch plan for a proposed parking expansion at General Warren Village, dated October 16th, 2018. Members like the current landscaping at PJ Whelihan’s and hoped Mr. Townes can retain it as he presents his 3rd draft tonight.
At the August meeting Mr. Townes presented a plan to increase his parking by approximately 80 spaces.
First Draft - increased the parking by about 70 spots using basin area, but had removed some trees, and included land across the boulevard. The berm was impacted.
Second Draft - reduced the basin but did not impact the berm, it added 39 spots and involved crossing the street. Since the area is meant to be a walkable TND, crossing the street to park is part of the design intent. However, in this situation, it is troublesome to some of the Members.
Tonight, Mr. Townes returned with a plan that provides 38 new spaces plus a reserve for 40 more should (a) the development obtain all tenants and require more parking spots or (b) the Township believes the project needs more parking. Other plan discussion points:
Mr. Townes will return with a Preliminary Plan after meeting with the Township Engineer to develop stormwater plans.
Mr. Dettore led a discussion on planning for a future township office. A packet of information compiled from a 2017 feasibility study was distributed, including charts, and a first draft of a floor plan. The study had 2 major aspects:
1st Spatial Need - Preliminary needs were compiled. An estimated 5000-7500 sq. ft. is considered in the 1st draft of the floor plan.
2nd Placement - A chart comparing the 4 locations was reviewed tonight.
Mr. Dettore stated that the next step is to decide policy issues such as- does the Township want to design/build or operate their own municipal building, rent, or lease, or a hybrid of these decisions. The Township does not own any typical-use municipal buildings (such as a library, police station, sewer authority, etc.). The Township can continue being a tenant and operate out of a different building, or build to own, and further, as mentioned by Mr. Motel, build space to be able to lease to others within a TND development. Discussion followed regarding benefits of renting, being a landlord, swapping and buying land, etc.
Mr. Dettore informed the Members that in PA, municipalities are not locked into a low bid situation. There is a method using an Industrial Development Corporation that can be used to maintain the Township’s interests, allowing RFP’s (as opposed to a low bid process) and qualitative control. With this process, Mr. Dettore suggested the Township might be able to build its first property in the image and brand that matches its vision.
Two major considerations impact the size of the facility. First is the use as a voting facility, and the fluctuation of parking this causes. Secondly, is the meeting space necessary for a large meeting vs. the usual size of meetings. If the Township is not building for these large uses, then Mr. Dettore suggested the Devault/Sugarman property as the best location. The cost of paving parking lots greatly increases any project’s cost. Charlestown Park already has much of this accomplished, along with utilities, and stormwater controls.
Mr. Kuhn of the Board of Supervisors asked the Planning Commission for a site recommendation. The Members were not initially in agreement and will be reviewing the packet and chart Mr. Dettore assembled.
Mr. Westhafer stated that the Devault TND isn’t yet developed, therefore to establish a presence there first, is early in a process and would benefit from owner collaboration. If the area did not end up getting developed for a decade or more, it could be a poorly timed decision. But the area is his choice since it could be a hub due to the slip ramp, post office, and school nearby.
Mr. Motel felt Devault was also a better choice. Both Members felt Charlestown Park, being at a different end of the Township, felt like an outlier. He mentioned that Devault TND has been very well planned. Mr. Allen also felt Devault was a more central location. Mr. Allen noted that the TND has a conceptual Township in its drawings. Mrs. Leland indicated she is also in favor of the Devault location.
Mr. von Hoyer felt that it was financially beneficial to keep the Sugarman property for future sale and build on Park land the Township already owns. Plus, the utilities/infrastructure were already there. He stated that the location was an opportunity to establish an additional hub, and an opportune place to establish a Township presence in an area that no one knows is actually Charlestown Township. There is room for sheds, voting parking fluctuations, and club houses.
The chart reflected the Sugarman and Park locations as most viable and having the same approximate costs. However, the Park’s location cost was inflated because it includes a ground level clubhouse area that works with the slope of the land. This would not be included in Devault. The location within the Park would be at the intersection of Southwest Avenue and Beulah Heights Street. Some unused buildings would be leveled. Grades were given to all four locations. Brightside Farm was the most expensive due to infrastructure costs and it also has a large easement to deal with. The Volpi tract also has high infrastructure costs and is rather secluded.
A PennDOT project to open up an access road into the Park from Coldstream Road, is being researched and is independent of where the Township building would be located.
Mr. Comitta suggested he contact a planning advisory service to find out what municipalities are building new offices, and report back to the Members. Mr. Kuhn suggested a joint meeting in the first quarter of next year to discuss this agenda item.
Mr. Comitta led a discussion on reviewing and revising the specific standards for conditional use.
Mr. Motel had a list of uses not already listed for Charlestown to give to Mr. Comitta. Next month, Mr. Comitta will return with further edits and supplements.
Mr. Allen announced that tonight was his last night as a Member of the Planning Commission. He was thanked by everyone there, for his 20 + years of service and was told he had made Charlestown Township a better place.
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 10 p.m.