Planning Commission:
Andre von Hoyer, Chairman, Michael Richter, Vice Chairman, Michael Churchill, Wendy Leland, Andy Motel, Matt Rodgers, Dan Walker, and Bill Westhafer.
Daniel Wright, P.E., and Thomas Comitta
Lisa Gardner, Marie Stone, Michael Allen, and Linda Csete

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.


Mr. Churchill announced there was a meeting about the Devault Trail, hosted by Mr. Timothy Phelps of the TMAAC with Chris Lawrence, Susan Bednar and Linda Csete in attendance. He updated the other Members regarding potential acquisition, a change in position for bargaining, management of the trail, etc.

Ms. Leland attended a GVSD municipal liaison meeting in mid-December along with Mrs. Csete where the growth in population was discussed. There is a survey that residents should review about the Middle School being overcapacity and what options are preferred.

Mr. von Hoyer mentioned a large tree down on the trail near Buckwalter Road that may have damaged the trestle bridge.

Chairperson, Planning Commission

Mr. von Hoyer opened the floor to nominations. Mr. Motel nominated Mr. von Hoyer for the position of Chairman of the Planning Commission. Mr. Richter seconded. There were no further nominations. Mr. von Hoyer closed the nominations. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Vice Chairperson, Planning Commission

Mr. von Hoyer opened the floor to nominations. Mr. von Hoyer nominated Mr. Richter for Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, and Ms. Leland seconded. Mr. von Hoyer closed the nominations. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

2020 Meeting Schedule

Mr. von Hoyer moved to establish the meetings for 2020 to be the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, and Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Approval of Minutes

December 10, 2019 Minutes

Ms. Leland moved to approve the minutes of December 10, 2019, and Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


George Meyer Preliminary Final Subdivision Plan

Mr. George Meyer was present after initially seeking preliminary/final approval in October before the project’s NPDES and PennDOT approvals were in place. Mr. Wright explained that there is no highway occupancy permit yet, but now the project does have preliminary PennDOT and NPDES comments.

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend approval of the Meyer Preliminary/Final Subdivision plan last revised 10/25/19, subject to:

  1. the review comments in Mr. Wright’s letter dated 11/5/19
  2. Mr. Comitta’s review memorandum dated 11/7/19
  3. receiving both a NPDES and PennDOT permit
  4. conditioned on the final approval of the cul-de-sac design

Ms. Leland seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and then the vote. All were in favor.

General Planning Items

Review Draft Ordinance Amendment – Equestrian Use in the Farm Residential District

The Planning Commission reviewed a draft zoning ordinance amendment by Mr. Thompson, related to equestrian use in the Farm Residential District proposed by the Board of Supervisors.

Ms. Kristen DeMarco and Mr. Basil Troy, of Gateway HorseWorks, described the low-key therapy of that stands for Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. The ordinance amendment would provide legality to a new community resource.

  1. Each practitioner is a credentialed mental health professional or equine specialist.
  2. All horses are adopted or rescued.
  3. The horses are not ridden, all therapy is ground level.
  4. They help people with mental or developmental problems when talk therapy isn’t the answer.
  5. The sessions are 1-1.5 hours long.
  6. The patients (6-8 in a group) tend to arrive via community transport.
  7. They may have 2-3 groups at a time.
  8. They help veterans, hospices with grieving clients and children, local family services, etc.
  9. They will have fundraisers and community programs.
  10. They want to construct an indoor arena.
  11. In 5 years, they see having 12 horses and more staff, but now they have 6 horses and staff.
  12. There is a low volume of traffic.
  13. They would like to purchase both Epstein properties using one for growing hay and straw, etc. to support the horses.
  14. They have impatient donors who wish to purchase both parcels.
  15. The property they are on right now is for sale.
  16. They will not be renting or giving riding lessons.
  17. There may be other animals on the property. But the applicant would stay true to scope.

Although it preserves open space and is a good location due to connector roads, Members had the following 4 concerns:

  1. What would prevent this operation from becoming a “riding academy”?

    Mr. Wright reminded Members that tonight they are reviewing the wording of Mr. Thompson’s draft and that they can disqualify what the Township doesn’t want. The wording can prevent the business model from changing without coming before the Board again for approval.

    However, Ms. DeMarco said most of their horses aren’t suitable for riding and the insurance is very high for trail riding, plus that business model would be very far from EAGALA standards.

  2. The wording in the Event section was discussed at length. Mr. Churchill was concerned about the misuse or leniency of the verbiage but Members appreciated Mr. Kuhn’s suggestion that permits could be a useful control. Additional controls can be added into the conditional use requirements.
  3. Mr. Westhafer read aloud sections “a’ and “b” of the draft that do not apply to the project since patients are not riding the horses and they aren’t being rented.
  4. Mr. Comitta suggested adding setbacks for manure storage and accessory buildings (and address accessory building sq. footage). He will circulate other township ordinances to Members for comparison.

Due to advertising restrictions, any hearing can’t be scheduled until the Supervisors’ March 2nd meeting at the earliest. The Members wanted two weeks to review the draft and will submit additional comments to Mr. Thompson or Mr. Comitta.

Mr. Churchill moved to forward the proposed ordinance to the Board of Supervisors with comments and suggestions from the Planning Commission, compiled by Mr. Comitta and Mr. Thompson, supporting this use in the Farm Residential District. Mr. Richter seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Finalize Bus Tour for January 18th (snow date January 25th) 9 a.m. – noon

Mrs. Csete confirmed that she spoke to a representative from Krapf Buses for the advertised tour to begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Township Office parking lot and provided them with the route to be taken. She reminded the Members to consider low tunnels and other possible obstructions for the bus if they decide to deviate from the route.

Other Items

Mr. Allen’s Update after appearing at the last Board Meeting

Other Updates

Mr. Motel discussed an email about principle stakeholders in the TND including, Fillippo property, Devault Village, Township property and the possibility of reconfiguring parcels.

Mr. Wright displayed a map of the area surrounding the proposed new Township Building site. He pointed out to Members that there were two streams that both included 150’ buffers. Discussion followed about commuter traffic, circulation of trucks from the plant, and requirements of the new office.

Mr. Allen was unhappy with the content in a letter from the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission regarding the Mine Road project. He reminded Members that they need to be vigilant and focused on reviews since the PRPC comments brought up a number of issues the PC hadn’t addressed. Ms. Leland said that upon reading the letter she immediately scheduled an appointment with Mr. Theurkauf to discuss the PRPC review.

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. von Hoyer adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary