Via Webex


Planning Commission:
Andre von Hoyer, Chairman, Michael Richter, Vice Chairman, Michael Churchill, Wendy Leland, Andy Motel, Matt Rogers, Dan Walker, and Bill Westhafer.
Dan Wright, P.E., Mark P. Thompson, Esq., Dan Mallach, and Tom Comitta.
Linda Csete, Beth Martin, and Lisa Gardner.
Michael Gill, Esq., Vincent Buser, PA Turnpike Commission, Rick Rosenberry of Maser Construction Pete Goodman, Susan Bednar, Caroline Klein, of Maser Construction, Lou Rubenfeld, Kevin Kuhn and two not identified via Webex for a total attendance of 26.

Call to Order:

7:34 p.m.


Mr. Churchill updated the commissioners on the Rails-to-Trails project, where a meeting is scheduled for October 16th to discuss the possibility of obtaining more grant money now that the DVRPC has announced that there was more funding available. However, the Norfolk & Southern Railroad is not very open to discussing selling that line and the County is not prioritizing this project. This Devault Trail committee is working to gain the County’s attention so they can assist with the vital acquisition of this line.

As always during a WebEx meeting, please mute audio except when speaking, whether joining by video or phone.

All present are reminded to reference the review letters and appropriate page when discussing issues mentioned for the person recording the minutes.

Approval of Minutes

Sept. 8, 2020 Minutes

Mr. von Hoyer moved to approve the minutes of Sept. 8, 2020, and Mr. Westhafer seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

The September TND meeting minutes will be recirculated for approval at the November PC meeting.


PA Turnpike Commission – Maintenance Facility Land Development Plan

Representatives returned for further discussion of the PA Turnpike Commission’s Land Development Plan for a new maintenance facility along the eastbound lane of Route 76 near the intersection at Valley Hill Road. It is between Valley Hill Road and Yellow Springs Road near the Aqua water tank (which would remain) to the west. It is roughly ¾ of a mile from the current facility but on the other side of the highway. There is already an access drive nearby and parcels consolidated by the Turnpike.

The following representatives were present for tonight’s third formal presentation to the PC.

Mr. Gill stated that they are awaiting a formal written response of opinion for the project’s Plan from the Zoning Officer and in addition, have 3 factors preventing them from being at the Board meeting this month which are:

  1. Re-examine the landscaping - now resolved per Township consultants.
  2. Re-examine the lighting impact - now resolved per Township consultant’s review letter dated 10/9/20 from Stubbe Consulting LLC.
  3. Open zoning issues as seen on Zoning letter (#3). This letter raises five issues for the Board of Supervisors.
    1. The stormwater was resolved per Advanced GeoServices letter dated 10/9/20.
    2. Mr. Gill will respond to Mr. Mallach requesting clarification in an email received today (10/13).

Mr. Westhafer reminded the Applicants that the 40’ lights heights were beyond ordinance requirements (but were still on the Plan). Ms. Klein responded that:

Mr. Mallach thanked them for lowering the lights along the access drive, but he hoped to also lower the lights impacting Deerfield. Mr. Buser agreed to shine the lights to the south to block the light by moving them to the north side, around the storm basin. Also, Mr. Mallach asked that the manually operated lights be noted on the Plan and that some of the C1 lights not be directed more toward neighbors. Mr. Buser told Mr. Mallach which lights he would specifically tilt or flip to the east. Mr. Mallach reminded him to put this note on the Plan too.

Mr. Buser stated it was very important that the Township be forthright in all requests now, since it is best for the bidding process.

Mr. Motel requested all fixtures to have full cut-offs. Mr. Buser said that they were included but that since they are LED lights, shielding may not be needed. There will be 18’ wall packs to light the shed, and poles will light the asphalt.

The question arose about motion lighting and Mr. Buser reminded everyone that the consensus had been that off and on lighting was more annoying (Mr. Allen, September PC 2020). Plus, the cost of the sensors and the need to maintain the programming was something the facility did not want to have to manage. Therefore, they lowered the poles and the intensity instead. (Ms. Klein referenced Lighting Plan A and C-217 & C-218). But Mr. Motel reminded the Applicants that there may need to be future adjustments since it is hard to envision the headlights and facility lighting impact during October vs when the leaves are still on the trees.

Mr. Buser stated they were open to any reasonable request to comply with the Township ordinances.

Ms. Leland asked if the former facility will be demolished and removed, and yes, even the storage tanks and asphalt would be gone per Mr. Buser. They will maintain that area since it is still their access. But there are no plans for a waste site or stormwater area since it is too small. However, he noted that the 3-way widening project might involve this property and since he is not involved in that project, he could not expand on that further. The demolition will be managed under a separate project and the scope is not yet finalized. Depending on what they find there, there may be some space that could potentially be replanted.

Mr. Motel asked about the conservation easement on the abutting parcel. The Applicant said that there is no room for tree replacement, but they are still offering the 20 acres mentioned in September. The Turnpike does not want to use toll payer monies for fees in lieu of landscaping. That is why they offered to set aside 20 prime forest acres in a conservation easement. Mr. Motel confirmed that the 19.23 acres on the south side of the Turnpike are precluded from widening and deforestation. Mr. Buser said it will just have the usual wire mesh fencing on the northern side.

Mr. Buser said the northern (current) site will be subject to environmental testing and he didn’t want to limit the future of the site by commenting on it until the testing was complete. He could not speak for a project outside of his domain, but the existing access road will be used for the new facility, so far no other buildings or parking lot are planned. He can only foresee stormwater management being in that area. The PC asked him if it could be precluded from use staging, fill, waste, etc.? It was not promised.

Reforestation with mature larger trees was not what Mr. Buser wanted the PC to envision. They will be smaller trees with no maintenance/watering schedule according to the ENS. The PC was agreeable.

Ms. Leland stated she had walked the area and wanted the trails to remain intact. The plan shows the existing trail continuing and the fencing bumped out for it. The easement protecting this resource is one of the reasons why the Turnpike wants relief from the recreation requirement.

The use of wire mesh fencing on the northern side may not protect Mr. Goodman’s parcels from lighting although his home is 600 feet away. Mr. Buser said the upgrade from the standard fencing is a decision that must come from a higher authority. Ms. Leland requested some evergreens for Mr. Goodman.

Mr. Gill stated that the three reasons below make Mr. Goodman’s issue inappropriate as a condition of approval for the letter of opinion.

  1. since there was no demonstration of the adverse impact of headlights on the right of way access drive
  2. and no lighting concerns on Mr. Stubbe’s letter
  3. and no objective measurements

Mr. Motel reminded Mr. Gil that Mr. Buser had asked the Township to be forthright with its concerns now due to bidding and also that the applicant was requesting various waivers from the township. Mr. Churchill reminded Mr. Gill it is the job of a PC to protect the Township resident’s interests.

Mr. Motel asked Mr. Gill what Waivers they would be requesting, and Mr. Gill responded:

  1. A Waiver has been requested to forgo the preparation of a Conservation Plan since the information was included with the Erosion and Sediment Pollution Control Plans and Report and with the Post-Construction Stormwater Management Plans.
  2. The Applicant wants to mitigate some of the impacts of the project’s tree removal by treating the conservation easement (and trails) as providing the recreational component (not a Waiver). (Oct. 7th page 3)
  3. The Applicant wants tree replacement to be in lieu of the conservation easement above. (not a Waiver)
  4. A Waiver for lighting mentioned by Advanced GeoServices as #15 since lights are over 20’ high.
  5. A Waiver for the end caps of each row to be painted and not to be raised longitudinal planting beds, for increased maneuverability.
  6. A Waiver is needed since the proposed salt shed is higher than the zoning allows.

Mr. Motel asked about the planting islands in the parking area, and Mr. Gill said this is included in their request for zoning interpretation and didn’t see it as a waiver but rather a zoning issue. He clarified that it’s only the islands at the ends of the rows they wish to eliminate.

The only resident to speak was Mr. Pete Goodman who was concerned about the erosion and stormwater on the easement behind the facility, due to the 30-foot-wide forest cut and 25% steep slope. Mr. Wright stated that there were methods utilities use for steep slopes, that if done right, are very successful. He requested more detail from Mr. Buser and suggested the use of diversion berms along with plantings of meadow seed and shrubs. Ms. Klein said they’ve been working with the Chester County Conservation District and are utilizing a DEP BMP (best management practice) that requires quick revegetation on disturbed areas, adding that the conservation easement is protected from stormwater erosion.

Mr. von Hoyer restated the need for Mr. Goodman to have screening and Ms. Klein said there wasn’t enough room. She explained the counterproductivity of extending the area of disturbance and removing forest to add a buffer/berm. Mr. Goodman confirmed he already sees lights. Mr. Buser suggested “a pull” and to install a right of way fence to help the trail and add an easement that would follow the property line to limit the disturbance.

This suggestion seemed satisfactory to Mr. Motel, but he reminded the Applicants that there may come a time when the Turnpike will have to deal with issues that arise, especially after the facility becomes operational in the winter. The Applicant assured the Members that any legitimate and demonstrated concern will be mitigated. Mr. von Hoyer referred Mr. Gill back to his previous statement where he declined upgraded fencing or screening for the Goodman property, because there had been no demonstration of adverse impacts. Mr. Gill was asked if adverse impacts could be demonstrated in the future, would the TPK then be would be willing to address the issue? Mr. Gill reaffirmed that to the extent possible, the TPK would address future demonstrated impacts brought to their attention.

Leaving aside all issues for which the Applicant is presently requesting a Preliminary Opinion regarding zoning, Mr. Motel moved to recommend Preliminary Plan approval for the proposed Turnpike Maintenance Facility, and recommend the Board look favorably upon the Applicant’s various SLDO Waiver requests, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Applicant will comply with all consultant letters (Mallach/TCA, Wright/Advanced GeoServices, and Stubbe/Stubbe Consulting LLC)
  2. That the Applicant agrees to impose a conservation easement on the 19.32 acres (+/-) it owns on the south side of the Turnpike abutting the proposed development site which easement shall prohibit all future development and use of any part of the tract for dumping or placing fill of any type,
  3. That the Applicant agrees that the existing site of its Maintenance Facility shall be completely dismantled and remediated, with the exception of the access road, limited to storm water management uses only, and further agree it will make a good faith effort to restore that site to a natural state.
  4. The Applicant will amend its Lighting Plan to reflect that the use of forty-foot light standards will be limited to 3 (three) and those will be adjacent to the proposed Salt Storage Shed, and
  5. The Applicant agrees it will make a good faith effort to address reasonable post-development lighting issues that impact abutting neighbors.

Mr. Rogers seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

General Planning Items

Equestrian Use Ordinance

Mr. Motel stated he, Mr. Comitta, and Ms. Melissa Dicranian met again on September 28th to further refine the draft ordinance for Equestrian Use and made the following comments:

  1. The ordinance was primarily to protect landowners (that may be involved in boarding horses or providing riding lessons) from neighbors that may be concerned about being next to a place of business.
  2. The first Use is by right and is the least intensive is the Equestrian Accessory Use where a landowner with less than 10 horses engages in horseback riding, instruction, renting stalls, and boarding or training.
  3. The next level of intensity is called the Equestrian Academy with ten or more horses on a property of not less than 20 acres by conditional use. This will restore, for equestrian matters, a use once permitted in the FR District under a general educational Conditional Use that was removed several years ago.
  4. The Equestrian Event Use is by the permit process and is large scale and will be regulated by the Township. This Use is not likely in Charlestown Township due to a lack of infrastructure and the requirement for a lot size minimum of 40 acres.
  5. The Manure Storage Setback is the same as the riparian buffer for Charlestown Township.

Mr. Churchill and the other members will take a closer look at the Equestrian Accessory Use prior to the next meeting. Mr. Comitta said the focus was on identifying the number of horses in each Use. Mr. Thompson and the Members thanked Mr. Motel, Ms. Dicranian, and Mr. Comitta for preparing this and setting standards and criteria. He stated nothing in this draft alters a landowner’s right to keep horses and it should be ready for a recommendation at the November Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Uwchlan Township Draft Comprehensive Plan

Mrs. Csete asked Members if they had any comment for Uwchlan’s Comprehensive Plan. Ms. Leland wanted Mr. Theurkauf’s opinion and Members will wait for that to circulate. Mrs. Csete will contact him for a reply. Mr. Comitta said to consider pages 412-414 that discuss medium density residential in consideration of Charlestown Township’s small abutting border, which is low density or rural.

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 9:56 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary