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Past news of events in and around Charlestown
|News for January 2000
Sunday January 30, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting
January 24, 2000
The January 24th meeting, in the series of weekly meetings to get the year off to a productive start, was held in the Charlestown Elementary School. In attendance for the Township was Irene Ewald, Chairman and Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Hugh Willig, Mike Rodgers, Supervisors, along with Linda Csete, Surrender Kohli and Tom Oeste, Esq.
The meeting opened at 7:38 with the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward Mrs. Ewald announced that the road crew had been busy this week (because of the snowfall) and received a note from a Mrs. Thompson thanking them for their service.
Hugh Willig said there were some residents who are opposed to the proposed one-way and do not enter signs planned for Union Hill and Rees Roads.
Mr. Rodgers mentioned an upcoming meeting with PennDOT regarding stones.
The Board approved two motions to approve the 12/99 Treasurer's Report and the 1/17/00 official township minutes.
Under old business, regarding the issue of the Turnpike slip ramps, the Citizen's Advisory Council will meet on Wednesday and asked the Board for input. The issue was in regard to the question of having a court reporter present at the Advisory Council meetings. Mr. Kuhn felt nothing would be accomplished by having the reporter. Mr. Willig asked about audio policies in regard to this meeting, and Mr. Oeste underscored the difficulty of a court reporter's efforts to accurately transcribe this type of meeting and recommended tapes if they were audible; and since the testimony is not under oath, the tapes would not be admissible in any court actions. The minutes given for these meetings have been accurate so far according to Sue Staas and Kevin Kuhn; but questions posed to the Turnpike reps have gone unanswered. Mrs. Ewald said she thinks the Turnpike has been evasive with the facts and they display unwillingness to provide information. Sue Staas suggested we request a copy of the audio transcript which is taken by the secretary of the meeting. Mr. Oeste asked if anyone has volunteered copies of these tapes and thought that the Charlestown reps should make their own tapes. The Township will provide a letter requesting this action in order to back up the activity. The next meeting will be at the Desmond Hotel on Wednesday (1/26) at 7:00.
Next on the agenda is the matter of the tax and budget. The supervisors received spreadsheets of the proposed budget. Mrs. Ewald wished to do a line by line review and stated that the document before them was for 11 months but the final product would be a 13-month budget. Items considerably over or under budget were examined:
1) Cemetery fund was not a major expenditure and less than budgeted. 2) A transfer to Open Space fund due to a December 1 sale of property which carried a transfer tax of $75,000. 3) The Real Estate Tax account was $6,000 higher than anticipated 4) It was also noted that the Interim tax account was higher, but the reasoning was not clear why. Mrs. Csete suggested that building permits for Charlestown Oaks have contributed to the increase to due Interim Taxes being collected upon building completion.
5) Real estate transfer tax category - $75,000 was put into an earmarked fund (not named) 6) Interest & dividends were higher than budgeted, and Mrs. Csete reported this simply reflected the high level of the accounts during the year. 7) PennDOT Winter Maint. Fund - had $25,500 in it made up of two PennDOT payments (one for 1998 and one for 1999). 8) Royalties/Cable TV ( ? higher than budget). 9) Building Permits/Fees --Actual is $14,000 higher than Budget, and there was mention of proposing a lower number for year 2000. 10) Use & Occupancy was reported to be within range. 11) Under reimbursable revenue, actual escrow received was more than budgeted. Mrs. Csete emphasized this can be unpredictable due to the fluctuation of residents' activities. 12) The Board briefly reviewed amounts in the Landscapes and Parks and Recreation grant categories. 13) The Board reviewed minor expenses and planning for office maintenance and supplies. Mrs. Csete was requested to provide information regarding purchase/lease of some office machinery for the Board's review. 14) Building Rental was increased $3,000 due to the PECO electricity charges and Mrs. Csete will check with other suppliers, including PP&L. 15) Legal expenses budgeted for 2000 seemed high but Mr. Willig asked if the amount was enough considering the activity expected from Trammel Crow and Toll Brothers. Mr. Oeste assured the Board that he felt the amount would be sufficient. 16) Fire Hydrant expense has increased and Mrs. Ewald asked if this could be levied individually for businesses. 17) Planning Commission has requested $25,000 due to some extra work expected this year and the Board was amenable to this amount. 18) "Category 430.20" was overspent in regard to liquid fuel: budgeted $96,000 and spent $141,000 (some members of the Board questioned the high amount due to the fact there were no heavy snowfalls). $25,000 of year 2000 money would be transferred to legal expense fund to cover anticipated expense. 19) Liquid fuel tax revenue -- expected dollars plus the carryover is $312,650; majority of which is already in the treasury. $6,000 in interest is expected. Per Mr. Oeste: this account is audited regularly by the State and we may expect a thorough biannual audit along with the regular one this year. 20) Improvement fund is a compilation of funds donated by developers toward road improvements, etc. 21) Open Space Fund has just a "balance" in the account. 22) Storm water basin management fund is for the purpose of providing assistance to residents if there is a gross failure (not from negligence) in rebuilding the basins. Mrs. Ewald requested Mr. Kohli to draw up some guidelines for residents on how to maintain basins, and Mr. Kohli raised questions regarding the practicality of this effort; however, Mrs. Ewald asked him to find the "deed language' pertinent to basin maintenance, to which he agreed.
After this line-by-line review, questions or comments were invited from all present. Mr. Sauser asked about specific differences in proposed amended vs. proposed budget. He found in his review that revenues carryover went up; there was a 50% increase in legal fees; and questioned the road maintenance money sources specifically the liquid fuels money. He further stated that the budgeted amount to cover supervisors' fees for meetings should be raised to $1,500, anticipating 30 meetings during the year. He cautioned that the Board should re-add the figures generally. He felt there should be no concern regarding reorganizing the budget into capital and operational accounts (as suggested by an auditor at a prior meeting) since he felt the budget has been handled properly in years past. He advised that the Township should work toward a tight fiscal program to keep taxes down. Also, he reminded the board (because of some questions raised previously) that he created the Municipal Building fund from a surplus.
Mrs. Ewald recommended that the road funds be reduced by $126,650 and put that amount in account 400.07.
Mr. Kling commented on the Township's request to the Planning Commission to work out an ordinance regarding saving trees, and made a request that dollars be budgeted for an arborist/consultant to handle specific tree matters as they arise. Mr. Philips (of the Planning Commission) advised that he didn't know if an arborist would be brought in, but thought it would be a good strategy in the future.
Russell Hanscom (resident) asked if the tree ordinance would affect.???lundh's and PECO's work since they "rip through" the Township, and we need a way to stop them or reason with them. Mrs. Ewald says that homeowners have the right to say "no" to tree work by PECO and.???lundh.
No other comments were offered on any subject, so the Board moved on to the tax and budget motions.
In the matter of 553-00, it was RESOLVED that the Tax Millage be set to .52, which is the equivalent of the old 8.5 rate before
they re-assessed countywide in 1997-8. The .52 rate is the same as last
year's. The Board unanimously approved.
In the matter of 554.00 a motion to approve the budget was seconded and approved.
The next agenda item was Signal Maintenance Contracts for 2000. Mr. Kohli explained this covers maintenance of Charlestown's single traffic light which would be changing bulbs, repairs, etc., and assurance of the Township's compliance with PennDOT regulations. Service is prompt, usually within 15 minutes of the call. Mrs. Ewald remarked that the light's timing is too brief for Charlestown Road and long for Phoenxiville Pike and requested it be checked out. However, Mr. Kohli advised PennDOT has to be consulted for the timing changes. No comments were offered from attendees, so the contract was promptly approved by the Board.
The next matter was a conditional use application filed by Mr. Moskowitz regarding a home occupation of child psychology and therapy which the Board has approved from time to time in the past. Mr. Moskowitz wants to expand his building this year and requested approval of the conditional use for another year, which was approved by the Board.
The next issue was regarding the scheduling of a hearing for the Toll Bros "Charlestown Meadows Tentative Plan" which was originally submitted on 1/10/00. Hearing was set for the third Monday of February. Mr. Oeste reminded the board that they have a 60- day period to commence a hearing since it is a PRD issue. Therefore, hearing was changed to February 28 (to be held at the Christian College due to unavailability of the Elementary School).
Mrs. Ewald announced that she has been in negotiation with the College to hold all Township meetings in the same room as the last meeting, since the facility is very good and acoustics are excellent. For future meetings, the signage directing attendees to the site will be revamped.
Next was an escrow release for the Commons at Great Valley, Lot 16. Motion to approve release was seconded and approved.
Census 2000 - Mrs. Csete gave the Board a handout from the Census Bureau and said that township participation in 1998 was for "address review program" that resulted in 55 pages of review material and 10 additional pages added along with map reviews by herself as the "liaison." A question arose as to whether students residing at the Christian College were counted, and the response was that the students communicate directly with the administration of the college and not with the township; but since they need to register to vote in the township they can be counted (although when they move they may remain on the rolls). The number of residents have increased from 550 to 700 plus over a few years.
Mrs. Ewald asked for any further business coming before the Board. Mr. Kuhn brought up the matter of a contact he had with map people doing a map of the township, which essentially would be a vehicle for private advertising by various companies.
Mr. Kohli spoke of restrictions to Union Hill/Rees would require traffic studies which may take a couple of weeks. The next step would be to adopt an ordinance if the study justifies restrictions. Since this subject was not on tonight's agenda, Mr. Ewald asked for any board and attendee comments or questions. Russ Hanscom remarked that an article on the intention to restrict access had appeared recently in the Inquirer. Mr. Sauser warned if attempts were made to restrict access problems may be made worse. He felt speed limit enforcement would be a better alternative. A Motion to proceed with the traffic study was passed by the Board. A question was raised regarding how we can tell if the traffic is really heavy or not, to which Mr. Kohli responded that there are official standard counts for indication of heavy traffic flow.
Mr. Kuhn asked what the process is to initiate a three-way stop sign at White Horse and Ashenfelter Roads, and Mrs. Ewald suggested PennDOT could do a study there also pending okay from Schuylkill Township.
An issue before the Board generally is one of a "town meeting" type of arrangement for residents. Could a date be set for a town meeting? (This arose from a previous meeting Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Willig attended regarding the Charlestown Hunt annual resident/Board of Directors (Realen) meeting, at which many unresolved issues were raised, some of which involved the Township and the master plan of development filed by Realen Homes.) Mr. Kuhn expressed reservations regarding setting a precedent in that the Board could find itself mediating builder/homeowner matters. Mr. Kuhn asked if PRD issues should have a "town meeting" provision as part of the approval requirement. A discussion followed regarding Charlestown Hunt matters raised at its Homeowner/Board meeting.
In regard to the above, Mr. Kling noted that the four largest developments in the township have no civic space in them which is maintained by the township; and, therefore, all recreation and open space falls to the homeowners to maintain. His quest is to define a percentage of area which should be civic space run by the township.
Mr. Philips asked if it might not be better to have a township meeting with Planning and Engineering representatives present to answer (homeowners') questions. Mrs. Ewald thought this might tend to "segregate" the township meetings. Hugh Willig advised that the township could start small with some key residents. Mr. Kohli said this would give them the idea of what Charlestown Hunt residents could do to push their issues.
Mr. Philips asked about the Historic Ordinance for properties of 25 acres or more -- is this to be rescheduled since county funds will be involved? Mrs. Ewald thought it would, possibly at the Feb. 21st meeting for further discussion.
Mr. Willig asked about the vacancy on the Zoning Hearing Board. Interviews for township positions have stopped temporarily and will resume in February. Mr. Sauser commented that there are other positions in township committees and organizations yet to fill; to which Mrs. Ewald replied that the Board is striving to fill the appointments by the end of the first quarter.
Being that there was no further business, the meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m.
Friday January 21, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors Reorganization Meeting
January 17, 2000
This meeting, held at the Valley Forge Christian College, Building 56, Room 102, Phoenixville, Pa. was called to order by Chairman Irene Ewald at 7:40 p.m.
Present for the Township were the Supervisors: Mrs. Ewald, Kevin Kuhn, Hugh Willig, Paul Hogan, and Mike Rodgers. Also present for the Township was Linda Csete, Tom Oeste, Esq., Surrender Kohli and Gary Bender, Esq.
Mrs. Ewald started the meeting with a remembrance of Martin Luther King, and an announcement that an executive session of the Board will be held with the solicitor in a few days, but the subject matter was not revealed.
The first citizens' forum (for non-agenda items) was called resulting in a question regarding the Board's proposed action regarding the continuing memorials on Union Hill Road to the student killed in the fatal accident months ago. Discussion revolved around suggestions to clean the road and the effect action would have upon the students involved. Since parked traffic poses a hazardous condition on the road, something needs to be done. It was suggested that the Board work with the School District to encourage the students to end the memorials.
Mr. Altemose brought to the Board's attention provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and how difficult is was for him to attend this meeting. He was informed by a representative of the Christian College that the Board had originally scheduled the meeting on the second floor, but moved it downstairs expressly for his benefit.
Attention was focused on Township resident Matt Dahl who was instrumental in helping to return to the owners $2,000 which was found by him and his friends. Mrs. Ewald thought he would be a good candidate for a township award, meant to point out the good things people do.
The Board approved the Minutes of their 1/3/2000 meeting.
Under Old Business, the first agenda item concerned the traffic problems on Union Hill and Rees roads. Many residents of this area were in attendance at this meeting to voice concerns that traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours was becoming unbearable to them and dangerous to school students. Mr. Kuhn agreed that even at 8:00 p.m. traffic was unusually heavy and he would like to get a traffic reading from the intersection of Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road. The belief is that since this intersection is so difficult to get through during rush hours, motorists take whatever short cuts are found, with Union Hill & Rees being one of them. The solutions of making the roads one way at specific hours, of lowering or enforcing the speed limit of 25 mph, closing the road between certain hours to limit work traffic and installing "no left turn" signs were brought up. The thought that closing the alternative routes would cause horrific traffic problems on Route 29 and force drivers to use Hollow Road and Pickering Dam, which are narrow. winding and not fit for heavy traffic. Mr. Faggioli remarked that he had to physically stop traffic to allow a school bus to get through and motorists do not slow down or stop to let residents out of the driveways. There have been several traffic studies in the area, according to Phil Staas, which were in regard to Spring Oaks development, the Delaware Valley RPC for the turnpike; and the Trammel Crow study in regard to their proposed office park, and all of these showed that traffic will increase and that the Great Valley Corporate Center will double in size in the next 10 years. This, of course, means more traffic. A resident felt that making the subject roads one way would be more of a hardship for the residents than the commuter traffic, but suggested speed bumps. Mr. Faggioli (the Twp. Roadmaster) said that speed bumps are possible on Union Hill but changing speed limit signs would be complex. A resident suggested stop signs at three places on Union Hill, but this was countered with the fact that in bad weather, there would be trouble negotiating the road if autos had to stop half way up the hills. D. Kuhn suggested that action may force drivers to Ashenfelter road which is a "blind" intersection and that whatever action is taken, school bus routes must be considered. Mrs. Ewald made a determination that the Board would install Do Not Enter 6:30 to 9 at one end and Do Not Enter 4 - 6 at the other with a No Left Turn sign for six months to see how it worked.
Mr. Kun (resident on White Horse Road) advised the need for a three way stop sign at White Horse and Ashenfelter Roads.
The next Agenda item concerned a Condition Use Application of Ms. Cristin Kurtz to establish a home bakery. The Board heard testimony from Mrs. Kurtz at a previous meeting and announced that it would approve the application subject to certain conditions: no sales of baked goods; all orders must be taken by telephone; no delivery by commercial vehicle of raw materials for baking; applicant shall deliver by non commercial vehicle her finished products; the business shall have no employees; the owner must reside on the property; and she must comply with provisions of Ordinance 1613 and all state and township regulations and ordinances; and that the conditional use is for the applicant only - it may not be transferred. Any changes to the business will necessitate further hearings and the output of finished products is limited to 35 to 50 single items per week.
The next agenda item was for a request from Mr. Panizza, developer of Spring Lane Farms, to have a road relocation approved. It was made clear that this was not the conditional use hearing and Mr. Panizza was sworn in so that his granting of the continuance to the Board would be on the official record. If the requested roadway changes are approved, then the Board would require an amended conditional use application for Spring Lane Farms. The Conditional Use matter will be heard on February 21.
Mr. Panizza was sworn in and granted the Board an extension of time until March 6 meeting. He then proceeded with his witness to explain the desired relocation. Spring Lane Farm (SLF) is proposed for Hollow Road, across from the Somerset development. Originally the main road for SLF was to directly intersect with the Somerset and Hollow Road, but the presumption that the site could be a bog turtle habitat forced him to relocate the road to a private driveway. When there was no bog turtle crisis and the PA DEP assured Mr. Panizza that there were no endangered species in the area (either Federal or State) then the plan changed and the road could be moved back to its original site. Mr. Panizza is requesting that the Board approved the change, which would preserve the beauty and integrity of the historic driveway flanked by large trees (which would have had to be removed) and keeps the historic property fairly intact. The residents in the area are in favor of relocating the road to the former plan. Mr. Philips of the Twp. Planning Commission reported that the Commission is in favor of the requested relocation. With that the Board decided to take the matter into advisement and planned to visit the site on Wednesday, January 19.
The next agenda item was the Curative Amendment Hearing for Mr. Altemose. The proposal is for an assisted living residence for senior citizens on the Altemose property along White Horse Road. Representing the Township Planning Commission was attorney Gary Bender. Attorney Joseph Ryan presented Mr. Madjelewski's professional resume for the Board and then Mr. Madjelewski presented the conceptual drawing of the facility showing parking lots and two buildings and was questioned at length by Mr. Bender. Questions covered the technical.???ects such as height regulation, impervious surfaces, zoning, parking, allotment of parking, size and purpose of units, required approvals to be met, licensing to be required, use of public water and sewer systems, transportation for residents. Attendant accessory uses which typically would appear at such a facility were discussed, which were a convenience store, medical offices, theater, library, craft rooms, meeting rooms and the like, and whether the original application covered these uses as they were not delineated in full. Questions were fielded in regard to how the facility would work with the Charlestown township ordinances. The property is presently farm/residential. Questions were posed as to whether disabled persons other than senior citizens would be served by this facility but there was no formal answer as the policies of the facility had not been formulated yet. Nearby neighbors, Saul and Neila Kun, were permitted to become parties to the action. Mr. Kun asked if any changes were in the works to alter the roads or community but the answer was that any of these changes would be addressed in the land development proposal. The Board continued this hearing to the February 21 meeting of the Board which will also be held at the VF Christian College due to unavailability of the Elementary School.
New Business. A motion to authorize the Township Solicitor to take legal action regarding the planning commission appointment (which was rescinded at the last meeting due to policies of the Sunshine Law) was approved.
With no other business brought forth, a motion to adjourn was approved at 10:00 p.m.
Thursday January 20, 2000 (From Frank J. Vassallo)
E. Whiteland Planning Commission Meeting
January 18, 2000
Mr. Vassallo asked that I post this disclaimer:
I am a resident of E.Whiteland, but visit your site often. I applaud your efforts. Last night I attended the E.Whiteland Planning Commission meeting. The commission now has nine members, and this was the first meeting under the new structure. I write to you in particular because Trammell Crow presented their preliminary road improvement plan for Warner Quarry. This plan showed traffic improvements for Route 29. In summary the plan shows two entrances onto Route 29 one being across from Flat Rd. and the second further north. The developer is proposing to widen Route 29 and add traffic signals to handle the traffic flow. It was stated by the traffic engineer that if the site was fully built out it was suggested that employment would be 8,000 people. The Traffic engineer however only projected approximately 2000 cars total (1,000 at each entrance) during peak commuter hours. There was a lot of concern about a road called Warner Lane that may be improved/constructed by Jack Loew and Associates which lies in Charlestown Township. It appears that traffic would be able to reach Phoenixville Pike using this Lane. Please note that there will be many more meetings concerning this project. The E.Whiteland Planning Commission meetings I believe will be held on the fourth Thursday of each month starting February 2000. One should contact the Twp. to see if the developer plans to be included on the meeting agenda. Also E.Whiteland Twp. along with hiring a planning consultant will hire it's own Traffic Engineer to review all plans submitted by developers.
Please note the comments made here are from personal notes and may be inaccurate. One should contact East Whiteland Twp. or the Official Meeting Notes of the 1/18/00 Planning Commission for more details.
Wednesday January 19, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors Reorganization Meeting
January 10, 2000
The January 10th meeting of the Board of Supervisors was called to order by Chairman Irene Ewald at 7:40 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Charlestown Elementary School. Present for the Township were Linda Csete, Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald, Hugh Willig, Tom Oeste, Mike Rodgers, and Surrender Kohli.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the Chairman reiterated the change of format for meetings in that the first Citizen's Forum would be for non-agenda items only and anyone wishing to speak could sign up before the meeting on the sheet provided. Also, the township has filed, as of January 6, with the Third Circuit Court a petition to recover costs in the Altemose matter (No. 99-1273). Additionally, a field inspection of the Pyle farm's 55 acres was made by the Board on January 9, which included an executive session of the Board; and another executive session regarding this real estate matter will be held on January 16. Lastly, the Board is in the process of interviewing candidates for township positions.
No speakers rose with comments in the Non-Agenda Items Citizens Forum.
Minutes of the two meetings held on January 3 (the Reorganization meeting and the general business meeting) were approved.
Accounts Payable held over from the January 3 meeting was up for approval. Mr. Rodgers said he has reviewed the amounts and would recommend a change in the format of expenditures but, at this time, would approve payment of the road bills.
Independent auditors, at the township's request, looked over the December '99 bills. They reported that they had their first meeting of the year and plan to discuss the outstanding bills at their next meeting in two weeks.
Discussion was opened on the review and approval of the bills. Mrs. Ewald asked the other board members for their personal input regarding them, however, no comments were received. She then offered her own feelings that she was not comfortable with the approval since she felt that they were not properly accounted for.
Mr. Sauser, former Board Chairman, spoke up in defense saying that the work represented by the billing was done against work orders issued by the township at approved rates; and if the Roadmaster performed the work, the township is responsible for payment.
The board then made and passed the motion to pay the bills.
The auditors announced that they have elected Anita LaBarge as their secretary and Phil Staas as chairman of their group.
The Board opened up nominations for a liaison to the School District for the purpose of facilitating communication between the two boards. Kevin Kuhn was nominated by several board members and was approved for this post. There were no other nominations made.
A motion was made to appoint a new Roadmaster and the nomination of Durando Faggioli was received. There were no other nominations and Mr. Faggioli was approved by the Board.
Mr. Oeste was called upon to explain the reasoning behind the Board's rescission of their appointment made on 12/20 to the Planning Commission. The Sunshine Law requires that the public be able to comment on the proposed appointments, and at the 12/20 meeting, the item was put on the agenda very late in the meeting without any previous announcement of same; therefore the citizens had no knowledge of or opportunity to comment on this proposed appointment during the meeting and there were very few citizens still in attendance late into the 12/20 meeting when this appointment was approved. If there was sufficient opportunity for citizens to address the proposed appointment beforehand, then there would be no basis or requirement for a rescission.
In response Mr. Sauser commented that he remembered the situation differently in that at the time of the appointment, several people made comments regarding the subject, so the reasoning to rescind is unfounded.
Nevertheless, the motion was made and seconded by the Board to rescind the Planning Commission appointment on the basis of provisions of the Sunshine Law. Mrs. Csete immediately requested a roll call for the record to which each of the five supervisors reported their aye or nay vote.
Mrs. Ewald suggested that the agenda matters regarding the Budget be postponed to later in the meeting.
In the matter of Fieldstone Partners Lot Line Changes 4 and 5, Mr. Kohli requested another meeting on this matter so he would have time to make his final review of the request regarding sharing of a driveway on Hollow Road. Mr. Ziegler reported that the County Planning Commission has no objection to the approval, and Mr. Philips of the Township Planning Commission suggested approval. Mrs. Ewald felt the matter had not been researched and studied enough to render approval tonight; and Mr. Kuhn offered a motion, which was subsequently approved, that the Board approve this request subject to Mr. Kohli's final review and approval of outstanding details pertinent to his letter of December 6, 1999.
In the matter of DHR Limited (Valley Forge Trails - Chatauqua Development) Escrow Release #9, the amount to be released is approximately $48,000, which was approved subject to DHR Ltd remitting to the township the approximate $2,000 it owes.
The Budget review was commenced at this time. Mrs. Csete, as township treasurer, offered highlights of changes to the Draft Budget for 2000. The budget reflects some interest that was earned but not received yet, and some receipts as of December 15th are not posted to the current report such as miscellaneous building permit receipts and CD interest receipts; also there were some disbursements at the end of the year 1999 that need to be posted. Some changes in the General Fund were the carryover is now updated to $447,000; the transfer of $57,000 from the Municipal Office Fund was struck; expected Real Estate tax was changed to $207,000, and contributions were deleted pending confirmation that they could be expected in 2000.
The subtotal of carryover (including no reimbursable accounts) was $1,162,250. Legal expenses were increased to $126,000 for 2000, which brought expenditures to $1,162,250. Expected impact fees coming from Charlestown Hunt were deleted from the proposed budget since none are due at this time and the matching deletion to the municipal office fund was made. The new total revenue figure is $143,500. (Hopefully, these numbers are reported correctly in this writer's record -- if not, I apologize.)
Mr. Staas (auditor) recommended a guide to the Board regarding proper auditing procedures and how to organize accounts. He recommended that the Board hire a professional, independent financial consultant to organize the budget funds. He felt they should be separated between capital accounts and operational accounts. This would delineate more clearly where the money comes from and how money gets into the special funds established by the Board. He strongly advised that the Board keep financial consulting separate from professional auditing to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Mr. Kuhn questioned why the previous auditors did not bring up this subject matter and imperfections pointed out by Mr. Staas. Mrs. Ewald remarked that many years ago, the budget was very informally done and now could use some professional attention. She also noted that the proposed budget needs to be advertised asap for timely action by the Board. Mr. Oeste was polled for comment and felt that as long as the format provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is followed, the township is okay in its practice.
Mr. Staas again requested that the Board break it's accounts into two categories: operating accounts and capital accounts. The Board was reluctant to act upon the suggestion in view of the time frame it has in which to act in getting the budget approved.
Mr. Sauser offered help in that the money is all "general fund" except for several special accounts where money was "earmarked" for a specific purpose. The municipal building fund was established to have a "nest egg" for money to do things such as purchasing the Pyle property, etc. He supported the Board in its current budget arrangements.
Mrs. Ewald suggested the Board consider hiring a professional to examine the budget procedures within the next six months.
The auditors committee reassured the Board that they desired to work with the Township in a professional manner and would honor requests of the Board to examine the financial records.
Mr. Sauser expressed his belief that a working relationship exists between the Board and the Auditors and, as a private citizen, he was raising an objection to this "arrangement" stating that the auditor relationship should be objective and serve as a "watch dog" in the public interest. Supervisor Mike Rodgers made a comment that the Board could make requests of the auditors when it felt it was necessary and was not directing the auditors as to what they should do.
Mrs. Ewald asked that the proposed budget be approved for advertising and set the tax rate. Mrs. Csete advised that the rate was to be 5.552. The board was advised by Mr. Oeste that the millage did not need to be set at this time. It was noted for the record that the rate would be the same as last year resulting in an average taxation of $94.00.
Motion was made and approved to adopt the proposed amended budget of $1,486,250.00 as presented. The budget will be advertised with the following 10-day public inspection period, after which the board will formally act to approve.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:30 p.m.
Monday, January 10, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors Reorganization Meeting
January 3, 2000
The first meeting of the new year was held at the Charlestown Elementary School Cafeteria on January 3, at 7:30 p.m.
The first order of business was the swearing in of the newly elected board members and auditors. Sworn in to their terms of office were the four new township supervisors Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Michael Rogers and Hugh Willig, who joined with incumbent supervisor Irene Ewald.
Motions were made and unanimously seconded to appoint Irene Ewald as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and Hugh Willig as Vice Chairman. Linda Csete was reappointed to the position of Township Secretary. Surender Kohli was reappointed Building Inspector and Zoning Officer. Fred Alston was reappointed Fire Marshall and Emergency Services Coordinator. James MacErlane was reappointed Lead Counsel with Tom Oeste as alternate. Reappointed as Land Planning consultant to the Township was Tom Comitta and the Historic Consultant was Dale Frens. The reappointment to the office of Independent Auditor is Emory Todd.
Various Liaisons were appointed to work with the following organizations: Roads: Michael Rogers; Parks and Recreation Board: Paul Hogan; Planning Commission: Mike Rogers and Hugh Willig; Historic Commission: Kevin Kuhn; Zoning Planning Board: Tom Oeste and Liaison to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority: Irene Ewald. Liaisons to the surrounding townships were appointed as follows: East Whiteland - Paul Hogan; Schuylkill - Mike Rogers; Tredyffrin -Kevin Kuhn; Phoenixville Borough - Hugh Willig; East and West Pikeland - Irene Ewald. A liaison (name unknown at this writing) was also established for Uwchlan Township. Two appointments were announced for the Planning Commission: Andy Motel and Michael Allen. (There were no appointments made for the Historical Commission, Zoning Hearing Board, Sewer Authority, or Vacancy Board and no reappointments were announced for the Roadmaster or Animal Control Officer.)
Agenda items concerning Rates of Pay for year 2000, and Resolutions #551-2000 (Setting depositories for township accounts) and #552-2000 (Naming providers of fire protection, ambulance service and police protection) were quickly dealt with by the new board.
Chairman Ewald announced that the new Board would convene every Monday evening during January and February in order to take care of the large amount of business before them; and then during March to December would meet on the First and Third Mondays of the month.
At this time, the Reorganization Meeting was Adjourned.
Monday, January 10, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors
January 3, 2000
The Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors opened at 7:55 p.m. on January 3, 2000, at the Charlestown Elementary School. Chairman Irene Ewald announced that a change in policy would be in force regarding the first Citizens' Forum (of which there are two at every meeting) covering non-agenda items only. Each speaker would have three minutes to present his comments (or more time if requested in advance of the meeting). Meeting attendees were encouraged to present their views on agenda items during the meeting at the time the item was addressed by the Board.
Regarding the Altemose case, Mr. Oeste announced that the Third Circuit has confirmed the current decision, however, Mr. Altemose is free to petition the Supreme Court for a hearing.
In another matter, the Board of Supervisors denied a land development plan for Independent Construction Materials. Petitioner has appealed the decision.
The third Altemose suit has been scheduled for January 17.
The Board then proceeded to approve the list of Accounts Payable. Mr. John Sauser, immediate ex-Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, stood to address the Board on the matter of setting aside funds for a Christmas bonus for the Roadmaster and the Township Secretary. He also advised that the Board should check the Sunshine Law in regard to their dealings in regard to the upcoming 01/05/2000 executive meeting.
In regard to the payables, Mrs. Ewald stated not all of the $60,000 of Accounts Payable is familiar to the new Board. Some of this is "year end" billings not due until January. However, only part of the outstanding debt was approved for payment thus far and further action will be taken at next Monday's meeting. Mr. Sauser commented that bills could have been taken care of in December, which spurred some research about when these debts were actually received by the township - some after December 20th. Mr. Kuhn made the suggestion that the auditor review these before payment is approved. Mrs. Behrle asked specifically what bills were not being paid and what effect no approval would have upon the creditors. . Hugh Willig commented that there is only $7,300 in question out of the $60,000 not paid.
Minutes of the December 20th meeting of the Board were next on the agenda. Mrs. Ewald asked that the minutes be "accepted" by the Supervisors without formal approval. (No reason for this action was given.) The motion to accept the December 20th minutes was seconded.
Reports of the Zoning Officer, Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Roadmaster, Fire Marshall, Parks and Recreation Board, and Valley Forge Sewer Authority were received.
Comment from the Planning Commission was that the first meeting will be next Tuesday evening (01/11/99). Mrs. Baldwin of the Historic Commission stated that no Historic Commission meeting had been held since the turndown of the proposed Historic Resources Protection Ordinance. In regard to the Sewer Authority report, the status of the treatment plant re-rate project was that the water quality permit may be issued in February with completion in fall of 2000. The budget review showed a 1% gain over last year. The biosolids project was reviewed with DEP sites approved. A question was posed as to how the proposed office park of Trammel Crow would impact the treatment plant and the response was that the office park would be in East Whiteland, Tredyffrin and Charlestown but it's impact is not currently being considered. However, the Regional planning report is due March of 2000.
The Turnpike Slip Ramp Citizens' Action Committee reported that the last meeting was in November with resulting minutes on the Charlestown website (available here). The next meeting is at the Desmond Hotel, Malvern, on 01/26/00 at 7:00 p.m. The issue of having a court reporter present was a hot topic at the November meeting but was voted down. Observers and hand-held recorders are okay. All are welcome to come for observation only, though no input will be allowed.
In regard to the Trammel Crow office park, the site is estimated at 330 acres with three office buildings proposed The T/C company has been "heavily involved" in cleaning up the site for some time and reports are that building will proceed with or without the slip ramp in place. They proposed to widen the tunnel on Route 29 for the Turnpike and make Route 29 four lanes from the corporate center to Phoenixville Pike. T/C may begin building in one year.
Formal Hearing was opened on the application of K. Kurtz for a conditional approval for use of a residence for wholesale manufacture of baked goods. Mr. Oeste listed the exhibits received, including the waiver of legal counsel by the applicant. Mr. Oeste asked if any neighbors or persons living within 250 feet of the applicant were present, or if there was anyone present who wished to become a party to the action. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Friel (parents of the applicant) of 110 Strafford Court joined in the matter. Petitioner Kurtz presented updated information to the Board and proceeded with her testimony regarding products, operations, and place of business, and the efforts she has made thus far to comply to all laws. The matter was taken into consideration and a decision will be rendered next Monday (01/17/00). The record was closed.
Under Old Business, Budget Amendments for 2000, it was noted that the Board has the right to amend the budget in accordance with existing ordinances and laws. Mr. Kuhn suggested that the Auditor review the current budget. Mr. Staas (auditor) commented that more clarity will be needed for some of the special funds as to where the money came from and he will research to see if funds can be juggled from fund to fund within the budget. He is concerned regarding a $57,000 carryover and a deduction from the municipal fund inserted into the general funds. Mr. Sauser suggested that the entire Board of Auditors look into the problem rather than one appointed auditor. There was an auditors' meeting scheduled for 01/04/00, however, Mr. Sauser pointed out that this is a public meeting and must be advertised. Mr. Oeste suggested that the 01/04/00 meeting be held as planned and a future meeting be scheduled and advertised. At that meeting the actions taken on 01/04/00 can be "ratified."
A motion was approved that the township pay the fees for the new supervisors' and auditors' training courses.
Review of the Comprehensive Plan. Mrs. Ewald stated that the last complete review of this plan was in 1990. She suggested an ongoing review by the Planning Commission who would advise the Board Chairman as they made progress. Supervisors Hugh Willig and Mike Rogers, as liaisons, would be attending the Planning Commission meetings and that the meetings are open to the public. Input from all sources, including other townships, would be welcome. The Comprehensive Plan is available to the public through the Township Office.
The next item on the agenda was Authorization of Appraisal for the 55-acre Pyle property (a/k/a Brightside Farm). Motion to authorize obtaining of appraisals was approved unanimously. The original appraisal of years past has not been located by Charlestown Township. Mr. Oeste stated that the Board could hold executive sessions regarding the property until an option to lease or purchase is received by the Township. The executive sessions are not open to the public and are authorized by provisions of the Sunshine Law.
Charlestown Oaks Escrow #11 and Phases 3-6 #1. Mr. Kohle reviewed the subject and recommended approval of the payments, which were then approved by the Board.
The Board of Supervisors' representative at the Zoning Hearing regarding billboards will be Mr. Oeste. He is directed to oppose installation of these signs which are proposed by Mr. Panizza for the area of Yellow Springs Road and Phoenixville Pike which is in close proximity to the Turnpike.
A resolution to recover costs of the Altemose case # 99-1273 was up for discussion. The deadline to file for costs is rapidly approaching. This would not cover legal fees, only costs incurred by the Township such as filing fees, copying, telephone expenses, postage, etc. Mr. Oeste is looking into the cost effectiveness of pursuing recovery. Mr. Sauser cautioned that with the curative amendment matter presently before the Board, recovering the costs could send a message of "persecution of the applicants." Mr. Oeste stressed that the recovery procedure is normal for Federal Court cases (but not in State court). Motion to pursue recovery was approved.
Mrs. Ewald requested receipt by Wednesday morning of any items to be placed on next Monday's meeting Agenda. She repeated that supervisors' meetings would be held every Monday from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. during January and February in order to handle the large volume of business to be covered. Interviews are being conducted for the open positions in the Township. The location of the 01/17/00 meeting is in question at this time.
A motion to adjourn was approved.
Continued in Archives