Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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Established June 2, 1997
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News posted during February 2002

Monday, February 25, 2002  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
February 4, 2002
The meeting came to order at 7:34 p.m. at the request of Chairman, Hugh Willig. Present were Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald, Tom Oeste, Esq., Linda Csete, and Surender Kohli.
Chairman Hugh Willig polled the Supervisors for announcements. Kevin Kuhn and Hugh Willig spoke of the recent Transportation Management Authority Meeting where county issues were discussed, but they felt this was more of a sales pitch for the slip ramp. An interesting note was that the Turnpike Commission reported that most traffic is approaching this area from Berks County; Charlestown representatives disagreed strongly. They advised that a letter-writing campaign was in progress supporting the slip ramps.
Citizens' Forum: No issues.
The Board approved its official Minutes of the January 28 meeting and the January Treasurer's Report after a brief discussion over two checks, one for delivery costs associated with Geothermal Playground material, and the other for chipped stone. Mrs. Ewald recommended that the Roadmaster's bills be reviewed to clear up questions she has. She opposed payment of the chipped stone bill.
Monthly Reports:
Zoning: Additional to his report, Mr. Kohli stated no additional information could be obtained from the approved plans of the Markley property on Union Hill Road regarding the location of the Horse Shoe Trail. Ed Theurkauf, Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Kuhn were pursuing meetings with various residents to work out a solution.
Planning Commission: Reorganization meeting was January 8. They reviewed a sketch plan for Spring Lane Farms. At the next meeting they expect to review Spring Oaks with Tim Townes.
Historical Commission: No representative present.
Roadmaster: Some work should be done on Howell Road to prevent winter damage; however, Mrs. Ewald felt that this should wait, since too much money has been expended this year. Mr. Faggioli and Mrs. Ewald agreed to meet and discuss the bills when they are returned by the auditor.
Fire Marshal/EOC: Mr. Alston reported that the months' activity included a vehicle fire and another accident on the Coldstream Road S-curve. He urged water conservation due to near drought status and that everyone be careful with fireplace ashes, keeping them in a metal bucket and away from flammable surfaces for two to three weeks before disposal.
Parks & Recreation: Mr. Hogan said that trees are being chosen for planting in Charlestown Park, and several old stumps will be removed for safety. Bill Davison discussed work necessary to prepare a plot of land for a proposed sports field. Farm Committee: County Commissioners and the Board of Supervisors are among the guests invited to a reception at the Brightside farmhouse formerly owned by the Pyles.
Valley Forge Sewer Authority: Mike Rodgers said no meeting was held last week but he is receiving a lot of emails regarding the proposed expansion of service in East Pikeland. VFSA questioned whether the Authority should help fund the expansion at Routes 724 and 23, suggesting that help could come from contractors who will benefit or a bond issue could be considered.
Citizens Action Committee: Their final report will state their belief that the ramps will proceed as planned by the Turnpike Authority. The township hopes for a meeting with the County Commissioners to voice concerns. The CAC will disband soon. Originally six meetings were planned, but strong opposition forced many more public meetings. Mr. Rodgers offered his view that the crossing of the ramp at Yellow Springs (and White Horse?) should be a tunnel and not a bridge.
Zoning Hearing Board: Reorganization meeting on January 29. Mr. Nagle, their former chairman, will be honored for his long service. Nature Center will be site of future meetings. New Chairman is John Martin; Vice Chairman Cathy DiFilippo; Michael Bowell changed to Member from alternate status. The Alternate Member slot is open. Mrs. Ewald suggested that Anita LaBarge be considered for this opening.
Fire & Hazardous Material Ordinance. Section 12 (Sprinklers) raised the question of whether existing development can be "grandfathered." Statewide building codes would negate the sprinkler ordinance; therefore, the question becomes moot regarding creating the grandfather clause. Charlestown Oaks residents appeared to oppose the sprinkler requirement and related their efforts to determine when the Ordinance would be advertised for approval. Mr. Hogan read his prepared statement in response to the emails he has received which advocated Charlestown Oaks look toward the future and "get ahead" of state requirements and accept sprinklers as a life saving tool.
A general discussion of the Hazardous Materials Ordinance followed in which open burning by residents was reviewed. The result was that anything other than a barbecue or campfire is okay, but the fire dept. should be advised of all other planned fires (especially in these dry conditions). Other discussion centered on Automatic Fire Alarms, Fire Lanes, Smoke Detectors, and Storage and reporting of hazardous materials that are listed in the Ordinance. A motion was approved to adopt the Ordinance with modifications. Resolution 90-02 was adopted for the Ordinance. Mrs. Ewald suggested that the new Ordinance be posted to the Charlestown.org website.
In response to a question, the Board advised that preliminary agendas are posted to the website and any advertising notices are in the Daily Local News.
Intermunicipal Planning Agreement: Discussion over Section 8 regarding the amount of money that a municipality who withdraws from the group would be liable to pay. Mr. Oeste suggested "pro rata fees" as an appropriate language.
The Board briefly discussed the Supervisors' attendance at an upcoming convention of Township Officials set for 3/7/02.
The Conditional Use Hearing for Scipione must "open" before 3/20; therefore the hearing will commence at Supervisors' meeting on 2/25.
John Panizza arrived with his revised plan for Spring Lane Farms (Hollow Road) and reviewed the changes requested by the Board at the last meeting. Mrs. Ewald was unable to recall the Board's specific requests from the last meeting, but strongly objected to this plan, continuing to assert that a buyer exists for the whole property. Mr. Panizza assured her there was no such person according to his knowledge and the people he has been talking to are interested only in the existing historic home and lot it sits on. Mr. Kuhn suggested that the back wooded section be deeded to the township using a Conservation easement through customers who buy the pertinent lots. Mr. Panizza thought this might be possible. Mr. Theurkauf reported that an old equestrian trail is in the woods, paralleling the Horse Shoe Trail, which connects to Blackberry Lane. After discussion over resizing a lot, buffering, and other issues, Mr. Panizza agreed to continue to tweak the plan. Mr. Kuhn strongly objected to Mrs. Ewald's continual objection to any plan of Mr. Panizza's and urged the Board to present their questions at this time so the Spring Lane plan could move forward. The Board requested slight changes in the length and location of the planned road, these to be worked out through Surender Kohli.
Meeting adjourned approximately 10:30 p.m.
THE NEXT SUPERVISORS' MEETING WILL BE ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2002, AT THE G.V. MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Monday, February 4, 2002  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
January 28, 2002
The meeting came to order at 7:36 p.m. at the request of Chairman, Hugh Willig. Present were Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald, James McErlane, Esq., Linda Csete, and Surender Kohli.
The first item on the Agenda was a presentation by the Pennsylvania State Police. This presentation recapped the activity in the township over the past year:
Total Incidents 997
Accidents 184 (reportable & non reportable)
DUI arrests 12
Traffic Violations 57
Criminal Mischief 13
False Alarms 197
Burglaries 18
Thefts 38
Underage Drinking 21 minors
Assaults on Police 2

The officer emphasized that the above numbers were very favorable in comparison with reports for other townships in the area. The communities of Charlestown Oaks and Charlestown Hunt are presently forming Towns Watch Groups. If you are interested in joining either of these groups, call M. J. Duncan at 610-644-7270. To report suspicious activity 24 hours a day, dial Town Watch at 610-935-1111.
The officers said that if a call is made to the State Police for help, officers do not have to drive from the Embreeville Barracks (near Coatesville), since there is always a car on duty in the area.
Camp Cadet is a 1-week, free summer camp located in East Pikeland Township for girls and boys age 11-13. This "military style" camp is run by the State Police and is for both "good" and "bad" youths. Applications are accepted between January 1 and May 15.
Chairman Hugh Willig resumed the Business Meeting of the Board of Supervisors by calling for announcements. Paul Hogan said that the "geothermal style" playground at Charlestown Park is being constructed. Mrs. Ewald took a few minutes to familiarize the meeting attendees with the location of Charlestown Park (next to the Valley Forge Christian College) on Charlestown and Coldstream Roads. Mr. Willig announced that an Executive Meeting had been held to discuss legal issues on January 21 after adjournment of the Supervisors' meeting.
Citizens' Forum: A resident of Buckwalter Farm Lane complained to the Board about the street lights at Charlestown Hunt. He said that he spent money planting trees on Charlestown Hunt property to shield the "obnoxious" lights from his view but they still bother him. The Board and Mr. Kohli responded that the lights are street lights at intersections for safety of the townhome residents, and that they are within Code. Mr. Kohli offered to check the "spill and glare" of these lights, but noted that they are covered "box" lights and reflect down to the ground. (Editors note: These lights are not bright, white; they are a dull "apricot" due to the reflection off the inside of the square shade.)
Next on the agenda was a report from the Charlestown representatives to the Turnpike Citizens' Action Committee. Suzanne Staas reported that the next meeting is January 30 and they wanted to know the Board's position and what stand, if any, they should take on January 30. Sue and Wendy Leland reviewed the latest proposal by the Turnpike Commission for the layout of the proposed slip ramps. Instead of serving only traffic to and from the Valley Forge Interchange, the Turnpike Commission has expanded the plan to accommodate traffic to and from the Downingtown Interchange as well. The proposed ramps will exit the turnpike close to the new Atwater corporate park on Yellow Springs Road, "fly over" Yellow Springs and White Horse Roads (via overpasses) and approach Route 29, across from Abel Bros. Sue said that Trammel-Crow (developers of Atwater) is paying for the portion of the ramp from Yellow Springs Road to Flat Road. She felt that the short spur (2 tenths of a mile) from Abel Bros. to Flat Road should be done when the ramp is first built, rather than hold off as planned until Atwater is completed. To accommodate the additional traffic, Route 29 is being widened to four lanes down to the Charlestown Road Phoenixville Pike intersection. Wendy and Sue said that the ramps will be EZ pass.
Mr. McErlane made it clear that the Route 29 improvements were dictated by East Whiteland Township and will take place separately from the proposed Turnpike slip ramps, and that in approximately 18 months, the traffic lights should be installed at Yellow Springs and White Horse Roads. He also noted that residents in the immediate vicinity of Flat Road have petitioned to vacate the portion of Flat Road from Wilburdale Road to Route 29 in an effort to prevent traffic from using Flat Road when exiting the ramp.
Hugh Willig offered as a position of the Supervisors the fact that no impact studies have been performed as to land use or environment. Mrs. Ewald stressed the CAC's underlying belief should be that the slip ramp will not be built and continue to oppose it due to the impact she believes it would have on Charlestown Township. She noted the original plan (for the ramp) was to divert traffic from theValley Forge Interchange. Her fear is the number of additional cars that would be on Charlestown Road, White Horse Road and Route 29, which roads are not likely to be widened.
A recommendation offered by Sue was to have the slip ramp exit on Route 113, but this would be close to the Downingtown interchange.
Louise Kehoe stated she understands that the Turnpike is losing dollars on the EZ Pass system in New Jersey and fears that Pennsylvania may not be making money either. Mr. Kuhn remarked that the main question is will the slip ramp be better or worse for Charlestown and how will we handle the additional 7,500 cars at Atwater? Mrs. Kehoe offered that we could post signs steering all turnpike bound traffic to Route 202 to get to the turnpike, instead of having an interchange at Route 29.
It was noted that if the Turnpike does not use public money for the project, they do not have to do studies. Charlestown filed suit in Court which is coming up for Argument soon.
Mrs. Staas noted an Editorial appearing in the Sunday Inquirer ("Montco's Economic Boom Lies at Foot of Blue Route Exit") which reflected that traffic has grown on the Blue Route exponentially and some parts of Montgomery County have profited financially. The article asks [whether] local officials will control growth and make it appealing to residents. She felt that this statement is misleading in view of Charlestown since the Township's Municipal Plan and the County Landscapes Plan (which have taken years to develop) are being destroyed by the Turnpike Commission "which wants to do anything it wants." Mrs. Ewald charged that the Turnpike considers itself "above the law."
Mrs. Staas again asked the Board for their position, which will be presented to the Turnpike on the 30th. It was noted that Charlestown, the most impacted Township in the area, was allowed only two seats in the Turnpike's Citizens Advisory Committee. Mr. McErlane noted that the toll booths for the proposed slip ramp have been moved out of Charlestown and into East Whiteland; and, in his opinion, this was done to "disable" Charlestown in their effort to stop the ramp.
The Board moved on to the next item, added late to the Agenda, which concerned an Ordinance requirement that new multi-family housing in Charlestown be equipped with sprinkler systems. Mr. Hogan stated he has received 20 emails on the subject. He read his response, which will be sent to all, stating that he favors the sprinklers for safety factors. Mr. Willig was not sure if this affects Charlestown Oaks, or whether a ‘grandfather clause" would apply.
Approximately 18 Charlestown Oaks residents attended this meeting to voice their concerns. They stated that they have fire walls of masonry block from basement to roof between units, and the fire companies are close by in East Whiteland; therefore, it is not likely an entire building would be burnt down. These residents are also concerned that the existing homes will lose value and appeal to future buyers and requested a grandfather clause. A resident stated that insurance rates are actually higher for sprinklered homes due to possible malfunction and destruction of possessions. Another resident thought that sprinklers should be in all new homes if they are required. A representative of the new builder at Charlestown Oaks stated that sprinklers would cost about $7,000 per home and require special modifications to the plumbing in the street to be able to deliver the required water. The base home price (no frills) is $225,000 without a sprinkler system.
A resident remarked that the Board wants to change the rules half way into a development that they originally approved. To upgrade his present home would cost "extra dollars." To this, the Board responded that no retrofitting would be required. The Board described "multi-family" as attached homes, and masonry walls will slow a fire but not prevent it from jumping to other units.
Residents were concerned that the sprinkler system may affect their Homeowner Association monthly fees, and there was fear that the issue would divide the Homeowners' Association into camps.
A resident in attendance, who is an insurance agent, offered that sprinkler leakage is a high-dollar claim. About 4% reduction in rates could be realized, but the claim resulting from leaks or malfunction would be large.
A resident asked what studies show that Charlestown Oaks residents are in danger, to which Fire Marshal Mr. Alston responded that "fire suppression systems save lives and reduce damage by fire." He wondered why the Charlestown Oaks residents are not angry with the original developer for not installing sprinklers originally.
A suggestion was offered that the Board require all new construction in Charlestown to include sprinklers instead of only "multi-family" dwellings.
The Board was informed that the IBC (International Building Code) does not require sprinklers for townhouses. The Municipal Planning Code (508.42) states that once a final plan is approved, no substantial changes may be made within five years of such approval, and most likely the State will pre-empt the sprinkler requirement. The Board decided to table the issues to the next meeting (Feb. 4) when the ordinance will be discussed further and voted on for adoption.
At 10:36, the Board started to move on to its next item, Spring Lane Farms, but due to the urgency of the Turnpike CAC matter, and the giving way of time to Charlestown Oaks, this subject was revisited. Mr. Willig stated he could not support any turnpike options without having impact statements of any kind. (possibly from DVRCP or the Planning Commission). Mrs. Staas suggested that Charlestown Township talk regularly to East Whiteland's Board. Mrs. Ewald said that Karen Martynick and Andrew Dinniman are supporters of the Landscapes Plan and will be contacted along with Bob Flick and Carol Rubley .
Spring Lane Farms: The Board agreed to a 60-day continuance of the conditional use hearing, per Mr. Panizza's written request.. He then presented his updated plan of lots for the 38-acre site on Hollow Road, which he said had been recently reviewed and recommended for approval by the Planning Commission. This plan called for nine lots in addition to the existing historic home, which includes a barn, outbuildings, pool, tennis court and driveway, and which would remain undisturbed. Several buffer areas would be added to shield views. He hoped the Board would also approve it, thereby resolving the current litigation on this matter.
Kevin Kuhn stated he had a problem with the plan since six houses are located in "old growth" woods. However, Mr. Panizza said he intends to save the woods to the extent possible. Mr. Willig asked if the homes could be taken from the woods and lined up in the open space; however, Mr. Panizza thought the original effort was to save the open space, but could move one home out of the woods. He did not consider his plan "wholesale destruction" of the woods and compared this plan to Wyndham, where the homes are situated in the woods and cause minimum disturbance, and the homes cannot be readily viewed since they are so well situated. The Spring Lane homes would be sized similar to Somerset homes across the street, in the range of 4,500 to 5,500 square feet. Mr. Rodgers asked why the Spring Lane homes could not be brought out of the woods, to which Mr. Panizza responded he could build either way—the Board could choose to put them in the open space with additional trees as a buffer for the existing historic home.
Mr. Panizza reminded the Board that he could be building many more homes on this land, but he has limited it to nine - which he considers a good compromise. Mr. Theurkauf, of Tom Comitta and Associates, presented his own plan of how he felt Spring Lane could be designed, arranging the homes to protect the steep slopes and placing some homes on common driveways. Mr. Panizza responded that he could live with this plan, but the two potential buyers, with whom he is currently in negotiation, would not approve of that plan. In response to Mrs. Ewald's inquiry, Mr. Panizza said that neither of the potential buyers want to keep the property as a farm, and he has not been contacted by any third person as Mrs. Ewald thought. Therefore, he again asked the Board to give approval to the plan worked out with the Planning Commission.
Mr. Kuhn asked whether a conservation easement could be placed on the existing historic home site, to which Mr. Panizza had no objection. The Board then asked that Lots 5, 6, and 7 be removed from the wooded areas; and Mrs. Ewald asked if he could possibly reduce the 38-acre site to only the historic house and two lots, to which Mr. Panizza remarked that he did not know how he could do that. He agreed to reconfigure the plan as closely as possible to the Board's demands, and try to keep it at nine lots - the minimum that he could place on the property.
Next on the agenda was the Spring Oaks Business Park Conditional Use Application. The Board opened the hearing and noted that the matter would be continued to the second meeting in February (February 25). Hearing closed.
The Altemose Conditional Use Application is also continued, but to a date to be determined later.
The Board noted that GenTerra's "by-right"plan and plan of lots for Deerfield (on Yellow Springs at Hollow Road) have been submitted.
Great Valley S.D. Public Improvement Construction Agreement: this item was tabled due to incomplete information.
The Fire and Hazardous Materials Ordinance was tabled, as was the Resolution to set the Fee Schedule; however, the Resolution to Authorize Fire Companies to seek reimbursement in the event of an incident involving hazardous materials was passed.
Charlestown Woolen Mill: Gary Bender, Esq., on behalf of the township, brought the Board current on this situation. The Bartschi Foundation has filed a request to demolish the mill. The proposal is that the applicant would donate the mill and one acre of land to the township. At the end of December, Bartschi Foundation attorney, Mr. Goldberg, who replaced Mr. Webber) sent Mr. Bender a letter confirming the offer. The HARB Resolution stated that the mill is in immediate danger and some work should be done to alleviate the immediate threats. An agreement to transfer one acre and the mill to the township was sent to Mr. Goldberg but a response has not been received.
Recommendation is that the demolition permit not be issued except for the demolition of the PhaseThree section. Mr. Goldberg stated that Bartschi Foundation (1) it did not wish to share costs of land subdivision; (2) work to save the mill could not start while the Agreement is pending;, (3) the township not attempt condemnation of any portion of the farm; and (4) the Foundation requests inclusion of three building lots.
Mr. Bender said that the original plan was to convey five acres and the mill; however, now the Foundation wants to convey only one acre. The Deed of Trust of the Bartschi Foundation has not been submitted to the township giving proof that the parties are authorized as Trustees. The Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and located in Charlestown Village (also on the National Register).
Recommendations by Dale Frens, Architect, are that the Period 1 portion and Period 2 portion be preserved, but Period 3 (upper portion) be removed. The Board set conditions for approval if the permit is issued for demolition of the Period 3 portion: (1) a drawing be provided showing exactly where the Period 3 portion is located; 48-hours notice must be provided the township before any demolition is begun; and, a township representative must be on site to supervise the demolition work. Another condition being considered is that the township has a hand in selecting the contractor who will do the work.
The Board passed a Motion denying the demolition permit and requiring that the initial stabilization work, as recommenced by HARB, be completed within 30 days, and authorizing Mr. Bender to proceed further if Bartschi Foundation does not comply.
Escrow Release #7 for Commons at Great Valley Lot 15 - approved.
Adjournment at 12:30 a.m.
The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be on February 4, 2002 at the Great Valley Middle School.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson.

 
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