Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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News for May 2000

Monday May 22, 2000  (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
May 15, 2000
Present for the Board: Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers, Paul. Hogan, Supervisors, Tom Oeste, Esq., Surrender Kohli, and Linda Csete. Irene Ewald, Chairman, arrived later in the meeting.
The meeting at the Valley Forge Christian College, Memorial Chapel, opened at 7:40 p.m. by Supervisor Hugh Willig. There were no announcements from the Board. Surrender Kohli, Township Engineer, announced that the old iron bridge on Pickering Road (Bridge #178) has been opened by PennDOT, and final inspection will occur tomorrow.
No issues were raised at the Citizens' Forum on Non-Agenda Items.
In order to clarify a point, Linda Csete advised the Board that the vacant seat on the Planning Commission was due to expire earlier this year so, therefore, the newly appointed member's term will expire on December 31, 2002, and not on December 31, 2001, as previously stated.
The Minutes of the May 8, 2000, meeting were approved.
First item on the Agenda was the Burch Subdivision. Mr. Oeste advised the Board that as of the May 8 meeting , the standard agreements were in place, the builder had agreed to sign, and the bank will make the loan. The Board, having had time to review the matter, made motion and approved the subdivision.
The next item concerned the vacating of a street in Whitehorse at Charlestown. An ordinance to vacate a street between Great Woods Lane and the Ziegler subdivision, which was recently dedicated to the township was considered. This street is deemed to have no purpose in the subdivision and should be eliminated by dedication, vacation, and dividing it between the homeowners. Mr. Oeste, before a Court Reporter, reviewed the exhibits, and stated that second class townships are required to have a hearing when vacating a road. All invoices due to the township by this builder have been paid. The land comprising the street will be divided among the homeowners along it. Thereafter, Ordinance No. 85 was adopted by the Board.
The next matter on the Agenda was Douglas Miles, Conditional Use Application. Mr. Oeste opened the hearing and reviewed the exhibits. To satisfy a technicality, Ron Nagle, Esq., attorney for the applicant, agreed to waive the requirement that the township be represented by its own attorney. He then presented additional exhibits to the Board and Mr. Oeste. The issue at hand is a request to cross the Pickering Creek (tributary) near Hollow Road in the area of the flood plain and high ground water using a ten-foot wide, paved driveway. Mr. Fehr, of Chester Valley Engineers and the applicants' witness, was sworn and explained that a flood plain analysis was prepared and a copy was given to the Board. A letter from Delaware Valley Soil Scientists was also submitted which recommended the form of construction of the bridge over the Pickering. Application for a permit from the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection has been approved. Testimony revealed that the Township Planning Commission has reviewed this issue and unanimously recommends approval. With regard to a lane west of the site, the Planning Commission surveyed the residents along it and asked if access for Mr. Miles could be achieved over this route. The neighbors opposed the use. Mr. Fehr also testified that the proposed plan complies with requirements of the township's ordinances and meets all applicable standards of the Zoning Ordinances A brief discussion arose regarding the existence of the six homes on Chesterfield Lane. This lane and the six houses along it were established before the present ordinance which poses a limit of three homes per lane. Mr. Kohli cautioned the applicant that this hearing was only regarding the conditional use application pertaining to the driveway, and that the rest of the plan for the property will have to be reviewed. Mr. Oeste then suggested that the record be closed and said that the Board's decision may come down sooner than the 45 days allowed, possibly June 5. Mrs. Ewald, who had another commitment and was delayed, arrived during this hearing. Mr. Nagle agreed that Mrs. Ewald could participate in the ultimate decision of the Board by reviewing the record.
The Application of Leon and Carol Altemose for a curative amendment was next. Mr. Oeste announced on the record that a letter had been received from Joseph Ryan, Esq., applicants' attorney, requesting continuance. The matter will be heard June 19, 2000.
Next was Late Spring Developers' (Late Spring Partners LLC) request to build a parking lot and building in steep slope areas at Spring Mill and Phoenixville Pk. Mr. Oeste opened the hearing and reviewed exhibits No one representing the applicant was present so the Board continued this matter to June 19.
The proposed ordinance to provide an option for developing historic parcels of 25 or more acres was up for discussion and approval. However, this was held, pending arrival of Tom Comitta, who had asked to be present during the discussion.
The Ordinance Amending Names of Private Lanes in the Souder Subdivision came before the Board. The hearing was opened, and Mr. Oeste reported that the proper advertising had been done. The amendment to Ordinance #71-96 was approved granting names to streets which will now be known as Sunny Hollow Lane and Shady Hollow Lane, off Dickson Drive in Hollow Run Farm.
Some discussion arose over a project where an 18th Century home is under renovation. A shed had been removed, but the wall formerly supporting the shed had collapsed. It is now being reconstructed per Mr. Kohli.
The new stop signs along Union Hill and at Rees was discussed. A stop sign along Howell Road at Rees was held for later decision since the Board did not want to cause restriction of the traffic flow at that location. A traffic consultant has recommended that a stop ahead sign and a stop sign be installed for the intersection of Green Lane, Rees Road, and Howell Road. The Board wanted time to review this recommendation, this matter will be heard again on June 19. Mr. Oeste will take care of the proper advertising to the public so the Board could decide on June 19. Advertising will also be made of the intention to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on Buckwalter Road.
Ordinance #86-2000 was approved by the Board to limit the speed to 25 mph on the following roads and place stop signs as follows: two stop signs at Union Hill and Tinker Road; two stop signs at Rees and Blackstone Lane (Great Woods); and, two stop signs at Union Hill Road at the railroad tunnel.
In regard to the previously discussed vacating of the road in Phase III of Whitehorse at Charlestown, Resolution 563-2000 was briefly discussed and then approved by the Board. In this action, the Township formally accepts the Deed of Dedication of the Road Easement. This requirement must be met before the road can be vacated and the land distributed to homeowners.
More discussion arose regarding the Planning Commission seat. The Board made and seconded a Resolution amending the record to reflect the term of office as correctly ending on December 31, 2002.
A resident in attendance at the meeting, Mr. Pomeroy, rose to ask the Board the status of the planned stop lights along Route 401 at Newcomen and Valley Hill Roads. The Board responded that all paperwork has been submitted to PennDOT, who will make the design. Delay was caused by the need to redo a traffic study which was originally done during the quiet summer months. Upon receipt of the design, bids will be requested. The estimated completion time is six months from now. Mrs. Ewald offered to contact PennDOT to try to expedite the work due to the dangerous nature of the road.
In regard to other traffic studies, Mr. Kuhn referred to a letter requesting that a study be conducted on Hollow Road. A study and 25 mph limit will be requested covering Hollow all the way from Route 29 to Yellow Springs Road. Since this is a State road, a minimum speed of 35 mph may result.
Roadmaster Durando Faggioli was requested by the police to remove a fallen tree at 2:00 a.m. recently. Response of this type is considered over and above normal work duties, and the proposal is to classify him as a "working roadmaster" and also to compensate him for this extra work. Mrs. Ewald suggested that this matter falls into a personnel matter and should be discussed outside of the meeting forum. Also, another suggestion came from the Board that flashing safety lights for Mr. Faggioli's truck be purchased at a cost of $1,200. These issues were not decided at this time.
Mr. Hogan reported that some power lines have been threatened by falling trees along Sycamore Lane. A homeowner may be required to clean up the dead trees and the property. Apparently, this owner, the Korean Church, has been unreachable for some time and is delinquent in taxes. Further action will be investigated. A suggestion came forth to call PECO in regard to the trees.
A report was made by Bill Davison on behalf of the Planning Commission. An owner of Lot 10 in Somerset is requesting severance of a slope from his property. This has been denied. He was referred to the Somerset Homeowners' Association for consideration. In another matter a property along Phoenixville Pike is out of compliance with its parking of too many vehicles in the front yard. Another matter regarding a drainage issue is being considered and an ordinance is being worked out. Ed Theurkauph has proposed an ordinance covering low density subdivisions, where applicants can proceed through the steps at a quicker pace on the roads and other infrastructure.
The matter of underground water detention basins was brought up. Mr. Kohli explained that these are in use around the township, mostly at business sites. This relates to a property owner who wants to convert some warehouse space to office space, which would require more parking area.
Mrs. Ewald then suggested that the Board proceed with the matter of the Historic Ordinance, even though Mr. Comitta had not arrived yet. Mr. Oeste opened the hearing and reviewed exhibits for the issue, which is in regard to a proposed amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. The Board members debated the 35,000 sq. ft. minimum size and the perks that would entice builders to want to follow the open space plan rather than revert to the "by-right" option. Mrs. Ewald said she is not enthusiastic over this ordinance since nothing in it makes the land which is being saved "functional." She believed a function for the property would give more relevance to the homeowners who owned the open space .
A comment was made that Lower Merion Township has been using the open space concept for years, but now the small pockets of open space are being sold off as "in-fill lots" and the property values are very high.
A comment arose that small acreage lots may present a problem as to soil suitability and alternative sites on the lot for in ground sewage disposal. However, Mr. Kuhn expressed his feeling that he was not worried about the land falling into an "in-fill" situation, and he added that if the site doesn't perk, then it cannot be built upon. As for properties having a purpose, he felt that the viewsheds of the open spaces were beautiful and help to preserve the openness, so he is not worried that the land may not be assigned a function. Mrs. Ewald responded that the land planners can address the function of the land.
Mr. Willig cautioned that we should address the options, but it would be difficult to try to solve all of the questions at one time.
Mr. Theurkauph had arrived at the meeting at this point and was asked about the recommendation by Mr. Comitta of 35,000 square feet as a lot size. He suggested that the number was probably decided upon as a good one to fit a house and septic system and a way to achieve the larger open space. He said for every eight lots at a smaller size of 35,000 sq. ft. (rather than 40,000), the conserved 5,000 sq. ft. per lot would produce an extra acre of open space.
Discussion arose as to how to preserve the actual historic buildings and deal with those that may be adapted for reuse. These adapted buildings might be placed on individual lots or contained all on one lot within the open space. But the thought was that some space must be preserved around the historic building to effectively preserve it and its setting. Mr. Oeste recommended that this be reviewed and language be formed to prevent the historic complex from being placed on a 40,000 sq. ft. lot. Also, he said we cannot state in the Ordinance exactly what square footage requirements are needed, since each historic land situation will need to be evaluated on its own merits.
This hearing will be continued on June 5, 2000, and further discussion is anticipated at that time.
The meeting was adjourned
The next meeting of the board of supervisors will be Monday, June 5, 2000, at 7:30 p.M., at the Valley Forge Christian College, Memorial Chapel. PLEASE NOTE THE BOARD IS RETURNING TO ITS PROCEDURE OF HAVING MEETINGS ON THE FIRST AND THIRD MONDAYS OF THE MONTH.
 
Monday May 15, 2000  (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
May 8, 2000
The meeting, held at the Valley Forge Christian College Memorial Chapel, was called to order by Chairman Irene Ewald at 7:40 p.m. An announcement by Mike Rodgers concerned the township's preventive maintenance program and pothole repair involving a new machine which is working very well. Mrs. Ewald brought to everyone's attention that May 9 is Vincent Kling's 84th birthday and, if possible, call and congratulate him.
No speakers came forward for the Citizen's Forum on Non-Agenda Items.
The Board's Minutes of May 1, 2000 were approved.
Due to a good number of residents in attendance who were interested in bringing up matters relating to Charlestown Hunt, this issue was moved up on the agenda. Attending the meeting at the request of the Charlestown Hunt Board of Directors were two representatives of Mid-Atlantic Management Corporation, the property management firm employed by Realen. The five members of the Charlestown Hunt Board of Directors were also present along with about thirty residents of the Hunt.
A resident inquired whether any tax dollars paid to Charlestown Township went to support a police service and the answer was that none of the township taxes cover a police force, but some of the state taxes we pay cover the services we receive from the Pennsylvania State Police who patrol the area. Supervisor Kevin Kuhn said that the estimate to establish a local police force would be about one million dollars to cover the offices, automobiles, police, equipment, salaries, etc. Given that there are approximately 1400 families in Charlestown, the burden of supporting a force at this time would be too heavy. Mrs. Ewald explained that of the 880 police calls last year, 300 turned out to false fire/burglary alarms, 280 traffic calls, 300 minor lost/found and other animal issues, a few minor burglary, domestic and runaway issues. Since the limited resources of the State Police must cover the entire county, the calls are prioritized; and, therefore, a bona fide emergency would overtake a routine matter. If State Police are needed, 911 Service would contact the nearest vehicle. If you are interested in the local Townwatch, call Anna Wert at 610-935-1111. The Supervisors added that the Township is investigating the possibility of having a part-time police officer who would patrol the township and enforce traffic and DUI laws. One resident remarked that he noticed the State Police speeding through Charlestown Hunt and asked that they take more time to observe the neighborhood while they cruise through.
Barbara Feather, resident of Charlestown Hunt on Stewart's Court and co-author of the Charlestown Hunt Newsletter, asked that residents forward information and ideas to her for the Newsletter.
A resident asked about the retention basins at the Hunt. Mr. Kohli, Township Engineer, responded that the basins will be regraded if needed to be sure that no water will remain standing in them and that vegetation must be established before Realen can complete work on them.
In response to concerns regarding landscaping , Mr. Kohli added that landscaping will be inspected against the approved plan to be sure it is in compliance. Mr. Kuhn suggested that this be mentioned in the Charlestown Hunt newsletter and a list of residents and landscaping concerns be compiled by Ms Feather for transmittal to Mr. Kohli, so that when the inspection is done, he can check the list. The sidewalks will also be inspected, but only the public walks along the streets, not the walks leading to homes. The number to report landscape problems is 610-240-0326 (the Township Office). Realen and concerned residents will inspect the Nature Trail during a walk through. The Township added that it will be sure at some point that the trail complies with the approved plan. A complaint was that the portion of trail from Sycamore to Windy Hollow has been completed but washes out during storms.
Matters regarding insufficient grass in specific lawn areas should be brought to the attention of Mr. Kohli at the above telephone number so they can be included in the inspection.
Traffic issues arose when a resident asked about the improvements planned at the Phoenixville Pike and Charlestown Road intersection. The intersection will be improved with additional left and right turn lanes, and the traffic lights will be coordinated to run smoothly with the new proposed lights at Yellow Springs and White Horse. PennDOT is presently reviewing the proposed improvements of a traffic light at Yellow Springs and Route 29. A new light will also be installed at White Horse Road and Route 29. Warner Road, behind the Charlestown Saloon, will be improved and extended to Phoenixville Pike at the vicinity of the Turnpike Bridge (where Chuck's Wagon parks). Most of the work is to be done as a public/private job by developers who are building projects in the immediate area, but the Township will be doing the 29/Charlestown Road intersection (as reported in a previous meeting).
A resident asking a question regarding improvements to Pot House Road and Route 29 was referred to Schuylkill Township for response.
Mention was made that the Trammel Crowe company is developing the quarry along Yellow Springs in the area of Howell Road and Church Road. Their plan is to build 2 million feet of office space, and they will be responsible for the traffic light installation at Yellow Springs and 29.
Also reminder was given that the Turnpike Commission is still pursuing their plan of putting slip ramps from the turnpike down to Route 29 or Yellow Springs Road. These ramps would serve eastbound traffic to and from Valley Forge interchange only. The Township presently has a lawsuit pending to force the Turnpike Commission to prove the need for the ramps and to have public hearing regarding the plan. This suit questions the Turnpike's ability to build these ramps or an interchange without Legislative action.
In regard to a query regarding the bridge repair on Route 29 just south of Charlestown Hunt, there was no specific date that this work would begin. Mrs. Ewald gave a bit of history explaining that this is called the "Ice Dam Bridge" because the Pickering had a large stone dam (remains of which can still be seen) which held the water in a large pond. In the winter the ice would be chopped into squares and loaded onto a train for shipment to Philadelphia.
The Board heard a complaint regarding speeding trucks from the quarry and a request that the one-lane bridge (near Union Hill Road) be widened or controlled by stop signs.
Another complaint touched on the fact that autos coming down Charlestown Hunt Drive are speeding. A few laughs arose when Supervisor Kuhn jokingly asked if they were speeding faster than the State Police cars.
Mr. Oeste, township solicitor, said that the Township has two agreements with Realen that cover public and quasi-public improvements (basins, trails, roads, etc.). These also cover the engineering.???ects. However, there are no escrowed dollars with the Township to cover warranty issues on the individual homes. The funds that are in escrow at this time will be held until the public and quasi-public improvements are inspected and approved. Mr. Kohli advised that funds were escrowed at 110% of the costs, and that as a matter of procedure, some of the escrow has been released periodically as various improvements were completed. An 18-month Bond will be posted by Realen. If issues regarding infra-structure, sewer, basins, etc., arise during the 18 month period, the township can ask Realen to fix the problem.
The Charlestown Hunt Roads to be dedicated to the Township are: Charlestown Hunt Drive, Taconic, Amwell Valley, Battle Creek, Windy Hollow, Beaufort, Tipporary and Louden Place. The remaining streets will be covered by the Charlestown Hunt Homeowner's Association.
The subject of a "baby pool" arose when a resident asked if the original plan contained provision for a baby pool. Apparently, the final approved plans did not show such a facility, and the resident could go to the Chester County Court House to observe the full set of final approved plans. The fact that the Tot Lot has no protective fence was also raised due to its proximity to Charlestown Hunt Drive.
A resident suggested that the posted speed of 45 mph on some of the sharper curves on Route 29 should be lowered. Since Route 29 is a state highway, the township can make a request to the State to review the matter.
The status of the bridge on Creek Road (Schuylkill Township) can be obtained from the Chester County Supervisors, Karen Martynick, Andrew Dinniman or Colin Hanna. A resident reported that he heard that the project would be put to bid with the work being done this summer.
In regard to the Ice Dam Bridge repair, the State is required to set up a detour (along state roads) when the bridge is out. Since Buckwalter is a likely route for detoured motorists, a resident asked whether a temporary traffic light can be placed at Buckwalter and Route 29. Response was that Buckwalter is a township road and is not subject to State signalization.
A question arose regarding laws covering home occupations. Response was that this ordinance requires filing of a "conditional use application" with the Township and a hearing before the Supervisors. The Charlestown Hunt rules restrict use of homes for business ventures, but Mrs. Ewald stated this could be flexible due to the changing nature of home businesses/occupations. A resident is conducting a business from home, which prompted the inquiry.
A resident revealed that a few disgruntled homeowners are considering a lawsuit against Realen and one resident stated that if this is so, then all homeowners should be informed and permitted to participate.
A discussion arose between Mid-Atlantic representatives and a resident regarding some remarks posted to a website where Charlestown Hunt issues are aired. The representatives explained that the remarks were considered slanderous, false, and unjustified, and the homeowner was advised to rescind them or be subject to legal action. As of this time, the unidentified homeowner making the remarks had not responded to Mid-Atlantic's letter.
Homeowners were reminded by Mid-Atlantic Management reps that Realen's landscaping crew no longer services the community in general, but can be seen doing some construction related work at the builder's direction. Realty Landscaping does not report to or do work for the Association anymore.
A call went out from the Board to interested residents to volunteer their time in the rebuilding of a bridge in the area. Charlestown Road near Pickering Road is the site of the Revolutionary War Cemetery (across from the Play School). Behind the cemetery is a road going to a farm. This bridge has been called "Miss Betty's Bridge" in honor of Elizabeth Foster Stonorov, a long time resident of the Township and the founder of the Charlestown Play School (over 50 years ago). This bridge will be rebuilt on Saturdays during May and June and all are invited to help or come by to visit the site.
Also, a quick announcement by Supervisor Kevin Kuhn informed everyone that the annual dinner of the Charlestown Historical Society will take place in September at Supervisor Paul Hogan's barn on Sycamore Lane (which was the successful site of this event two years ago.) NOTE: For more information or to inquire about joining the Historical Society, please contact its President, John Martin c/o Charlestown Historical Society, Box 344 Devault, PA . 19432)
This ended the Charlestown Hunt portion of the meeting. The Board then moved to approve the ordinance that would increase the Planning Commission seats from 7 to 8. Nominated for this new seat (and recommended by the Planning Commission) for a term expiring December 2001 was Wendy Leland. However, Mr. Oeste advised that this nomination cannot take effect until the ordinance takes effect in five days' time.
In regard to a matter of the Burch subdivision, tri-party agreement, the Board stated it has not reviewed the issue yet. Mr. Oeste advised that the agreements are standard in nature, the bank has agreed to the loan, and the applicants are eager to get to settlement. Mrs. Ewald and the Board preferred to review the documents before making a decision, so this matter was placed on the agenda for the next Supervisor's meeting on Monday, May 15.
This concluded the Board's agenda, and the meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
 
Saturday May 6, 2000  (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
May 1, 2000
Present for the Township: Chairman, Irene Ewald, Kevin Kuhn, Hugh Willig, Mike Rodgers, Paul Hogan, Tom Oeste, Esq., Surender Kohli, and Linda Csete, Township Secretary and Treasurer.
The meeting came to order at 7:40 at the Valley Forge Christian College, Memorial Chapel. An announcement by Mrs. Ewald urged residents to return their traffic survey forms asap to the township, and to call the township office if an additional copy was needed.
Mr. Steve Burgess spoke at the Citizen's Forum for Non-Agenda Items, asking the status of the side road at Morehall and Yellow Springs, since, evidently, he wished to purchase a parcel in that vicinity. Mrs. Ewald advised that it was a private road.
The Board moved to approved the minutes of the previous meetings of April 24, April 26, and April; 27,2000. The Treasurer's Report and the Accounts Payable List were also approved with no detailed discussion.
Reports of the following committees/persons were received: Zoning Officer - Mr. Kohli added that the Turnpike Commission had started work on a large tower and that the township may need an injunction to prevent its construction.
Planning Commission - Mr. Philips said the Commission is reviewing the sand mound installation issues and it has met on the subject of the comprehensive plan. It is interested in having pictures and aerial photos taken of various township views.
Historic Commission - Mrs. Baldwin advised that her report was submitted and that in addition the Charlestown Historic Society has invited all the historic homeowners in the area to the CHS meeting on Wednesday, May 3, at the Charlestown Play School, to hear Mr. Wesley Sessa, of 18th Century Restorations.
Roadmaster - The report was submitted. Mr. Faggioli reported that a 30" diameter tree fell onto an automobile while driving on Wells road, and fortunately the five occupants were not injured. Mr. Philips made mention of some potholes on a PennDOT road which needed attention.
Fire Marshal - Mr. Alston's report was submitted. He added that a residence has had 10 fire alarms in 10 months (apparently due to cooking Cajun Chicken) and at Mr. Alston's urging, the alarm company involved will call the homeowner before contacting the fire department. Also, Mr. Alston, reported that a resident complained that children were in a "bunker" between Moses way and Charlestown Hunt property and suspected drinking and fireworks. An investigation revealed a plywood "clubhouse" and the State Police found no evidence of illegal drinking or fireworks. The drought restriction for the County is still active, but may be lifted shortly, but he advised that we all should be careful due to remaining dryness.
Parks & Recreation - Mr. Hogan advised some repairs are needed for the swings, and they have been secured until repaired.
VFSA - The plant is working on the problem of odor, and a letter has issued to residents in the immediate area soliciting their opinions on the "tower" that has been constructed by VFSA.
Turnpike Commission Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) - At the next meeting on May 10, they will be defining the options available and will ask that additional meetings be conducted by the Turnpike in order to clarify all the issues. Sue Staas summarized the purpose of the CAC in conjunction with the Turnpike's efforts to build a slip ramp within Charlestown. The CAC committee is vested with the job of recommending action to the Turnpike Commission, but the Turnpike Commission has given the CAC no power to oppose the proposed ramps. At this time, alternatives to building ramps are being thought out for review. The next meeting is at the Desmond Hotel at 7:00 p.m. on 5/10/00. The public may attend as observers but not participate in discussions. Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Oeste added that the pending suit of Charlestown Township is asking that public hearings be held. Mr. Faggioli advised that he felt if a slip ramp was built, the trucks coming off the turnpike in the process of slowing down would be extremely noisy and disturbing to the surrounding residents.
The Board addressed the next agenda item concerning the proposed zoning ordinance relating to historic properties. This ordinance is meant to provide an option to homeowners in planning the ultimate arrangement of their 25+ acre parcel when subdivided, in the hope that new buildings will be clustered in one area of the parcel leaving the other portion free as "open space."
Mr. Tom Comitta gave a talk on this subject using township maps showing the location of all historic properties (of any size) and a second map showing a number lots of 25+ acres owned privately and those owned municipally that were eligible for the open space option. He explained that the proposed ordinance would give property owners incentive to preserve the historic.???ects of the property. Lots could be in varying sizes to allow some larger lots to provide open space and the smaller lots to hold the new development. The open space lots could be contiguous to existing trails for walking, riding and biking. The plan would be to possibly have smaller lots in order to create a larger open space area, but an owner would have the same number of lots as in a normal subdivision The Planning Commission and the Owner/Architect/Developer would work together to determine the best areas for open space. This ordinance would not eliminate any other options which are presently available to the owner in subdividing. A question arose as to why we are not looking at all parcels of 25+ acres instead of just the historic ones. Explanation was that originally, this was planned for Farm/Residential district properties, but at that time, the idea of clustering was not readily accepted by the public, thinking that it would start a rash of townhouse communities. At this time, the idea is being approached in a gradual form, starting with the larger properties. Mr. Comitta stated that the incentive to landowners would be possibly getting an additional lot for development out of the subdivision, or the realization of benefits derived from less paving and resultant water runoff.
Mr. Sauser gave some of his thoughts relating to the proposal and felt the plan would work against the County "Landscapes Plan" in spreading the cluster/density around, rather than keeping it contained to certain areas. He suggested that the Plan 537 review should take place before any decision is made on the proposed ordinance.
Mr. Comitta said that the open space could be treated (for example) as restricted ownership, home owners' association property, deeded to a conservancy or other trust, or owned privately and dedicated to a certain use or enjoyment. As a comparison, Kevin Kuhn brought up the Moorehall property, since the developers there simply cut the historic property up into lots and did not preserve any land around the historic mansion (which was eventually purchased privately, rather than razed). Discussion arose over the idea of requesting developers to build in the style of the historic residence already on the property in order to help save the style of architecture of the area. Creating incentive to go along with this option was discussed briefly from the viewpoints of both developers and homeowners. The view was aired that this option will create larger spaces as open space, rather than having a lot of two-acre building lots.
Mr. Kling stressed that we don't presently have a plan that defines what areas should be preserved, which would, in effect, help prevent massive restructuring of the topography when developers create a community. He said we would benefit by having communities in the vein of small villages to create an old way of life where schools, churches, and other amenities were within walking distance and people became a community. Also some acreage of open space could be built in. He used as an example a community he designed in New York State which was well received by purchasers.
Mention was made of a recent program aired on TV 12 dealing with land planning in Portland, Oregon, which introduced some concepts we could look at. The land planner in the program is reported to be a Pottstown resident.
Hugh Willig assured everyone that this proposed ordinance was just an additional tool in the assortment available to landowners and may prove useful in some situations. Mrs. Ewald urged interested parties to attend the Planning Commission meetings on the 4th Tuesday of each month at the Charlestown Elementary School Cafeteria. at 7:30 p.m.
Hearing on Spring Lane Farm development conditional use application was opened by Mr. Oeste. Mr. Asimov for General Residential Properties introduced Mr. David Fehr, a professional civil engineer, as a witness for Spring Lane, who produced a site map showing the areas of steep slopes, which covers 16-21% of the tract. These slopes are of 15 to 25 percent grade and located in woodland. The plan provides for single family dwellings on 80,000 sq.ft. lots. Three lots will have homes on the steep slope and about seven will have driveways on the slope. Retaining walls are planned for the properties on the slope to eliminate grading of additional slope property and control water. At this time. the footprints of the homes have not been designed. Storm sewers along the development's road will catch the water run off. Mr. Fehr testified that there were no viable alternatives for the layout of the driveways other than the planned driveways that have the 13-14% slope. Mr. Oeste asked if any alternate designs were considered, and the response was no. Mr. Oeste confirmed that minimal incursion into the steep slopes could be achieved by using fewer lots. Mr. Fehr testified the plan was to place the maximum number of lots per ordinance allowances. This hearing will continue on June 5, 2000, at 7:30 at VFCC in the Memorial Chapel.
The hearing regarding the request of Daniel K. Stoudt's conditional use application was opened and immediately continued to June 5, 2000. Hearing was also opened on the Late Spring Development request and was continued to May 15, 2000.
Status of the application to dedicate a "Whitehorse at Charlestown" road to the township for purposes of abandoning it and distributing the property to homeowners along it was asked of the Board. The Board agreed on its intention to grant the request, but a hearing must be held on 5/15/00 after the proper advertising..
The issue of traffic control via proposed stop signs at some possible locations of Union Hill at the RR bridge, Union Hill and Rees Road, Union Hill and Tinker Hill Road, Rees and Great Woods Lane, and Rees and Howell was discussed, and the Board decided that advertising will be done regarding a proposed ordinance which will enable the installation of stop signs at various locations to be approved by the Board after further study and discussion. The speed limit of 25 mph for Union Hill will also be under consideration.
Advertising will be done regarding an ordinance for naming of private roads (Souder Subdivision) ; for an ordinance amendment for on-site sewage systems; and also for the proposed historic ordinance for dividing large historic lots.
Mr. DiNunzio addressed the Board on behalf of Vintage Development Co., which wishes to subdivide a 2-lot area in the Somerset development. Their plan is to divide the two lots into two building lots and one acre of open space that would be deed restricted. Mrs. Ewald expressed that she was in favor of the one lot open space as long as it was never developed and an easement was retained to connect the development's road to Chesterfield Lane. Mr. Philips requested that the Planning Commission be permitted to take some time to review this plan and make a recommendation to the Board. His request was approved.
Mr. Thomas McClure's request was addressed regarding a two-lot subdivision of "Rosewood." Mr. Kohli and the Planning Commission have reviewed the applicant's plan along with a letter from the Chester County Planning Commission. This home is presently vacated and in need of repair before use as a residence. The request of the applicant was approved and building permits, etc., must be secured.
Escrow Releases were approved for Commons at Great Valley, Lots 16 and 17, in the amounts of $22,940 and $30,425.50, respectively.
A matter involving some paving of a road which requires the moving of mailboxes was addressed by Mike Rodgers, and the homeowner(s) will be advised.
This concluded the matters before the Board and the meeting adjourned at 1l:00 p.m.
 
Saturday May 6, 2000  (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
April 27, 2000
(Note: There were no minutes submitted by this reporter for the meeting of April 26, 2000, regarding Charlestown Meadows.)
Present: Irene Ewald, Chairman; Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers, Hugh Willig, Tom Oeste, Esquire, Linda Csete. Surender Kohli was absent due to other professional obligations this evening.
This special meeting of the Board of Supervisors was convened by Hugh Willig for Mrs. Ewald (who arrived later in the evening due to another obligation). There were no speakers for the Citizens' Forum on Non-Agenda Items. This meeting is being held for the purpose of hearing testimony on the Charlestown Meadows Development proposed by Toll Bros.
Thomas Oeste, Esq. opened this hearing by reviewing the new exhibits of record. Mr. Hensler, from Newcomen Road, was sworn in as a witness and presented a traffic report to the Board which he obtained from a consulting company (Worth Rogers). Mr. Lunning, attorney for Toll Bros., made an objection due to the author of the report, a Mr. Green, not being present and available for cross examination. Mr. Hensler reported he objected to the Toll Bros. traffic report since it showed no traffic using Newcomen Road.
A brief recess occurred while the Board awaited Mr. Bender's arrival. At 8:10 p.m. a Mr. Fehr was called as Toll Bros. witness to testify regarding the high ground water lines as shown on the plan prepared by Dr. Palkovics, a consultant for Toll Bros. Mr. Fehr explained that the 30 inch pipe placed in the culvert across Route 401 by PennDOT would handle 75% of the capacity of a 36" pipe, and that flooding would occur even without development of the site. Off-site water runoff comes from the ridge east of the site and Toll Bros could capture some of that runoff and send it through the culvert, eliminating some of the flooding. In regard to drainage plans, a hydrology study and a soils plan would show the high ground water areas of the site.
In regard to parking and access, the units each have a two-car garage and the autos would back out of their driveways onto the street. (NOTE: The township ordinances do not allow vehicles to back out of a driveway across a sidewalk.) A previous witness, Mr. Kohli, mentioned that a turn around area (or a "rooster tail") could be provided for each driveway which would help eliminate autos backing out to the street. Mr. Fehr testified that the "rooster tail" would not prevent any backing out, and would likely be used for extra parking instead.
Mr. Kohli also testified previously that "Best Management Practices" should be used by the builder. Upon query from Toll Bros attorney, Mr. Fehr responded that in the Township Ordinances, there is no requirement to use Best Management Practices.
In discussion of the retention basins, Mr. Fehr testified that 10 feet in depth would not be excessive and would serve as designed, to manage the water. He also said there is no requirement in the Ordinances for a geotechnical report. The witness felt that the amount of land area around the basins was reasonable. The storm water management system, as designed, would work in the interests of the residents' health and welfare.
Mr. Fehr also testified that in November of 1999, Valley Forge Sewer Authority (VFSA) reported in writing that no capacity was available to them for hooking up to the sewer system; however, a letter dated March 13 stated capacity can be available upon completion of plant improvements. Mr. Bender cross examined Mr. Fehr in regard to a letter of October 29, 1999, from VFSA and the fact that Mr. Fehr never spoke to anyone at VFSA.
Questioning arose regarding the culvert size and capacity for flooding in the area and the witness thought that there is potential for flooding. The witness thought that PennDOT would have to be consulted in regard to the redesigning of the culvert and determine the volume and rate of the water flow.
Mr. Oeste cross examined Mr. Fehr and asked about the effect of having a turn around in the driveways, and determined from the witness that driveways were simply added to the plan according to the position of the houses by Toll Bros.
Mr. Hamilton, of West Pikeland Township, asked about the diameter of the storm water basins and the response from Mr. Fehr was that it was about 150 feet in the NE corner of the site; and near the main entrance it was about the same size, and the third basin was a couple of hundred feet. The witness testified that if a basin was to handle off-site water runoff, it would have to be increased in size by about 50%. Mr. Hamilton also asked how the required open space could be mete if basins were larger, and he also questioned the safety measures that would be taken.
Another resident asked about safety of the basins in relation to the drivers along Route 401; and the response was that the basins are designed on a ground level higher than the road and do not present a hazard.
Mr. Nimerhoff questioned the basin size and water runoff on Windom Lane; however no studies had been done for surrounding parcels.
Dr. Palkovics was recalled as a witness. In his opinion, there is no flood hazard area, but there was some high ground water area. Toll Bros. attorney asked about the additional soil expert who was retained by the Township to study the site, and they attempted to refer to a report from the expert. Attorneys for the Township objected on grounds that the testimony of the second consultant was not presented and should not be allowed as "rebuttal" examination. Mr. Oeste ruled that Dr. Palkovics could not testify regarding an expert's report when that person has not testified herself. Mrs. Ewald questioned how the report of the Township's soil expert, Ms. Mueller, came into the hands of Toll Bros. and their witness when Charlestown Township, who had hired the consultant, had not yet received a copy. Dr. Palkovics testified that Ms. Mueller had faxed a copy to him, although he did not request it. Mr. Oeste said that the report could not go to the township Board of Supervisors (acting as the fact finders) until it was duly entered into the record. The letter was then given from Toll Bros attorney to Mr. Oeste for entry into the record. A resident/party in this action, Mr. Dasgupta, asked if Dr. Palkovics had done business with Ms. Mueller in the past, and the response was in the negative.
Mr. Babbit was recalled as a witness for Toll Bros. and explained that the subdivision ordinance provides the requirements for the environmental impact report. This witness went through the elaborate calculations to find the financial impact of the development upon the township, which turned out to be a plus for the township and not a drain upon township resources. He testified that the Municipal Planning Code of 1976 allowed PRD's and the density of the planned development is within those allowances. Mr. Bender pursued the additional costs perceived for future expenses, such as new schools, etc. The witness said that the additional costs needed for schools could be handled by the school district out of the increased revenues they would receive. Upon questions regarding this development causing a need for new schools, etc., the witness testified the new development would contribute to a need for new schools along with any other new developments built in the township in the future.
Mr. Babbit was asked various questions regarding his calculations of township revenue per unit, the impact of additional residents toward township safety, requirements for a township police force, number of school aged children projected to live in the proposed development, and how his number was reached. Mr. Boekell asked about the impact of the drivers living in the proposed development turning either left or right onto Route 401 and the beneficial effect of the traffic. The witness said that the benefit would result from having two exits to disburse traffic coming out of the development onto two roads (Newcomen and Route 401), some of which would not need to go through the Newcomen/401 intersection. Mr. Boekell asked about disturbance of the steep slopes, and the witness referred him to the engineer since the land area of the slopes on the site may not be large enough to fall under steep slope ordinances. Other questions covered the various calculations and the resultant impact of this development upon the Township. Discussion came up as to the County's desire to raise taxes 30% and the fact that this was not factored into the impact calculations. The witness testified that if the taxes had not been raised as of yet, he could not use the raise in his calculations. He based his calculations on the present township budget.
The hearing drew to a close, and Mr. Oeste called for an "off-the-record" discussion with the Board. Back on the record, Mr. Oeste announced that the briefs of Proposed Findings of Facts will be due from Mr. Bender representing the Township Planning Commission's interests and from Mr. Schubert for Toll Bros. by May 15, 2000. The Board will then decide within 60 days, or around June 19, 2000.
The meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
 
Continued in Archives


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