Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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News posted during June 2001


Tuesday, June 26, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
June 18, 2001
In attendance for the Township: Hugh Willig, Chairman; Supervisors Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald; Linda Csete, Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq.
This meeting was called to order at 7:36 by the Chairman. One announcement was made of an Executive Session directly prior to this meeting regarding personnel matters.
Citizens Forum:

  1. Cathy Filippo spoke about the rash of robberies over a period of time at her residence and the harsh treatment she experienced from the State Police. The Board will follow up with the State Police to achieve action in this matter.
  2. Andy Motel asked about a rumor that property at the Pyle Farm will be put up for sale – this was quashed as false by the Board.
  3. Jim DelBello, Esq. , representing White Horse Meadows, presented a document of minor amendments and clarifications to terms in the existing Declaration of Covenants for White Horse Meadows. These deal with uniform gateposts, restrictions to fencing, plantings for the entryways, planting of trees to facilitate preservation of the viewshed. The Board asked for time to review the matter before deciding on the issue.
  4. Dave Bideman (for Al Emma, builder) was advised that a decision on the conditional use issue will be provided at the 7/2/01 meeting.
  5. Charles Philips stated that Hollow Road at Charlestown Road still needed some mowing to help sight lines for traffic (property owner will be contacted for permission to mow) and stated that some deer had been killed and left in the area.
The Board approved its official minutes for June 4 and June 11 meetings.
In order to be on the record, Mr. Oeste quickly opened a hearing for Emma Builders, at which he announced that the matter would be continued to 7/2/01.
The matter of the Assisted Living Facility requested by Mr. and Mrs. Altemose was opened for testimony. Patrick Duffy, P.E., of Wilkenson and Associates, Valley Forge, PA, stated for the record his experience has not been in assisted living facilities, but he has participated in the creation of two retirement communities in New Jersey. His testimony covered engineering aspects of the White Horse Road property along with location of the steep slope areas. Special consideration was given to a previously constructed man-made slope and a roadway which was created with a base of stones and cover of asphalt, not restricted under ordinances, both of which can be taken out at the owners’ discretion. He discussed the merits of the storm basins to control water runoff and save the wetlands and some surrounding areas from flooding. Berms containing plantings and trees will be constructed on the property along White Horse and Ashenfelter to shield the view of the buildings and grounds. He stated some trees may need to be removed to provide good site distance at the entrance, and a possible acceleration and deceleration lane may be installed. (PennDOT approval would be required.) Per the present plan, impervious surfaces on the property do not exceed the 20% allowed by ordinance.
In a cross-examination, Attorney Bender (for the Planning Commission) ascertained that the witness was hired around September of 2000 and had reviewed the plans drawn by Architectural Concepts (which are different than the present plans). Also, Mr. Bender ascertained from Attorney Ryan that additional witnesses would provide testimony for traffic, sewer, land planning, assisted living management, and a completion of the design testimony started at an earlier hearing. The witness testified further that there would be no grading on natural steep slope area, but some grading will be done on the man-made slope for the building and berms.) In regard to the retention basins, major storms (5, 10, 50 or 100 yr.) would produce overflow from the basin which would follow the contours of the land – as it presently does in heavy rain – to the creek or to the culverts. A two-year storm would fill the basin but not overflow it.
The building height will be 35 feet (4 stories) with elevation in the front having entry on the first floor, and in the back, on the lower (ground) floor via the parking garage. The buildings from end to end would have a elevation change of 30 feet, necessitating some retaining walls.
Cross-examination by Mr. Kun (party to action) of White Horse Road, asked about the capacity of the basins and whether it would limit water run off and erosion on White Horse. The response was that a 100-yr storm would flood the existing culvert. Testimony revealed the width of the roads into the facility would be 24 feet wide.
Mrs. Fay of Ashenfelter Road (Now & Then Farm) stated that the stream running between the subject property and hers was protected by a Conservation Trust which protects the quality of the stream. The witness responded to her inquiry that the closest building is 500 feet to the nearest part of the wetlands, and the parking area is more than 700 feet from the stream.
The witness testified that six buildings are planned, with interconnections, atriums and gazebos. Parking will be provided for 1875 vehicles. The question of what is represented by a “Unit” (person, bed, or living unit) will be settled though future testimony.
Mr. Monjelewski testified next as to the design of the facility. He said one parking space per unit is the industry standard, but in this country setting half of that number would be the new standard. He stated that the present marketplace calls for one-bedroom units for majority of the users, who are single people. Transportation would be provided by the facility for those residents who are mobile.
Floor plans were discussed. First floor would have common areas such as medical, dining, recreation, commercial space, etc. Second, third and fourth floors would be residential areas with nursing facilities, medical treatment areas, activity rooms. The interior atrium areas would have a glass roof.
There are some existing buildings on the property that will be used possibly for large meeting space, dining areas, medical residential areas, administrative use, recreational space. In response to the consistency of use in the area, he responded the consistency is residential use; and he felt that no detrimental effects would result upon surrounding area. The berms and plantings along with 150 foot set back would protect the viewshed on White Horse and Ashenfelter by hiding the buildings. 24-hour security would be present at the facility. The design of the building would be after a country manor house with peaked roofs and broken facades. At 10:15 p.m. the decision was made to defer additional testimony to the July 16 meeting of Supervisors.
The next item was a hearing in regard to a proposed amendment to the Charlestown Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. Mr. Oeste reviewed items of record. Mr. Theurkauf summarized the purpose, which is to mitigate impact of development by requirement for major developers to set aside land for recreational use or pay the township a fee in lieu thereof. A change in wording was requested by Mr. Oeste changing “lot” to “dwelling unit” -- referring to the requirement that 5/100ths of an acre (2178 sq.ft.) be the amount set aside for recreation for each “dwelling unit”. The fee would be additional to any others required by ordinance. Concern arose that small builders may find it easier/cheaper to pay the money rather than give the land. Mr. Theurkauf advised that in the case of paying the fee, the money would go toward development for township parks or other recreational endeavors. Some discussion arose about collection of the fee at time of sale of the lot, but the proposed ordinance deals with fee or property at the time of the actual subdivision. The 5/100 acre figure was drawn from similar ordinances in the region; Uwchlan Township being one that has a similar program. This proposal will be reworked for the July 16 hearing before the Supervisors.
A draft letter concerning the Horse Shoe Trail was approved for use. Motion was passed to use Liquid fuel funds for resurfacing expenses.
The bids received for the stone and bituminous work were opened, with Independence being the winner of both contracts. Figures received from various bidders were:
Stone Bituminous
$18,150 $52,680
$ 8,406 $52,625
$10,725 $42,150
Brightside Farm Management was discussed. A need to have someone watch over and make immediate improvements to the property resulted in the board asking Mark Connelly to list items to be done and his recommendation of person(s) to do the work. Estimates will be obtained for over-all clean up of the house. Motion was passed that on 8/1 a decision will be made as to having a tenant on the property.
Meeting adjourned 11:34 p.m.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson
Wednesday, June 13, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
June 4, 2001
This meeting was called to order by the Chairman, Hugh Willig, at 7:40 p.m. at the Charlestown Elementary School since the Middle School was not available. A notice of the change was posted to the "www.charlestown.org" website on June 4.
In attendance were Chairman, Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Mike Rodgers, Irene Ewald. Also present were Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq., and Linda Csete.
An announcement was made by Mr. Kuhn that he attended a Regional Planning Meeting in Birchrunville with the goal of attaining cooperation from the surrounding municipalities. The current task is to develop a Memorandum of Understanding. There was representation from the Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce and discussion covered the Phoenix Steel site and issues in the townships.
Citizens' Forum - Bill Hochwind, of Lindsay Lane, requested that the Board consider extending his building permit for longer than the regulation 1-year period for his building conversion.
Citizens' Forum - Mark Melso asked about the possibility of a police force for the Township in view of recent burglaries and attempted burglaries in his vicinity. The response from the Board stated that Townwatch has been effective, and the number of incidents in the Township have been low compared to other townships. Cost of implementing a force is also a consideration. The township is covered by the State Police, who have a "mutual aid agreement" with surrounding forces in case help is needed.
The Board's 5/21/01 Minutes were approved. The Accounts Payable matters were tabled until later in the meeting due to some questions. Treasurer Report of 5/1 to 5/31 was approved.
Reports: Zoning Officer: Valley Hill and 401 - The traffic light is progressing. A meeting is scheduled with PennDOT. Light will be blinking yellow for a few days, then go to full operation. Regarding Coldstream Road, the requested 35-mph speed signs must be put in place by township personnel. PennDOT will require a study before approving a left-turn lane on Route 29. Stop signs for Newcomen and 401 are in the works, and a permit is expected soon from PennDOT. Hugh Willig inquired about the status of the proposed ordinance to prevent Charlestown Mill from being demolished and Mr. Kohli answered that he has received this for review. There is still no plan of action in regard to the Volpi house.
Planning Commission: The Commission reviewed Lot 18 at Commons at Great Valley. The Saddlebrook plan has been improved. The 5/22 public meeting regarding the Comprehensive Plan was successful with residents taking an interest in the Plan.
Historic: Charles Phillips reported that he is pleased to see the issues with the Mill and the Volpi house addressed. He stated that the Municipal Planning Code should contain references to historic buildings, per County recommendation.
Roadmaster: Mr. Faggioli reported that Bell Circle work is underway. Mr. Philips urged that the vegetation at Hollow and Charlestown be trimmed to allow better sight of oncoming traffic, and the Board stated PennDOT will be contacted.
Fire Marshall: A quick report was given covering May activity. EOC is looking for members, and training sessions have been conducted regarding weapons of mass destruction.
Parks & Recreation: Mr. Hogan asked permission to burn a pile of refuse, but the fire marshal advised chipping the material instead. A suggestion to use this refuse as an opportunity for fireman's training would require DEP approval. Mr. Hogan reported that, on the Pyle Farm, a gate and boulders were put in place and a path was weedwacked to the springhouse. Regarding Charlestown Park, the drain under Township Line Road has been flushed with water. Mr. Theurkauf presented his draft letter for use in notifying area residents about the possible new lighting for the soccer field at Charlestown Park. After discussion and review, the Board voted to finalize and send this draft to residents.
Valley Forge Sewer Authority: Mr. Rodgers reported that there was no quorum at the last meeting. However, news was that a settlement has been reached on the McAvoy property, which he reports is less costly than if the matter had gone to court hearing.
Turnpike Citizens' Action Committee: Mr. Philips reports that requests have been made for alternatives and traffic studies. Mr. Kuhn said that a meeting between Tredyffrin, East Whiteland, Schuylkill, and Charlestown is desired to discuss the turnpike slip ramp situation.
Rapps Run Drive - Mr. Kuhn expressed objection to the Township's accepting this road due to the agreements reached by the prior Board of Supervisors and the fact that the road is not to proper specifications. No wording was in the original agreements leading to eventual dedication; and, therefore, it is believed the road was not originally planned to be dedicated. This road reportedly is curbed for the first 552 feet leaving 448 feet uncurbed. The plan of dedication was not submitted previously due to ongoing home construction, which is now finished, and all eight homeowners have agreed to the dedication. The reasons given for turning the road over is time- consuming paperwork to maintain road through the Federal tax office, snow plowing, general maintenance. A motion of the Board to accept the road received no seconds; while a motion to not accept was seconded.
Emma Builders conditional use approval: Mr. Kohli requested that the applicant minimize disturbance on the road, minimize the steep driveway, and stabilize the turnaround area near the house. No further action was taken to combine the driveway with the existing neighbor's driveway where the grade is flatter. However, if existing driveway already serves three properties, the Board would have to rule on its additional use. Clarification was made as to the original Birch subdivision land and that this property was not part of it, but was owned by S. Pilotti. Mr. Dave Bideman, of Commonwealth Engineers, appearing on behalf of the applicant, presented some changes to the plan, including changes to the turnaround near the house. Mr. Oeste began to close the hearing and the record, but Mrs. Ewald requested an executive session of the Board before the record is closed. The matter was continued to June 18.
Saddlebrook Conditional Use matter was continued to July 2, 2001; and Spring Lane Farms was continued to July 16, 2001.
Stoudt Sewer Facility Planning Module - Resolution #578 of 2001 was adopted by Board.
Blackberry Lane - Discussion ensued over the previous contractor's work and current work done to alleviate the problem. Mr. Kohli explained the intricate work involved. Previously, a pipe was installed without knowledge that Blackberry Lane would be widened to pass over it. The pipe was not surrounded with stones as would be required, but was surrounded with dirt, which was not fully compacted. Now, tunneling has occurred which has weakened the road surface, requiring repairs to be made along several hundred feet of the pipeline. The bill of $18,000 was approved for payment.
Peake's Pike costs were reviewed to clarify the work performed and estimates received. The confusion arose when the $4000 base repair work was included with the current bill of $10,000. The Board discussed providing the Roadmaster with a clearer scope of roadwork desired in order to have more accurate estimates and a better understanding of work that is to be done on each road project. Mrs. Ewald suggested the use of the Township Road book to view road specs and previous projects, which may help facilitate the forming of current requests.
Future paving was discussed for F Street and 5th Avenues, for which an estimate is required in order to divide cost among the owners. Bell Circle will be paved within the week, with an advisory letter sent to those residents.
The Board agreed to do one road at a time, not going to the next road, until the bills are in.
The Accounts Payable, tabled earlier, was approved.
Barretts Tree Service is the contractor for all township tree work, and the $25,000 performance bond amount was approved by the Board.
The township insurance policy renewal premium has been billed at the last minute for a year's period. A 25% increase was noted, due to additional coverage requested. Mr. Kuhn suggested quarterly payments of this bill along with quarterly renewals. Mrs. Ewald cautioned against changing the status quo and insurance carrier at this time.
Deerfield (Genterra Corp.) Extension was denied due to the fact no letter was received (as promised by applicant) requesting an extension.
Alternate member for Zoning Hearing Board: Michael Bowell, of Bodine Road, was interviewed for this position and was approved for the position.
Adjournment at 10:10 pm
The next business meeting is set for June 18, 2001, at 7:30 p.m. at Great Valley Middle School.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson.
Tuesday, June 12, 2001
Charlestown Township
Special Meeting
June 11, 2001
I attended last night's special meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission. This was the kick-off meeting for the "visioning" process for Brightside Farm (also called the Pyle Farm), the Township owned 75 acre farm on Yellow Springs Road. At this point our government officials are open to any and all suggestions as to how the property should be used, as long as it remains essentially rural open space.
Note: If you are not already familiar with Brightside Farm, its history and the many issues discussed since acquisition by the Township was proposed in 1999, check out our Brightside Farm section of this web site. Click Brightside Farmon our Home page to access informaton on the property.
Given the size of the property, its topography and its many buildings, it is very likely that it will be a multi-use facility. Many of the suggestions were similar to those presented at similar meetings in the Fall of 1999. They are summarized below -
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - A portion of the property would be devoted to a shareholder based business whereby a resident farmer would grow produce to be distributed to shareholders. Shareholders pay for their shares at the beginning of the growing season, thus ensuring an income for the farmer, and then receive produce from the harvest in proportion to their share holdings. Typically the food is organically grown. While the shareholders assume the risk of an adverse growing season due to weather, etc., they also receive high quality locally grown produce and help preserve the open space represented by the farm. Several of the speakers on CSA are operators of CSAs in our area. We have several links to information on CSA's in our Brightside Farm section begun in 1999.
     
  • Equestrian Center - This is somewhat less well defined at this point, but the main emphasis was on facilities for the Pickering Hunt Pony Club. Primarily an instructional organization for youngsters, the Pony Club use had many supporters at the meeting, and its requirements are relatively modest. The primary facility would be a riding ring, preferably covered, though not necessarily closed on the sides. Some storage space would be required in one of the existing outbuildings. The ring would be used for instruction and practice during the week and events on some weekends.
     
  • The Greater Pennsylvania Military Vehicle Historical Society (??), currently based in Phoenixville on the edge of the Christian College, requested use of the dairy barn for storage of their vehicles as well as a place to work on restoration of military vehicles.
     
  • Similarly, the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) requested the same space for storage and restoration of antique automobiles.
     
  • Many other possible uses were mentioned but not discussed in detail
Other proposals were offered for management of the property, both near term assessment and rehabilitation or demolition of structures as well as long term management of the property and the Township's contracts with organizations using the property.
The discussions included the extent to which various uses might provide a revenue stream for the Township to help defray the costs of maintenance of the farm and how the uses would benefit Township residents as well as members of surrounding communities through educational, cultural and social activities. Existing and new trails on the property as well as its close proximity to the Horseshoe Trail were discussed in the context of both riding and walking.
The date and agenda for the next public meeting to discuss Brightside Farm was not determined, but between now and then work will be done to secure the property as well as assess the condition and historical significance of the buildings. Simultaneously, our government continues to solicit suggestions and proposals for use of the property. The supervisors indicated that it would be appropriate to post written proposals from individuals and organizations to this web site so our residents can see what is being proposed and to comment or make further suggestions. If you have suggestions or comments regarding the vision for Brightside Farm, you may submit them directly to the Township Secretary and/or to brightside@charlestown.org
Friday, June 1, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
May 21, 2001
This meeting came to order in the Library of the Great Valley Middle School. These notes start about ten minutes into the meeting due to the last minute room change.
Emma Builders came before the Board with their proposal of a single family home on Lot 6 of their plot on Blackberry Lane. A presentation was given by Mr. Bideman of Commonwealth Engineers. The 2.2 acre site slopes up from Blackberry to a ridge contains steep slope areas. Approximately half the property is steep or very steep slope. The proposed driveway was situated to avoid steep slope area. The land changes in elevation by twelve feet across the front of the property. Storm water facilities are underground. Fifty-five trees covered by township ordinance (6" or larger) will be removed, with 55 new trees lining the driveway and surrounding the home. The Planning Commission representative present asked that a tree conservation plan be developed for this property.
The Board asked if this was part of the Birch subdivision, and the answer was that this is part, with the other parts located to the north and west, but it does not include the two properties directly west. Supervisor Hugh Willig inquired if the driveway could be incorporated with the private driveway to the west of the site using a lesser slope. However, Mr. Bideman reported no inquiry has been made to the neighbors in that regard. Mrs. Ewald asked to review the storm water management plan. Water will flow into three areas: the base of the driveway, the swale along side of the driveway, and into a seepage bed in the yard. Water around the house will go to a second seepage bed. All the collected water in these areas will be recharged to the ground supplies. Mr. Theurkauf of Tom Comitta's office, consultant to the township, testified that he reviewed the plan and would like to see a tree conservation agreement. He felt no further development should be permitted in the steep and very steep slope areas since there will be 1.4 acres in front and 1.4 acres in back that will be unrestricted ground which could be used for any improvements. Slopes presently provide habitat for wildlife and vegetation and he feels these should be left intact. He is also concerned with storm water impact which would change if any development was done on the steep and very steep slopes. Upon questioning, Mr. Theurkauf responded he also did not contact the neighbor regarding tying in the driveways. Mr. Oeste asked Mr. Emma if an amount could be placed in escrow to cover any damage done to newly paved Blackberry Lane. This hearing is continued to June 4, 2001.
The hearing of Genterra Corporation for the Saddlebrook development is continued to June 4, 2001.
Next hearing was the matter of the Altemose conditional use application for building of an assisted living facility. Interested persons admitted as parties to the action were G. Michael Main and attorney Mr. DiBello, Saul and Neila Kun, and The French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust. A request for party status by Joseph & Betsy Fay (not present) was not approved this evening, but they may request the same at a later hearing.
Joseph P. Ryan, Esq., an associate of Altemoses' attorney Joseph A. Ryan, presented a copy of the letter sent to adjoining landowners notifying them of this hearing, and stated that some of the return receipts were not sent back by those neighbors. Mr. Ryan briefly reviewed the history of the case. Mr. Ted Monjulewski, architect, described the plan specifications in relation to ordinance requirements. Parking is provided for 1875 vehicles, comprised of 1613 underground, 104 between buildings, 80 employee, and 78 community spaces. Public water and sewer are planned. The total area of impervious surface is less than allowed by ordinance. The buildings will be 35 feet high. Main entrance will be off White Horse Road with a guard house and card entry. The entire property will be fenced with landscape buffering along Ashenfelter and White Horse. A walking trail is planned around the state-of-the-facility containing natural light atriums and courtyards. The two buildings will have approximately 800,000 to 900,000 square feet of space. The community buildings will be used for medical, maintenance, and recreational uses. Facility will have a shuttle transfer for residents who may leave site for shopping, etc. There will be space for group dining, complete kitchens, craft rooms, movies, offices, medical personnel, recreation, gift shops, etc. The concept was compared to a resort hotel or a cruise ship environment. The nursing beds will be in semi-private rooms. There will also be 1 or 2 bedroom apartments, some of which wll not contain kitchens, deferring to the safety concerns for the elderly residents. This matter is continued to June 18 where there will be allotted one and one-half hours.
Stoudt Builders Final Subdivision Plan. In question were the outstanding restrictive covenant, maintenance agreement for driveway, licensing agreement, a fee in lieu of the trees that will not be replaced, and the additional trees that must be removed for PennDOT permit. Mr. Oeste advised that this plan be approved provided that agreement be reached on the above matters.
Mr. Hogan suggested that the Board decide if night games were desirable at Charlestown Park. Mrs. Ewald is not in favor of the new 80' lights and referred to them as the "Vet Stadium" lights, which would impact the neighbors quality of life and property values. Mr. Theurkauf suggested buffering at ground level to hide the ground activity. The present contract calls for existing park lights to be out at 10 PM. Mr. Kuhn asked for a decision from the Parks & Rec Board, and Mr. Willig asked that residents in the area be notified of the plan before any decision is made, and that a neutral party such as Mr. Theurkauf draft the notification letter for Board approval.
PennDOT will be contacted for recommendations regarding Coldstream Road guardrail near the park.
Mr. Hogan reported the Charlestown Park trails will be paved by July 4.
Agenda item under old business is awarding of the tree maintenance contract. Barrett was approved subject to receiving clarification on a certain item.
Mr. Hogan asked the board for reimbursement of his expenses for work he performed on trees on Sycamore Lane.
Agenda item: Review Road Paving Estimates and directions to the Roadmaster resulted in a recommendation of paving for Bells Circle and a notation that Bodine Road should be considered. Howells and Valley Hill are also under consideration. Mrs. Ewald suggested paving Township Line between East Pikeland line and Coldstream.
Brightside Farm (Pyle farm) Board discussed placing a gate or post & rail fence on the farm to restrict entry to the farm buildings. Hugh Willig suggested a wire fence, which would not be visible from a distance. No decision was made on seeding since topsoil is required on the property first. Plastic covering will be removed from the vegetable gardens. House needs professional inspection regarding habitability. Surender Kohli will recommend an agency to determine cost to bring to habitable condition. Also, the cost of demolition will be sought. The house is reported to have no historical significance and is in poor shape. Numbers for priority will be assigned by Mr. Hogan to the house, barn and various outbuildings in order of importance and value.
Commons at Great Valley Escrow Releases were approved.
Board addressed a complaint regarding dobermans running loose in the vicinity of Marian Road. The owner has refused to control the dogs and will now receive a letter of warning.
Any items on tonight's agenda not addressed will be handled at the next meeting.
In regard to Union Hill and Rees Road, additional complaints have been received regarding traffic, but Board wants to hold off on further discussion until after the lights are working at 401 and Valley Hill Road. The plan being contemplated includes a "no left turn" sign on Rt. 29 at Union Hill to prevent morning commuter traffic on Union Hill/ Rees. This will require PennDOT approval since the sign will be on Route 29.
Three candidates will be interviewed for the Zoning Hearing Board alternate position.
Adjourned at 11:30 p.m.
The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be on June 4, 2001 at the Great Valley Middle School.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson.
 
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