Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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Established June 2, 1997
by citizens for citizens

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March 16, 1998

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News for July and August, 1999

Wednesday, August 11, 1999  (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors
Monday, August 2, 1999
7:45 PM to 12:00 Midnight
Charlestown Elementary School
Attendance: Linda Csete, Secretary, Irene Ewald, John Sauser, Robert Wert, Supervisors and James McErlane, Esq. Surender Kohli was absent due to vacation.
The meeting was called to order and the Pledge of Allegiance recited by all in attendance.
Announcements by Mr. Sauser concerned the Great Valley and the County Commissioners declaration of drought emergency which requires that water be used for essential uses only and a ban on burning is being enforced. A second announcement concerned a brief information session held on July 21 by two (2) Township Board Members and the Roadmaster to discuss contracts.
The first Citizens Forum resulted in no topics brought up for discussion.
Bill Reynolds of the Environmental Conservation Advisors (ECA) of Chadds Ford, PA made a presentation regarding guidance on ways to address environmental issues. ECA is a for-profit corporation dedicated to land planning. ECA has been meeting with various township boards in Chester County. The message ECA promotes is that land ownership is important and owners need to learn methods of conservation. ECA is focusing on the supervisory level since they are most knowledgeable about issues in the area. Development is inevitable, but planning is important. The supervisors must be familiar with 1) What do the residents values. If open space, know what they would be willing to do to preserve it. 2) Know the land-Develop a series of base maps that depict lots, density, developed areas, zoning, water resources, protected lands, soil, agricultural lands, historical lands, etc. 3) Know the landowner-the landowners need help understanding what is available to them and the supervisors should promote personal relationships with the landowners in the area.
The supervisors thanked Mr. Reynolds and addressed briefly ECA's selection of Charlestown and the conservation situation existing in Charlestown Township.
Minutes of July 12 were reviewed and approved with minor corrections noted. Treasurers Report of July 1999 was approved along with the Accounts Payable report of 8/2/99 although a vote in opposition was registered by Mrs. Ewald on the basis of a more that $21,000 bill submitted by Mr. Rittenbaugh, the current road contractor, for road work which she felt was excessive.
No Zoning Officer report since Mr. Kohli is on vacation. Mrs. Ewald asked to review in September the traffic signals proposed for Route 401 at Valley Hill Road and 401 at Newcomen Roads. Planning Commission report was received and Michael Churchill offered to answer any regarding it. Historical Commission report was submitted by Fred Alston. As a supplement he indicated that a chemical spill of 90% methylene chloride occurred at 383 Phoenixville Pike (between Sidley and Spring Mill Lane) on Sunday but was not discovered until Monday. Most of the spill evaporated inside the building. EPA was called in for remediation. He also announced that some wells have dried up and the creeks are down due to the drought conditions, and strongly encouraged water conservation. The Emergency Center conducted drills in preparation for the major September drill. Parks and Recreation submitted their report. Mr. Sauser called for the NC Zoning Ordinance Amendment Hearing but it was postponed until later in the evening since Mr. McErlane had not arrived yet.
In regard to a temporary zoning officer, Mr. Kepner (assistant to Mr. Kohli) was appointed to serve only in Mr. Kohli's absence.
Mr. Sauser reported he had received telephone communication from a Ms. Hampton of the Turnpike Commission in regard to the Citizens Advisory Committee. She required the names of people nominated to serve by Charlestown Township. She further stated these names would be given to Key Management Strategies, Inc. who would then interview and select possible candidates for the committee. Mr. Sauser objected to this plan and requested the definite number of people who would be accepted from Charlestown Township for this Committee. He noted that no communication was received from the Turnpike Commission since April 1999 however a letter from the Director of Marketing (received just this Friday) requested 25 names total of which Charlestown could have four or five parties on the Advisory committee. Mr. Wert noted that a description of Key Management said they were an organizational firm involved in public involvement and facilitation of transportation issues. Both Mr. Wert and Mrs. Ewald suggested this matter by referred to counsel for response since Charlestown should be a major contributor of people since it is the most involved in the slip ramp issue.
Discussion was held regarding the ordinance for advertising and approval of changes to private driveway and road names for 911 purposes and how to streamline this task. Mr. Sauser thought that this could be grouped and done once a year. The particular name change now on the table was deferred to the September meeting if the proposed name is deemed unacceptable by the Fire Marshall.
The N-C Zoning Ordinance Amendment Hearing was called. The list of Exhibits was reviewed and witness Edward Theurkauf, of Tom Committa Associates was sworn. The matter involved an NC2 (Neighborhood Commercial site) at the Commons at Great Valley on Morehall Road. The hearing is to request that originally approved office space be redesigned as flex space since office space is 4 parking spaces per 1000 s/f, while flex (warehouse) space is 1 parking space per 1000 s/f. Mrs. Ewald suggested that they provide the maximum parking area for 4 spaces per 1000 s/f at this time, even if it is not all paved immediately, so further changes in the use of the space will already have the additional parking spaces provided. Mr. Churchill of the Planning Commission stated that they would need to provide sufficient parking spaces for maximum use, even if not paved and suggested a change in the percentages of use to accommodate maximum parking "up front" and asked them not to allow the developer to provide minimum parking in the plans.
A representative of Timberlade Homes Division of Commons of Great Valley reported that they have provided two (2) plans 1)Flex; 2)Converted to Office Space. Flex space provides large areas for trucks to load/unload at the warehouses.
The Ordinance Amendment hearing in question was continued to September 13th..
The Great Valley School District Subdivision Conditions of Approval. James Unruh, Esquire stated that the School Board does not want conditions that would diminish ability to sell or price of the lot. What would the Township ask in regard to maintenance of the stream on the property? Mr. Sauser responded that he hoped subsequent landowners would not "overcut" the property, but let it grow somewhat naturally along a buffer area that could be defined. Mrs. Ewald asked that questions be posed for the Board's later response after consideration. Mr. Unruh proposed that the School Board work out a maintenance program for the stream area. It was stated that the township ordinance provides for 50 feet on either side of a water way as a flood plain. Mr. Unruh asked about the nondisturbance area. The township would respond to this later. The original request by a resident was that the area not be over maintained and allowed to grow naturally. Mr. Unruh suggested 15 feet to either side of the stream.
Regarding the conditions of maintaining the facade of the Pyle buildings, the School Board felt this would present limitations and/or restrictions to buyers and private property rights would be affected.
The Supervisors asked Mrs. Baldwin for the historical survey done by the School Board, but only the Historical Commission has done a survey. The house is reportedly built around 1809. No ordinance requiring facade easement exists, but Charlestown has something to that effect. Mr. Sauser added that an asset to this matter is that the buildings haven't changed in about 200 years. The Township is working on an ordinance.
GVSD got an environmental study performed - not an historical study. The School District questions use of the 20 foot easement requirement along Yellow Springs Road. With regard to the easement, the School District is concerned with liability and damages that would be suggested from use by horses. Mrs. Ewald stressed that equestrian use is highly desirable and valued in the area and horses have always walked the edge of the property.
15 minute recess for an Executive Session of the Board of Supervisors
Mr. Sauser suggested that the township engineers come and look over the various proposals for the property in question and deal with the respective counsels. Mr. Wert suggested a split rail fence to delineate the easement along the road for public/horse access.
Open Space Plan - Yellow Springs Road - Proposed Use -- A suggestion that this matter be discussed in conjunction with the Charlestown Farm Committee matter.
Brightside Farm (Pyle Property) was presented as one of the five township areas where there is a precious view and efforts to save that view were underfoot. Sam Cantrell, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) of Ludwigs Corner, proposed a CSA for the Pyle Farm. He discussed the fact that the farmer would have a secure market and would be paid by shareholders. Organic agriculture is favored. Under capitalizaion is a problem. Land tenure issues must be addressed to protect any property.
Mrs. Ewald asked Ms. Jones of the School Board if a formal education program could be set up based on the CSA. Mrs. Jones responded that the school has many programs set up already.
Mr. Cantrell continued that initial investment runs around $20,000 and provides a very small profit for the farmer. Minimum acreage is 10-15 acres planted and 25 acres cultivated for compost crops such as hay. The Kimberton CSA grows veggies and chickens with rotation of crops and chickens each year with the added benefit of egg projection. Start up the first year is difficult, requiring storage sheds distribution, greenhouses, irrigation system, a chicken house requiring grants and loans. One farmer full time is required and he may need help from interns or volunteers. The CSA could also have education personnel. If an equestrian center is installed, a grounds keeper would be needed.
The equestrian center proposal was presented by Ms. Reynolds of the Pony Club. Pony Club lessons for children are either free or $10.00.
Dog Shows and events would be possible and would serve the greater area in restaurant and hotel business. They also clean up afterward and have daylight-only shows that do not produce excessive noise.
Township reported it would look into this but is concerned about uses, expenses, and revenues, along with the impact upon the residents. Mr. Sauser feels township does not have a community center and would go with what the community wants. He feels that Charlestown Park is associated more with Phoenixville and their residents rather than Charlestown. He advocated informing the public and getting feedback as to what they would like.
The agenda issue of the Master Park Plan was discussed briefly as to costs involved.
Omnipoint matter on the agenda is still in discussion with counsel as to a settlement.
Road Bids - This was discussed as to when work would be put to bid and the manner of advertising the bidding. Bidders must be "certified" to bid on State Contracts. The issue of "Certified" PennDOT contracting was questioned, and Mrs. Ewald advised she would like the right to reject bids. Mr. Sauser suggested that a question be added to the Township bid solicitation from requesting the certification status of the bidder. After some discussion it was determined that "certified PennDOT contracting" referred to the fact that bidders must be certified by Pennsylvania to bid on a state contract.
Mr. Sauser requested that he be permitted to attend at Township expense of $5.00 the conference on impact of white tailed deer, September 24 to 26, in Harrisburg. He also requested funds to attend the National Association of Township Supervisors National Conference in Washington D.C., on September 8 to 10, at an unknown cost at this time.
Mrs. Baldwin stated that draft #5 of the historical ordinance is under way at this time by Tom Comitta and a map is required because of renumbering of all historic sites in the township. This is taking some time. The Township offered help to accomplish this if needed. Mrs. Baldwin said a survey was sent and 59 percent response were in favor and 3 opposed to having an ordinance.
The next meeting will be held on September 13, 1999.
Amid protest that the meeting was running exceptionally late, it was adjourned at Midnight.
 
Tuesday, August 3, 1999  (From Jacob Merriwether, Webmaster)
Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors
Monday, August 2, 1999
The August meeting of the Board of Supervisors was called to order at 7:40 pm by chairman John Sauser. Mr. Wert was in attendance. Member Mrs. Ewald and Solicitor Mr. McElrane arrived later at 7:50 pm and 8:45 pm respectively. Township Engineer and Zoning Officer Surender Kohli was not in attendance. There was a relatively large turnout of residents and presenters.
In the Announcements, Mr. Sauser noted the dual drought emergencies in effect from the state and the county, and the ban on burning.
Bill Reynolds, from Conservation Advisors, gave a presentation on an approach to open space management at the township level. Mr. Reynolds emphasized the importance of knowing the Township residents' values with regard to open space, knowing the land itself (he presented many maps of Pocopson Township as examples), and knowing the Township's major land owners and providing them with useful information. He emphasized that the supervisors themselves must get to know the land owners, their goals and their needs, noting that developers are very good at cultivating these relationships. He gave an example of a family farm being sold off in Pocopson.
Approvals: The minutes of the prior meeting (2:1), the July Budget (unanimous) and the Accounts Payable report (2:1) were approved with some revisions and comments.
The usual committee reports were received. The Fire Marshal report is available by clicking here. Fire Marshal Fred Alston said there are already wells running dry in Charlestown and urged residents to use the minimum amount of water, including the avoidance of watering flowers.
James Koepner was appointed Temporary Zoning Officer to serve when Township Zoning Officer Surender Kohli is unavailable.
Mr. Sauser reported on correspondence and conversations with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission concerning the Citizens Advisory Committee being set up by the Commission. The Turnpike Commission wants to treat Charlestown's representatives as "nominees" to be evaluated by the firm Key Management Strategies, Inc. before being formally accepted on the Committee. It is unclear how many members Charlestown will have on the Committee, but at present it appears to be four or five on a committee of about 25 members. It was agreed that Charlestown is appointing actual appointees, not nominees, and that we should have at least five and preferably more than five members on the committee, as we are most affected by the slip ramp.
There was discussion of streamlining the process of naming new private drives in the Township. The process involves working with the local fire companies and currently requires a separate amendment in order to create each new name.
The hearing on the N-C Zoning Ordinance Amendment began at 8:50 with a presentation by Edward Theurkauf, a land planner from Thomas Committa Associates. The amendment pertains to the area near Devault bounded by Route 29 and Phoenixville Pike. The amendment provides for the creation of "flex space" which allows a given building to have varying proportions of office space to warehouse space. Most of the discussion concerned the requirement that sufficient parking space be provided should the warehouse space in a building be converted to office space. The amendment was continued to the September meeting pending the receipt of the report on the amendment from the Chester County Planning Commission.
The discussion of the Great Valley Subdivision of their portion of the former Pyle Property on Yellow Springs Road began at 9:13 pm. Attorney Russ Unruh, Engineer Bob Plusnick and Superintendent Dr. Jones were in attendance representing the School District. Mr. Unruh sought clarification of the three easements required by the Township at the last meeting. The School District appears willing to accept some form of flood plain easement once the exact size of the flood plain and wording is agreed upon. This easement would be designed to prevent unnecessary maintenance of the flood plain to allow vegetation and wildlife to flourish along the (sometimes) stream bed. The School District objects to the imposing of a facade easement on the original Pyle farm house and barn. The house is thought to have been constructed in 1809. Regarding an easement to provide for a public "trail" parallel and immediately adjacent to Yellow Springs Road, the School District especially objects to the use of such a trail by horses and expressed concern that horses might get onto and damage the playing fields.
The Board recessed to an executive session from 9:40 pm to 10:23 pm. On returning, Mr. Sauser indicated the Board would like the Township and School District engineers to meet and work out appropriate language for the flood plain easement. The Township will drop its requirement for a facade easement on the farm house and barn, but may be in a position to impose such an easement on a future owner, pending completion of a revision to the Township's ordinance governing historic properties. On the easement for a trail, the Township again suggested the Township and School District engineers meet and work on a solution. Several people pointed out that horseback riding and horse trails are a long standing activity and tradition in Charlestown and that riding can be controlled via fencing to keep the activity on the trail, and off the playing fields.

The following material was supplemented at the meeting by a newsletter handed out by the new "Charlestown Farm Committee". I have reproduced the text of that newsletter in its entirety and you may read it by clicking here.
The discussion of possible uses of the former Pyle property to be sold by the School District began about 10:30 pm. Mark Connolly, representing the "Charlestown Farm Committee", and several others presented information on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms as well as possible services and facilities in support of equestrian activities. Mr. Connolly passed out a newsletter pertaining to the discussion. Mr. Connolly emphasized that the view shed from the top of Yellow Springs Road facing west is one of only five views in our Township that are spectacular and still unspoiled by development. He said the goal of their studies into possible uses of the Pyle property is to preserve this view.
Mr. Sam Cantrell, who operates a three year old CSA at Ludwigs Corner and Mr. Bob Elmer, who operates a 13 year old CSA in Kimberton, spoke on what is involved in establishing, operating and supporting a CSA. Both gentlemen noted the great response from their respective communities to the farms and the waiting list to become members and thus able to purchase the produce of the farms. Under-capitalization and lack of facilities for low cost intern labor were emphasized as problem areas for CSAs.
Alix Coleman spoke on the possible use of the former Pyle farm as an equestrian center. The property (possibly including the existing Township fields bordering the intersection of Yellow Springs and Hollow Roads), could provide for riding rings, horse shows, and riding clinics. A representative of the Pickering Hunt Pony Club spoke about the Pony Club and how it could use the farm and possibly situate its facilities there. In addition to horse shows, there was also discussion of the use of the property for dog shows by area kennel clubs and other events and as a community center that would draw visitors from well beyond the Charlestown borders of Charlestown.
It was noted that a neighbor of the portion of the former Pyle property to be sold has expressed an interest in purchasing a portion of the western end of the property and would agree to an easement preventing future development of that portion of the property.
The discussion concluded with the Board approving funding for a more advanced study to pin down the specifics of the various possible uses as well as define the costs and economic feasibility and neighborhood impact of such activities. A survey of Township residents regarding the alternative uses is also planned.
The Master Site Plan for the Charlestown Park was discussed and certain expenses were approved.
The meeting adjourned at midnight.
Tuesday, July 13, 1999  (From Jacob Merriwether, Webmaster)
Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors
Monday, July 12, 1999
The first meeting of the Board of Supervisors for July was called to order at 7:49 PM. All supervisors as well as Township Zoning Officer and Engineer Surender Kohli and Township Solicitor James McErlane were present.
Mr. Sauser announced that the Board held an executive session on July 1 to discuss litigation issues. Mrs. Ewald and Township Secretary Linda Csete both expressed remembrances of former Township Secretary Ruth Buckwalter, who passed away June 22nd. John Sauser proposed a living memorial be created in honor of Ruth Buckwalter. Mrs. Ewald reported on the awards presented by the Township at the 25th Anniversary Party of the Great Valley Nature Center.
The minutes of the June 7 meeting were approved with a minor amendment. Accounts payable were approved with the exception of several invoices which were withheld pending discussion with the contractor. The exception invoices concerned the repaving of Wells Road, the cost of which was considerably above that expected by the Board. There was also discussion of higher than normal cost of mowing and weed wacking the Township's roads.
Mrs. Ewald asked if there was any news on the traffic lights previously requested for the Route 401 and Valley Hill Road and the Route 401 and Newcomen Road intersections. There was also a question as to the grooving of Coldstream and Pikeland roads in sections associated with recent accidents in the rain. Mr. Kohli will follow up on each of these queries.
Janet Baldwin and the Historic Commission received approval to spend $2,000 of the cemetery fund for the restoration and repositioning of the grave stone for Dr. Kennedy at the Revolutionary War Cemetery on Yellow Springs Road.
Township Fire Marshal Fred Alston reported that there is not yet a ban on burning but one is likely soon from the County Commissioners. Similarly, the declaration of a drought emergency situation is likely in the near future.
The Base Map Proposal, Park Master Plan Proposal and the discussion of potential uses of the Yellow Springs Road Open Space were tabled until the next meeting. The proposed upgrade of the Route 29 light to 4-Way Emergency Preemption was approved. The proposed amendment to the N-C Zoning Ordinance will be advertised and a public hearing will be held on the amendment at the August 2nd meeting.
The Great Valley School District's subdivision plan for the District's portion of the former Pyle property on Yellow Springs Road was discussed. District Supervisor Dr. Rita Jones and three school board members were present, expressing concern that approval be granted soon. After approximately an hour of discussion, including a 15 minute executive session, the plan was unanimously approved provided three conditions were met. The conditions were -
  • The creation of a flood hazard district for the new property line, which coincides with an intermittent stream that traverses the property. The goal of this condition is to permit the area around the stream to develop natural growth, providing a wild life habitat and eventual screening along the property line.

  • The application of a facade easement to the Pyle farm house and original barn so as to ensure these early 19th century structures are preserved without significant external modifications in the future.

  • A 20' wide easement roughly parallel to Yellow Springs road for a possible future hiking path.
In Other Business, requests for subdivisions by residents on Sycamore Lane were referred to the Zoning Hearing Board.
A question was raised as to what is being done in the vicinity of the Route 401 and Newcomen Road intersection. Mr. Kohli indicated that there is a sewer study in progress there involving surveying and soil testing. These tests require the removal of underbrush.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:37 PM. The next meeting is August 2, 1999.

Continued in Archives


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