Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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News posted during July 2001

Thursday, July 19, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
July 16, 2001
In attendance were Chairman Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Irene Ewald, Paul Hogan (Supervisor Mike Rodgers was absent). Also present were Leah Campion, Surender Kohli, and Tom Oeste, Esq.
The meeting came to order at 7:34 at the request of the Chairman. Announcements from the Board were as follows. Mr. Hogan advised that paving of the walking trail at Charlestown Park is finished at eight feet wide. Reports are that many residents are using it daily. He also announced that a bridge railing will be replaced with a long-lasting, man-made material called "Trek" in order to avoid deterioration and splinters. Mr. Kuhn reported that he and Mr. Willig attended a regional meeting of townships, which included representation from Schuylkill, West Vincent, Charlestown, East Vincent, Spring City, Phoenixville Borough, and Limerick. He did not say what business what discussed at this meeting. Mrs. Ewald spoke of her attendance at the recent reception at Moore Hall in Phoenixville, sponsored by French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust, who has purchased a buffer of land around the historic house separating it from the surrounding development. Mr. Willig announced that Bodine Road paving has been completed.
Citizens' Forum brought forth G. Michael Main, who reviewed his recent request of the Board to approve minor changes in the Declaration of Covenants of White Horse Meadows in order to protect the viewshed. Mr. Oeste relayed information that he had spoken to an affected resident who was unable to be present at the meeting tonight. The changes to the Declaration would prevent plantings in specific areas where the viewshed would become hidden. This view has been declared a "designated scenic area" and should be protected. Mr. Kohli advised that the landowner in question is in the process of landscaping his lot, so this matter has some urgency. Mr. Altemose, who was present at this meeting remarked that Mr. Main had cleared many trees from the area, exposing the viewshed, and now wishes to prevent any trees from being replaced there. The Board did not rule at this time to allow the residents in the issue to speak.
The Board approved its official minutes of the July 2 meeting, noting a minor correction in wording.
Mr. Kronenberg's request to place a structure on his property was approved after additional drawings showing watershed information was presented.
Genterra Corporation's application for Saddlebrook was not heard due to the applicant's request for continuance to September 10, 2001.
Application of Mr. Altemose for an Assisted Living facility was not heard due to inability of witnesses to appear this evening, and the matter was continued to August 20, 2001.
The Board began discussion of the proposed ordinance for a fee to be paid in lieu of setting aside recreational space. Mr. Theurkauf presented his adjustments, as requested by the Board at the last meeting, covering when the fee would become due, acreage requirements, and the fee schedule. A statement was included indicating that a waiver could be granted if the subdivision is for conservation or estate planning purposes. Mr. Phillips reminded the Board that there is wisdom in levying the proposed fee at the time of subdivision and not at the time of application for building permit. The Board left the matter at a fee of $2500 per unit, or per 2500 sq. ft. of floor area if not residential, and that this ordinance could be reviewed annually. (Ordinance #96-01)
The Board stated it received a formal application for demolition of the old mill on the former Bachman property in Charlestown, which it can deny, approve, or require improvements. The Historic Commission will be asked to review the matter.
Great Valley Nature Center's request for donation from the township was denied, but the Board thought that offering a donation to the Nature Center in return for work done on the trail leading to the Pickering bridge was acceptable; and a letter proposing this approach will be sent.
Escrow Release No. 3 for the Commons @ Great Valley was tabled.
The Board discussed several roads that needed paving now or soon in the future, including some streets around Charlestown Park, Valley Hill Road, and a portion of Pickering Road. PMYC has offered to make a donation toward the parking lot at Charlestown Park. The amount of funds expended to date is a concern, and the board wished to review the figures before deciding on paving projects.
The Ice Dam on Route 29 is being endangered by trees and a team of board members and Mark Connolly, Mr. Foster and Mike Churchill was considered to view the problem and recommend which trees need removal. A letter requesting help will be sent to Messrs. Foster and Churchill.
The turnpike has offered topsoil and mixed fill, and Mr. Hogan suggested using some of the material to fill potholes on the roads in Brightside farm. Mrs. Ewald suggested that some additional soil be put along the bank at Yellow Springs Road where seeding will be done.
Soccer Field Lighting survey from Mark Connolly was presented. The most problematic area was a corner of the soccer field where the light points toward Township Line Road in the direction of two residences. A different fixture may be required to cut the spill and/or glare. Mr. Theurkauf asked for more information to get an idea of the actual amount of spill and whether it could be controlled by plantings. Mr. Connolly agreed that screening with plants would help at various areas around the field. Mrs. Ewald asked for the amount which is projected to be the annual electric bill for operation and maintenance of the proposed lights, or at least the present amount being paid for the current lighting by the Soccer Club. Mr. Connolly stated that the club, if unable to pay this amount, would have to look to the township for help. Some discussion resulted about the club charging other clubs a fee for using the field/lights to help offset the costs, but Mrs. Ewald thought this practice may be a violation of Federal rules under which the land was granted to the township. She asked to see the contract between the club and the township to review the issues. PECO has stated a willingness to upgrade the transformer near the snack bar to handle the proposed lights and snack bar electricity. It is generally felt that usage of the field will increase with the improvements. Mr. Connolly suggested that the matter be held open until representatives of the Soccer Club could address the Board. Mr. Theurkauf requested a photometric plan from the supplier of the lighting but was advised by Mr. Connolly that this could be expensive. The board did not rule on this matter; however, Mrs. Ewald admitted to being opposed to the proposal for these lights.
Mr. Connolly requested the board's approval of the creation of a tree plan for the park areas where reforestation is planned.
Mrs. Ewald suggested that the trail at Charlestown Park be dedicated to Bill and Ruth Buckwalter.
An executive session will be held on 7/23 to review open issues.
Adjourned 10:31.
The next business meeting of the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for August 6, 2001 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson.
Wednesday, July 11, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
July 2, 2001
Meeting was called to order at 7:30 by Chairman, Hugh Willig. Two supervisors, Irene Ewald and Mike Rodgers, were not present. Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, and Paul Hogan were present along with Linda Csete, Tom Oeste, Esq., and Surender Kohli.
Early in the meeting a discussion arose regarding water drainage from the park to a resident’s property on Township Line Road through a culvert which flooded in heavy rain. This resident was concerned that new parking areas, if constructed at the Park, would make matters worse. He offered old photos and explanation of the pipes and grading previously done by the Military Hospital . The Supervisors agreed to address the issue in the event it became a serious problem in the future.
The Board approved its official minutes for the June 18 meeting. Accounts Payable for July 2 for the General and State funds were approved after discussion of the bill submitted for tree work, some of which should have been the responsibility of the homeowners along the roads. The Treasurers’ Report for June was approved.
Reports:
Zoning: The traffic light at Route 401and Valley Hill Road was activated with flashing yellow lights this week. A flashing overhead signal for Newcomen Road is under consideration, but West Pikeland will have to agree to its installation.
Mr. Kohli reported that there has not been a response so far to the letter sent to (the owner) Mrs. Bumeder regarding the future of the old mill in Charlestown.
Historic: The commission met on June 19 at the Pyle Farm. Architect Dale Frens submitted a proposal to the Historic Commission for conducting an investigation into the farm buildings and possible uses. The Historic Commission asked to add a member to its roster, proposing Fran Rogers; and a motion was made and approved by the Board.
Fire Marshall: June activity included two fires and six motor vehicle accidents in the township. Fred Alston explained a new program where his emergency response office will be receiving new computer monitors for record keeping and general notifications, which will run off a central computer located remotely. This is a test program which could be implemented on a larger scale. Looking forward to the holiday, he warned everyone that fireworks are illegal in the township unless handled by a licensed pyrotechnician. In regard to the revised ordinance, the document has been completed by Mr. Oeste and is under review by Mr. Alston and the fire chiefs.
Parks: Paul Hogan reported that black topping of the Charlestown Park trails is almost complete, and a Park drainage problem will be addressed by Melchiorre on July 3. A correction in the reviewing and reporting of the Stone and Bituminous bids was noted. A figure was incorrectly reported upon opening of the bids. Glasgow had a low bid of $7,537.50 and will be awarded a contract, while the other bid will go to Independence.
Mr. Oeste announced that the official record and the conditional use hearing for Emma Builders are now closed.
The Board opened its discussion of the proposed new lights on the Charlestown Park soccer field. Mark Connolly advised that the present lighting with four 35-foot poles is inadequate for night games. This lighting was installed in 1982. The proposed lights would be taller and brighter, but would mitigate the spill of light off the field and the glare. Soccer games extend to Thanksgiving and beyond, and he felt that more teams from the area would ask to play on the improved fields in competition events. Also, in the fall when light faded at an earlier hour, the teams would be practicing under lights. Present practice ends at 10:00 PM, according to ordinance. The field would have to be managed well in order to preserve the grass, and heavier play schedules would tend to wear out the field sooner.
The high school-aged group plays in the evenings. Mr. Connolly noted that football and field hockey are played on their own Charlestown Park fields under lights. A representative from the lighting company explained the principles of spill and glare, stating the taller the pole, the less glare since the light is aimed downward. Possible pole heights are 60 feet and 75 feet, with the cost rising dramatically when the pole is more than 60 feet high. Mr. Theurkauf, land use consultant, added that a buffer of vegetation at the street would help hide the poles and lights. PECO has been consulted, stating that electric service could be installed on a pad near the snack bar and run underground, serving both the snack bar and the field lights.
Mr. Connolly made a suggestion that the Soccer Club could raise money to cover electric usage by charging outside teams for use of the field. A new speaker system could cut down on the noise coming from the park.
In the financial area, Chester County grant funds which are left over after paying for the master site plan and trail improvements would be used to defray costs. Present estimates for electric service, light poles and installation is approximately $100,000. The Soccer Club has about $65,000 to put toward that amount, and their money must be used by the end of the year per the grant rules. The township and the soccer club would have to fund the difference.
It was noted that the township would have to address height issues in the ordinances, and it was found that the present lights do not conform to current ordinances. Mr. Connolly asked that the poles be no higher than 60 feet to ease the financial burden. Statistics on 60-foot high poles will be submitted to the Board. Mr. Willig asked that the matter be voted upon at the next meeting when all supervisors will be present.
A height demonstration using balloons will be conducted on July 14 at 9:00 AM (rain date 7/15).
Late Spring Developers presented more information and asked for approval of their preliminary / final land development plan to build a 43,000 square foot office building at the corner of Phoenixville Pike and Spring Mill Lane. The land they plan to use is a portion of parking lot purchased from another entity who operates an office building in the same vicinity. The Board ruled that parking space must be added to the original office building’s parking lot in order to keep it within bounds of the ordinances. The “Lot 1” owner will be contacted and asked to sign an agreement to this effect. Parking may not have to be added at this point but provision for it must be made. Late Spring will not be held responsible for installation of the additional parking for Lot 1. With this provision in mind, the Board approved Late Spring’s plan.
The Board moved the hearing on White Horse Meadows Declarations and Covenants to the next meeting, since they just received the written information today.
Linda Csete will arrange to attend the Pennsylvania Local Government Secretaries Annual Conference in August.
The Board opened discussion on the vision of Brightside Farm. Mr. Theurkauf felt that present plans are more conceptual in nature and simply state the things that could be done. Brainstorming and analysis of the ideas raised could form a more formal plan for presentation to the public, planning commission, and the Board.
Mr. Connolly urged the Board to record the information discussed and decisions made toward final outcome in order to facilitate grant writing. To this end, Mr. Theurkauf clarified this by stating there could be three distinct areas in such a document: public input of ideas, site analysis and evaluation of the input, and recording of the decisions. He will draw up a document to summarize the vision process suggested.
The Board discussed roles and who would be involved in evaluation and decisions. The existing committees who would be involved are Parks and Recreation, Open Space Commission, Historic Commission, and the Charlestown Historic Society (the owner of Wisner-Rapp House) on adjacent property. Mr. Connolly suggested that a person from each of the groups be assigned to form a core group to make the smaller decisions involved and formal recommendations to the Board, his feeling being that this would simplify matters for the Board and also help to keep the focus of the project. The Board briefly considered a press release to the local papers announcing any public meetings to be held.
The Board agreed to assign a committee to decide details regarding the immediate stabilization of structures on the Pyle Farm.
A proposal was handed to the Board by a candidate, giving his qualifications to act as Coordinator for Brightside Farm.
On a new matter, Hugh Willig stated the Board had received a letter from Great Valley Nature Center requesting a donation from the township of $2500 towards the improvements to the flower garden in honor of George Reed. The matter was tabled at this time.
The Escrow Releases for the Michael Allen subdivision and the Commons at Great Valley were approved.
In new business, the Board reported a complaint from a resident over another residents’ ownership of six guinea hens. This issue is regarded as a “pre-existing, non-conforming use” and will be allowed.
Meeting adjourned at 10:46 PM
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson.
The next business meeting for the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for July 16, 2001 at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
 
 
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