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Past news of events in and around Charlestown
|News posted during August 2000
Wednesday, August 30, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
August 24, 2000
Present for the Township was Irene Ewald, Chairman; Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers and Paul Hogan, Supervisors; Surender Kohli, and Tom Oeste, Esq..
This special meeting was called to order by the Chairman Irene Ewald at 7:40 P.M., who announced that a brief executive meeting regarding legal matters had been held earlier in the evening.
An announcement was made by Mr. Hogan regarding Charlestown Park. However, Mr. Hogan was barely audible, and I am in the second row!
Citizens' Forum for Non-Agenda Items:
Ellen Behrle appeared before the Board to give the opposite side of the Myers easement problem. She explained in some detail about the requirement of a right of way from the Moses property and then through her property to the Myers' land. The layout of the roads is that Moses Way runs from Sycamore to the Van Brundt property. Mrs. Behrle reported that one way of getting through would be to cut down a 75-year old pine tree and relocate utility lines and a pole. This would create a road around the barn at an estimated cost of $15,000, which would then result in an approximate 75-foot long road close to, and parallel by "2 feet" with, the existing road. The Myers apparently were given the option of paying $10,000 instead of the estimated $15,000 and not having to do the above. She advised that the property is deed restricted to allow only one house on Moses Way. She felt the negotiations thus far were basically to create a right of way down Sycamore to the Behrle property. Discussions included using the Van Brundt driveway and then go around the Behrle garage. She described an ongoing problem with water runoff, which washes out Moses Way, necessitating new stones frequently. The Myers have asserted that they have title insurance on the easement but have not revealed the name of the title company. Mrs. Behrle stated that she and her husband, along with the Moses, wish to settle, not litigate, the matter. The zoning board apparently has conditionally approved the variance based on providing proof that an easement exists to the property. This matter was taken into advisement by the Board for a decision on a later date.
The Toll Bros Charlestown Meadows matter was called for additional testimony. Mr. Theurkauf was recalled for cross-examination. Mr. Bender asked a series of questions about the hypothetical maximum density of 3.5 units per acre, and the witness responded that he thought apartments would have to be built to achieve it. Maximum 50% apartments are allowed. The amount of open space and calculations were reviewed.
Whether the construction of retaining walls (at the steep slopes) would infringe on open space was not clear to the witness without first seeing a plan.
The present ordinance would allow the Board of Supervisors to approve tree removal, and Mr. Theurkauf considered this to be reasonable.
Mr. Schubert questioned the standard of tree removal and inquired if it was subjective on behalf of the Board. Mr. Theurkauf felt that each mature tree removed should be replaced. However, Mr. Schubert stated that the wording is "may" rather than "shall." Mr. Theurkauf commented that one-for-one replacement might not always be possible.
The next witness for Toll Bros was Ray Gamble , a builder and developer and V.P. and Regional Manager for Toll Bros for two years. Mr. Gamble stated that the owner of the subject site is Conestoga Associates, L.P., a/k/a Conestoga Partners, and that the agreement of sale signed by Mr. Gamble for Toll Brothers is still in effect today. Conestoga Partners is obligated to sell the property to Toll. Conestoga must seek approval for a PRD development and the obligation of Toll to purchase the property is contingent upon all zoning and other approvals being in place. The proposed location for Charlestown Meadows was chosen because it is a growth area with good location near transportation corridors (Route 401), convenient to shopping, business, and other amenities. Zoning was favorable to the type and size of development and utilities were available. The surrounding uses are residential.
Per Mr. Gamble, the units will be carriage units (attached townhouse units). Similar communities in the area would be Daylesford Lake and Blue Bell Country Club. Units will have approximately 2500 sq. ft. with First Floor Master bedrooms available. The price would be plus or minus $250,000. Units would be owned "fee simple" with the balance of the community falling under the homeowners' association. A recreation center will have a pool, cabana, etc. Marketing is to "empty nesters and move down buyers" due to the maintenance free nature.
Three photos of representative homes were displayed (Exh. A101) representing: 1) typical view of three carriage homes with stone and stucco; 2) an end view showing homes of stone, stucco and siding; 3) a view of three carriage homes. Groupings would be two homes or three homes with the majority being four-unit buildings. Setbacks would vary from 43 feet to 100 feet with an average of 50 feet, and the differences are intentional for aesthetics. A list showing lot numbers and driveway lengths was presented to show variances in the length. A plan showing set back of 30 to 60 feet, and a "relative set back" pertaining to the building's shape varied from 4 to 16 feet. The witness had the opinion that there was sufficient architectural interest for the marketplace, countering Mr. Theurkauf's assertion that the units were too uniform in design, materials and set back.
With regard to placement of the recreation center, Mr. Gamble found no adverse effect with placement near Route 401. He agreed that additional buffering would be possible if required by the Board of Supervisors along Route 401 and along Windom Lane if it met with "tenant approval."
William Kay was stated to be a partner in Conestoga Partners, but the witness either did not know or would not say how many partners are involved.
Mr. Bender challenged the report of the title company that Conestoga Partners has title to the property, since the settlement on the property has not yet occurred and no title report has been filed. When asked if conditions could occur that would void the agreement, Mr. Gamble felt that no such problems would arise. Mr. Schubert advised the Board that Toll Bros has established its standing to pursue this matter.
Mr. Gamble responded to a question by Mr. Bender that the proposal to offer carriage homes is the application (before the Board). Further questions centered on what other types of homes were permitted under the parameters of the zoning ordinance. Mr. Gamble responded that other types allowed by ordinance are irrelevant since Toll wants to build carriage homes, and he did not elaborate on what types of homes were possible.
The subject of front facing and side entry garages arose. Per the witness, side entry garages are built "occasionally." He thought there were none at Daylesford, but Blue Bell Country Club might have some. Criteria used to determine the garage location is market demand, grading of the lot, curb appeal, marketplace rating. Mr. Bender inquired whether it might be more site-specific than marketplace, and the witness responded that topography, grading and other things could determine it. He continued that none were planned at Charlestown Meadows due to no "heavy demand," steep topography, the distance between units, and also that it is generally accepted practice to have front garage entrances. Mr. Gamble felt that very few units could accommodate a side entry garage due to the topography and distance between the buildings. He added that increasing the distance between buildings would work against "PRD Goals." In response to more questions, he added that fewer units may make it possible. When pressed for a percentage of how many could be side entry, he said 20% was not a good figure but he could not give an exact figure. None were planned. He felt that the units have sufficient architectural interest with front entry garages.
When asked about location of the rec center, he knew it was clustered in one area but now the tennis courts are across the road from the pool. He added that in another community (not originally by Toll) the pool and tennis courts were across the street from the clubhouse and this has been successful. He thought changes in the rec center and other changes were made to satisfy comments from township consultants, or maybe the basin was enlarged necessitating a move.
Mr. Bender offered that since the residents enjoy the benefits of the rec center, shouldn't they also bear the detrimental effects? The witness answered that additional buffering could be done if it met with "tenant approval" and was required by the Board of Supervisors.
Concerning the streets, Mr. Gamble responded that they will be private with possible parking on the streets. When asked, he did not know the proposed internal street widths.
The parties were invited to ask questions. Mr. Skerchock asked if it would be reasonable if as a condition of approval Toll buffered Windom, Route 401, and Parking A, and the response was "yes." Parking A was established to be on Jonathon Drive on the curve at the wooded area. Another question inquired whether Toll would consider reasonable as a condition of approval relocating Jonathan Drive to the west along Newcomen so it would not "square" with the street on the opposite side of Newcomen. The witness felt that the goal was to have "square" intersections but would refer the question to his traffic expert.
Mr. Boekell presented several questions regarding water service, such who is supplying it, where it is coming from and who will "own" the lines through the development. Answers were it is from Philadelphia Suburban Water and would possibly run down Newcomen and PSW would own all lines through the development. Water pressure questions were referred to PSW.
The witness stated that the final lighting plan has not been determined.
Another party asked how old "empty nesters" were thought to be, and the answer was generally 40 and up. Toll's reputation was queried, to which the witness stated that its reputation is "well-run" and "profitable" company. Inquiry arose regarding what studies are performed, and Mr. Gamble responded competition studies. Interests of empty nesters was pursued and the witness thought that the attractions would include the "beautiful Charlestown area," golf, etc. He added that gates were not planned, nor were age restrictions. Unusual pets are restricted.
Another resident asked in rambling fashion questions regarding the assumption of .4 children per unit. The impact related questions were referred to Mr. Babbit.
Mrs. Eby voiced concern that the appearance of the back of the units would include backyard junk and sheds, but the witness said that this area is "open space" and the items are not an accepted use. There would be some buffering of the view, and that certain standards have been established regarding architectural standards and these would regulate.
Mr. Nimerfroh brought up information that Mr. Kay had met with neighbors to discuss things years ago, but Mr. Schubert objected to this question. The witness stated he was not aware if this had happened.
A resident questioned Toll's possible contributions to the fire company, and the witness said he knew of none, nor did he know whether it was a requirement.
The subject of setbacks arose, and Mr. Gamble offered that layouts of other Toll communities are substantially different (than Charlestown Meadows) but the setbacks, etc., are similar. Whether homes are mixed in style at Blue Bell resulted in a yes, but no developments have all carriage homes. Comparison was attempted with Charlestown Oaks, and the witness stated that the similarity is they are multi-family units but many differences exist. Supervisor
Rodgers offered that 20% of buyers so far are "empty nesters."
The appearance of Charlestown Meadows was reviewed and the witness felt that enough architectural considerations and building materials would give good visual appeal.
Per Mr. Gamble, statistics on buyers in the development are not generally available after sales are finished, and he admitted that over time the community's demographics could change.
In response to a question regarding the party walls, they will be in compliance with township regulations.
Concerning Blue Bell, Mrs. Ewald inquired what percentage of the golf course is part of the community and the answer was that the course is privately owned, resulting in 0% to the community. Mrs. Ewald asked if Charlestown Meadows had provisions for a baby pool and tot lots, to which Mr. Gamble responded they have not been finalized but are under consideration.
Mr. Bender inquired as to what is the first criteria considered in a development such as this one? Mr. Gamble responded that competitive communities are the first to determine what "sells."
The witness agreed that "mixed housing" is permitted under PRD (single family, townhouse, and apartments), and that financial.???ects may have helped to decide what will be proposed.
Mr. David Babbit, land planner with 11 years' experience, appeared for Toll. He has prepared two environmental impact reports thus far regarding Charlestown Meadows. They are actually two documents: an Environmental Impact Assessment Report and PRD documentation in compliance with the zoning ordinance.
One-half hour was taken to review the report's sections and the information each covered. He reviewed his method for determining fiscal impact, which involved consulting several books and studies. Another half-hour was taken to go over the rigorous steps and qualifications for forming the financial assumptions. He gave a detailed review of costs related to units and clubhouse including taxes, revenue and expense. He stated that 420 people are expected to occupy the development, including 79 school-aged children (69 going to GV schools). The projection includes a figure of 0.4 children per unit. Mention was made that they expect 2.2 persons per unit x 191 homes. The 2.2 person figure is taken from the Blue Bell Country Club carriage houses. Townhouses were rated at 2.07 persons per unit; and 3.05 was for single family homes. Survey of 3 bedroom townhouses in the N.E. United States produces 0.4151 school-aged children per home. He felt 79 was too high, considering the result at other communities, e.g., Willistown Woods with 238 units and 30 school-aged children.
Mr. Babbit also reviewed Charlestown's budget and the figures he employed in his analysis. Ongoing maintenance and costs were used, but not "one time" capital expenditures that are not carried as ongoing expense (such as the traffic light expense and the cost of the Pyle farm).
This matter was continued to August 28, 2000 at 7:30 p.m. at the Valley Forge Christian College.
The meeting adjourned at 11:15 p.m.
NEXT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING TO HEAR TOLL BROS. TESTIMONY WILL BE AUGUST 28, 2000.
Wednesday, August 30, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
August 21, 2000
Present for the Township was Irene Ewald, Chairman; Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers and Paul Hogan, Supervisors; Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq., and Linda Csete.
This meeting was called to order by Chairman Irene Ewald at 7:40 P.M., who announced that two executive meetings had been held, one on 8/14 to discuss a personnel matter and the other on August 17 regarding a legal matter.
Citizens' Forum for Non-Agenda Items: Steve and Christine Myers appeared through their attorney to ask the Board to authorize the issuance of a building permit. The Myers' had been in negotiations with residents along Sycamore Lane and Moses Way to work out problems with obtaining easements for passage to and from their property but obstacles have arisen. The applicants have made various offers to limit the number of lots on their eight-acre property, reroute the driveway, share driveway maintenance, deed restrict their property, and avoid using an existing easement. However, the applicants have been asked to pay $10,000 to establish an easement around the existing barn/garage. Myers feel that their (alleged) existing easement is sufficient. The Board recessed to discuss the issue and, upon return, Mr. Oeste requested an extension until August 28 when a decision would be rendered. Myers and their attorney recessed to consider this request and later informed the Board they would agree to the extension, but would not agree to any decision that included conditions that required them to pay for a right of way.
The Board approved its Minutes from the August 14, 2000, meeting.
Brooklands preliminary subdivision plan (Bodine Road) - There were no representatives present on behalf of General Residential Properties who filed the application. The Board considered that the preliminary plan was filed in 1999 with a revision in May 2000, and that letters regarding deficiencies and recommendations from Thomas Comitta's office were sent to the applicant. The Board voted 4 to 0 to deny the application with recommendation that Mr. Panizza work with the Planning Commission. (Supervisor Hugh Willig was not present for the vote)
Stoudt Subdivision conditional use - Mr. Oeste advised that, since so much time has passed since this matter was last heard that the applicant should renotify adjacent property owners by regular mail of the next hearing. Fronefield Crawford, Esq., representing the applicant, called Adam Brower as a witness. The witness showed a drawing the site and explained that the property in question is located on the south side of Merlin Road and designated Farm/Residential with about one-half of it in steep slope. About 10 acres is to be divided into three lots (91,694 sq. ft., 104,239 sq. ft., and 130,810 sq. ft.) each to have a dwelling. with a minimum net lot size of about 80,000 feet. Slopes were designated 5.17 acres of steep and 2.08 acres of very steep. No disturbance is anticipated for the very steep land. Water would be controlled via underground drain fields and connections to the sanitary sewer system. Applicants first planned three driveways, but are considering a driveway to lot 3 and a shared drive for lots 1 and 2. Two-tiered retaining walls are planned for behind the houses on the slope. Since septic systems cannot be located on slopes they have been planned for the front portion of the lots. The set back of the houses has been "heavily discussed" between the Planning Commission, Mr. Kohli, and the applicant, with the result being minimized impact of the homes upon the neighbors. This matter will be continued on September 18, 2000.
At this point, Mr. Willig arrived from the Great Valley School Board meeting with the news that the School Board has signed the offer from Charlestown Township regarding purchase of the 55-acre Pyle property on Yellow Springs Road.
The next matter on the agenda concerned the conditional use request of Pebble Pools to build a swimming pool in the Three Ponds Development in an area of steep slope. After being sworn, the witness (from Pebble Pools) distributed a revised plan to the Board and presented copies of letters sent to the adjacent property owners notifying them of this hearing. Mrs. Ewald requested the date that the plan was filed, and this information will be supplied. Upon Mr. Oeste's inquiry, it was discovered that none of the adjacent property owners were in attendance. According to the witness, the owners of the property wish to build a pool with retaining walls and landscaping, the plan for which has been approved by Mr. Comitta's office and by Mr. Kohli. Mrs. Ewald asked if the deed was filed with the plan, due to some deed restrictions on properties in this area. However, Mr. Kohli stated that the restrictions would not apply in this section of property since it does not go beyond the point where the deed restrictions start. (Restrictions imposed are meant to protect the trees on the slope.) This matter will continue on August 28, 2000.
The next matter involved the continued hearing on the curative amendment application for Mr. Altemose. Mr. Oeste entered into the record two letters regarding reconvening the hearing on 8/21, as well as the Chester County Planning Commission Report and the Municipal Planning Code. Gary Bender, Esq., representing the Planning Commission, called the Township's witness, Tom Comitta, president of Thomas Comitta, Inc. land planners, of West Chester. Since 1973, Mr. Comitta has worked as a certified planner in Chester County, has prepared ordinances addressing senior housing and health facilities, and has worked on many senior housing projects. He presented a list of different types of senior housing ranging from active adult to continuing care and gave brief descriptions of some of the types, including life care or a continuing-care retirement community, which combines the full range of residents from active to those with serious health problems.
He stated that Charlestown Township has a facility (Heritage Acres) which is a licensed, 24-bed assisted living and personal care facility at Mary Hill and Coldstream Roads in an R-1 zoning on less than 3 acres. Under present ordinances, four categories can support "convalescent homes" - Farm/Residential, R-1, NC-1, I-Institutional. Mr. Comitta agreed that the term "assisted living" would fall under the definition of "convalescent home," and he recommended that the ordinance be expanded to add the modern terminology and adjust the acreage to better reflect the current trends of lot size for such facilities. He felt that 10 acres or more should require public water and sewer and commented that the current proposed plan (from Mr. Altemose) does not reflect typical trends of building arrangement for the aged, e.g., centering the core services/facilities/administration and linking the residential areas so the older folks do not have to walk long distances.
Mr. Ryan, attorney for Mr. Altemose, questioned the witness regarding whether assisted living fits under the definition of convalescent home. Mr. Comitta replied yes, and that this is permitted in Charlestown Township, so the project would be permitted in a Farm/Residential district as a conditional use. The existence of I-institutional land in the township was questioned, and Mr. Comitta said that land of the Valley Forge Christian College is I-institutional. The witness recalled that applicants have come before the Board of Supervisors to apply for an assisted living project; however, to date, agreements have not been reached between the applicants and the VFCC.
Mr. Ryan posed questions regarding a chart prepared by Mr. Comitta for the Planning Commission. Some information called for on the chart had not been filled in, and several versions of this chart were found to be in existence. The reason some blanks were not filled in, per Mr. Comitta, was that if an ordinance did not give specific numbers or information, he left the space blank. After discussion of versions, Mr. Ryan asked that the actual version presented to the Planning Commission by Mr. Comitta be the one submitted to the record.
Mr. Ryan then asked Mr. Comitta to state whether it is fair to say that the proposed ordinance from Mr. Altemose meets or exceeds all requirements of the present ordinance. The witness replied no, and the reason centered on impervious percentages in regard to the building coverage of the lot. However, the impervious, buildings and acreage meets or exceeds the impervious requirement for R-1. The witness stated that the Altemose tract is 58 acres. Retail space is allowed by the ordinance as an accessory use, but the witness felt that 10% is "not reasonable." He suggested 2% of total space; and that the NC-1 district could handle 10% with "no problem." Ratio of parking was discussed. Mr. Comitta recommended 1 space for every 3 beds plus enough parking for the greatest shift of employment. This matter was continued to September 18, 2000, when one hour will be allocated.
The Toll Bros Charlestown Meadows project was called for hearing. The scheduling of further hearings was discussed, and August 24 and 28 were designated with further hearings on August 29, 30 and 31, if necessary, to complete the testimony within the allotted time. Toll Bros has not granted an extension of time to the Board. Mr. Theurkauf was the witness at the last hearing and his cross-examination would be continued tonight. Mr. Schubert questioned Mr. Theurkauf's findings regarding the grading and open space and what actions would be necessary to return the "deleted" open space. Density was discussed with Mr. Schubert offering a hypothetical allowable maximum density of about 268 units for the site (79 acres at 3.5 units per acre).
Proposed tree removal was discussed, and the witness added that it is desirable to preserve as many trees as possible. Grading in the open space was also discussed, and cut and fill was determined to be allowable there. The witness explained that he did not consider work to be "cut and fill" when planting trees if the grade if the land is not changed in the process. Concerning the walking trails, Mr. Theurkauf thought they were not well planned, but Mr. Schubert reminded him that they were based on existing trails found on the site. Mr. Theurkauf thought that the design trail could be improved with gentle curves without the removal of many additional trees and branches. Mr. Schubert asked if there is any mandatory requirement for tree preservation and replacement, to which Mr. Bender interjected stating one 3" tree for every 6" tree removed. Mr. Schubert asked whether there was any reason that Toll could not provide more trees, to which Mr. Theurkauf offered suggestions of adding more trees to the streets, placing some in the basins as natural habitats, and changing some open space to treed areas.
Best Management Practices, regarding watershed, are not mentioned in the present ordinance since it predates the DEP terminology. Regarding the basins, the witness recommended more "high tech" methods to facilitate the purpose of the basin, but this is not an ordinance requirement. He advised that if trees were placed in the basin, the basin would have to be resized to accommodate water. When questioned on this, Mr. Theurkauf stated that basins planted as wetlands then become a design issue.
The treatment of the steep slopes was questioned and the witness stated that they do not have much impact upon the property. However, he felt that building efforts would bring disturbance. Mr. Schubert reminded him that no encroachment is shown on the proposed plan, nor would the Township allow it. The witness thought that if setbacks and units were positioned further from the slopes, the result would be protection of the slope but conflicts with automobiles and parking spaces.
About tree planting, Mr. Theurkauf said he calculated road frontage on both sides of the street. The applicable tree ordinance was read into the record, which calls for a tree every fifty feet. Whether it meant on one side or on both sides was up for question, and Mr. Schubert considered the wording ambiguous. The witness agreed that the driveways along the street would pose a problem in tree placement.
Mr. Schubert then asked about the witness's finding that parking lots do not meet requirements and asked if they could be redesigned in order to comply. Mr. Theurkauf suggested that some landscaping would help, but "parking A" needs a redesign. Mr. Schubert suggested that if the spaces closest to the street in parking A were removed would this work? Mr. Theurkauf thought it would.
With regard to the proposed landscaping along Route 401, Mr. Schubert stated that it needs to be an effective screen, the sufficiency of which would be determined by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Theurkauf suggested additional screening.
The rec center, if centrally located, per the witness, would be a design consideration that would benefit the residents of Charlestown Meadows. He was concerned about the noise factor being imposed upon the Wodarski property adjacent to the site. He felt that if the Charlestown Meadows residents were to have the enjoyment of the facility, they should also bear the less favorable.???ects as well. However, Mr. Schubert stated that the ordinance does not state exactly where the rec center should be located and the witness agreed.
The appearance of the proposed units was reviewed. Mr. Theurkauf felt that too much uniformity in appearance and building set back would make the community undesirable visually. Mr. Schubert asked where the ordinance stated that the proposed units could not be done by Toll.
Mr. Theurkauf said that the zoning ordinance requires that parking areas be illuminated safely to the satisfaction of the Board of Supervisors and that plans are reviewed by a lighting consultant for Comitta and Assoc. He suggested that Toll could engineer this.???ect to comply.
Concerning an environmental impact assessment report, Mr. Schubert asked if any issues would create a situation for denial of the plan. Per Mr. Theurkauf, the applicant is required to disclose the impact of development. Mr. Bender objected to this question due to its requiring a legal conclusion from his witness.
Mr. Theurkauf raised questions regarding assumptions and methodology used in the cost calculations of Mr. Babbitt and felt all costs were not considered. Impact upon schools was not clear to the witness in the projection of 2.5 residents and .4 children per unit. Per the New Practitioner's Guide, impact of townhouses is found to be lower than that of single family homes, but no impact is stated for carriage homes.
Since the time was close to 11:30 p. m., this hearing was continued to Thursday, August 24, at 7:30 p.m.
Under Other Business:
Mr. Rodgers suggested that the Board extend the contract for stone and bituminous materials to June 30, 2000. The Board agreed.
This meeting was adjourned at 11:30 p.m.
THE NEXT HEARING OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL BE AUGUST 24, 2000, AT THE VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE, MEMORIAL CHAPEL, FOR PURPOSE OF HEARING ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY IN THE TOLL BROS. MATTER.
Sunday, August 20, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
August 14, 2000
Present for the Township were Irene Ewald, Chairman, Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers and Paul Hogan, Supervisors, Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq., and Linda Csete.
This meeting was called to order by Irene Ewald at 7:45 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel of the Valley Forge Christian College.
Announcements by Mike Rodgers: (1) Hollow Road between Yellow Springs and Pikeland Road will be 35 mph and between Pikeland and State Road (Route 29) will be 30 mph. Signs will be posted next week. The speed reductions were enacted by PennDOT; and, (2) In obtaining the acquisition grant for Charlestown Park, requirement is that the property be deed restricted as park and open space. The grant will allow continued use as recreational and open space. The present institutional zoning will be changed to reflect zoning for parkland.
No topics were raised at the Citizens' Forum for Non-agenda Items.
The Board approved the official township Minutes of their August 7, 2000, meeting.
James McErlane, Esq., Township Solicitor, opened the hearing for Toll Bros' tentative and conditional use applications for Charlestown Meadows. The Board questioned a videotape engineer who was present on behalf of Toll Bros with his camera as to his intentions. Concern arose over the possibility of the microphones picking up private conversations between the township solicitor and board members, so the microphone nearest to Mr. McErlane was removed.
In an effort to clear misconceptions, Mr. McErlane charged as false a rumor that residents would be forced to hook up to any public sewer lines that might be installed on Route 401 on behalf of Charlestown Meadows.
Mr. Jacobs, traffic expert and witness for Toll Bros, was recalled to continue testimony. Mr. Bender, attorney for the Township Planning Commission, questioned the location of driveway B (exiting onto Newcomen Road) and its site distances. Toll had originally planned this driveway near the western boundary of the site.
A question by a resident asked the definition of the term "trip attraction" which was mentioned in prior testimony and is a factor in determining traffic flow. The term refers to an attraction, such as a retail shopping center which encourages drivers to make trips to and from the center on their way past in their usual course of driving. A follow up question concerned the intersection of Ship and Newcomen and why it was not included in the traffic study. The witness posed an answer in the form of the question, "How do you define the limits of the study?" A question by Mr. Curtin asked if the expected growth of West Pikeland Township was considered in the study - answer was no, but the impact study considered a 300 vehicle growth from one year to the next (2.5% per year). A follow-up question was asked for the definition of a "complete study." The witness answered that the study done was for a specific purpose, evaluating expected traffic on the surrounding roads. Mr. Nimerfroh asked the standard number of parking spaces attributed to carriage house definition. Answer was no standard number is provided. Number of units times standard number of trips per unit gives the number of trips expected to be entering/leaving during a specified period (not the number of cars expected to be at the development). Mr. Nimerfroh followed up by asking if the recent fatal accident was included in the traffic study. Answer was no, but this highlights the need for traffic controls. Mr. Curtain asked for verification that the study was based on two hours in the a.m. one day and two hours in the p.m. another day, to which the witness responded yes, this is industry standard. Mr. Kuhn inquired as to whether an increase in traffic due to the installation of a traffic signal was considered. Witness responded yes, the study shows traffic increases each year (27.5% over 11 years). A general background growth factor was incorporated into the study. However, Mrs. Ewald voiced concern that four million feet of office space was expected in the surrounding area which may affect traffic and wanted clarification of distances from the Route 401 to various planned projects and its traffic expectations. It was determined that some pertinent studies have been done and are on public record, and these will be consulted.
In a follow up to the earlier question regarding the fatal accident, Mr. Schubert asked the witness for what purpose accidents are tabulated. The witness responded that PennDOT sends accident info to them and the info is considered in studies.
The witness stated that the purpose of his report was to satisfy three stipulations: (1) Mr. Kohli had requested current analysis per the 1997 traffic manual; (2) Township asked for all background data used in the study; (3) Provide analysis for four scenarios outlined by Mr. Kohli. The results are shown in "Table 8." After applying 1997 manual, major conclusion was that all traffic service would be at level D or better with the planned improvements and Charlestown Meadows. Appendix E provides results using 191 "single family" homes (rather than "carriage homes or town houses") and the study still came to level D or better.
The witness commented that if 4-way ramps were situated in Charlestown Township for the turnpike, this would, in his estimation, reduce traffic on Route 401.
A break was called in the proceedings.
Mr. McErlane reopened the matter by reviewing exhibits of record. Mr. Bender called Ed Theurkauf as the Township's first witness. He is a landscape architect and a land planner with Tom Comitta's office in West Chester. He has worked for the Township two and one-half years and has worked with surrounding municipalities in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Mr. Schubert asked if the witness had worked on the current open space ordinance: Yes. Mr. Bender asked what the witness reviewed in respect to Charlestown Meadows. He reviewed the PRD Plan (68 sheets), focusing on land use, preservation, and disturbance issues. His report was prepared August 11. Upon examination, the witness found prohibitive uses as defined in the Zoning Ordinance concerning clearing and grading in the open space. The "Overall Open Space Plan, PC3" was presented showing areas colored in by the witness. Areas were noted behind buildings and in internal areas of the site. Areas were marked in orange that measured less than the required 150 feet (total 8.1 acres). Yellow areas totaling 1.02 acres were in violation of the Ordinances. Ordinance requires 50% open space, but after subtracting the above figures, available open space is less. The site contains woodland areas in the southern and northeastern areas and wetlands. The site has 38.5 acres of woodland, 18.9 acres would be destroyed. The proposed system of trails was "disconnected" and "could stand a redesign." 1,395, or one half of the 6-inch or greater trees, are to be removed. Less than one third of the downed trees will be replaced, and the Ordinance requires a 3-inch or greater tree for replacement.
Steep slope is 15% or greater. No houses or grading is allowed there. The witness reported that houses are close and grading is just up to the slopes. A buffer or barrier is generally recommended to protect the slopes. Fencing would be a recommendation. Mr. Bender asked for a summary of all township ordinances that have been complied with. The witness testified that 294 trees of 4-inch caliper would be required, but only 197 are proposed. Parking may not be within 20 feet of a street line and must be screened. This plan does not comply. This plan relies on existing hedgerows for screening, but this might not be sufficient in winter and the recommendation is to augment them. Recommendations regarding storm water basins is that they have conventional cover for scenic and biological reasons. Witness stated that the rec center was "less than ideal" and should be located more centrally in the development; and the noise factor from the rec center, as it is now situated, would affect the neighboring areas. The witness expressed his belief that the uniformity of design and uniform set back of the houses does not provide visual variety. A lighting plan, required by Ordinance, was not submitted. The witness stated that plant species native to the area would be reduced due to lawn areas, and that some impacts have not been accounted for, such as need for more roads, services and government. Applicant's per capita cost analysis assumes cost will remain constant, but the witness believes that various factors not considered by the applicant will affect the per capita cost. Mr. Theurkauf expressed doubts that the proposed development is for "up scale" households.
Mr. Schubert objected to a line of questioning being pursued which referred back to old testimony regarding fiscal impact, since Toll was precluded from including past testimony. This objection was noted on the record.
Mr. Theurkauf noted that impact mitigation measures are through storm water management, buffering, and landscaping; but he feels efforts are not adequate.
Mr. Hogan raised a question regarding school bus stops, but the witness was not qualified to answer. Mrs. Ewald asked about lighting, and, in general, lighting in Charlestown Township is "minimal" in residential areas.
Mr. Schubert pursued information about when the witness received the plans and why a report would take three months to prepare. The witness received the plan on May 20 and the report was sent upon its completion. Workload and other factors such as complexity of the plan contributed to the three-month preparation time. Mr. Schubert inquired about drafts of the report which were prepared late July/early August.
Mr. Schubert also questioned the witness regarding a letter stating that Toll would consider recommendations, and Mr. Theurkauf answered after further questioning that no one asked for a "redesign" of the project.
Exhibit PC3 was consulted. Mr. Theurkauf explained that, in coloring in the map, pink was grading, orange was open space not meeting 150' width, and yellow indicated area of less than one contiguous acre. The witness detailed how he established the exhibit and reviewed the provisions of the open space provision, 1502(c). The stated encroachment on open space was challenged by Mr. Schubert, asserting that, because of an alleged six-inch encroachment, the open space was being totally disregarded in certain areas. He asked the average width of the steep slope areas, and the witness responded 20 to 40 feet with a general slope in most cases. The suitability of the proposed open space for buffering, usefulness, and conformity to ordinance requirements was discussed.
At this point, testimony was halted with the stipulation that it would continue on August 21, 2000.
Back to the general business of the Board of Supervisors, a discussion arose over whether the Open Space Option could be voted on tonight. The legal advertising stated the 14th August for determination, and Mr. McErlane advised the Board that they could decide the issue tonight. Motion was made and seconded to vote. The Board voted four to one to include the open space option for historic properties of 25 acres or more in the Zoning Ordinance. Mrs. Ewald (who wanted to table the matter for a subsequent hearing) cast the declining vote.
The meeting adjourned at 10:45 p.m.
THE NEXT MEETING OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL BE HELD ON AUGUST 21, 2000, 7:30 P.M., AT THE VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE, MEMORIAL CHAPEL.
Sunday, August 20, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
August 7, 2000
Present for the Township were Irene Ewald, Chairperson, Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers and Paul Hogan, Supervisors, Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq., and Linda Csete.
This meeting was called to order by Irene Ewald at 7:45 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel of the Valley Forge Christian College.
Announcement was made that executive sessions had been held on July 24 and July 31, 2000.
No issues were introduced at the Citizens' Forum for Non-Agenda Items.
The Board voted to approve its minutes of July 24, 2000, noting one correction regarding the report of a geologist who stated water could be found at 150 feet from the property line. This had been incorrectly stated as 50 feet.
The Pyle Farm on Yellow Springs Road is the subject of an offer of purchase by Charlestown Township. Gary Bender, Esq., attorney representing the Charlestown Township Planning Commission, reported that he has been in communication with representatives of the Great Valley School District. An agreement has been prepared which constitutes an offer by the Township to purchase this land at "fair-market value." The Board voted unanimously in favor and signed the agreement. The offer will be up for consideration at the August 21, 2000, school board meeting. The terms were not disclosed.
Also under Old Business was the matter involving the contract for maintenance of the township's roads. Tom Oeste, Esquire explained that a letter had been sent to the contractor via his attorney stating the amount due under the terms of the contract and that he was free to tender a resignation to the township. Mr. Oeste added that no agreement had been reached nor has a resignation been received to date. He advised the Board that there were two options available: breach of contract or termination of the contract. In view of a July 7th letter stating that a breach had occurred, the Board motioned and seconded that an assertion of breach of contract would be followed.
Attorney Adam Sager appeared on behalf of the Mr. Rittenbaugh, the contractor, and questioned the amount due ($6,000 vs. $11,000). Mr. Rittenbaugh's usual counsel, Mr. Sager, Sr., was on vacation and unavailable; therefore, Adam Sager requested that the matter be tabled at this time pursuant to a prior request that had not been responded to by the Board. Mr. Sager said he felt "blindsided" by the Board's adding this item to tonight's agenda and he had not had time to prepare. He appealed to the Board stating that Mr. Rittenbaugh has stated he will continue to work under the contract for the present time. However, Supervisor Kevin Kuhn stated he saw two issues: termination of contract and determination of the amount owed and that Mr. Rittenbaugh was well aware of the problems and has had opportunities to work things out previously. Mr. Sager asked that if the Board was going to terminate the contract, then at least send Mr. Rittenbaugh the minimum amount agreed to be owed. At this point, Mr. Oeste cautioned the Board against a rapid decision. Mr. Faggioli, Roadmaster, reiterated the problems he has had in dealing with the contractor and he has had to hire others to perform the work at a much higher cost to the township. Mr. Sager asked the Board to wait another week for Mr. Sager Senior to return to represent his client. Mr. Oeste said that the Township is advised to issue settlement funds only upon receipt of a mutual general release and a termination. The Board voted to terminate the contract as of Wednesday, August 9, at Midnight. Mr. Sager then hurried out of the meeting to join his wife, who was at the hospital awaiting the birth of their baby.
The Board approved the Treasurer's Report for July 1 to 31, 2000, and the Accounts Payable Report of August 7, 2000, after a discussion over the budget figures and costs expected.
Zoning: Mr. Kohli offered to answer questions in addition to his report, previously submitted. Mrs. Ewald if the final PennDOT plans regarding the Route 401 traffic signals would be available for Thursday's meeting. Mr. Kohli responded that they would not be ready, but after more design choices are made, the plan will be ready.
Planning Commission: Mr. Philips reported a meeting is scheduled for August 8, but no more during the month due to vacation schedules. He reported received a "disappointing" letter regarding an alleged "lack of cooperation" by the Planning Commission on the Charlestown Meadows project. Mr. Philips stated the PC would be happy to cooperate but no one has sat down with them to work any items out. He further added that the PC has no track record of not cooperating with any developer who requests it.
Historical Commission: Mrs. Baldwin, Chairperson of the Historical Commission, stated that a garage owned by the Mohlers has been approved as an historic structure. The large house at the corner of Hollow and Pikeland Roads will be modified by the removal of the large white columns from the porches.
Roadmaster: Mr. Faggioli said that requests for bids regarding a new road contractor need to be sent out, and suggested that the work be divided into two bid sections: paving, snow and road repair in one section and mowing and tree work in another section since these jobs require distinct equipment and one contractor may not have the equipment and/or people to deal with both issues. Dividing them into separate bids would enable suitable contractors to bid, and later perform, the work efficiently. Mr. Faggioli suggested that a problem on Crown Oak Road needed urgent attention, and the Board agreed and approved an immediate start.
Mrs. Ewald took a few minutes to commend Durando Faggioli and Supervisor Mike Rodgers (Board liaison) for the hard work and patience extended over the past few months.
Mr. Philips of the Planning Commission urged action in conjunction with PennDOT to repair a persistent problem on Hollow Road and to mow the grass at the Charlestown and Hollow Road intersections where site distance is impaired. Mrs. Ewald okayed action to get the grass mowed immediately. PennDOT will be contacted for repairs.
Mrs. Behrle, representing the Great Valley Nature Center, advised that the Nature Center is planning to redo their parking lot with gravel. A retention basin on the neighboring Dickson property doesn't drain properly causing flooding of the Nature Center property and parking lot. The Board requested Surender Kohli to look in to the problem and advise the owner. Additionally, Mrs. Ewald suggested that the Nature Center send a letter to Hollow Run Farms Homeowners' Assn advising them of the situation. In addition to redoing the lot and expanding it on the side away from the wetlands area, the Nature Center asked permission to pave about 20 feet of the lot's surface at the Hollow Road entrance to cut down on gravel displacement into Hollow Road. She was advised that the Township encourages such paving and that it would be all right to do this.
Fire Marshall: Mr. Alston quickly reviewed the number of fire alarms and false alarms, stating that only five alarms went to Kimberton Fire Co. this month (versus eleven last month). Several accidents were attended to on township roads. Tree-and-wire situations on Foster and Bodine Roads were repaired. He cautioned all residents regarding burning and to be careful about the smoke blowing around.
The Township Emergency Operation Center (EOC), formerly located at GV High School, is newly housed in its headquarters on Phoenixville Pike. A building has been donated for this purpose and the office is fully operational at this time.
Parks & Recreation Board: Paul Hogan (Board liaison) requested a donation of three 30-foot telephone poles for use by the Boy Scouts in building a bridge. A resident in attendance at the meeting offered the poles if the project can wait until they become available in October. Mr. Hogan further advised that bids regarding the walking trail and lighting at Charlestown Park will be opened in August.
He asked that the Board approve the establishment of a Antique Auto Association Museum and workshop.
Mrs. Ewald added that a Military Museum in Willow Grove is looking for a new location and suggested they could be housed at the VFCC campus. Mr. Hogan will contact the parties.
Mr. Philips of the Planning Commission reported that his group is working on uses for the Pyle farm, but Mrs. Ewald cautioned that the township must wait to see if the School Board accepts the offer signed tonight.
There were no representatives present on behalf of the Valley Forge Sewer Authority to present the monthly report.
Turnpike Slip Ramp Citizens' Action Committee - Mr. Philips reported that the Turnpike Commission will extend its efforts for one year "to include more meetings" and added that he has noticed turnpike counting equipment on some Charlestown roads as of today.
The Board continued on its agenda by approving the appointment of Leah Campion to the position of Planning Commission Secretary with an increase in pay to $13/hour. Formerly, Linda Csete handled this work and was commended for her efforts.
The Board announced that in lieu of a meeting on September 4 (Labor Day), that meeting will be backed up to August 28, representing the first September meeting, with the next meeting on September 12.
McClure Subdivision: Dick Kelly of Commonwealth Engineers came before the Board in a matter of taking four lots and turning them into two lots. The applicants' plans apparently were not delivered to the Board and the applicant will follow up to locate them. A drawing was presented showing the lots bounded by Seven Oaks Road and the Turnpike on the line of West Pikeland and Charlestown Townships. No construction is proposed for the property. The Board tabled this matter until the current plan could be reviewed.
Schuylkill River Conservation Plan - A letter was received asking for township support for the Schuylkill River to be placed on the River Registry which would allow grant money to be issued for conservation purposes. Motion was approved to support the effort.
Late Spring Developers - The Board noted 8/7 was the deadline for action. Extension will be granted to the applicant for 60 days to October 10.
Performance Automotive - Overview of the zoning hearing board application -
Applicant wants to occupy via lease a building on Phoenixville Pike for purposes of mechanical work, storage and limited sales of "higher dollar" used autos, such as BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, etc. According to the applicant no cars would be left outside overnight, and no painting or collision repair would be performed at the site, since this work is subcontracted. The client base would be from the Great Valley Corporate Center. Applicants are Paul MacDonald and Peter Rutkowski, and Thomas Henwood, partners. Such businesses are not permitted under the present zoning, LI-1, and per Mr. Kohli a trucking company in that area has been in a non-conforming use for at least 15 years with all the repair being performed in a warehouse, eliminating the noise issue. The Board took no action at this time.
Commons at Great Valley - Escrow Releases for Lots 16 & 17 were approved.
Late Spring Developers - continuation of hearing from 7/10/00 Applicant submitted proof that the seven, adjacent owners were notified. Condition use approval is required for applicant's desire to place a driveway from Spring Mill Drive over steep slope to the planned parking areas. This is in lieu of a driveway directly off Phoenixville Pike. A geological report stated that surface material is quartzite with good drainage. The site does not perc, so drainage will be handled via underground detention basins. Mr. Kohli advised the Board to be careful that drainage is properly handled and that this conditional use request is strictly for the driveway over the steep slope area. Mrs. Ewald suggested that the detention basin and driveway be relocated to attempt to get a successful perc. Mr. Devlin asked for confirmation that no driveways will exit directly to Phoenixville Pike and Mrs. Baldwin asked the number of expected employees in this business which was about 215. She felt this would generate a lot of cars on the highway. The record was then closed.
Spring Lane Farms - no representatives were present. On July 10 this hearing was continued to August 7 per a request received. Mr. Oeste asked for further continuance to September 18, 2000.
Document Solutions - This hearing is continued from July 10. The applicant provided proof that adjacent property owners were notified, and hearing was continued to a future date (not specified).
Toll Bros. Charlestown Meadows - At the last session Toll Bros' attorney asked that the Board issue a subpoena to command Laurel Mueller to appear. Mr. Bender, attorney for the Planning Commission, cited Spino v. John Tilley Ladder Co., 448 Pa Sup. 327, 1996, where the court cannot compel an expert hired by an adverse party to testify on behalf of another party. Mr. Oeste advised the board not to issue the subpoena. Mr. Schubert, for Toll Bros., clarified the issue stating that Toll Bros is asking Ms. Mueller to simply show up at the hearing and testify if she chooses to do so.
Mr. Oeste stated that the Township Planning Commission will start to present its case even if Toll Bros is not finished, since Toll has not indicated a willingness to grant an extension of time. If additional time exists after the township's testimony, Toll will be permitted to continue to present.
Mr. Schubert acknowledged receipt of an expert report from a township consultant and was assured that Mr. Comitta's report would be issued shortly.
Mr. Shubert reviewed his recollection of the proceeding on this application to date stating that due to time limitations each night, Toll limited its direct testimony and that cross-examination took the balance of the nights' time. He expressed concern regarding the time that would be required for the township's case and that W. Pikeland also plans testimony, feeling that he would not have sufficient opportunity to respond to review letters from township experts.
Mr. Oeste stated that Toll should put effort into cooperating with the Planning Commission and addressing an extension. Mr. Schubert replied that Toll is willing to cooperate with the Commission if a need is expressed by them. More issues of concern to Mr. Schubert was the 8/3/00 letter of Mr. Lunning to Charlestown Township requesting a legal citation in the subpoena matter, and also an 8/4/00 letter from Mr. Schubert concerning non-receipt of review letters. Further, he was concerned in regard to the previous submission that the Board did not accept the findings of the traffic expert, and asked the Board for clarification regarding the decision of another expert not to do the report for Toll after speaking with Mr. Kohli. Explanation was that the expert had worked for the township previously and wished to avoid a possible conflict of interest.
Mr. Schubert stated that 60 days is the stated time in the Mun. Planning Code for applications and repeated his request for weekly meetings in order to finish on time. Mr. Oeste noted that the time remaining, according to Township records, is to September 10.
At this point Toll's witness was called, Don Jacobs, Director of Transportation Planning, for Traffic Planning & Design, Inc. He handles traffic plans, looks at impact, etc. and stated he has done about 400 studies with one-quarter being residential communities. The witness stated he was familiar with Charlestown's roads and those near the site and his purpose was to study the impact of traffic at Conestoga and Newcomen Roads. His report was submitted for the record. A trip generation manual was used to determine expected traffic for specific land uses. Actual counts were performed at 7 to 9 a.m. one day and at 4 to 6 p.m. the next day, being standard industry practice.
Under the "build condition," assumption is that the expected number of vehicles will be on the road. A "no build condition" is also calculated. Looking forward 10 years, to 2010, growth is projected to be 27.5%. (The witness stated that for every 1000 cars on the road, 275 are added in a 27.5% growth factor.). PennDOT expects 2.2% growth per year. At the time of the actual counts, school was in session on a typical work day. The witness stated that a development on White Horse Rd. was also studied.
A question was posed as to distinction between townhome and carriage home. The trip generation manual definitions are used and the most applicable would be townhome, since no carriage home is defined there. Townhome: a single family ownership unit with at least one other single family ownership unit within the same structure.
The witness explained that A to F grading levels are assigned to intersections. For present site, Newcomen Road driveway would be at level A during peak hours and for Conestoga Road driveway: left turn entering in morning C and D exiting and in the afternoon A entering and C exiting. He recommended a stacking lanes on Conestoga for turns into Charlestown Meadows and for turns in to Newcomen. Since left and right turns would be difficult on Rt. 401 due to site restrictions, he recommended that a traffic signal be installed at Newcomen, with or without the Charlestown Meadows project.
Levels of service would improve with signalization, but the intersection would still operate at levels C in a.m. and D in p.m. by 2010. Calculation of trip generations are based on 208 units, not the current 191.
Mr. Bender questioned the growth data used for Charlestown Township and whether other sources were consulted for updated figures. Witness stated no, figures from 1994 were used. Mr. Bender also asked if the witness was given the present configuration of roads to work with, and the answer was yes, essentially the same layout.
In answer to a question, the witness stated a traffic count had been done previously. Mr. Schubert advised that if a request for this data is put in writing, it will be considered. The witness stated that motorists in Charlestown Meadows would opt to exit via Newcomen rather than through an unsignalized intersection onto 401. The traffic eastbound is heavy in the morning, which gives him the opinion that most motorists are headed toward Great Valley Corp. Center.
Mr. Bender asked for the witnesses' opinion regarding traffic conditions if no traffic signal or turn lanes were approved. The witness said he made no study in that instance, due to evidence that a signal is planned. Per Mr. Bender, his calculations are that volume in a.m. is one car every three seconds, and the study projects 1200 per hour, or 20 per minute, in 2010.
In explaining level of service, the witness stated it is based on a "free flow" condition and that software computes flow, but does not consider speed in an unsignalized condition, nor any "artificial conditions" up stream or down stream which would affect traffic flow at the subject intersection. The software does consider that vehicles can be stacked in lanes.
To a question of whether alternatives in intersection layout were considered, the answer was no, because Toll feels this arrangement works. Shifts in the development's driveway locations would not change traffic flow.
Since the time was 11:30 p.m., the hearing was continued to August 14 when Mr. Jacobs' cross-examination will be concluded. The township will present its first witness.
At this point Mrs. Ewald adjourned the Supervisors' meeting.
Two items on the Agenda were not addressed regarding Office Hours and an Employee Handbook.
NEXT MEETING IS AUGUST 14, 2000 IN THE CHAPEL OF THE VALLEY FORGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson (Note: Due to an unusual work schedule and other urgent situations, I have been unable to get these completed on a timely basis, and I apologize.)
Monday, August 7, 2000 (From Loretta Watson, Charlestown Green)
Board of Supervisors' Meeting
July 24, 2000
Present for the Township were Irene Ewald, Chairman, and Supervisors Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Mike Rodgers, and Paul Hogan. Also present were Surender Kohli, Tom Oeste, Esq., Leah Campion and Linda Csete.
This meeting was called to order by Irene Ewald at 7:30 p.m in Classroom 102 of the Administration Building, Valley Forge Christian College.
Announcement was made that the Township has prevailed in its effort to win reimbursement of attorney's fees in the matter of the Altemose curative amendment action. The higher court ruled that the matter was fully litigated in the state court and was already established law. The Township has been reimbursed a sum of approximately $14,000.
Citizens' Forum for Non-Agenda Items: Diane Leslie reappeared before the Board stating that she had followed up on the suggestion of the Board and had obtained the advice of geologists. After separately visiting the site in question, both geologists independently arrived at the conclusion that there was not sufficient water on the property to support a residence due to the type of rock below the surface of this site. A recommendation by one geologist was that the best chance of finding water would be through a known fissure in the rock located about one-quarter mile from the property. At first some members of the Board felt that the applicant should drill a second well to find water, but later opinion was inclined toward allowing public water hookup. The Board discussed the ramifications of this course of action on future subdivision requests and whether or not the subdivider should be required to locate sources of water sufficient for the proposed use. The Board will look into this question. A vote was taken by the Board to decide if the applicant may hook up to the public water supply, and the vote was four to one with Mrs. Ewald dissenting on the basis that this course is not in the best interests of the Township and that more effort should have been put into locating water.
There were no further Citizens' Forum issues brought before the Board.
The Board's Minutes of July 17, 2000, were approved.
The next matter concerned the Great Valley Nature Center's application to build a "Maple Sugar House" on ground designated steep slope. The GVNC submitted its amended plan on 7/24/00, which included items necessary to comply with the Board's previous requests. Discussion ensued over whether the plans were in compliance with the previous requests, and whether an "as built" drawing would be required within 36 months, showing the entire layout of the Nature Center, its property boundaries, and all buildings that would exist if the proposed plan was completed. Ellen Behrle, representing the Nature Center, objected on the grounds that this was another condition being imposed and that, since the Nature Center was a non-profit organization, it did not have the funds to spend on this type of architectural drawing. She asked that the Board reconsider, stating that the GVNC has complied with all the requests in this matter to date. The Board reviewed other methods of establishing on paper the layout of the Nature Center. One way of establishing exact property lines would be to locate documents containing the deed description from the Arnold Bartschi land transfer. Also, a survey was done several years ago to establish the line on one edge to clear a problem in building the "raptor houses." The pros and cons of an aerial photo were reviewed. The Board felt that the definition of an "as built" plan should be clearly established so all parties would know what was required. Finally, Mr. Kohli, the Township Engineer, Zoning Officer and Building Inspector, advised that since the property is bound on several sides by roads and a surveyed property line, the remaining boundaries could be plotted from the deed description. Therefore, approval was given to proceed with building, and the property's boundaries would be established by deed description.
Next item on the Agenda was to schedule the advertising for paving bids. The board gave its approval. The advertising regarding submission of paving bids will be done immediately.
The proposed ordinance which will provide an "open space option" in the development of historic properties of 25 acres or more needs to be re-advertised in public newspapers. The Board approved this action.
A hearing scheduled for tonight in the matter of the current Altemose Curative Amendment Application (a request to build an assisted living and nursing care facility) was continued via agreement of the Township and the applicant to August 21, 2000.
Hearing was opened in continuation of Toll Bros - Charlestown Meadows Conditional Use and PRD applications. Toll Bros' attorney, Mr. Lunning, asked that Laura Mueller, the Township's soil consultant in the previous round of hearings, be subpoenaed to appear. Ms. Mueller had visited the site to do her investigation and report on behalf of the Township. Dr. Palkovics, the soil expert for Toll Bros was present during that visit and he subsequently received a copy of Mrs. Mueller's report (before the Township received a copy), which contained substantially the same findings as Dr. Palkovics had determined. Toll Bros and the Township will file briefs by August 7 on the issue of whether Mrs. Mueller should be subpoenaed to appear. In response to a query regarding review letters due to Toll Bros., Gary Bender, Esq., representing the Charlestown Township Planning Commission, advised that the consultants will submit their reports later this week.
Mr. David Fehr, a witness for Toll Bros, was called to continue his testimony. He stated that an erosion and soils report was submitted to the Board via Mr. Oeste.
Mr. Fehr presented a flood hazard district map (Exh. A96) depicting the property's boundaries and the topography in 10-foot intervals. He reported that Del Val Soils provided the information regarding high-ground water area shown. Testimony was that the entire property drains to a culvert on Route 401, and additional water runs westerly down 401 to the same culvert. The witness believes that the culvert pipe, at 30", is too small to handle the water load and causes flooding.
Discussion of the current Charlestown Meadows plan revealed that three parking areas will be surfaced in pavers and the roads will be macadam. A question was raised of how feasible it would be to create a design that would prevent drivers from backing out of their driveways over sidewalks. The witness thought it was not very feasible and felt that people would on occasion back out of their driveways. The suggestion was offered of building turn-around areas for each driveway, but the witness felt residents would be more likely to use it as a parking space rather than a turn-around area. Another question concerned fencing of the swimming pool, which the witness responded will be done to comply with zoning ordinances. Landscaping will be added along 401 and Newcomen Roads as a buffer, and about 170 trees will be planted along the sides of the internal roads in intervals to accommodate driveways. There will be three building phases of the project, as shown on the Plan of Projected Phases, Exh. A21. The streets, utilities, and interior.???ects of the site are first; an area following the shape of the road at the northern end is second; and the area along the western boundary is third.
In regard to community sewage disposal, the effluent will travel by gravity to the lowest point to an on-site pumping station, then partially back though the community under the streets by pumps and out to the public mains at the Conestoga Road entrance. It will then travel along 401 to a planned VFSA pumping station in East Whiteland Township. Fifty-five to sixty thousand gallons of effluent per day is expected from the Community. Three letters on the sewage issue were presented by Toll Bros to the Board.
In regard to the water service, eight-inch mains in the road beds will serve the community and eight fire hydrants will be installed.
Mr. Bender inquired as to whether the witness had worked on this particular property before, and the answer was "yes" through Yerkes. There were two clients for whom he had done design work on the property, which involved laying out community roads in different configurations than what is presently shown. The present layout is similar to other Toll Bros developments. Other layouts previous to this particular road layout had compliance problems concerning the wetlands area.
The witness stated all units will have two-car garages and thought they would all face the street. Set back is 30 feet. Determination was made that approximately 20 units would be over 50 feet in set back, with some at about 60 feet; 40 would be at 40 to 50 feet; and the balance would be around 30 feet. Architectural appearance would vary due to built-in differences in the houses and the grade changes.
The biggest changes to the current plan are (1) elimination of the drip irrigation system and filtration facilities, (2) changing of a loop road to a cul-de-sac; and, (3) the elimination of eight units. Other minor changes were made to location of parking lots and recreational facilities.
All sewer facilities are in the right of way except for the pumping station (one-story building approximately 30 x 30 feet) and a drive way accessed through Christopher Court (the new cul-de-sac). The distance to the closest unit's deck edge was approximated at 40 feet. The witness offered measurements of approximately 30 x 40 feet for the pool and 30 x 55 feet for the cabana. However, the witness was not able to testify regarding the architecture planned for the cabana, which would house changing rooms, restrooms, and pool equipment storage area.
Parking areas have a 20 foot access drive to eliminate vehicles backing out of the lot. There will be a minor encroachment of utilities in open space, such as underground storm piping to divert water to the basins. The tot lot (approx. 30 x 40 feet) will be near the cabana. Accessory structures would be the pool deck and fencing. One fenced tennis court is planned.
Tree removal was discussed. The witness testified that 1,395 trees six inches or greater will be removed, which is 48% of the total of 2,696 trees on the site measuring six inches or greater. The witness said that ash, oak and possibly maple trees exist on Windom way near the site.
In answer to a question regarding driveways, the witness reported that turn around areas are not planned.
Regarding water flow, the witness restated that 90 acres of the site drains to the culvert on 401, along with 30 acres of off-site acres, totaling 120 acres. He reported that he has never seen flooding at the culvert. A question asking what the witness has designed to prevent this flooding resulted in an answer of nothing, because it is an existing condition of the property. He believes that the size of the culvert pipe at 30" is the problem and suggests that a pipe of 48" to 54" would be more appropriate.
In response to a question of whether structures are proposed for the high-ground water or flood hazard area as shown on the township map, the witness said that detention basin C would be there but no units would be there or within 25 feet. The wetlands determination has been initiated, and at this point the wording in the legend is under revision. The open space is 50.1% of the site at about 38.31 acres.
The questioning was opened to the parties of record. Question were posed by Mrs. Skerchock whether the roads would be dedicated to the township, which resulted in a negative answer. The witness also testified that the roads are 24 feet wide with the cul de sac at 100 feet to meet township requirements. The shortest length of driveway in the community (without measuring the sidewalk) is 30 feet. In reply to questions regarding excess parking along the street (in the event of private parties, etc.), the witness stated that he thought this would only be an occasional occurrence.
Mr. Nimerfroh asked about how the water cascading down Jonathan Drive would be handled, and the response was by storm sewers according to township regulations. Another question addressed the question of who would be responsible if flooding eroded Stonecroft Lane, and the witness answered he could not be certain of who would be responsible. A question regarding what the community's contributions to the fire company would be and the witness did not know. Mr. Lunning objected to this question.
A question as to how many trees measuring less than six inches in diameter were being removed from the site could not be answered, since there is no requirement to survey trees measuring less than 6" diameter.
The next party asked the witness how familiar he was with Charlestown's ordinances and procedures and whether he or Toll Bros met with the Planning Commission before submission of the present plan. No, they did not meet with the Planning Commission. A question of how driveways could be designed to make people drive out, resulted in speculative answers such as a curvilinear driveway, or one that is difficult to negotiate while backing up, or possibly one that goes through the garage and out to the street.
The measurements of the detention basins was requested. The testimony was that approximate measurements were: Basin A - 150 x 100 feet, Basin B - 120 x 80 feet, and Basin C - 250 x 180 feet, with depths from 6.5 to 8 feet. Since detention basins are typically dry with sloping sides no fencing is planned. These fill during heavy rain when no one would be likely to be near them. He added that some townships don't want fences.
A party asked if the target market is empty nesters, why will the community accommodate children. The witness stated that the accommodations would be for "grandchildren" but could not give an opinion on the issue.
Mr. Boekell raised a question regarding "Site Location and Environmental Plan" which shows a conservation area. An area in the NW corner is shown on a 1970s comprehensive plan as a possible conservation area and, per the witness, is being used according to zoning regulations of today. Mr. Boekell asked if any houses are in this area, and the response was that the houses follow regulations concerning high ground water and flood hazard areas. Basin C may encroach slightly. The witness answered a question regarding the tennis area, stating no restrooms are planned.
The witness was asked to state the difference between carriage house and town house. The parting wall between units is more noticeable in town houses, but the rooflines are common on the carriage houses; vertical adjustment in rooflines will not be as evident as in town houses. Also the witness stated that street lighting must be down facing, but outside lighting on units would be controlled by Toll Bros or the homeowners' association.
A question as to who would be putting sewer mains in the roads resulted in the answer that Toll Bros would be responsible for them and that the trench is dug, pipe laid, and trench backfilled in one day so no great environmental impact is made. The witness stated in answer to another question that the pump station will include a gas or diesel generator and heavy landscaping and underground pumps will buffer noise.
The witness advised that the question of on-street parking would be covered by the homeowners' association. At this point, Mrs. Ewald interjected that there is no on-street parking allowed on "public" roads in the township.
Mr. Gagliardi inquired as to whether gas or water will be pumped onto the property, and the witness responded this is PECO's and the water company's areas.
Ms. Josephson asked about phases of building and what criteria determines them. Toll Bros builds at the lowest area first, with the access roads built first in each phase. Total estimated time from start to finish for Charlestown Meadows is five to six years.
John Miller asked if 401 would be closed during installation of the sewer lines, and the witness reported "no" and that it is unusual to close the road.
A party remarked that in another development, extra parking was scattered throughout the development, not a four points. The witness responded that Toll Bros believes that scattered parking is not as safe.
Mr. Curtain asked if the detention basins are designed to catch runoff and could they control runoff. Response was "yes," they catch runoff, but it is not likely they can control runoff due to the excess runoff off site. The witness responded that logistics would be a problem, considering the wetlands, in trying to make the basins compensate for the small size of the culvert pipe.
The witness stated curbing would be installed at entrances along 401 and Newcomen along with storm sewers to prevent water from crossing the entrance. Mr. Lunning and Mr. Bender spent a few minutes with follow-up questions to Mr. Fehr regarding site drainage and the amount of acreage involved.
Mr. Oeste continued this matter to August 7, 2000. A discussion regarding number of witnesses expected from Toll Bros resulted in statement that one more meeting would not be sufficient. The township also needs time to present its case.
Mrs. Ewald announced that the Board would have an executive meeting after this meeting tonight.
Mr. Kuhn then brought up an issue that concerned setting up a committee to work with the School District and made a statement that he objected to the procedures employed in accomplishing this. As the Board's liaison to the school district, he felt he should have been on the committee. He and Mrs. Ewald discussed the subject for a few minutes. Mr. Kuhn called for a motion to remove her as the board chair stating his reason. This motion was not responded to by any board members. Discussion came to a close, and Mrs. Ewald adjourned the meeting.
The next meeting scheduled is July 31, 2000, at 7:30 p.m. at the Valley Forge Christian College.
Note of Apology
I was unable to attend the meeting of July 31. There will be no minutes submitted by me on behalf of Charlestown Green covering that meeting. (Please refer to the official township minutes when they are issued.)
Continued in Archives