Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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News posted during August 2001

Monday, August 27, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
August 20, 2001
Chairman Hugh Willig called the meeting to order. Present were Mr. Willig, Mr. Kuhn, Mr. Hogan, Mrs. Ewald and Mr. Rodgers along with Mr. Oeste, Mr. Kohli, and Mrs. Csete.
The Board heard no announcements or Citizens' Forum issues. Minutes from the August 6 meeting were approved with a minor correction.
The hearing on Mr. and Mrs. Altemose's Assisted Living Facility continued with Attorney Joseph Ryan drawing testimony from Mr. Mondzelewski, who described in detail the layout of the proposed facility and the floor plans for the two major buildings. He said the proposed plans conform to Ordinances of the township.
For surface water management, retention basins would be located along the north and south boundaries of the property with smaller ponds in the interior area. All features on the plan remain the same as the last presentation before the Board.
He explained that in providing 1875 parking spaces, this figure is still much less than the industry standard of 4 to 5 spaces per unit. Underground parking will be provided for 918 spaces with the balance in various locations above ground.
Floor plans of the ground (below grade) level showed parking areas, residential and skilled nursing areas, social areas for residents, and areas for recreation including movies, dancing, etc. The first floor will have exits to the courtyards and gazebo in the center of the buildings and will provide a fully equipped kitchen and restaurant. All buildings will be fully accessible for handicapped individuals. He added that the entire facility would be secure with access granted to authorized personnel only. As to distance from the road, he stated the closest part of the building would be 156 feet from the road.
The second and third floors will contain living spaces, a library, and social areas. The roof will be designed for outdoor socializing in a roof-garden setting, with an area set aside for building utilities.
Mr. Ryan presented a letter to the Board prepared in response to Mr. Kohli's comments, and Mr. Mondzelewski reviewed the responses point-by-point.
Gary Bender, Esq., representing the township Planning Commission, inquired about the source of the information regarding the industry standard for parking. The two sources were submitted for the record, one referred to traffic and parking for all types of community and private operations, and the other referred to statistics on assisted living facilities.
Mr. Bender inquired as to the amount of underground parking, which was answered as 184,000 square feet. The building height will be 35 feet from the ground to the top of the parapet (wall along edge of roof). Ceiling heights will be 8.5 feet per floor. The residential units will average 340 square feet. Many will be two bedroom models, a few will be three bedroom. Most will contain a small kitchen, living-dining area and bath. The facility will be licensed as required. Pets will be allowed for residents.
When asked what the requirements would be for living there, Mr. Mondzelewski responded stating that residents would be a blend from the four types of facilities: Continued Care Retirement Community, Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Home.
Mr. DelBello, attorney representing Michael Main, asked if the buildings could be designed to more closely represent clustered, single-family housing; but the response was that this design would not meet the ordinance requirements for impervious surfaces.
Mr. Joe Fay, of Ashenfelter Road, questioned how the facility would be hidden from the road, and the response was through the combination of set back of the buildings and the landscaping along the perimeter of the property. A question regarding the detention basins and water runoff resulted in an explanation that the completed project's rate of water runoff could not exceed the unimproved property's runoff rate.
Mrs. Ewald questioned the proposed size of the parking spaces (10 x 20 feet = 200 sq. feet) and remarked that the average living space would be less than two parking spaces in size.
The next witness for the applicant was Mr. Walter Bright, a traffic engineer from Pennoni Associates, who conducted a new analysis of traffic at White Horse and Ashenfelter Roads. His conclusions were that improvements would be needed due to site distance problems. He added that the proposed facility will have one access driveway on White Horse Road. He reports that the level of service is now "C" and will continue at "C".
An explanation of levels:
Level A - less than 5 seconds delay at an intersection
To
Level F - greater than 60 seconds delay OR greater than 45 seconds delay at an unsignalized intersection.
Level C would fall between these rates.
He recommends a traffic signal be installed at the access driveway when volumes warrant in the future.
He stated he did not use the ITE Trip Generation Manual due to the two components involved, i.e., nursing home and assisted living facility, which are not covered in the ITE manual and the desire to have more precise information through other sources.
Mr. Bender asked about the number of trips that would be generated to and from the site by employees, and Mr. Bright responded that these employees normally work in shifts round the clock and would be coming and going at times other than normal peak traffic hours. In explaining his newest findings of a decrease in current traffic on the roads studied (White Horse and Ashenfelter), he felt it was not an unusual occurrence. He stated he did not use the specific traffic generated from neighboring developments in the area, but said "all traffic" along the road was used in the count.
He stated the emergency-use driveway for the facility would exit onto Ashenfelter Road.
A turn lane from White Horse into the facility will be included in the plan, but Mr. Bright recommended the inclusion of a left-turn lane from the other direction. Also, he recommended that the site distance problems be corrected, but he did not have specifics on how this would be accomplished. The site distance problems involve blind vertical curves on White Horse. Mr. Bright stated he visited the intersection in question three times during the year at AM and PM peak hours
At this point this hearing was stopped and will continue at the September 17, 2001, Board of Supervisors' meeting.
Next before the Board was the application of the McGowans who wish to expand some structures which are non-conforming to ordinance due to set back requirements. The expansion proposed is to tear down an existing small, old garage and replace it with a "normal size," two-story garage with guest suite on the second floor. This would replace the inadequate guest suite presently in the barn. The expansion is reported to be less than 50% of the existing structure (950 sq.ft addition-including the second floor), and the new part will be no closer to White Horse Road when completed. The architect is Peter Zimmerman and work will be in line with historic considerations. Wendy Leland, attorney for the applicants, advised that any previous restrictions on the property do not relate to the barn, and that present ordinance does not limit expansion of non-conforming structures. The Board expressed an interest in reviewing the prior restrictions imposed since a guest suite is considered. This matter is being brought before the Board as a courtesy before proceeding to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Oeste said the practice has been that the Board either takes a neutral position or opposes the project in view that the matter is going before the Zoning Hearing Board and the supervisors may make recommendations to the ZHB.
The next item on the Agenda was the Fee Schedule. Mrs. Csete reviewed East Pikeland's fees and found them to be much higher than Charlestown's. The Board discussed the sketch fees, curative amendment fees, application fees and escrow amounts but came to no decision regarding raising them. Consideration will be given to including wording regarding the payment of fees.
Items for the Township Newsletter will be due by September 29.
Tentative dates for a public Comprehensive Plan Meeting is Sept. 24, Oct. 8, or Oct 22, depending on Mr. Comitta's schedule. Announcement in the form of a mailing to residents is planned.
Mr. Kohli reported that installation of the remote pre-emption to the Route 401 and Valley Hill Road traffic light would cost $12-15,000. He is looking into a portable device also. He felt the traffic situation is improving at that spot. In regard to placing traffic speed signs on Coldstream Road, this would be responsibility of the township after a study has been completed to locate the correct positions. At the previous meeting, a discussion arose regarding a crosswalk entrance to Charlestown Park on Mary Hill Road at Coldstream, but sight-distances make this too dangerous. A study is requested for a crosswalk or stop sign for Benburg and Coldstream where the sight-distance is better. Mention was made of the State Bikepath, on Coldstream, which presents a dangerous traffic situation for bikers. This bike path cannot be relocated to non-state roads. The Board would recommend bikers to go through the Christian College area and avoid Coldstream.
Atwater Development (Trammel Crow Co.) may be starting work on the Yellow Springs and Route 29 intersection in four to six months.
Mr. Hogan noted that he has made an inquiry to PennDOT regarding installation of a guardrail along Township Line Road.
Mr. Kuhn mentioned that a person was arrested for DUI in Charlestown Park and had a traffic sign in his possession. He recommended that charges be considered against this person. The Board did not make a decision on this.
Meeting adjourned at 11:05 PM upon the Board's decision to immediately convene an Executive Session.
The next business meeting for the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for September 10, 2001, at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson
Thursday, August 17, 2001  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
August 6, 2001
Chairman Hugh Willig, called meeting to order at 7:35. Attorney Tom Oeste was absent due to vacation, so Attorney Thomas O'Neill was present to advise the Board.
Announcements: Paul Hogan introduced Calvin Wilson and his wife, residents of Chester Springs, who are interested in farming the 55 acres at the township's Brightside Farm. He is interested in establishing a small dairy farm with corn fields for a "long term" arrangement, which may include tours and educational functions. Mrs. Wilson added that this farm would "mirror" a similar local farm that sponsors education/tour efforts for the public. She advised that due to large start up expenses for a venture like this, no profit could be foreseen for some time. The Board did not voice an opinion on the matter, but referred it to their counsel for guidance, who advised caution due to sources of the township's purchase money and limitations on legal use of the property.
Kevin Kuhn announced an upcoming meeting on Oct. 12 regarding PennDOT's 12-year program and encouraged Supervisor and Roadmaster attendance.
Mr. Willig advised that Executive Sessions had been held on personnel issues.
Citizen's Forum: Mrs. Martin reported that a tree from the Brightside Farm has fallen over the property line onto her property and she would like it taken care of by the township. The solicitor advised a check on the rules pertaining to tree removal for public/private property situations before deciding upon a course of action.
The Board approved its Minutes from the July 16th meeting after noting a minor correction. Accounts Payable from August 6 was approved, with a comment that the declining balance should be monitored. The Treasurer's Report for July was also approved.
Reports:
Zoning: Mr. Kohli stated that the school busses going to the Elementary School need an improvement in the timing of the Charlestown Road - Phoenixville Pike intersection. They have requested a longer left-turn light for Phoenixville Pike North traffic turning onto Charlestown Road.
Planning: The Planning Commission met on July 14 hosting a speaker on development rights. Their next meeting is August 28. Mr. Comitta will meet with J. Loew regarding a 'village concept' in development plans. The Board's Comprehensive Plan review questions will be forwarded to the Planning Commission for response.
Historic: Hearing on the demolition request for the Charlestown Mill has been formally requested. Although the Historic Commission has moved their August meeting to September, hearing on the mill issue must take place within 45 days. Therefore, a hearing will be opened to formally satisfy requirements of the record, with testimony taken at a later date.
Charlestown General Store has extended an invitation to the Historic Commission to view the premises. A tentative date has been set.
Roadmaster: Mr. Faggioli requested that the township purchase a speed-reporting machine as used by other townships, since Bodine and some other roads have speed problems. He also advised that the new asphalt work on Hollow Road is not acceptable and suggests it be redone next year. He advised that Valley Hill Road should be paved, since it's been about 20 to 25 years since the last full paving.
Fire Marshall: No report was received from Kimberton, therefore no written report is submitted to the Board. Mr. Alston related information regarding the 7/19 tanker accident on Route 401. He thinks the fill cover in the back of the truck failed and caused the problem. The two drivers involved are in critical condition.
For the month, he reported three automatic alarms, a vehicle fire and four vehicle accidents. A fire hydrant plan for Charlestown Elementary was reviewed. Additionally, he advised that the new light on Route 401 is causing major back ups, and an emergency vehicle could not get through in order to reach an incident on the turnpike. The light pre-emption device could not work because of the long distance and curve between the truck and light. Pre-emption can be done with relay devices to help clear the traffic, but recommended that the light needs adjusting to handle rush-hour traffic. Mr. Kohli advised that PennDOT has visited three times to "maximize cycle times" and the road needs to be widened to accommodate traffic. DVRPC has a long-term plan for making 401 four lanes (and also Rt.100). The Board responded to an inquiry that there is no shoulder for widening for emergency use along 401 at this location. Lastly, Mr. Alston advised that the proposed Haz-Mat Ordinance is with Attorney Oeste for final work.
Parks: Paul Hogan recommended opening the entrance to Charlestown Park at Benburg and Mary Hill Road. A walking bridge over the road is recommended due to the roads' blind curves.
VFSA: Mike Rodgers reported that at the recent Valley Forge Sewer Authority meeting he was disappointed with the awarding of bids. A surveying and sewer line bid was not awarded to the lowest bidder, with a $7 to $8,000 difference in the price. He reported that East Pikeland sewers will be discussed at the next meeting. Mrs. Csete took a moment to say she has not received minutes of the meetings since April, and Mr. Rodgers will check on this.
The Supervisors have hired a secretary (Jan Byrd) to take over much of Leah Campion's work. Leah will continue to serve as Planning Commission Secretary, but is devoting her future time to motherhood.
White Horse Meadows - request for amendment of Declarations and Covenants. Mr. DeBello, attorney for Michael Main, presented a review of the issue and position of White Horse Meadows. He urged the Board to approve the changes in order to protect the viewshed from the area of the homes and support the landscaping plan which was originally established. These changes would prevent landscaping changes in the area in question by present and future homeowners, but presents no impact on the township except to protect the view. Endorsement has been secured by 67% of the homeowners, although a document came forth from one homeowner rescinding an endorsement. This rescission was challenged by Mr. Main as not carrying any legal weight, since he has a fully executed, binding, prior agreement by the same homeowner. Mr. Main presented his view that the homeowners can agree to change the terms of the Declarations and Covenants at any time, just as practiced in other homeowner associations, and this action is simply to clear up the terms of the document to avoid ambiguity.
Attorney for Mr. and Mrs. Beideman presented a view that the effort is not to "correct a defect" but an effort to deprive some homeowners of certain rights and will not affect all homeowners equally. He raised a question regarding documents that are being presented to new homeowners for signature and whether they are the original or a version containing the proposed amendments. He advised that under the proposal, a 55 x 154 foot strip now owned by the Beidemans is to become community owned and controlled, and this may also be true of other homeowners along the "vista." He also advised that the proposed rules regarding fencing and plantings in front yards may become retroactive forcing removal. He feels that the township's interest is that they have previously approved the plans and should take care that developers not over ride the rights of homeowners.
Mr. DeBello stated that this proposed action is by the "lot owners" and not one of the entity known as Home Owners Association, therefore mortgage holders will not be affected.
The Board declined to take a position as arbiter and felt this should be settled between the parties, advising them to return when some agreement has been reached. Mrs. Ewald added that Mr. Main worked many years with the township to create a beautiful development in a sensitive area, and she emphasized that a design plan and vision existed in the planning stages. She asked that trees not be the issue, but the preservation of the beauty that now exists. Mr. Kuhn offered his opinion that he is opposed to the proposal in view of the homeowners' rights.
Spring Lane Farms - Applicant requested continuance to October 1. The Board agreed and will consider readvertising the hearing in the newspaper.
Brightside Farm Caretaker - Attorney O'Neill advised that a lease of more than one year's duration would convert the use to "private" purposes and that care should be taken to avoid this since the property is financed by a bond. However, a management contract for a caretaker would be all right.
Dale Frens, architect, has submitted through the Historic Commission a proposal to historically evaluate the property. The Board approved this report at a $10,000 price.
Mark Connelly advised that the $450,000 grant that has been requested will preclude a dairy operation. The Board stated its interest in meeting the candidates this week to investigate the offers received so far for cleaning and repairing the buildings and making the house habitable.
Soccer lights and poles - Mr. Connelly has received little support from the Soccer Club towards the poles and lights now that complete information has been received, and he recommended the effort be dropped. The balance of funds held by the Soccer Club may be used for other park improvements, and suggestions will be brought to the next Supervisors' meeting. Mrs. Ewald encouraged the addition of more playground equipment in various locations, and Mr. Hogan offered to oversee the building of them. The biannual report on the Park is due from Parks and Recreation Commission. The quality and appearance of the new foot bridge in the park spurred Mrs. Ewald to suggest that the builder be taken onto township rolls as an employee for construction projects, but Mr. Kuhn advised that this idea should be held for next year due to budget constraints.
Emma Conditional Use Decision - The Board will place additional restrictions on tree removal along with some other stipulations in its decision for Emma and revisited the suggestion of moving the driveway to a less steep area and joining it with the neighboring driveway. The identity of the neighbor was not known but would be determined for purpose of clearly stating the Board's desire. A motion was approved to present the Board's recommendations to Emma Builders.
Mr. O'Neill presented a letter, regarding the issue of PennDOT and the Route 29 bridge, received from Mr. Oeste (who is in Montana on vacation) in an effort to show he is still "on the job!"
Future roadwork - A portion of Pickering Road was suggested for pothole repair. Valley Hill Road was recommended for repaving. A portion of Hollow Road in the vicinity of the turnpike bridge was also discussed for repaving.
Escrow Release #3 for Great Valley Commons Lot #15 was approved.
Motion made and approved to advertise the institution of a 15 mph speed limit on F Street and Fifth Avenue and Charlestown Park roads. Motion to post speed limit signs was approved.
Pollution Liability Insurance - Mr. Kuhn requested details of the policy, which would cover sewers, old landfills, parks, lakes, rivers, incinerators, abandoned industrial sites, etc. Board felt that exposure is low, but an executive session will be held to discuss the need for this policy.
Board approved $50,000 limit for a Treasurer's Bond.
The Board will meet with Mill owner, Mrs. Bumeder, to discuss the matter in view of the upcoming hearing on the request to destroy the Charlestown Mill structure,
Rezoning open space properties - Mrs. Ewald stated that the county requires a designation of Open Space in order for the township to receive $50,000 Landscapes grant money. "Open Space" can have permitted uses attributed to it and still be eligible for grants.
Meeting adjourned at 11:10 PM
The next business meeting for the Board of Supervisors is scheduled for August 20, 2001, at 7:30 P.M. at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154.
Reported for Charlestown Green by Loretta Watson

 
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