Charlestown Township, Chester County, PA

 
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News posted during August 2002

Wednesday, August 21, 2002  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
August 5, 2002
This meeting came to order at 7:32 p.m. Present were Supervisors Hugh Willig, Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald, and Michael Rodgers. Also present were James McErlane, Esq., Township Solicitor, Surender Kohli, and Linda Csete.
Announcements: The township completed settlement on Wednesday, July 31, on the Woolen Mill (Baughman's Mill) at Church and Charlestown Roads. A $1,000 lien against the property will expire under existing law in two months, then the property will be free of any claims.
Paul Hogan presented a placemat sized drawing prepared by Milo Winter, Jr., some years ago for a Charlestown Day event, which showed all of the early school houses in the area, he suggested that this could be sold through the Historical Society. Paul also stated he would use old telephone poles to create a blockade to the farm buildings, which are considered nonpublic areas at Brightside Park
Mr. Willig reported that the Turnpike is pursuing its plan to build an interchange in this area. The design is still in preliminary stages with one to two years yet to go before construction begins. Completion is thought to be in 2007. A Memorandum of Understanding is being created for County and Turnpike approval, with the parties asking that the townships help write the document.
Mrs. Ewald informed the Board that the Turnpike has run short of funds and will not continue to widen the turnpike past what has already been done to this point. She could not say what impact this will have upon the Township or on the slip ramp situation.
During the period of Citizens' Forum, the issue of landscaping at Charlestown Hunt was discussed by Howard Crawford, who complained about trees which are getting too big for the small courtyards where Realen planted them. The Board asked to be copied on all correspondence on this subject.
The Board then moved to approve the official minutes of the July 15 and 22 meetings, along with the Treasurer's Report for July, and the August 5 Accounts Payable, which included two checks covering State and General funds.
Monthly Reports:
Zoning: Mr. Kohli's report was filed prior to this meeting. Mrs. Ewald took note that on the Deerfield property at Yellow Springs and Valley Hill Roads, the thistle had finally been cut, but several weeks later than she had hoped. She thought it had aged and spread seeds all over the surrounding areas. Mr. Kuhn objected and said that the Brightside property across the street also had thistle. which was allowed to stand for too long. and the township would be just as guilty. It was noted that there is no ordinance setting penalties for taking too long to mow the field. Mr. Panizza had agreed to have the field mowed but advised the township that a problem had developed at the last minute which delayed mowing.
Mr. Kohli stated that the water main needs to be extended to Route 29 by Trammel Crow (Atwater developers) before the school can extend its new main up Charlestown Road.
Planning Commission: No representative. Historic Commission: No representative.
Open Space Commission: Mr. Kuhn said he joined the reps from French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust to view farm property owned by the Soldas (Merlin Road), which is being considered for purchase of Development Rights.
Roadmaster: Stop Signs have been placed on two sides of Rees Road per Mr. Hogan. Hollow Road work may be completed by August 6.
Fire Marshal: Mr. Alston gave his report and reminded everyone of the ban on outside burning and the continued drought condition. He advised that Potassium Iodide pills are to be distributed to residents within 10 miles of Limerick Generating Station at Kimberton Fire Company, starting August 8. Employers in the area will distribute pills to their employees. (These are intended only for use in the event of a nuclear emergency involving release of radiation.)
Brightside Farm Committee: Mr. Hogan said that the wooded area has been cleared of the trash left by the former owners. Mr. Kuhn complained that the sudden creation of roads at Brightside Farm is unauthorized, has no permit from the township, and is being done before the Vision Plan is complete. He objected to the bold appearance of them. He felt roads should not be created until the plan for the farm is complete. Heated discussion arose over how the road came to be improved. The board had authorized only the filling in of the deep ruts, but when the Roadmaster went to the property, he thought it best to level the road and place gravel down. This road was completed in the U-shaped manner suggested on the Vision Process' latest proposed plan, and actually followed the path of the old farm roads, now nearly gone. Mr. Hogan later stated that he would block access to the new roads, since Mr. Kuhn felt this was easy access for teenagers to use the farm as a drinking spot.
A question came up as to the duties of the Farm Committee. Mr. Kuhn stressed that the Farm Committee's purpose is designated as maintenance of the farmland and buildings. Mr. Hogan stated that $20,000 has been expended by the Farm Committee in cleaning up the land and buildings.
Mrs. Ewald complained that Mr. Comitta's office was not doing a good enough job in the Vision Process and that she was not satisfied with the quality of the product and the outcome to date. However, the other Board members supported Mr. Comitta and Ed Theurkauf's efforts during the three public Vision Process meetings held to date. The Board then discussed whether it was proper for a consultant to take direction from one Board member or from consensus of the Board. Hugh Willig stated that unified direction of the Board will keep the Township's business running smoothly.
Mark Connelly, of the Brightside Farm Committee, spoke up stating that the issues need to be addressed. He felt that protecting the viewshed and retaining the property as a farm is important. He felt that the Farm Committee should have a small limit on expenditures to use without Board approval. The Board noted that $60,000 was allotted in the Township Budget for Farm Committee's use in covering a list of projects that were proposed for Brightside, mostly in maintenance and cleaning of the property. It was noted that the Farm Committee has a spokesperson, Bob Elmer, who addresses the Board with any Farm Committee requests.
Returning to the heated road issue at Brightside, Mrs. Ewald stated that she had received a call that work was being done at the Farm. She went over to inspect and found that more work than was requested was being performed. She said that the request was simply to fill in the ruts only; however, the Roadmaster stated that grading the road would give a better result than just filling in the ruts. Stone was put down. Mr. Kuhn objected to this since no township approval had been given.
Mr. Hanscom spoke on behalf of the Farm Committee and said they felt that work was being done without knowledge of all of the Farm Committee. He stressed his belief that house improvements should be a priority before winter comes.
Alix Coleman verified that the Farm commission decided to fill in the ruts with stone only. However, the Roadmaster wanted to do more as though it was roadwork.
In order to calm the Board, Mr. Willig asked that the Board agree work together and let what is done pass.
Mr. Connelly asked that, in preparation for the proposed Harvest Festival on October 6 the Board approve the Farm Committee to prepare the property, which would include obtaining a water tank, sump pump, and pressure washing of the manure area. Mr. Kuhn complained he knew nothing about this Festival, which was discussed briefly at the last Vision Process meeting as a means to introduce the latest results of the Vision Process work to the public. Mr. Connelly also asked that the Farm Committee be placed in the role of performing over-all project management of the various ideas that are proposed for Brightside. He felt there was a need for this role to coordinate and oversee the work. He did not say who would head that effort if approved.
Parks and Recreation: Mr. Connelly stated that the proposed new Basketball Courts bids have come in. The retention basin on the original plan has been eliminated due to discovery of no need for it. An asphalt path will be installed to access the courts and the children's playground. F-Street will have a fence installed, which would block current playground access.
A Veteran's Memorial will be moved to a more suitable location in the park.
Mr. Comitta's drawings of the basketball court plans are due next week and at that time the conditional approval request will be before the Board. A motion was made and passed by the Board to approve the conditional request subject to meeting all of Mr. Kohli's requests and comments.
Mrs. Ewald again objected to the basketball courts, stating the selected area was designated as expansion space for the tot lot. She offered a lot at the Township Line Road entrance in lieu, but Mr. Connelly stated that the area was already earmarked for expanded parking. Mrs. Ewald continued her objections, stating that Valley Forge Christian College was planning a large basketball complex in that general area. Mr. Willig and Mr. Hogan stated they had never seen the existing tot lot overloaded, even when other activities had been in progress at the park. Therefore, expansion is not warranted.
Mr. Connelly stated he had received a letter from St Patrick's and the LaCross Team reviving their request for use of the property in Devault for a playing field. They also wish to have minor improvements completed to make the field surface safer and initially use it for football practice. St. Patrick's is willing to submit a proposal to the Board in September. Mrs. Ewald suggested that Parks and Recreation obtain the basic requirements for playing fields.
Valley Forge Sewer Authority: Mr. Rodgers stated that due to the sudden death of Chairman Walker, VFSA has selected Dan Reese as Chairman and Michael Rodgers as Vice Chairman. He added that Toll Bros. has submitted sewage plans for Charlestown Meadows (Route 401 at Newcomen Rd.). The Sewer Authority will be requesting specific pipe sizes be used, and that a pumping station is planned for which VFSA will be overseeing the design.
Major/Minor Subdivision Ordinance Amendment: The hearing on a proposed amendment to the subdivision ordinance was opened. Mr. Comitta presented the final copy of the proposed change. Applicants before the Township, who propose subdivision of lots about 10 acres or more would have a simplified and accelerated plan review process. The design standards for roads or driveways could be downgraded from that demanded of large projects. Mr. Willig asked for a process timeline. For instance, an applicant wishing to divide 30 acres into three 10-acre lots with a plan approved by an engineer, could see approval in 60 days. Mr. McErlane said that the existing ordinance has very stringent road requirements, and this downgraded requirement would help preserve the look of the land.
Major subdivisions would have to meet the usual strict ordinances and process requirements. Mr. McErlane noted that the minor subdivision process has been around for a long time. With no other input, the hearing was closed. The Board's decision was to make a motion, and the proposed ordinance change was approved.
Memorandum of Agreement for Spring Oaks: The Board was reminded by Mr. Townes that J. Lowe has entered into an Agreement with Trammel. Crow for road work and now asks the Board to sign the Memorandum of Agreement. Mrs. Ewald called for a recess so the Board could privately discuss the issue. At 9:57 the Board returned. Mr. McErlane asked Mr. Townes if the Board could keep $157,000 that it collected over time, but Mr. Townes stated that due to payments to be made for intersection work at Charlestown Rd. and Phoenixville Pike, he would need this money. Mr. Townes will place in writing his obligations and agreements with Charlestown Township.
Trammel Crow representative asked a question about payment for the Warner Road Railroad signals, and Mrs. Ewald said that the $157, 000, if retained by the Township, could be used for that purpose.
The Board requested specific information as to the whereabouts of $175,000 escrowed by Spring Oaks, which was located at Hudson United Bank, and approved an escrow release of the funds.
Warner Lane Grade Crossing: The approval of appropriation of the ground is still to come. Trammel Crow representative requested that the Board approve a temporary rail road crossing opening prior to completion of the final electrical work. The rep said that Warner Lane is ready to open, however, Norfolk-Southern has not yet installed their warning lights. Temporarily, a flagman would be used when the trains crossed two to three times per week. She again requested the Board to approve the interim opening of the grade crossing. Benefits to Charlestown Township are that Trammel Crow is paying for the Warner Lane extension (from Morehall Road to Phoenixville Pike). Mrs. Ewald asked what Trammel Crow was giving to the township in return for the all the traffic. This was not stated, however, the Board approved the early opening by a motion.
Bicycle lane on Howell Road: This issue arose from a resident's request for a bike lane allowing more safety when riding with his child. This road is currently being paved, and a bike lane can be placed on one side of Howell. The question is how wide should the bike path be. The suggested 10-foot wide automobile lanes would allow a three-foot to four-foot wide bike lane. This width would depend upon the actual width of the paved road surface.
State Police in Charlestown: Residents have requested more traffic control on Merlin Road. Additionally, the Board stated that it has made a desk available in the Township Office to State Police at any time when they are in Charlestown.
Woolen Mill: HARB (Historic and Architectural Review Board) encouraged the Board to keep going on the stabilization of the mill. Mr. Kohli asked if grant funds were available, and he was directed to contact Mr. Dale Frens for status. Taking the roof load off the walls is considered a priority along with replacing fallen roof beams. A plan for removal of the crumbling walls of the mill's "phase III" section needs to be reviewed for determination of necessity. Cleanup is also an issue for inside and outside. Professional contractors will be consulted to do cleanup due to safety issues. Mr. Willig asked that some progress be made quickly. Removal of vegetation will have to be done carefully to preserve the walls.
In other matters, Mr. Kuhn noted that the Board has not decided on a tree contract for the coming year and a bid package will be developed.
An escrow release (#2) for the Brooklands project on Bodine Road was considered. Mr. Kohli stated all was in order and the board released approximately $155,000.
M. Allen escrow release (#3) was also recommended by Mr. Kohli, and it was approved in the amount of $1,380.
Paul Hogan stated a letter was sent to the Korean Church requesting they make improvements to their property on Sycamore Lane. A suggestion surfaced regarding the granting of tree protection if the Korean Association would deed-restrict the lot against future building. Mrs. Ewald suggested that the original Deeds be examined before this course of action is pursued.
Mike Rodgers (liaison to VFSA) said the September 9 VFSA meeting conflicts with the Boards' September 9 meeting. The Board decided to cancel this meeting, that was originally changed due to it falling on Labor Day, Sept. 2. A motion was made to cancel the Supervisors' September 9 meeting; however, Mr. Willig wanted to review the proposed September 9 agenda before the motion was voted upon.
Mr. Willig asked for an executive session to review the East Pikeland Township request to have Charlestown Township join in the effort to oppose the curative amendment filed by Cypress Energy.
The property owner has offered the Longwood School ruins on Bodine Road to the Township. The Township needs to establish a payment amount and consider the amount of work needed to make the school presentable as a historic ruin. Mr. Hogan advised that a time capsule from 1904 may be found there somewhere.
Due to daily phone calls received at the Township Office, Mrs. Csete requested the Board's advice regarding the landscape issue currently before the Board. Charlestown Oaks has requested a change in the original landscape design to lessen the number of plants being installed. Mr. Comitta said he is awaiting recommendations. The issue will be on the next meeting agenda for the Supervisors (August 19).
The Board set an executive session at a time that would accommodate all of their schedules for Tuesday, August 6, early in the morning.
The Board received notice that the resident at 104 Beaufort Court, Charlestown Hunt, wishes to expand his home by addition of two more garages. The applicant feels he must move the driveway to within 10 feet of the set back and is asking whether the Board would decide this or send him to the Zoning Hearing Board. The Board will examine the property before deciding.
Adjournment at 11:10 p.m.
Reported by Loretta Watson.
 
Saturday, August 3, 2002  (Provided by Charlestown Green)
Charlestown Township
Board of Supervisors' Regular Meeting
July 15, 2002
The meeting came to order at 7:32 p.m. at the request of Chairman, Hugh Willig. Present with Mr. Willig were Kevin Kuhn, Paul Hogan, Irene Ewald, and Michael Rodgers, Supervisors, and Tom Oeste, Esq., Surender Kohli, and Linda Csete.
Citizens' Forum: No speakers.
The Board approved its official Minutes of the July 1, 2002 meeting.
The Board announced it had received a written request from the Attorney for the Altemoses requesting continuance of the hearing scheduled for tonight. The hearing will continue on August 5, 2002.
Ordinance to require Sketch Plan notification: Mr. Oeste opened a hearing to receive public comment regarding the proposed ordinance. Mrs. Csete read a statement from the Chester County Planning Commission stating their pros and cons to the notification requirement. Mr. Oeste emphasized that the sketch plan process is voluntary on the part of the applicant and notification would not begin the time clock as a mandatory submission. This could be clearly stated in the ordinance. The Board expressed reservations regarding the effect such an ordinance would have in discouraging people from submitting sketch plans. The recent problem involving Three Ponds and the Dixon Subdivision was discussed; and the feeling was that most issues were resolved before the Planning Commission and the Board had no large issues to discuss with the applicant, thus the approval process was very short, catching some residents by surprise. Methods of advising the public were discussed with several suggestions offered. The proposed ordinance will be redrafted by Mr. Oeste and returned for the Board's review.
A resident complained that the Agendas created by the Board were vague and not easily understood by the general public. The Board agreed that more information could be added to present clear topics.
Spring Lane Farms - Settlement Plan and Agreement - Mr. Dobson and Mr. Smiley, representing the developer, Genterra, presented a drawing of the latest design of Spring Lane for the Board's acceptance. The current plan is for 8 homes, in addition to the existing historic structure. Lot 6 was moved and the road shortened. There will be no development on 24 acres of the property. Width of the access road was discussed in regard to minimizing disturbance of the wetlands existing near Hollow Road, with a width of 18 to 20 feet suggested by the Supervisors. Mrs. Ewald raised a suggestion of moving the road to avoid wetlands and protect the farmstead, but this idea raised more problems in the execution. The board asked for protection of the wetlands through an easement. Mr. Oeste will prepare the Settlement Agreement.
Equipment and Labor Contract July 2002 to June 2003. Bidders' information was reviewed. The Board found that no PennDOT certification existed for the low bidder. Motion to award the contract to Melchiorre passed.
Warner Lane Railroad Crossing: A representative from Trammel Crow presented a scale drawing of the site in question. As background information, she stated that in 1998 the PUC approved appropriation of the land at the RR Crossing in order to facilitate the reopening of Warner Lane (a township road) from Morehall Road to Phoenixville Pike. The formal appropriation of the property is the next step. She explained appropriation as a term similar to the taking or condemnation of property for purpose of allowing a public road to cross the tracks.
The Board authorized, by Motion, a petition to be used in the event that approval is not reached by August 8.
Ordinance Amendment - Motion was approved to authorize advertising of the proposed ordinance, which would present alternatives to demolition of historic structures.
Ordinance amendment - Motion was approved to authorize the advertising of the proposed ordinance regarding impervious surface coverage.
Official township map - Municipal Planning Code requests that a map be sent to other municipalities for their review and comment. Motion was approved to advertise a hearing regarding the official township map. Mr. Willig suggested a mailing to advise the public of this hearing and that the website be upgraded to show the current proposed map, which shows properties reserved by the township for possible future public use and trails.
Resolution to execute Snow and Ice Agreement for 2002 to 2003. The Roadmaster took time to check the road lengths as stated in the Agreement to verify that the proposal was on target. The Board approved execution of the contract in the amount of $17,000.
Escrow Release No. 3 - Sal Lapio Homes: A motion was approved to pay the release. Mr. Kohli reported that the list of open issues is being resolved through Iacobucci for Phase I, and that the traffic light at Yellow Springs Road will be operating soon.
The Board was presented with a Vision Partnership Agreement and Comprehensive Plan Implementation. Mrs. Csete advised that there are two sets of agreements - one a subdivision amendment and the other a zoning ordinance amendment. The agreements were approved for signature by the board.
Adjournment at 9:35 to an executive session.
Reported by Loretta Watson
 
 
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