At the end of last night’s budget workshop I outlined a proposal to earmark all previously collected & future real estate transfer taxes associated with the Jaindl Spring Creek Properties rezoning for preservation initiatives to offset the loss of protected open space.
The unfortunate rezoning of the “Jaindl property” resulted in the loss of 700 acres of previously protected farmland in the western portion of the township.
It makes sense to save one time money associated with the sales of subdivided lots within Jaindl Spring Creek properties to offset the loss of previously protected open space by permanently preserving other parcels elsewhere. Smart growth and preservation initiatives are supported by a majority of residents. This is based on elections, polling & surveys. It’s also reinforced by multiple adopted and pending comprehensive planning documents including the smart growth plan and parks and recreation comprehensive plan. Moving forward this is the best way to fund that initiative and the time to do it is now.
Saving this money moving forward gives us the flexibility to debate it’s precise use for a variety of open space projects including:
- Farmland protection via easement
- Acquisition for park expansion
- Critical future greenway connections
My preference is preservation easements on currently farmed properties with the highest residential development potential since that kind of preservation is the best way to keep taxes sustainably low over the long term by reducing the need for more services and infrastructure. That is my preference but all these can be debated and considered over the next year.
Today the township has an unfunded farmland preservation initiative. With the exception of Commissioner Lancsek who is openly opposed to most preservation efforts, all other Commissioners are on record stating open space preservation is an important goal. Yet each year that we do not actively pursue preservation we lose out on thousands of dollars of matching county funding which could go away at any point. The township has in the past been proactive. In 2007 supervisors unanimously passed an Act 4 ordinance allowing for the exemption of millage increases on preserved properties. This is a very powerful incentive that has been under promoted by the township since 2010.
Across the Valley communities are making preservation a priority but LMT lags severely behind. This despite our availability of parcels worth preserving and public support.
At the mtg last night Commissioner Browne supported the open space preservation “lock box” concept. This likely gives me a second to make a motion to formally propose the concept at the Nov. 6th BOC meeting. The initiative is also supported by the township EAC.
One Commissioner, Jim Lancsek opposed. Commissioner Higgins and Conrad did not comment. It’s time to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk with open space preservation.