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Township purchases and protects 63.8- acre property

08/08/2017 10:53AM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

The greening of southern Chester County just added another patch of ground.
The Kennett Township Board of Supervisors announced at their Aug. 2 meeting that the township has purchased 63.8 acres of property between Burnt Mill and Old Kennett Roads that contains a protected woodland, for $1.9 million.
The property will be preserved as open space through a conservation easement held by The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC), and will become a passive recreation area with trails and open space through the woodlands. It was acquired through a collaborative effort between the township's Land Conservation Advisory Committee (LCAC), TLC and a private donor.
The acquisition took over a year to complete.  It is expected that 35 percent of the purchase cost, which was paid through the township's open space funds, may be able to be recouped through grant funds in the future.
Township Manager Lisa Moore said that the township has the rights to sell development rights on the property in the future. The development rights have a value, but is currently prohibited against building.
The proposed trails for the property will connect to an adjacent property, which has an open space and trail easement held by TLC. The purchase of the property -- and the future plans for it -- are the latest addition to the increasing network of trail connections that are bridging local municipalities, specifically seen in the grand plans for the Kennett Greenway. Board Chairman Scudder Stevens said that the purchase of the property is the latest addition to what is becoming a major conservation corridor.
"The thing that’s important to flag is that this property is adjacent to other conserved properties, so it’s not just a dart on the map," Stevens said. "It is there, but there is something that is adjacent and adjacent and adjacent. It’s forming a conduit through the township to allow people to walk through and be a part of nature. Sixty three acres is an important number, but when you mix it all together, it becomes so much more valuable.”
In other news, the township has formed a subcommittee with representatives from the Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO) to explore ways of how the electric service provider will better be able to track, address and reduce power outages in the township.
Moore said a major component of PECO's 2020 plan, currently underway, will be to trim trees throughout the township that may conflict with power lines, and asked for the cooperation of township residents during this process.
"Up until two years ago, it wasn’t unusual to lose power for a day or a day and a half," said supervisor Whitney Hoffman. "Now the outages are much shorter. Across the system, [PECO] would like to reduce the number of power outages to the point where a [property owner] loses power only once a year.  They’re trying to track those numbers as a quality measure, and that’s why they’re putting their investments in this program. They have accelerated this to the top of their list."
By a vote of 3-0, the board approved the adoption of Ordinance No. 271, which enters the township into the proposed inter-municipal agreement with East Marlborough, Newlin, Pennsbury and Pocopson townships and the Kennett Borough to establish the Kennett Fire and EMS Regional Commission, intended to oversee the capital purchases of three fire companies – Longwood, Kennett and Pro-Mar-Lin -- who service these municipalities. The commission, which has not yet been adopted by all municipalities, will determine what equipment will be purchased, and establish fair share funding toward capital purchases and operating costs, and also address ambulance service.
“It’s important that there’s an even fair share that all townships agree to,” said supervisor Dr. Richard Leff. "It will cost Kennett Township a little more than what it spent [on fire and ambulance service] in the past, but it’s not much more. I think it’s good that we pool our experiences and resources together to try to work more efficiently as a group.”
Over the course of discussions about the commission, Stevens said that "elected officials were asking the fire company and EMS groups to take with a measure of good faith that we were all working toward the same end, and to leap into the void with us in creating this arrangement."
“As we started this whole process, the first thing we did as a group of municipalities was to pool funds to hire a consultant to sit down with us and the EMS and fire companies and lead us through the process of how to approach this, and determine our goals and expectations," he said. “We’re at the leading edge of trying to define the problem, and to resolve the answer. That’s what this is all about.”
In other news, the board agreed that the township would make a one-time, $6,000 gift to the Kennett Area Community Services, in order to help fund KACS’ Getting Ahead Program.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.


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