Township may preserve 44 acres on two properties
● By Richard Gaw
New Garden Township may become even greener in perpetuity, thanks to a proposal to acquire more than 44 total acres of farmland and open space, that would be preserved through conservation easements placed on two distinct properties in the township.
A presentation given by the township's Open Space Review Board (OSRB) to the Board of Supervisors at a Dec. 17 meeting gave details behind their recommendation to acquire 43.1 acres of the Sproat Farm property, in the vicinity of the Bancroft Elementary School, along Bancroft Road, Pemberton Road and Line Road. Of those acres, 40.8 are expected to be placed in conservation easement and divided into three parcels: 16.7 acres, 13.7 acres and 10.4 acres, respectively. Of that acreage, 16.4 is designated as Highest Protection Area, and the remaining 24.4 acres are designated as Standard Protection Area. The remaining 2.3 acres will be reserved as private property.
If it is purchased by the township, the property would serve as a vital connection to the township's Greenways Plan, whose objective is to identify and attempt to preserve a contiguous “corridor” of undeveloped land throughout the township that connects natural areas, trails, bikeways and easements.
The appraised value per acre is $7,300, and the total cost of the Sproat property is projected to be $300,000. Eric McCormick of Natural Lands, who serves as an advisor to the OSRB, told the supervisors that she is confident that as much as 50 percent of the appraised value of the property would be paid for through a grant from a Chester County-based open space source. The remainder of the cost is projected to be paid for from the township's Open Space Fund.
The OSRB also recommended the purchase of a 4.2-acre swath of land off of Landenberg Road, that is owned by the Christie family. It will be the second time the family has negotiated a conservation easement with the OSRB for its property; currently, 12 acres of the family's land is under conservation easement. Purchase of the additional acreage will provide a continuing link to the township's several trail systems throughout Landenberg.
The easement value of the Christie property is assessed at $9,500 per acre, and its $40,000 asking price is planned to be paid for through the township's Open Space Fund, as well as from other grant sources. The supervisors are expect to decide on the purchase of these four parcels at their Jan. 22, 2019 meeting. If approved, the OSRB is looking to finalize these transactions in the first quarter of 2019.
The Open Space Review Board is a volunteer-based group that assists landowners with planning to preserve remaining open space. Its members meet with property owners to discuss preservation options, to develop proposals to accomplish the easements necessary to protect the property from eventual development, and to recommend proposals to the Board of Supervisors for review toward approval.
In other township business, the board adopted Resolutions 803 and 804, which kept the township's local enabling and real estate tax rates largely the same for 2019. The only difference in the tax picture for next year will be the increase in the township's local services tax – effective Jan. 1, 2019 – that will raise the fee for those who work in the township, from $10 to $52, annually – one dollar a week for those who earn more than $12,000 a year.
Agreed to by the board at its Nov. 19 meeting, the revenues raised from the tax increase will be used for emergency services – police, ambulance and fire and road maintenance – and is estimated to raise $175,320 a year.
The board extended its decision on whether to grant the application of 380 Starr Road, LLP, to convert the building now being used by W.L. Gore in the township into a medical marijuana growing and distribution facility. The applicant agreed to the board's request for an extension, which it will render at its Jan. 22, 2019 meeting.
The board approved a $79,000 contract with McMahon Associates to develop a transportation and streetscape design plan for the Village of Toughkenamon. The design, in partnership with a newly-formed committee, is scheduled to begin in January and be completed in early 2020.
A conditional use hearing held before the board considered the application of the Samii family to convert an existing two-story office building at the intersection of Newark Roads and Old Baltimore Pike in Toughkenamon, into a 1,590 square-foot convenience store, that will be primarily used for check cashing and money transfers.
Located at 1490 Newark Road, the building had been previously been used as a chiropractor's office, as well as an office, community center and sub shop.
A design for the new use for the building – and a single-family dwelling beside it that will not be used as commercial space – is still in the works, but it sits at the center of a troublesome intersection that is on a timeline to be upgraded.
The supervisors have 45 days to render a decision on the application, which is expected to be reached at its Jan. 22, 2019 meeting.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.