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Chester County Press

Kennett Township scraps land trust ordinances

03/05/2014 02:29PM ● By Acl

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

The Kennett Township Board of Supervisors officially voted to eliminate two ordinances related to land trusts in the township, in favor of working with existing land trust groups, in an effort to further place land conservation easements in the township.

The action, taken at the board's Feb. 19 meeting, repealed Ordinance 102, by a vote of 3-0, and Ordinance 190, by a vote of 2-1. 

Ordinance 102, enacted in 1995 and known as the Kennett Township Land Trust Enabling Ordinance, gave the supervisors the authority to enter into contracts with the Kennett Township Land Trust, provide administrative assistance, and to fund the land trust financially, if they chose to. The Trust is now legally called The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC), a nationally-accredited organization that operates independently from the township, and who currently holds existing conservation easements and negotiates new conservation easements with township residents.

"Ordinance 102 was an enabling ordinance in relation to the Kennett Conservancy, and it presumes that there was a need for having that relationship, but it turns out that we've been working with several other conservancy groups without the necessity of having such an ordinance," Chairman Scudder Stevens said. "The concern of this board has been, 'Are these two ordinances relevant?'"

Ordinance 190, created in 2010, allowed the township to create its own municipal lands trust known as The Kennett Land Conservancy. It had never been incorporated or acted upon. Supervisor Robert Hammaker defended the establishment of the ordinance, saying that it served as an alternative to using other land trust groups. "I don't see any harm in this ordinance," he said. "Unless we move to actually do it, it will never take effect.”

Supervisor Richard Leff disagreed with Hammaker. "If the township establishes its own land conservancy we have to fund it. We have to hire people," he said. "We have several land agencies that we're already working with, so I don't see an advantage in duplicating services that are already being done.”

“I think it makes sense to clear up any of the confusion of relationships that have come and gone and no longer exist in the same fashion, particularly when the ordinances have no significance as far as being able to work or not work,” Stevens said. 

The rescinding of these two ordinances comes on the heels of the announcement that the township's Land Conservation Advisory Committee is currently working the the TLC in helping to place two easements on land in the township. At the Feb. 19 meeting, the board approved, by a vote of 3-0, the establishment of a funding letter for the TLC that will be able to provide matching funds for the grants that the TLC is applying for from the county, for the acquisition of a 35-acre parcel in the township and a 36.86-acre parcel in the township, both of which are linked to existing conserved lands in the township.

"This is the first time in my experience that the township has worked for funding an easement by looking to the county for assistance in the purchase of conservation easement rights," Stevens said, who praised both the TLC and the Advisory Committee. "The last couple of years that has not occurred. (By working with the county), this effectively doubles the amount of money available to get the job done."