More than 740 acres of farm­land gets added pro­tec­tion

Agri­cul­tural Se­cu­rity Area in­cludes 47 parcels

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

LOWER FRED­ER­ICK » While a zon­ing pro­posal that would have ef­fected five parcels in town was grab­bing the head­lines last week, town­ship su­per­vi­sors qui­etly took a vote that could have a much broader im­pact.

Af­ter months of dis­cus­sions, the town­ship cre­ated an Agri­cul­tural Se­cu­rity Area of more than 45 parcels in and near the town­ship that has the po­ten­tial to pre­serve nearly 745 acres of farm­land.

While not di­rectly pre­served, land in an Agri­cul­tural Se­cu­rity Area has cer­tain pro­tec­tions, like against land be­ing taken by the gov­ern­ment through an em­i­nent do­main pro­ceed­ing for ex­am­ple.

Ad­di­tion­ally, “Landown­ers in (a se­cu­rity area) re­ceive pro­tec­tion from lo­cal laws and or­di­nances that would un­rea­son­ably re­strict farm prac­tices, as well as pro­tec­tion from con­dem­na­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a

Penn­syl­va­nia Land Trust As­so­ci­a­tion web­site ex­pla­na­tion cited by The Sanatoga Post.

It is also a first step to­ward deeper preser­va­tion said Linda Jans­son, a res­i­dent who helped con­vince the su­per­vi­sors to take the step.

She said farm­land must be in an agri­cul­tural se­cu­rity area for the land to be per­ma­nently pre­served through a con­ser­va­tion ease­ment, through which the landowner re­tains own­er­ship of the land, but sells off the de­vel­op­ment rights.

Her com­ments came dur­ing a pub­lic hear­ing that pre­ceded the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion about the Goshen­hop­pen Creek Over­lay zon­ing district that had the po­ten­tial to in­crease hous­ing den­sity by 93 homes in the town­ship and which at­tracted more than 100 ob­jec­tors.

By con­trast, there were a few ques­tions but no ob­jec­tions to the cre­ation of the se­cu­rity area — which added seven new parcels to­tal­ing nearly 98 acres at the Sept. 5 pub­lic hear­ing.

Af­ter the tur­moil of the dis­cus­sion about the Goshen­hop­pen over­lay was over and most of the res­i­dents had left, the su­per­vi­sors unan­i­mously adopted the agri­cul­tural se­cu­rity area or­di­nance.

Su­per­vi­sors’ Chair­man Bob Yoder thanked Jans­son for all the work she put into get­ting the or­di­nance re­searched and passed.

“Take some credit,” he urged her.

All to­gether, the acreage now in the se­cu­rity area to­tals 743.36 acres, which is 1.1615 square miles.

If all of the parcels were within the bor­ders of Lower Fred­er­ick — some are in Sch­wenksville and Perkiomen Town­ships — the area of the land with greater pro­tec­tions would rep­re­sent just over 14 per­cent of Lower Fred­er­ick’s to­tal land area of 8.13 square miles.

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