More than 740 acres of farmland gets added protection
Agricultural Security Area includes 47 parcels
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.