Lower Nazareth boosts tax to preserve open space
Lower Nazareth Township will begin collecting more in earned income tax next year for open space acquisition and preservation.
Township supervisors Wednesday voted 5-0 to approve an ordinance enabling the township to collect 0.25 mill more in earned income tax to be used solely for the acquisition and preservation of open space.
“This money is extremely well-monitored and cannot be used for any other purposes by the township,” Chairman James Pennington said after the decision.
The change goes into effect beginning in January.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the use of their tax dollars toward that goal in the May primary.
Next in the process is the formation of an open space environmental advisory committee of five members to aid in adopting an open space preservation plan.
The plan will touch upon both farmland and environmentally sensitive areas such as woodlands and wetlands.
Supervisor Bob Hoyer, who will serve as liaison to the committee, said he has received interest from “up to four” potential candidates and would like more residents to come forward.
Applicants have until the end of August to submit letters of interest to the township.
The board will select committee members in September.
Gilmore & Associates, an environmental engineering firm in Doylestown, was awarded a contract by the board last year to prepare the open space plan, and then this year secured a second contract to put together the official map of potential targets for farmland and open space preservation.
Once seated, committee members will participate in the development of the open space plan, township Manager Lori Stauffer said.
“Once the plan is adopted, they can begin reaching out to prospective owners,” she said.
They will also review applications from interested parties that contact the township directly, Stauffer said.
Gilmore & Associates will analyze zoning in the township and preservation efforts initiated by Northampton County in order to “identify the properties that make the most sense” for targeting, she said.
Stauffer said previously that the tax increase is expected to generate up to $700,000.
Other townships in Northampton County, such as Bushkill, Plainfield, Upper Milford and Moore, have established open space plans.
Kevin Duffy is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.