Lower Nazareth boosts tax to pre­serve open space

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Kevin Duffy

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.

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