Corrections: Honey Brook Township pursues land preservation

The following has been edited to address accuracy issues. Edits are contained in brackets . We apologize for these errors and for the confusion which they have caused - J. Finneran, Editor, Tri County Record

Approval was granted for Honey Brook Township to provide funding for land preservation for the 57 acre farm belonging to Gideon Stoltzfus on Beaver Dam Road.

Stoltzfus's farm is surrounded by preserved farms, said Chairman Lew Wertley.

The appraised price is extremely low. The price of farm land is going up and the price of developable land is going down. Honey Brook Township is interested on placing some type of plaque on preserved farms to identify them.

Funds are available to preserve farm land and open space. Honey Brook Township has about $600,000 available annually. Recently there was a surplus of $39,000 .

Honey Brook Township is first in Chester County for applications to preserve farms and the number of farms preserved .

The township is blessed with great soils. The development rights have been sold for over 100 acres.

Farms in the township will continue to rank high, said Supervisor Joe Fenstermacher.

The supervisors will attend the next meeting of the Honey Brook Land Preservation Committee, said Wertley.

'We will discuss information concerning the low sale price of land and decide if we want to take advantage of it,' he stated.

'We should take advantage of the low prices,' offered Mike France, Chairman of the Land Preservation Committee.

John Goodall from the Brandywine Conservancy said applications have to be in by Dec. 1.

The farms are ranked by the county, then the farmers are notified and the program is discussed. There is an appraisal of the value of the farm. The township can challenge the appraisal. It is believed that there are about 1000 acres in the township where the owners would like to sell the development rights.

'There are 640 acres in a square mile and we have over 1000 acres preserved,' said Wertley. 'It is a good chunk of land…. …It is a good thing.'

A waiver for land development was granted for Berks County Emergency Services to construct a communications tower on a mountain in Honey Brook Township where there is presently a nearby cellular communications tower. Township Engineer Mike Reinert said the Planning Commission recommends it.

Road Master Don Johnson said road paving is almost complete. Following the paving lines will be painted on the roads. An ordinance is being advertised that will place a 35 mph speed limit on Talbotville, Forrest, Meadville, Icedale and Mill Roads.

Wertley said there is a new program in which veterans can get discounts from participating merchants . Veterans must go to the Recorder of Deeds office in West Chester and fill out some forms to take advantage of the program.

The Brandywine Conservancy is promoting the establishment of the Brandywine Creek Greenway. Eventually it will extend from Chadds Ford to Honey Brook, and to the Highlands Greenway.

From 1995 to 2000 there many acres were lost to development and there are many reforestation efforts happening. Over 300 trees have been planted along streams. The Conservancy plans to educate people on how they can benefit from trees.

The Parks and Recreation Committee is looking for a new member. Fenstermacher is serving on the committee until someone steps up to fill the seat . Fenstermacher will exclude himself from voting on anything that might influence the township budget. Supervisor John McHugh said that the committee is a good group.

'The meetings are positive,' he stated.

McHugh said they have approached Honey Brook Borough to see if they may like to contribute when the township updates the Comprehensive Plan.

The Chester County Water Resources Authority hopes to develop a storm water management plan for all of Chester County, said Reinert. There would be a lot of cost savings in a single ordinance. They are looking at input from various agencies and are considering implications from existing development and new development. Reinert added that he does not know the cost of the project, as it has been evolving for some time. The DEP wants comments by October 31. Reinert was authorized to represent Honey Brook Township to participate in creating a model ordinance for stormwater management. About 10 percent of Honey Brook Township is in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and 90 percent is in The Brandywine watershed.

McHugh said the township will look to hold town meetings where citizens could informally discuss issues of concern, and that those meeting will be advertised. A previous Town Hall meeting attracted seven residents and Supervisors McHugh and Fenstermacher. There was a discussion over the salaries of former and current employees. Fenstermacher said they are reviewing costs now.

After the meeting was officially over, a resident spoke up and said that his mother-in-law lives next to the Dead Animal Removal (D.A.R.) site along Mt. Pleasant Road. 'The mess' borders her property he said. Another resident said that the Amish 'get away with things other people can't do'. Another resident claimed that he saw a farmer dragging a dead cow up the road with a tractor.

Fenstermacher said per the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture the township has no authority to do anything with the facility, and that only the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Protection have any enforcement authority. The D.A.R. possesses a license from the D.E.P. to operate the facility.

'The only thing we have jurisdiction over is the subdivision and land development. There is a lot of false information out there. The thing (which those involved with D.A.R. need) to do is to educate people.'

Emanuel Stoltzfus, the owner of the property where the D.A.R. site is located, had previously said that he would be willing to allow some people with concerns go out and view the D.A.R. site, but that site visit has not taken place.

During a recent meeting with State Sen. Mike Brubaker, it was learned that the D.A.R. site in Honey Brook is the only facility of its kind in the region. Brubaker is planning to see if other composting facilities can be developed.

Several residents expressed need for a local police department.

Fenshtermacher said the state is billions of dollars in debt.

'We do not have to pay for the State Police. Costs were discussed. Information was provided on police coverage in surrounding areas and past local experiences with police issues.'

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