Friday, June 17, 2011

NorCo Council Spends $260,400 to Save the Lizards

Ron Angle's son graduated from Bangor High School last night, so he was absent from County Council. For some, and that certainly includes most of his fellow elected officials, it was a cause of joy and celebration. For those interested in good government and fiscal responsibility, it was a disappointing night.

Just two weeks before, Angle managed to persuade Council members to table a resolution that would throw $260,400 in taxpayer money for swampland in Upper Mount Bethel Township, where Angle lives. But last night, Council forgot about fiscal responsibility and listened instead to people like Ellen Lott of the Nature Conservancy.

"I am here to speak for the trees because they have no tongues," she claimed, quoting from Dr. Seuss. As the Fake Rev claims to represent "We, the People," Lott claims that she also spoke for the salamanders and frogs, even though they have tongues. Occasionally beating back tears, she begged Council to fund "a place where raptors soar overhead and water trickles down."

After the meeting, a few lizards denied she really speaks for them.

Environmentalist Constance Volker (spelling?) claimed this marshy habitat reminds her of the disappearing Amazon rain forest, and begged Council to save "the salamander family."

These lizards camp out on two tracts.

One of them, owned by Kirkridge, consists of 108 acres. The County would kick in $199,400 (40%) of a $501,100 grant, which translates to $4,638 per acre. The other property, located next to the Kirkridge tract, is 22 acres owned by David Broad. The County would kick in $61,000 (40%) of a $152,500 grant, which translates to $6,932 per acre. The other contributors would be DCNR (50%) and Upper Mount Bethel Township (10%).

Two weeks ago, Angle told Council that he doubted that the Kirkridge tract would pass a perc test for two sand mounds on the entire 108 acres. But Charles Reiss last night told Council it's a place of "wellness" that serves all Christian lizards. Jewish lizards, too, added Kirkridge's Alice Murray.

Two weeks ago, Angle also questioned the amount of money being spent. "It's not a fair price for what's there to buy."

"I've been in the real estate racket for forty years. I wouldn't give you $400 per acre. ... This is craziness but this is what you will get from [the Environmental Advisory Board]."

He challenged Council members to look at the tracts, pointing out that no swampland disappears but farmland is being gobbled up every day. The matter was tabled, with Council members grumbling that they'd like to see a second appraisal.

Last night, Council was told that there would be a second appraisal when DCNR approves the grant request. Nobody seemed to mind that, instead of getting an independent valuation, the state would just rely on the Nature Conservancy to get the numbers. Eleven people addressed Council, and told them to quit "nickeling and diming" this proposal. Farmland Preservation Administrator Maria Bentzoni added she's been looking at appraisals for nine years, and this one is not "outrageously ridiculous."

So last night, Northampton County Council struck a unanimous blow for the salamanders.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

We will remember this come election time!

notsocasualobserver said...

But $10K to repair a bridge , the only acess to some homes in Chapman, just not possible. I guess the little slimy critters are more important than human beings.

Anonymous said...

Its Ron Angle's hometown. Nice and easy vote to bring back some bacon.

Zorn said...

Anon 6:53 obviously missed the point. Norco council's only purpose is comic relief for lehigh county.

Anonymous said...

I just spoke with the trees at my house. The can't speak and asked me to tell everyone that the council members who approved this are fiscally irresponsible assholes.

Patrick McHenry said...

Maybe the trees and lizards will chip in to help pay the coming tax hike.

Anonymous said...

Some people just don't get it. Environmentally sensitive areas are vital to a balanced eco system and must be preserved for a number of reasons including protecting water basins and water supplies. Agreed, someone made a lot of money on this property and the taxpayer footed the bill. However, there is only so much land in Northampton County and when it's contaminated or developed, it is lost forever. Council made the right decision.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Its Ron Angle's hometown. Nice and easy vote to bring back some bacon."

Ron was not there and was likely the only Council member who was unwilling to fall for that nonsense.

That second appraisal is obtained b the Cnservancy, Council. It is NOT independent, and is obtained to tell them what they want to hear.

Monkey Momma said...

Could this land be developed otherwise?

Bernie O'Hare said...

According to Angle, no. That was his point. According to one of the owners, yes. Before the meeting, he as threatening to put up three homes, but that would require all kinds of zoning approvals. It is marshland and is on slopes.

Anonymous said...

This is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars. There was absolutely no threat that this land would be developed. As Angle has pointed out more than once it is hilly, marshy and would not pas either a perc test or zoning. These environmental lunatics claim to be saving trees and salamanders but should be more concerned about Norco taxpayers saving their homes. They are the ones footing the bill for this nonsense.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

Does Stoffa need to sign off on this? Is there any way it can be held up or reconsidered?

Ayn Rand said...

Anonymous 6:53
You have a reading problem for one of two reason. Either you are blind or brainless. Angle spoke out quite loudly that this land is junk. What we need to do is stop the government at all levels from the buying of land and stepping all over our rights. Note that it should be zoning that regulates land and if you want to preserve land get your township to make building lots 10 acres a lot. Meanwhile we need to put land preservation and the tax that goes with it back on the ballot for recall

Ayn Rand said...

A request
To all of you on this page, stop your bitching and go to council meetings. In addition to that you need to jump all over your local government officials who are doing the same thing. Check how muchh money they have in a fund for land preservation. Then get out and kick out the bums at all levels of government who use our money to save newts.

c said...

Ayn,
No disrespect intended, but if you impose zoning regulations of 10 acres per lot, doesn't that step on the toes of lots of land owners? What if you worked your entire life on a farm for a pittance and the township that you live in suddenly took away your right to put a few homes on the only investment that you had...your land. Wouldn't that be an example of government taking something away from you? Buying land or development rights from a land owner at fair market value is the only equitable solution so far. I am glad to see that you made a suggestion though. I am not educated enough about this particular issue yet to make an informed comment beyond what has already been written, so I won't. This I can say though, a good engineer coupled with a soil specialist can make a compelling case to develop almost any piece of land to its maximun potential...from a housing perspective.

Anonymous said...

The people have voted to preserve farmland and wetlands and that is why this being done.If you feel you are being wronged - you must have been out voted.
The salamanders and the lizards deserve a place on this earth, even you Bernie ,and you are more slimy then they are.

Anonymous said...

Hey you bunch of losers.......you had your best shot at stopping preservation of open space when it was on the ballot. You lost....WE WON.....now go cry in your beer you out of tune wacko nut cases. The people have spoken. Council is there to do the will of the people. This is a republican controlled council that has the votes to do anything they so desire and they desire to preserve open space.....I LOVE IT.....damn, I think I'm going to have an orgasm.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong on this one Bernie...it was the right thing to do. You know what the voters voted for in November of 04. They actually wanted 16 million in environmentally sensitive and 14 milion in farmland. The council is finally dong the will of the people. They deserve no criticism on this one.

Anonymous said...

Hooray Hooray Hooray we are now on our way to having a representative government in Northampton County. Council voted for exactly what the taxpayers voted for and that was to use our tax dollars to preserve open space. Isn't America great. What a Country. Representative Government by the people, for the people of Northampton County. You Gotta Love It.

Anonymous said...

Great new bumper sticker- "I Brake for Salamanders." Actually the only Newt I would consider running over is Gingrich.

Patrick McHenry said...

People may have voted for preservation, but not at exaggerated prices. This stinks, and the money overpaid here is less that can be used elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

They overpaid for those properties.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You know what the voters voted for in November of 04. They actually wanted 16 million in environmentally sensitive and 14 milion in farmland."

This is certainly true, but the people did not authorize cancel to spend $6,000 per acre for swampland worth less than 1/10th that amount.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Does Stoffa need to sign off on this? Is there any way it can be held up or reconsidered?"

This is the recommendation of John Stoffa's administration. He likes lizards. He even likes me. I do not agree with John (or Ron) on every issue.

Anonymous said...

Gee, discussion, debate, with accurate information rather than if I say it its gotta be true rants followed by a decision.

Sounds like the way govt should work. The character assassinations, the mistruths, the distortions, the sophistry and pomposity were the only things missing. Coincidence or fact?

On one side. Its swamp land. Its worthless. I know every thing about real estate.

On the other side, coming from the actual owner, its subdivided with perc tests approved and a willing buyer who is ready build houses on the tract.

One council meeting where you didnt feel the need to take a shower from the sleaze, slime and personal attack it has been reduced to.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Excuse me?

The owner made no such claim. There is an old subdivision from eons ago, but guess what? That means nothing. You cannot build on a subdivision if there has been no development for three years w/o getting a new one approved. Anybody who knows anything about real estate, obviously not you, knows this.

He never stated that this property is perc tested. Nor did he state he had a buyer willing to build. That is a complete fabrication unless I've gone bonkers.

I did hear him in the hall before the meeting, threatening that he would just build three homes there. At that point, and for that alone, I'd tell him to go ahead and try.

He paid $50,000 for a landlocked property in 2002. That is what the assessment records clearly show. He will now be paid $152,500. He will have tripled his money in 9 years. During a recession. When property values are going down.

What you did is abdicate your responsibility as the guardian of the public purse to mouth a few nice words.

I felt more of a need to take a shower after last night's meeting than I ever do when Angle is there.

My report of last night's meetng is all too accurate, and there is a recorded video of the meeting as well. You are full of shit.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

You may want to review section 508 of the MPC before you make an inflammatory statement.

"The owner made no such claim. There is an old subdivision from eons ago, but guess what? That means nothing. You cannot build on a subdivision if there has been no development for three years w/o getting a new one approved. Anybody who knows anything about real estate, obviously not you, knows this."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dude, If Broad wanted to subdivide a 3-lot suqbdivision, which qis what he was threatening to do before the meeting, he would need a subdivision plan approved, and it would have to be a new plan. That's just the way it is. I won't tell you how to practice asbestos law, but you shqould not presume to know a damn thing about real estate. In addition, he would need zoning approvalq in that area, and according to the zoning officer, he would not get it.

The simple reality is that you enabled this guy to triple his money in just nine years on a real estate dealq in the middle of a recession, where prices everywhere ese are in the tank.

You will incredibly allow the Nature Conservancy to select ts own appraiser for the secood appraisal, instead f insisting on an independent valuation.

You completely neglected your responsibility to te taxpayer,and you talk about needing a shower when ANgle is around.

Anonymous said...

Wow, look at how Bernie types. The written equivalent to stuttering. Guessing someone is educating him, and he can't handle it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gettng used to an iPad. I am not used to the.screen keyboard. But I see that you resort to personal attack instead of explaining your inability to be a responsible steward of taxpayer money.

Anonymous said...

You appear to be in the right here Bernie and I am a nature lover and want to leave something for the grand kids to be able to view close up and free of development. They overpaid and that's the bottom line. I'll sell the county my house for triple what I paid and smile all the way to the bank.

Dave said...

When Ron's away the mice come out to play.

Dave said...

And this is a Republican controlled Council? Could have fooled me!

Anonymous said...

This whole farmland preservation idea is nothing more than a trickle down economic theory that benefits a few. Taxpayers may have voted for it, but that was some seven years ago, when the economy was and seemd better for many more people and gobs of farmland were being developed. Development has slowed in the bad economy. The farmland preservation was also touted as a way to keep school taxes down by restricting development and keeping more homes out of a district. But that has not really happened has it?

I am all for preserving working farmland and some sensitive areas, but most of the land preserved under this act is a joke. It is a politcal process that creates some areas of a township like where I live, where there are large areas of preserved land, most of it not actively farmed after being preserved.But the rest of the township is built up with no open space. It also creates open space for a development that nobody uses or has access to other than the people who live there. Becasue of the lack of public access to many of these easements that the township has created with public tax money are not used for open space with public access and that is why I did not vote for this.

By the way Bernie, if a development is tied up in a legal battle for years, it can be developed under the old SALDO requirements and not be subjected to new requirements.

Bernie O'Hare said...

True, but there never was any litigation on the Broad property.
U

Anonymous said...

The AARP says we could use that money to save social security.

Yep. $260,000 ought to just about do it.

Anonymous said...

This article is very anti-lizards. Lizards are people too.

Anonymous said...

Bernie got his Ipad from Angle and Stoffa for services rendered. enjoy it Bernie, you earned it!

Anonymous said...

This is why people despise and mistrust government. Did Gilbert vote to approve this waste? This is how a county gets into exactly his kind of financial trouble.

Anonymous said...

Keep spending Northampton County! We here in Lehigh will enjoy the company when you get your 16% tax increase also...

Anonymous said...

In the end the ordinance passed 8-0 with Angle at his son's graduation. Lizard Power!

Anonymous said...

Angle says its junk. Therefore it is junk. Thats all you need to know. Turn off your critical faculties. Reject all evidence to the contrary. Attack any contrary source of information.


The truly frightening thing is how easily the slash and burn, tea party lemming like crowd accepts his tripe as truth.

This wouldnt have happened if he was given absolute power. Thats what you idiots seem to want.

Anonymous said...

I reality this was just an orchestrated move by Kirkridge to raise money. They had no intention to sell it to developers and there could have been any number of ways to prevent the sale of wildlands with vernal pools including zoning, EPA injunction, etc. But Kirkland admits to being cash-strapped so this deal benefits them probably more than the public. Drag out all the conservationists, Audubon members, tree-huggers, and lizard rights folks you can to sell your deal. In the end it is the taxpayers footing the bill.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:51, You can shine shit al you want. T is stil shit, and this s stll swampland. You can call t wetlands or a vernal pool, but it is stil swamp land. Because even swamp land serves a purpose protecting wawr supply, I would consider buying it, but not for 3 times what it was worth just 9 years ago. that makes no sense, and neither did the Council vote. I exect the Nature Conservancy to get all emotional, but Council has an obligation to the tazwxpayer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:08, Every Council member voted for this but Angle, who was attending his son's high school graduation.

Anonymous said...

From swamp land to Gracedale, the all powerful Angle knows all. Thank God he wasn't there, government actually worked. He is a buffoon who will be given his walking papers this November. Time for the angry children to have a tantrum somewhere else. The adults to get things done in the county.

If we can survive the next two years with Stoffa, everything should be OK.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Get things done? Like screwing the little guy. That's what you did under Reibman and that's what you do when the cat's away.

Even a moderately stupid person knows that, during a recession in which real estate prices are still going down, you don't pay three times what a property went for in 2002. Yet 8 County Council members did it bc of pressure from supposed environmentalists.

And this is how adults work?

Anonymous said...

It's not Ron Angle's county and it is not your county. It is the county of all residents. The residents voted for preservation. I have seen developers build on wetlands after filling in. They simply pay the fines because they get the land cheap, build and sell high. In the end they are still ahead. How can you put a price tag on a tract of land that is habitat for endangered species! Bernie, even slugs like you need a place to live

Ayn Rand said...

C-said
Note I qualified a bit what I said. "if you want to preserve land" go to the 10 acres. I agree with you on the engineer comment and on the fact that you could be stepping on a farmer's retirement plan. It might take a broader view that you allow for 1 acre lots somewhere, 5 acre lots in another area and 10 acres in another. I am sure that if the planning folks sat down in their townships, looked at their respective lands they could determine what should be done there. de Tocqueville marveled at the New England townships and how they were run. Our Founders believed in and wanted small government. We spend 14K per year per child in educating our children. You would think we would have some smart people in the townships willing to work on this as volunteers. Just imagine what we could do if we put our minds to it. Today the first thought of our governmental officals is to do something good and then tax us to do it. That has to stop.

Ayn Rand said...

Anonymous 11:14
Then you should have no trouble in getting them to vote for it again. This thing succeded because it was sold as a good thing. Few people, I went out to position a no vote, knew what was going on because it was all about feeling good about yourself. No knowlege involved and many did not even want to discuss the issue. Save land, that's good.

Ayn Rand said...

To those of you who support the purchase of the land let me suggest that you hop in your vehicle and go to the area and walk it. It is on Rt 191 and there are signs for the Kirkridge center. You might want to note all the non-building going on in the area and that is because getting a perc test here is damn near impossible. This would never be prime farmland much less prime land for development. The county should not be buying this because it does not come under any other potential land use other than homes for trees, newts and salamanders. We should not be paying for the homes of critters.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It's not Ron Angle's county and it is not your county. It is the county of all residents. The residents voted for preservation."

The voters did not authorize you to spend three times what something is worth to preserve land that will never be developed anyway. During a recession When prices are going down.

Don't you dare try to make this about Angle, who was not even there, It is about you wasting kore taxpayer dollars on special interests in the hope that you'll get a few votes.

Anonymous said...

That is how Angle made his land fortune O'Hare. Ask all the disenfranchised widows. Never mind they are deceased. You and chattering heads like Chris Miller go on and on about what is needed in government. Well than run for office. As a citizen you and Miller's opinion are the same as any other citizens opinion's. They are noted with all the knowledge lack of and bias attached. The appropriate authority voted and that is that.

Chris, I mean Ayn, likes to channel the thoughts of the "founding fathers". They did the best they could and made good decisions and some stinker's. Point is they crapped like any other human.

Get a grip, you are less of an authority and more of just an angry old man who has his public tit and is now angry at anything he doesn't approve of.

Grow up and read a none Fox sanctioned book.


Ghost of Jefferson

ps: Madison sucked wang!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Angle made his fortune by selling environmentally sensitive land to the government? By disenfranschising widows?

You don't know what you
re talking about as usual. At least Jefferson signed his name.

Anonymous said...

This lizard tale is spent. Permission to change subject.

Your reaction to Jenna Portnoy's comment in today's MC that John Conklin has been MIA. What's the real story? He has not been attending council meetings and has been cutting back on many activities except for those in the EMS area. He seems to be scouting for an EMS job and is one foot out the door. He fanned the flames for the Gracedale debacle and when this went south he threw in the towel and seems to have given up on this administration. This doesn't seem fair to Stoffa.The guy is pulling in over $90 K of taxpayers money and shouldn't be allowed to sulk in the corner while Stoffa has important work to do.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The lizard tale is just getting started. I have decided to look a lot more closely at "environmentally sensitive" land grant applications.

As for Conklin, I will decline to go into what was bothering him, especially in response to an anonymous poster. I will add that he is back and is doing fine. You may not have seen him at the Council meeting, but he was at the committee meeting the day before.

Also, John's main field is emergency management and since two years will be here soon, he is looking. There is nothing improper or wrong with that.

c said...

Ayn,

Your idea about zoning for different lot sizes is a good one, I think that it is somewhat along the conservation by design scheme. You sound like a bright guy.
I am not certain, but I think that the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission completed a study fairly recently about what LV residents want, and I believe that farmland preservation and environmental protection scored high, but again I am not 100%.

Bernie, I wonder what these parcels would look like from a GIS mapping perspective. You can tell a lot about a piece of property that way. I do have several questions. Are there any less tangible factors that make this land more valuable from a conservation perspective (ie. proximity to Cherry Valley Preserve, proximity to A.T., Allowance for preservation of a larger contiguous tract and so forth?). Have other properties in UMBT sold for a lesser price recently? Honestly I don't know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

c,

I am embarking on my own research into this matter. I'll post again when I know. I do know there was a study. Farmland preservation and environmentally sensitie land both scored high, but this was before the recession.

c said...

Bernie,

The 2010 LVPC land use survey demonstrated the fact that 92% of respondants favored farmland preservation, and 71% of those who responded favored the acquisition of more parks, trails and farmland. You can access this info by going to the LVPC website, going to publications and clicking on the Land Use Survey. Hope this helps a little in your research.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The survey you cite is AFTER the one I was thinking about. Thanks. I will check it out.