Thursday, March 07, 2013

NorCo's Amazing Farmland Preservation Program

It's an untold story. But after tonight, that should change. The only item on the agenda for this evening's Northampton County Council meeting is a discussion of the County's farmland preservation program.

For years, there have been as many as forty farms on a waiting list, seeking funding that would preserve the property as a farm forever. But since he became Executive seven years ago, John Stoffa has been quietly whittling away, with the help of Farmland Administrator Maria Bentzoni. There is now just one farm on the waiting list, consisting of thirty acres.

Last year, I believe Northampton County led the state in farmland preservation, even beating out Lancaster County. And it's happened because of that half mill tax increase, which was opposed at the time by Lamont McClure.

121 farms, consisting of over 12,000 acres, have been preserved. The County has spent nearly $16 million, and was able to secure grants from the state totaling nearly $38 million. It has spent approximately $3,000 per acre.

With this mission accomplished, more open space money should be available for environmentally sensitive land.

Like the lands along Monocacy Creek watershed, at Bethlehem Township's Housenick Park.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great strides in Farmland Preservation started in the early nineties in Northampton County. Check the history Bernie. Pull the county resolution that authoriezed Farmland Preservation.

This is a contiuation of a successful program that statred long before Stoffa came along.
Good for him for continuing to build on the work of others.

What is it with you Stoffa posse guys? You are unable to tell the entire story. Is Stoffa that desperate for attention.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Farmland preservation started under Exec Jerry Seyfried, no question. In fact, he managed to get enough open space money set aside to build what is now the Wayne Grube Park. But Brackbill spent it to avoid a tax hike.

Reibman's approach was pretty poor. If money was committed to farms, he refused to appropriate more for farms that were waiting. He had no real plan.

Stoffa came up with a real plan, along the lines that was used by Seyfried. He also worked on getting matching funds, which is something Seyfried also like to do.

Under 7 years of Stoffa, there has been real progress in this area, and he deserves a great deal of credit for it. But my praise was for both Stoffa and Bentzoni.

Anonymous said...

The land preservation was stared by Jerry Seyfired but county council added the Farmland preservation piece, please try to be accurate. Also, the entire program was doing well long before John Stoffa. Stofa ahs continued the program. Your hatred of Glenn Reibman and your mancrush on John Stoffa clouds your so-called "facts".

Who are you circulating petitions for? Ever going to answer?

Anonymous said...

Bernie i heard you were circulating a petition for Stoffa. Is this true?

Peter J.Cochran said...

When the farmland is funded this way does this give access to that land for hiking and hunting? I sort of understand this all but how many were paid in past that ended up in a developers hands anyway/Any? The developers have wrecked Forks Twp. they just have not seen the results roost yet.Some development has been just plain irresponsible and a procedure for charge backs should be maintained.

Anonymous said...

Informed sources claim he is doing it for Callahan and Seyfried. Who cares? The big question is why is Bernie hiding the fact.

Anonymous said...

Chris Miller said

"I told you to forget about the farmland preservation program. It's noting more than farmland welfare."

Anonymous said...

Liar

Anonymous said...

I thinks it's great. The county should buy everybody's land. Government spending is stimulus. I don't know why we all don't work for the government and let them buy our land. This is a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment more but I'm limited by the sequester. It wold help if I could get one of those $277,000 per year jobs as the White House calligrapher.

Anonymous said...

Why purchase farmland now when there is absolutely no development of any scale going on or forseeable? This program was a response to the massive development pressure that this area had from 1985 through 2005 or about 20 years. Now that demand for cheap land in this area has dried up, why spend more taxpayer money preserving things that the market indicates no preservation needed? People who moved from NY and NJ to here seemingly want to go back. Taxes are no longer a deal, their home values have plummeted, gasoline for the commute is three times what it was when they moved here. The Farmland Preservation program was a good thing for a couple of decades when it was needed but now, that money should go into other areas of County Government needing it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, Land that is preserved can still be posted, so far as i know. I will find out. Also, once land is preserved, it can't be developed.Not one acre preserved has been developed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

". The Farmland Preservation program was a good thing for a couple of decades when it was needed but now, that money should go into other areas of County Government needing it." Since all farms that want to be preserved have been preserved, thta money can now go to buying up environmentally sensitive land arubf the watershed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am circulating one petition for John Stoffa and another for Ron Angle.

Anonymous said...

6:52 you are a real visionary. A big thinker. A really great mind.

Tommy Chong said...

For anyone interested in the details/fine print concerning Farmland preservation in NC check out this link, lot to take it but it answered most of the questions in the short time I have been reading it. Open space initiatives are important on many levels if properly administered, in 40 years maybe we will really begin to realize that.

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/LIB/northampton/farmlandweb/booklet.pdf

Anonymous said...

Did Glenn Reibman ever have a plan for anything??

Other than padding his pockets and suckling off of the public teat?

and of course running for reelection.

Anonymous said...

We use tax money to preserve farmland and we also use tax money so Chrin can develop farmland. It's good to be a farmer. You get paid either way.

Anonymous said...

"The Farmland Preservation program was a good thing for a couple of decades when it was needed but now, that money should go into other areas of County Government needing it.

6:52 AM"

No it shouldn't. Whether you were for or against it, at least the people expressed their will on this issue. And Stoffa's half mill increase was acceptable for that reason.

The money should continue to support preservation and park maintenance. If there is revenue in excess of what is needed to accomplish that, it should be returned to the taxpayer, and the millage reduced or, if possible, eliminated.

Troughfeeders will fly before they will let go of any of it, though.

-Clem

C said...

We are fortunate to have such a good program in Northampton County. It is only a matter of time before development pressure resumes. Our region is expected to grow by an additional 200,000 residents by 2030 (LVPG data), so we had better plan appropriately. The people in this region have overwhelmingly spoken in favor of our farmland program and continue to do such in fairly recent surveys. Good job to all involved.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, could you possibly post a link to NorCo Farmland Preservation guideline and eligibilty. Then, regardless of who or when the most was done with the program; the public can see why this is a good program. I have been pestering my parents to put their farm in for years. Preservation of open space is priceless. Just my opinion and I am no treehugger!

Tommy Chong said...

12:56 here is the PDF.

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/LIB/northampton/farmlandweb/booklet.pdf

Anonymous said...

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/cwp/view.asp?a=1532&q=621001&NorthamptonNav_GID=1987&northamptonNav=|&northamptonNav_GID=1977

Here is the link to the Northampton County Farmland Preservation webpage. Our program guidelines are posted here. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact this office.
"C" is right. Farmland Preservation is only one tool in our tool kit for smart growth and community planning.
It's not just about preserving farms, but about preserving a way of life and rural character of our communities.
Maria Bentzoni, Administrator Northampton County Farmland Preservation

Anonymous said...

The cost of these programs NEVER goes away. The fund will eventually morph into another slush account for political vote buying.

Sincerely,
PA's 18% Liquor Tax For Aid To Victims Of The 1885 Johnstown Flood

Anonymous said...

Stoffa may have whittled away to get other farmers into the farmland preservation program, but what about the farmland he sold for $500,000 to LVIP? Your in the deeds office all the time Bernie. Ever look that one up?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am unaware of Stoffa's involvement in that matter.

Anonymous said...

Do the obviously correct thing. Protect the land all along the creek, and make the park whole.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, why are you ashamed of admitting who you have circulating petitions for? A signer already knows and has informerd some folks, so why the mystery? Have the individuals asked you to destroy the petitions? What are they ashmaed of?

By the way LVIP was very, very good to John Stoffa. Why do you think he was set on the county paying for a building in their park since day one. He just needed the right set of kunckle heads to appro0ve it.

He is the master of smoke and mirrors. You are the maste rof deception.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:19, what job will you have in the Callahan Adminstration. Word is all the cabinet jobs have been paid for already.

Anonymous said...

In 100 years nobody gives a shit about all this petty politics. But people will be forever grateful if that beautiful park is protected.
Housneck park can be a jewel of a place in the greater Lehigh Valley,
Lets give Central Moravian the benefit of the doubt. Im betting they do the right thing here.
WWJD What would Jesus do?

Anonymous said...

Farmland taxes are heartbreaking. Taxes never go away and inevitably become basterdized to suit political purposes. The judges in this county are dishonest, stealing time and staff compensation from taxpayers. Our county leaders have called disgraceful project cost overruns "nice" and inexplicably gotten parks named after them. Steve Barron - enough said. Our political leaders, from our supposedly most trusted judges to partisan hacks like Barron and Morganelli, routinely play politics, waste money and cannot be trusted to keep promises. Farmland Preservation sounds so good. But now Bernie and others have plans to politicize and bastardize. The program is and has always been a misguided disgrace. It will haunt us for generations. The good intentions bunch are really, really stupid. It's proven time and again.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, you're talking about saving a park from high density development, protecting a watreshed,preventing downstream flooding, and helping to create a park that could be the Central Park of the Lehigh Valley.......and some jackass wants to rant on which local politician your collecting signatures for.
OK. Right then.

Anonymous said...

That old mansion is nice, and blab blab blab blab. But that park has the potential to be an absolutely extraordinary place.
If its surounded by strip malls and apartment buildings it's half ruined before its even established.
Man oh man, how hard is it to see this?

Anonymous said...

I understand Lehigh County has funding to preserve one last farm. That begs a number if questions for any incoming executive, (1) should the program be continued and how so, and (2) If indeed the 20 million or so authorized by the referendum has been completed, should the County authorize a new referendum? -nlv

Anonymous said...

anon 8:07, why is Bernie ashamed of reveling who he has circulated petitions for? Are the caniddates embarased? Did they ask him to throw away the petitions?
The world is waitng? Do you know?

Anonymous said...

Before Stoffa leaves office he and his farmland preservation acreage team wil have preserved more farm acreage than the previous 5 county executives combined. Eat your heart out critics.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, he also got rid of more staff and county servcies in Human Servcies than any other County Executive.


Chaew on that Harpo!

Anonymous said...

Yo @9:21, this post is talking about saving farmland and helping preserve Bethlehem Tps last open space and conservation area.
Who gives a flying f&!k about your petition bullshit
Your a dimwit.

Anonymous said...

.....and 6:19, aren't you going to carry on about your anti-Catholic nonsense?
You do attract some peanut brains Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 10:13, who's petitions are you circulating?

Peter J.Cochran said...

6;52 'Why purchase farmland now..." This statement holds the most thought of any comment as I see it. Need to understand market trends. Make the twps. have to co-ordinate with adjacent venues . Why way Forks developers allowed to cram people into an area like Penn'sRidge? Look at one block alone--Penn's Ridge Blvd to Kesslersville to Chestnut to Silo.The market is people in reproductive years with kids! 1/13th of the total area could be 147 people living in 120X500 feet. I count about 57 addresses in this section alone. It will be a slum in 10 years.Above ground pools, sheds,personal junk and fences ,where was the open space here in that plan ? Point is MAKE THE developer pay for it ,,not the tax payers.Shift the burden on to already unwanted new developmental starts.

Anonymous said...

Lamont never raised taxes in his political career? Sounds like we have a winner early in the race!!!

Anonymous said...

Mr.Seyfried didnot want to do farmland preservation at first. County Council passed a Resolution putting a certain amount of money aside each year for farmland preservation. Soemthing you won't learn on this blog.

Clinton Oxford said...

Will a F.O.I.A. request release the minutes recorded by the Secratary? Doudtfull, as a Political War would ensue.