|John Stoffa, Ron Angle and Board member Andy Thierry|
Angle was cited specifically for the $2 million farmland deal he negotiated with developer Charles Chrin. In October 2011, Charles Chrin sought a TIF from Northampton County for a 689-acre business park he was proposing at the northern end of Palmer Township. A TIF is a special arrangement which allows a developer to use the increase in real estate taxes to fund more infrastructure. It requires the approval of the municipality, school board and county.
Chrin had a good argument. For one thing, he was willing to pay for the cost of an Interchange along Route 33 near Tatamy. Even more importantly, it is expected to produce 3,500 jobs. But it gobbles up 689 acre of farmland.
The TIF had already been approved by Palmer Township and the Easton School District. But the County had to sign off as well.
"Nobody else could have done it," Stoffa told the Farmland Preservation Board.
"It's not easy dealing with Charlie Chrin," remarked Board member Bob Doerr.
"It's much harder dealing with me," wisecracked Angle.
A little more seriously, he said that public officials have to try to be more innovative in getting money from developers and others at a time when state funds are diminishing.
The Board meeting was attended by Farmland Preservation Administrators Maria Bentzoni and Barbara Martucci, along with Board members Andy Thierry, Todd Gulick, Terry Kromer and Bob Doerr.
They are an unheralded board that has now preserved 13,007.26 acres on 136 farms in Northampton County.
"We're going like gangbusters," noted Bentzoni, who told the Board she has just received 27 new applications.
During his eight years in office, Stoffa doubled the amount pf preserved farmland, although Northampton County still lags behind the 20,000 acres preserved in Lehigh County.Board member Todd Gulick told Stoffa, "Without you, we'd still be languishing."
"We're catching up," Bentzoni said.
Stoffa credited Bentzoni for all the work she and her small staff have done over the years.
"The only thing I'm not doing is knocking on doors," she joked.
She noted that between 2002 and 2007, the County was losing four square miles of farmland every year. But she believes that has slowed down.
"We have developers calling us, trying to offload their inventory," she remarked.