Thursday, December 10, 2015
Williams Tp Drops Taxes, Cancels Cliffland Preservation
Two years ago, Williams Township Supervisors' Chair George Washburn was none too pleased when the Township was forced to raise taxes from 2.25 to 4 mills, when funds from Chrin dropped precipitously. Well, that war is finally over, and Supervisors voted last night to return to the 2.25 millage rate in existence two years ago.
A mill is $1 of tax on every $1,000 of taxable property value. So a home assessed at $100,000 can expect a $225 tax bill instead of the current $400.
I was there because Supervisors were slated to vote on rescinding a vote to preserve an 18-acre tract along Hexenkopf Road, known as the Morrow tract.
This property is located along steep slopes and is bisected by an overhead utility easement. Under the local zoning ordinance, no more than two homes at most could be built there without getting a variance.
Instead of tying to preserve land in 68 different subdivisions already approved for development, the Land preservation Board appears to have a love affair with cliffs.
This is the same goofy group that also tried to con Northampton County into going along with a $319,970 handout to wealth management specialist and real estate flipper Michael Glovas in exchange for a "conservation easement" on the 72 acres surrounding his palatial estate at 590 Browns Drive in Williams Township. NorCo tabled the proposal, and that got Supervisor Vince Foglia interested.
That was bad news for Rob Schmidt's Land Preservation Board.
His group, who seem to delight in preserving each other's properties, obtained an appraisal that came in a tad too low for the owner, so they went out and got another. Then they got a third.
What they don't know is that Foglia had one of the Lehigh Valley's most respected appraisers review all three, and his conclusion can be aptly summed up in one word - Horseshit!
In addition to completely violating the Second Class township Code, this Board kept the low appraisal away from the County and state DCNR. The comparables used against cliffs were flat and working farms in Bucks County, where land goes for a gazillion dollars an acre.
A month ago, Schmidt asked for and got a delay so they could possibly bring in their appraiser to educate is all on the error of our ways. That didn't happen. Instead, Schmidt sought another delay so that the Township Solicitor cold determine how many legal errors Foglia had committed.
Isidore Mineo, who likes to deliver lengthy lectures, last night instructed the board that these cliffs could be farms for goofy things like arugula.
By a 2-1 vote, Supervisors pulled the plug on what really is a bad preservation idea.
Williams has preserved enough cliffs.