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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

New Guy Geissinger Questions Open Space Insanity

Is this really threatened by development?
Remember Glenn Geissinger? He's the Northampton County Council VP. For a time, he started every meeting by leading us in prayer, until I had a shit fit. Now Peg Ferraro reads some homogenized mumblings that mean nothing and to which no one listens. It gives all Council members a chance to pretend they are holy. But this story is not about the meaningless prayer. It is about Glenn Geissinger. Yesterday, very gently, he questioned what the hell we are doing by spending the public's money to buy steep slopes on land that has already been preserved on all sides.

Armed with the power point that lately has become the weapon of choice during presentations, Open Space Administrator Bryan Cope pitched a plan to spend $86,868 to buy 18 acres in Williams Township's Hexenkopf Slopes. That's $4,826 per acre, for those of you keeping track at home. The County's investment will be $30,403.80. Owners Kenneth and Barbara Morrow will keep the remaining 2 acres and be surrounded by land that can never be developed.  That land, in turn, is surrounded by land that has already been preserved, and that was Geissinger's problem.

Pointing out that he's new, Geissinger had some problem with preserving land that's surrounded on three sides by land that's already been preserved. And the land is steep slopes, with the occasional vernal pool, known to most of us as swampland.

"My concern is the fact that development of this land would be very difficult," Geissinger remarked.

D'you think?

Maria Bentzoni, the Farmland Preservation Administrator, responded with this, "In essence you're absolutely correct. But the opposite is true."


She went on to argue that developers will be falling all over themselves to grab cliff land because the land all around it is preserved. I see.

I don't think so.

Scott Parsons told Geissinger this project has already been reviewed extensively by both the Open Space Advisory Board and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.

That's somewhat inaccurate. Though the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission has a regional plan for the area, it does not get involved in conservation easements, at least not to my knowledge. And the Open Space Advisory Board is packed with open space enthusiasts who have yet to meet a swamp they didn't like.

This plan, to put it simply is ridiculous, At a time when the County is bleeding money and running a deficit, perhaps the stupidest thing it could do is blow taxpayer dollars on land that will never be developed. This is government insanity, made possible by a horde of open space special interests, who will pack county meetings to warn about radioactive shit while taxpayers are working their second job to pay for this lunacy.

Or golf courses. I'll tell you about that below.


Anonymous said...

Geissinger makes an interesting point. I would be interested din knowing more about the people who want their property surrounded on all four sides by protected land. My guess is there is an inside deal in here so9mewhwere.

One does have to question why you need to buy and protect land that cannot be built on.

Anonymous said...

Is Scott that uninformed or did he outright lie?

Anonymous said...

common sense and logic never have been Norco's strong point

Anonymous said...

At one time the County was very strong on preserving the land that makes up Hexenkof Mpuntain. The County paid for a Parks Study (conducted by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission) and the LVPC recommended purchasing and preserving that piece of property. It was called the Parks 2000 Program.
The LVPC and the Lehigh Valley Conservatory both recommended buying wet lands. They are essential to our ecosystem, not to mention the hundreds of little critters that need those wet lands to survive.

Anonymous said...

Her name is Bentzoni.

Anonymous said...

Open space legislation is stupid all around. The hayseeds around here lap it all up.

Anonymous said...

Basically, we taxpayers will ensure people sitting on 2 acres will never have a development around them and they get a windfall by selling land that they can't develop themselves.
Thank God for blogs such as yours that take notice of the crap that is tried to get slipped through.
Bryan Cope should be ashamed of himself for promoting it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:53, Actually, at least some of the Morrow property was once intended as a county park for preservation. But this is just a bad idea. The likelihood that this land will ever be developed is remote. All they are doing is giving the Morrows a windfall, and letting them live on 2 acres of the 20. Glenn Geissinger was absolutely right to question this. The problem is the open space lobby knows how to pack a council meeting and make all kinds of pious pronouncements. Taxpayers don't really have anyone speaking up for them. Scott Parsons is way off on this one.I view him as more common sense oriented than this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Her name is Bentzoni"

Yes, it is, and I have no idea what i was thinking when I mis-spelled her name in this thread. I know and respect Maria, consider her one of Northampton County's best workers and a tireless advocate for open space. Bryan Cope, who is new at the job by comparison, is very dedicated, too.

The fact that I disagree with them about this and the golf course is by no means a reflection on my belief they are among the best people Northampton County has to offer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your clarification, Bernie. I agree that both Maria and Bryan are very dedicated county employees who believe strongly in the preservation of open space, a concept that was embraced by the electorate when they voted to approve the half mil of tax for that purpose. But I also agree that it is council's obligation to thoroughly examine each proposal for its merit, given the finite resources available. There have been, and will likely be other times when the OSAB will make recommendations that are not approved by council. That is the check and balance of the system. There should be lively debate on the merits of these applications.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bingo. It's the best way.

Matt M. said...

... yet the small churches are being screwed.

Anonymous said...

Churches SHOULD be screwed.

Anonymous said...

Scott is not that smart. Please cut him some slack.

Helene said...

As a member of the Open Space Advisory Committee, I think that reasonable people can reasonably disagree on what parcels should or should be preserved.But I think it's important that the public know that we consider the plan, the cost, conservation maps, point systems, LVPC advice, and more. We are not "swamp-lovers" or crazy tree huggers. And, Maria and Bryan are terrific staff.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Helene, First, i should point out you are all volunteers. Nobody pays you for what you do. Second, I'll add that I've seen you all in action, and you are all very dedicated and committed, and you do your homework. But let me add that the open space lobby knows how to pack a meeting and pressure for what they think is right. Taxpayers have no lobby.

I am aware that the County has long wanted this property. i am even aware that rare medicinal herbs grow here. But I oppose using tax dollars to preserve a piece of land that is very unlikely to ever be developed. All we are doing is giving the Morrows a windfall. That is my opinion, based on the facts available to me. I understand and appreciate there are differing opinions, and they may have more merit than mine.

I also don't like bailing out a golf course developer, and if i were King, would want to know more about the zoning in that area and the possibilities for development.