|I'll give you open space|
Bryan Cope warned Northampton County Council's Open Space Committee yesterday that, unless it is purchased and preserved, Patullo plans to build a 50-lot subdivision at the site. He claimed plans have already been submitted. So basically, he is holding a gun to the county's head. But just how successful would he be?
One thing Cope neglected to point out is that the land is zoned RA, or rural agricultural. Now I have no idea how he was ever permitted to build a golf course there, but I do know that a 50-lot residential development is no agricultural use. He would need a use variance. The Commonwealth Court denied his attempt to get a use variance for the clubhouse in 2011. Neighbors, one of whom includes prominent Attorney Steve Goudsouzian, stopped Patullo from turning the clubhouse into some sort of tavern.
But other points made by Cope made more sense. He noted that the high water quality of the Saucon Creek was damaged by pollutants when the property was used as a golf course. Even more important, township officials are concerned that further development in this area will make the chronic flooding along Easton and Lower Saucon Roads even worse during storms.
Before this was a golf course, this was farmland. Good farmland. I know because my best friend from grade school grew up across the street, on another farm.
Spending $300,000 to help some tax delinquent developer make his banquet hall all that more exclusive is a waste of public money. The highest and best use of this property is as farmland, not some goofy bird-watching sanctuary. I have written before about our disappearing farmland, which has resulted in a disappearing farmer. Establishing a farm is one way to reverse that trend. The zoning is in place to keep greedy developers from exploiting the land.
So this request should be denied.
It's a no-brainer.
I called Ron Angle, the Northampton County Bulldog, last night to explain what was being planned. He was highly critically of most "environmentally sensitive land" projects during his years on Council. After laughing, he told me, "You can't breed two hound dogs and expect to get a collie."
I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good.
He also said, "The people got what they wanted."
I know what that means.