Thursday, May 13, 2021

Should South Whitehall Preserve Farmland?

Blogger's Note: Today's question from former S. Whitehall Comm'r Brad Osborne is focused on farmland preservation.  

The proliferation of large commercial and residential developments has brought particular attention to the potential use of the remaining undeveloped land in South Whitehall. Landowners and developers have rights. The township has planning tools. Together, a nice future can be achieved.

Today’s Candidate Question: The 2009 Comprehensive Plan called for the township to “assess the public’s view on farmland preservation and the use of taxpayer money to preserve more farms.” The Plan also asked the township to “consider a municipal farmland preservation program through the purchase of development rights.” No farmland has been preserved since the 2009 Comprehensive was adopted over 10 years ago. Would you support using taxpayer money to preserve farmland in South Whitehall?

Christina “Tori” Morgan (R): No response.

Joe Setton (D): No response.

David Kennedy (R): Yes, it is important for current residents and future generations to have this space. An increase in taxes would NOT be my recommendation; I believe there needs to a total overview of township finances to determine areas that could be cut back or eliminated. Although not possible at the present time (due to audits not being completed), floating bonds with the current low interest environment would generate monies for these projects with the debt being paid for from the above-mentioned cuts.

Monica Hodges (R): We should not raise taxes, for any reason, unless absolutely necessary. However, our citizens should decide if farmland preservation is worth a tax increase. This would be determined through surveys to citizens for their input, and through a referendum for voters to approve or disapprove. I would also investigate using the Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program to fund preservation. Other ideas include giving tax breaks to farm owners who give development rights to the township, adding agricultural zoning to our Comprehensive Plan and applying for funds from the state, county, and through grants for buying development rights. I would also reach out to other townships who have successfully implemented preservation to get more ideas. I am looking forward to cultivating positive relationships with landowners and respectfully working with them.

Thomas J. Johns (D): The first step to my deciding whether taxpayer money should be used to preserve farmland in South Whitehall would be to consider the recommendations made in the 2009 Comprehensive Plan. It appears from the question that there are two alternatives – the use of taxpayer money to preserve farms or the feasibility of creating a municipal farmland preservation program through the purchase of development rights. I would also review the Federal, State, and County plans as models. The second step would necessitate the assessment of the public’s view on farmland preservation. Of course, greenspace appeals to many residents. However, a resolution as to how to preserve farmland cannot be delayed another ten years.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's kinda late in this township.

Anonymous said...

Raise taxes again? You gotta be kidding me. My tax bill has gone sky high over the last 8 years and now we have extra fees added to water and trash and sewer! WHO is keeping an eye on spending and making sure us older people don’t get taxed out of our homes! Will someone please answer this?

I saw they made another playground by the dam. This is getting out of hand! It’s a spending spree for all on the backs of the taxpayers. Who is going to pay for the millions they just spent on the new township office building ? You guessed it....we all are!

I’m not voting to bring back any sitting commissioner. Don’t waste your vote on them, they haven’t cared about us in years.

Tax and spend and tax some more. Morgan just wants another park, I just don’t get it, what does she get out of this? Time to clean house and start over again and vote to bring in new people who will do what is right.

Anonymous said...

"vote to bring in new people who will do what is right."

Anonymous 8:23: but the new people running want to stop development, save farmland and create an agricultural preservation zone. Buying development rights will cost millions of dollars and the resulting litigation/compensation from "taking" people's land through agricultural zoning will require tremendous legal costs as well. Maybe you should vote for the incumbents?

Anonymous said...

Amazing postcard from Tori Morgan in the mail. South Whitehall POLICE VEHICLES in a campaign ad.... something not kosher with on duty police vehicle as a photo op

Right Said Fred said...

She should be holding a Bible like Trump in front of the church

Right Said Fred said...

How does Lower Macungie do it? They have a vision, they got screwed by Jaindl, and pivoted....and South Whitehall is gonna get screwed by Jarus Corporation unless a new direction is paved

Anonymous said...

A big thank you to Monica Hodges, David Kennedy & Tom Johns for answering to the public. This is truly the trademark of a public servant - letting the public know where your starting point is and then being open to input. I hope you all win on Tuesday. We need more people like you in government.

JoAnn Markowicz said...

Interesting facts:
This is from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission 2020 Subregional and Municipal Subdivision Land Development Activity Report on their website. It was published February 25, 2021.
If you don't think that there is "overdevelopment" in SWT even during the pandemic of 2020, you are so wrong. As they say, the numbers don't lie:
The below information was taken directly from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission website. I wish I could include the link but this comment format will not allow me, however, I have included the top three most developed areas in the Lehigh Valley from this report.
OVERVIEW:
Total Square Feet of NON-RESIDENTIAL (warehouse) Development of all cities, townships and boroughs in the Lehigh Valley. There are a total of 62 cities, townships, and boroughs in the Lehigh Valley. South Whitehall Township was 3rd out of 62 for MOST non-residential development within the region:
Allen Township 2,251,250 sq ft (these total numbers are for the large warehouses in the area).
Lower Nazareth Township: 1,266,639 sq ft
South Whitehall Township: 1,214,916 sq ft
The report also includes a "type of development" breakdown per each city, township and borough listed.
ADDITIONAL COMMENT: If you want to see a healthy balanced amount of growth in a township, check out the numbers for Lower Macungie Township...they know what they are doing. BOC leadership is key!!! SWT needs "new" BOC members because the "old" way of thinking...build...build...build until there is no more space left doesn't fit with what the residents of today want for the future of SWT. My votes go to Hodges and Kennedy.

Anonymous said...

That big warehouse on Eck road is a monster. I can’t believe Tori Morgan voted to let that go in. Where will the trucks go? This town is gonna be a crap show once it’s all built.
Morgan has been in office so long but why hasn’t she fixed the roads around here ? I mean come on.
Go drive around a bit and I hope you don’t end up in the huge pot holes.
Morgan hasn’t cared about the basics for us.
We don’t want big warehouses and high apartments like she voted for every time.
Fix the darn roads and stop putting the taxes up every couple years.
If she gets voted back in we will see the next big warehouse with a yes vote by her.
And all that land north of huckleberry road? You will get another ridge farm with her and we will have complete gridlock.
Morgan has got to go. She’s too cozy with all the developers in town and gives them whatever they want. Her voting record proves it.

Anonymous said...

You would think SWT and the empire of Morgan would have a road capitalplan and fix Crackersport, Eck, Hausman roads near the swt warehouses before the trucks start to roll....but nope let's wait for the trucks t come and the close e roads to fix them