Tax rate to stay flat, more open space to be preserved
By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — Township residents received several gifts during Monday night’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting – the only thing missing was the big red bow!
First, the Township tax rate will stay the same in 2012.
Second, Supervisors’ Chair, Steve Conary announced that nearly 25% of land in the township will be preserved for future generations.
Supervisors voted to purchase the development rights of four privately owned properties under the Open Space referendum which expires at the end of the year. The four parcels, making up an almost 470-acre corridor beginning at Wawaset Road and ending at Rte 842, include the Bailey and Biddle properties, Pocopson Park and most of the Brandywine Valley Association (BVA).
Conary told residents the township is “basically buying the development rights on the properties and extinguishing them – which means this property can never be developed.” The township paid property owners, on average, about $4,700 per acre for development rights. Stipulations as to what would be able to be built on the properties would be overseen by conservation groups including the BVA and Brandywine Conservancy.
BVA Executive Director, Jim Jordan told supervisors, “We want to applaud your efforts at land preservation in the township and we feel it’s a true benefit to residents.”
The deals are being made under the 2006 Open Space referendum which added a new one mil of property tax dedicated to protect and preserve open space in the township. The original referendum allowed purchases for five years, and according to Conary, “even though the Open Space program is coming to a close,” the tax will not go away until the loans are paid off – originally projected at 25 years but currently estimated at 12-15 years.
Conary thanked Open Space Advisory Committee Chair, Paul Haldeman, present and former committee members and Brandywine Conservancy for their time, dedication and efforts in helping to preserve a total of 638 acres of land in the township from further development.
* * *
Donna Murray, the Director of the Bayard Taylor Library in Kennett Square shared news of exciting future services. She said Bayard Taylor saved Pocopson residents over $160,000 this past year by allowing them to borrow materials as opposed to buying the materials themselves.
She encouraged residents to become a member of Bayard Taylor and to take advantage of the many programs offered through the library. Murray asked supervisors to include a “fair share” contribution in next year’s budget. Conary said the board will take all information into consideration but that about half of the township residents frequent the West Chester Library so contributions would be split between the two.
Supervisors’ Vice Chair, Georgia Brutscher and Conary thanked Supervisor Lauressa McNemar for her service to the township. Brutscher said McNemar ” will be sadly missed.” McNemar said it “has been an honor to serve the township…you do it from your heart.” McNemar did not seek re-election. Ricki Stumpo will join the Board of Supervisors in 2012.