Pennsbury continues Springdale Farm debate

Representatives of the buyer, neighbors, and Board of Supervisors discuss property’s future

By Kris Firey-Poling, Correspondent, The Times


Rachael Gallagher and Andrea Connors discuss how a potential Springdale Farm buyer proposes to use the old Mendenhall Farm property.

PENNSBURY — Township residents discussed how to best use their land at Wednesday night’s well-attended Board of Supervisor’s meeting.

Rachael Gallagher and Andrea Connors, representing buyer Ken Berkley, presented how they propose to use the Springdale Farm property.

Springdale Farm is a 60-acre section of the Mendenhall family property that includes two houses, a barn, a new 24-stall barn, and indoor riding arena.

Potential buyer Berkley wants to increase the number of horses living on the farm from 39 to 50, and wants permission to have horse shows once per month.

According to Gallagher, Ken Berkley is a world-champion competitor in the equestrian field. He currently owns two equestrian training facilities: Rivers Edge Farm in Flemington, New Jersey and another in Wellington, Florida. 

“We would like to build a new barn and renovate the two older houses and barn.  This facility will not house top horses. However, we are talking about quality show horses that are not ready to compete at the top level.” said Gallagher.

Supervisors Vice-Chairman Aaron McIntyre said that this land is not commercial and the buyer would need to obtain a variance for zoning.  The current ordinance specifically states, “No horse shows.”

However, residents acknowledged that horse shows have been conducted on this property in the past.

Neighbors in the Springdale Farm vicinity had many questions and concerns, including increased traffic, parking, and noise. They also wanted to learn more about the kinds of horses and their everyday care.

“The number of horses in our shows could range from 25 to 100. In the beginning, we will use the indoor facility on weekends from March through November,” said Connors.

Lynn Luft, Planning and Historic Commission member, questioned travel safety and sanitation issues.

“How will people and their horse trailers get in and out of the facility?  Making that left turn from Route 100 onto Hickory Hill Road is dangerous!  And, as a commercial business, you will have to follow state requirements for manure,” said Luft.

Gallagher assured everyone that their brochure will include the safest directions to their property.

Most neighbors said they believe this is a good opportunity for their area. Currently, the property is run down, with all-terrain vehicles driving around at night. They believe that Ken Berkley will uplift the property, improving everyone’s land value.

Gallagher acknowledged everyone’s concern, and reinforced that, “We want to be neighbor-friendly and offer programs for all. We get it that some of you are not into horses. For me, it’s not just a job. We love horses. With our hearts, we feel this is a good thing.”

Overall, the supervisors liked what was presented, and were impressed with the neighbor’s discussion. They agreed that the buyer must work with the Zoning Hearing Board to apply for a variance for the additional horses and to change the property to commercial use.

In other news, Parker Preserve land was discussed.

Two owners are seeking variances to install pools and decks.

Also, Township Engineer Matt Houtmann reported that two acres of open space behind Lot 17 was cleared, with the developer in clear violation of their agreement. Although grass has been planted, Supervisors Chairman Scotty Scottoline said that more needs to be done.  The supervisors agreed to meet with developer Anthony Dambro to come up with a plan to return the open space to dense native meadow.

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One Comment

  1. Ben Connor says:

    I have a friend who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq…those are real problems people. Arguing over having too many horses on a farm are rich white people problems and downright silly in the grand scheme of things.

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