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Land preservation referendum set for Solebury ballot


The Solebury Board of Supervisors is placing a referendum on the Nov. 5 election ballot asking residents to approve $12 million for the purchase of open space and preservation of environmentally sensitive areas, agricultural and conservation easements, active and passive recreation, and cultural areas.

The measure was approved unanimously at the board’s Tuesday meeting.

The township still has $1.5 million in the bank for open space and another $1.5 million left over from the previous open space referendum passed in 2005, said Mark Baum Baicker, supervisor chair.

Voter approval of the referendum would bring the new preservation capacity to $15 million, he said.

The tax impact would be felt only as the funds are used, he added.

For example, according to Michele Blood, township finance director and treasurer, if $5 million of the funds were spent in one year, it would cost the average taxpayer a $45 tax hike, he said.

Solebury has had four voter referendums asking voters to borrow funds for land preservation, said Supervisor Kevin Morrissey: $4 million in 1996, $10 million in 1999, $12 million in 2002, and $18 million in 2005, for a total of $44 million.

“These four referendums were approved by 87 percent to 90 percent of the voters,” he said. “I believe the $44 million that Solebury has authorized has set a firm foundation for the life style of this community. I think resident continue to be concerned with the preservation of land for current and future generations.”

Baum Baicker said Solebury “has long been a leader in land preservation, with about 38 percent of our acreage already under some form of conservation.

Approval of the referendum, he said, “will be instrumental in continuing our tradition of maintaining aesthetic beauty of the place we live in” and also has financial benefits such as increasing property values and reducing the need for services.