While noting that the Bucks County Conservation District still retains an important role in the matter, and hearing from a conservation volunteer that more work on it may be in order, Richland Township has finalized a “complete revision” of its forestry regulations.
It has also changed the definition of “minor subdivision” from two lots or less to four lots or less. Both changes were done via ordinance adoption at the Feb. 10 public meeting of the board of supervisors.
The subdivision change was explained as needed to help minimize the needs for lengthy subdivision land development requirements that were designed primarily with much larger unit totals in mind, while removing an open space requirement for situations where there was not only “not a lot of room,” but also still mandating maintenance burdens.
The forestry revision had been introduced at the January supervisors meeting as a proactive measure, in response to news of municipal forestry regulations elsewhere being successfully appealed to state authorities. By matching a forestry model that had been approved by the state attorney general, in a template provided by an author from Penn State, officials said they hoped to “get ahead of those types of discussions.”
During discussion with township open space preservation Chair Kathy Fedorocsko, who questioned if the new regulation offered sufficient protection for adjacent property owners during logging operations, officials said particular rules did address that, while county Conservation District approval was still required for logging plans.
After the meeting, Fedorocsko stated that the author of the template from the state had said it “can be added to with state Best Management Practices in mind,” and that in particular more detail was needed to provide “clear guidance on total amounts, discouraging clear or selective cutting, retaining general habitat and visual qualities, and cutting on steep slopes and hydric soils” in order to conserve forests with sustainable practices. She concluded by stating, “I wish I had the time and staff to do such.”
The purpose of the revised forestry regulations is noted as “promoting good forest stewardship; protecting the rights of adjoining property owners; minimizing the potential for adverse environmental impacts; and avoiding unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on the right to practice forestry.”
Requirements are noted for comprehensive logging plans, including compliance with state laws, such as those regulating erosion and sedimentation control, and stream crossing and wetlands protection.
In addition, actual harvesting operations are noted in detail as restricted in terms of their impact on adjoining properties and public roadways.