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Richland okays preservation of Axe Handle Road land


In the latest statement of its commitment to farmland preservation, Richland Township has authorized a plan and sources of funding to preserve the 55.46-acre Clymer property on Axe Handle Road.

The action was taken at the Oct. 14 public board of supervisors meeting, toward “closing by the end of the year.” It followed a presentation on the matter by Laura Baird of Heritage Conservancy.

“This is a real asset for the township and adjacent properties,” Baird noted in summary.

“This action reflects the commitment of the board of supervisors,” said Chair Tim Arnold.

The planned conservation easement purchase is the latest addition to the township’s land preservation program, which began in conjunction with a countywide program in 2001, with a 0.1 percent earned income tax (EIT) surcharge supplementing bond funding for purchases of open space and related easements.

The result has been the addition of now 29 preserved parcels, totaling well over 1,000 acres, to only five parcels preserved before that. The renewal of the EIT surcharge by voters in the November 2016 election, for another 10 years, was said at the time to allow for the purchase of another nine properties, totaling 270 acres, among over 650 acres in the township that are considered rural and could still be preserved.

Regarding the Clymer property, Baird noted it offered a combination of natural and agricultural resources, including location in Quakertown Swamp; containing prime agricultural soils; being adjacent to a farm that is to be preserved; having frontage along Tohickon Creek; and offering a “scenic viewscape” along Axe Handle Road.

In addition, she said it contained woodlands, vernal pools, and wetlands. Heritage Conservancy President Jeff Marshall had previously recognized Quakertown Swamp as “a vitally important wetland in our community.”

Richland Township’s contribution to the purchase is not to exceed $337,500, with the Conservancy adding $75,000, and Bucks County providing $100,000.

Also at the Oct. 14 meeting, supervisors approved an amended final land development plan for the 194-acre Reserve at Woodside Creek, consisting of 74 lots within the zoning category of “single-family detached cluster,” and leaving 166 acres of proposed open space. The property is located along Paletown Road and Richlandtown Pike.

The approval followed promise of consideration by the developer of preserving Native American archaeology noted by two township residents, and also being mindful of their concern about the dumping of cadmium-containing soil, deriving from Quakertown street projects, at a Paletown Road site over 20 years ago.