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Solebury agrees to buy U.S. 202 land

The Solebury supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to spend $2.35 million to help ensure that the township controls the future uses of its Route 202 corridor.
To that end, they agreed to buy 11.47 acres of the former Route 202 flea market property from Country Host Inc. for $2.1 million and 1.07 acres at the corner of Route 202 and Reeder Road from Anthony Canike of Solebury for $254,035.
The township plans to pay for the purchase with open space conservation funds recently borrowed at 1.09 percent interest. Those open space regulations limit uses of the land to active and passive recreation and cultural purposes.
The transaction, along with an adjacent easement, also aims to protect the Aquetong Creek and the water supply in that Traditional Neighborhood Commercial (TNC) zone. It also would ensure the free flow of traffic on Route 202 and gain control of the Route 202 and Reeder Road intersection for safety improvements.
“We don’t have an immediate plan for the property,” Supervisor Chair Mark Baum Baicker said, adding the board’s next move will be to get public consensus on uses for the property.
Several residents attending the ZOOM meeting opposed the transaction.
Former Supervisor Paul Cosdon said it would remove valuable commercial tax ratables.
Pearl Mintzer said, “Our shopping strip looks horrible. We don’t need more parks, we need good places to shop.”
Supervisor John Francis reminded the opponents of the “unbelievable outrage” over last year’s (now-abandoned) plan to create a commercial-restaurant-apartment hub in the same area.
“It should be appreciated, as with many purchases,” said Supervisor Kevin Morrissey, “the opportunity to acquire this property was at the present and not at some future date. The decision had to be made now, not in a number of years as to whether this acreage would support the long-term goals of the community.”
Former Supervisor Jim Searing approved of the transaction, noting that the TNC zone also allows for high-density residential development which now would be banned from the tract.
In other business, the board gave conditional use approval for Solebury School on Phillips Mill Road to build a new wastewater treatment facility near the existing plant. It would abandon its existing plant which is in a flood plain.
The board also heard from Douglas Brinkley, the new president of the New Hope-Solebury Free Library, who said the library faces an $18,296 deficit in 2021.
The shortfall, he said, is due to the lack of fundraisers and the annual Spelling Bee that had to be postponed because of COVID-19.
Solebury contributed $120,000 to the library for 2020.
The board also:
- Accepted the resignation of Buz Teacher from the Farm Committee;
- Appointed Steve Young to the Historic Architectural Review Board where he has been serving as an alternative member.