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Solebury eyes purchasing Route 202 land

Solebury Township took a major step Tuesday toward ensuring it has a say in what gets developed — or not developed — along its Route 202 corridor.
The township proposes to buy the 12-acre flea market along Route 202, along with a lot at the corner of Route 202 and Reeder Road. The sale also would include an easement on the New Hope Star Diner property for a network of township trails.
The board of supervisors accepted and approved a letter from the owner to sell the property and unanimously authorized its solicitor, Mark Freed, to prepare an agreement of sale for the property, which is in the Traditional Neighborhood Commercial (TNC) zone.
“The township offer to purchase these two properties reflects the community’s desire to control development that can only be accomplished by the owner of this property. A critical perspective is that relying upon this property remaining undeveloped by the current owner is not realistic,” said Supervisor Kevin Morrissey.
The purchase price for the properties would be $2.35 million through the use of open space funds borrowed at just over 1 percent interest, said Chair Mark Baum Baicker.
The cost to the average taxpayer would be an increase of $28 a year, according to Michele Blood, assistant township manager.
“The board would like to thank the property owner (Anthony Canike), a longtime Solebury resident and generous supporter of many community events, for working with the township to bring about this transaction,” Baum Baicker said.
“Assuming this transaction comes to fruition,” he continued, “it will further some of the core concepts of Solebury Township’s Comprehensive Plan and the community’s expressed goals of protecting our water supply and the Aquetong Creek and its tributaries, as well as making us better able to deal with traffic issues on Route 202.”
The board also heard from report from C.L. Lindsay of the Library Task Force who said Solebury cannot expect oversight of the library just because it contributes money to its upkeep. Options would be a contract of services relationship or a municipal ownership of the library.
Morrissey said “an income statement reflecting past and future activity is critical in my view. In other words, what programs and activities were and will be supported. How is Solebury Township community being affected.
“The library should be treated the same as any other entity which the township provides significant funding by providing an income statement. Stated bluntly: Where did the township funds go and what do you plan to do with future township money.
“In August, when the NH-Solebury Library will be on the (supervisors’) agenda, I hope to have the opportunity to review a library income statement from this year (although it will be very different from prior years) and the proposed income statement for next year,” Morrissey concluded.
In other matters, the board authorized its solicitor to attend an Aug. 12 meeting of the zoning hearing board where developers of the proposed Heritage Senior Living development on Lower York Road (Route 202) are requesting several variances. They include:
- Reducing parking spaces from the required 239 spaces to 76;
- Permit the disturbance of about 2,500 square feet of steep slopes.
At the same Aug. 12 meeting, the board also authorized the solicitor to oppose a variance for Marco and Elizabeth Sigrist of 6184 Honey Hollow Road to install a pool.
The supervisors also heard from Jay F. Kelly, of the Center for Environmental Studies at Raritan Valley Community College, on a proposal to conduct an infrared deer count survey for the township via drones.
Morrissey said more study is need because of the expense involved.
The board also appointed:
- C.L. Lindsay to the historic architectural review board, filling the vacant created the resignation of Kevin MacDonald;
- Michael Firth to the zoning hearing board on the resignation of Steven Segal;
- Zachary Zubris as township zoning officer and code enforcement official;
- Nicole Slack assistant code enforcement official.
The supervisors also voted to support the national Ready for 100 movement sponsored by the SierraClub, which has a goal of transitioning to 100 percent clean, renewable energy and completing that transition, communitywide, to:
- 100 percent clean renewable electricity by 2035;
- 100 percent clean renewable energy when replacing heating system and transportation equipment by 2050;
- As vehicles are replaced, priority will also be given to transitioning the Solebury Township vehicle fleet to 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2030 where feasible;
The Solebury Township Environmental Advisory Council will provide guidance on how to draft an energy transition plan for achieving those goals by December 2020 to include interim milestones, financial impacts, equity metrics, potential financing mechanisms and the percentage of renewable energy that is locally produced.
CORRECTION made July 27, 2020: The purchase price for the properties was corrected from $2.5 million to $2.35 million.