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Solebury schedules public land preservation forum


The Solebury Township Board of Supervisors is convening a special forum on the township’s land preservation program at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, in the Township Building. This is the first of several forums focused on topics of special interest to Solebury residents, designed to bring the community together to discuss a single issue in depth.

“Solebury’s all about land preservation,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Baum Baicker, who serves as the board liaison to the Land Preservation Committee.

“If you want to really understand what Solebury’s about, the history of it, how we got to where we are and how we can get to where we want to go, it’s worth spending an hour and a half coming and listening to experts talk about the process and how it works.”

Baum Baicker said that he understands many residents aren’t interested in attending regular board of supervisors meetings unless they have a particular issue on that meeting’s agenda, so the board is presenting special, single-issue forums.

“We’re going to bring in experts to discuss things like how that process works, what’s the benefit to the landowner, what’s the benefit to the township and the residents, and the whole process — how does it all work. This is going to be an open forum for everyone to learn about the process,” Baum Baicker said.

The line-up of panelists includes David Johnson, the executive director of the Land Trust of Bucks County; Kris Kern, director of resource protection for Heritage Conservancy; Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program Director Rich Harvey; Terry Clemons, longtime special counsel to Solebury on open space matters; and Phil Johnson, the chair of the Solebury Township Land Preservation Committee.

“We hope to encourage landowners whose property is already preserved and landowners that are thinking about preserving to come to our forum to get a better understanding of our procedure, what’s involved in preservation, and to try to further encourage them to consider the possibility of preserving,” Phil Johnson said.

The forum will begin with an outline of the township’s long history of land preservation, the process of applying, and the importance of enrolling smaller tracts of land in the program.

The Land Trust and Heritage representatives will discuss the important role that conservancies play in permanent land preservation. Baum Baicker will explain how the program is funded, and Harvey will highlight the special importance of preserving our working farms.

Clemons will point out the benefits of preservation to the landowner and the community at large, and the panel will close out the presentations with a discussion of how land preservation is integral to Solebury’s Comprehensive Plan.

The rest of the evening will be devoted to an open discussion with all who attend. The forum is scheduled to conclude at 7:30 p.m. Additional forums are in the planning stages, with a discussion of recycling programs tentatively set for later this spring.