Back in 1995, Wrightstown became one of the first townships in Bucks County to have a referendum in which residents voted to authorize the municipality to buy land or put conservation easements on property with the intention of protecting it against development, said Township Supervisor Jane Magne.
Twenty-five years later, the Board of Supervisors is continuing that commitment to open space preservation with an ongoing effort to finalize placing a conservation easement on a 67-acre rural property in the township.
Magne said this week that the deal with the landowners is nearly complete.
“Within the next couple of months, we expect to finalize the purchase of the conservation easement,” Magne told the Herald.
Supervisors held an executive session at their Jan. 6 meeting to discuss the pending purchase. Since negotiations regarding the possible easement are ongoing, township officials said they could not yet identify the property or say who owns the land.
In Pennsylvania, a voluntary conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation/natural values – the upshot of which is that significant development is typically prohibited under terms of the deals.
Such easements allow property owners to continue to own and use their land, as well as to sell it or pass it on to heirs.
According to Magne, 14.75 percent of the land in Wrightstown is currently protected from further development. That includes 826 acres that Wrightstown either owns or holds conservation easements upon. Meanwhile, the Heritage Conservancy, the Doylestown-based nonprofit that specializes in open space preservation, holds easements on another 137 acres in Wrightstown, Magne said.
“Open space preservation has been very important to the Wrightstown community,” said Magne. “After our first referendum in 1995, we had two additional ones later, and all had overwhelming support from residents.”
In other news, the three-person Wrightstown Board of Supervisors held its annual reorganization meeting on Monday Jan. 6. Appointments included Supervisor Chester Pogonowski being named chairman of the board. He is now in his 30th year as a supervisor, officials said. Magne, who is in her 25th year on the board, was appointed vice chair. Joe Pantano continues as township manager.