This article was written for my Writing for Journalism class at Temple University.
The Land Preservation Committee revised a portion of its updated land preservation plan to be sent to the Board of Supervisors to lay out the success of their program in Honey Brook Township in Chester County, Pa.
After six months of revisions and updates, the plan now reflects the progress made by the township over the last five years and the committee’s recommendations for the next five.
Eight members from the committee, along with Lew Wertley, chairman of the Honey Brook Township Board of Supervisors, attended the meeting held at the township building Tuesday night.
“Twenty-four acres have now been reserved,” said John McHugh, chairman of the committee. “That’s 15 percent of the township, which far exceeded our original goals when we first set out.”
According to the committee, over two-thirds of the land in Honey Brook is farmed, and many of these farmlands contain streams that lead directly into the Brandywine River. The city of Wilmington, Del., Chester County and Honey Brook Township have set out to preserve these lands to keep the streams clean and, in turn, help clear up the Brandywine.
“For every $1 Wilmington spends to secure land at the source of the Brandywine, Wilmington saves $27 that it would otherwise have spent to create better quality water in their plants,” said John Theilacker, also a member of the Brandywine Conservancy.
Township officials plan to preserve another 1,000 acres from farmers who have applied to be part of the program over the next five years, which is expected to cost $9 million.
One committee member cautioned the others about possible fraud, citing one farmer who applied for the program in 2009, then violated terms of the conservation plan, which is enforced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Chester County.
The farmer rented a parcel of its land to someone who is composting dead animals. The runoff from the business is flowing into one of the streams that leads to the Brandywine River. The DEP has already fined the farmer.
“The township’s putting real money to the table – and so is the county,” said John Goodall, another member of the Brandywine Conservancy. “To get embroiled in any sort of violation at this stage – when in my experience, the farmer is at his best behavior – it does not bode well.”
The committee also considered two new applicants for the program. The two farms, both located along Route 10, own a combined 112 acres.
The committee is scheduled to meet in two weeks to approve the revisions made to the plan and to look over the two new applicants.