PennFuture Takes Case to Protect Family Farm
Conservancy of Montgomery County Urges Upper Hanover Twp. to Stop Condemnation
Proceedings to Replace Farm with Highway
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture) has agreed to represent the Conservancy of Montgomery County in its effort to keep the Weisbecker family farm protected from development under the terms of the easement granted to the Conservancy by the family as well as Pennsylvania's Agricultural Area Security Law. The Conservancy asked for PennFuture's assistance after the Upper Hanover Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on October 11, 2005 with no public notice to condemn the property to build a connector road between Route 663 and Quakertown Road. "The township's decision is contrary to law and simply makes no sense from a public policy standpoint," said Matt Royer, staff attorney for PennFuture and co-counsel for the Conservancy. "The family that decided to guarantee that their land would be preserved forever as farmland certainly doesn't want this road. The Conservancy doesn't want the road, which is prohibited under the terms of the easement. The developer working on property that this road would serve apparently hasn't asked for the road. And the citizens of the township don't want the road, particularly when it will destroy preserved farmland. The law demands that alternative locations must be explored by the township." "If this condemnation is allowed to occur, it will compromise every conservation easement in the state," said Mary Lou McFarland, president of the Conservancy. "It will set the tone for other governmental bodies to take preserved agricultural land for private benefit. The Conservancy is pleased that PennFuture has agreed to help us fight this condemnation." "We have learned that this issue will be on the agenda for tomorrow's supervisors meeting," said Kimberly Snell-Zarcone, PennFuture staff attorney and co-counsel for this case. "We hope the supervisors will rescind their decision to take the Weisbecker's farm. But the supervisors must understand that, should they fail to do so and proceed with condemnation, it will be strongly opposed." The Conservancy of Montgomery County was formed in 1990 to provide individuals and governments with creative and flexible preservation techniques and to coordinate countywide efforts to save valued natural and built assets. PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization dedicated to creating a just future where the environment, communities and the economy thrive. PennFuture works to improve and protect Pennsylvania's environment and economy through public outreach and education, advocacy and litigation.
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