We know that this is very last minute, but if you consider yourself a Lehigh Valley farmland preservation supporter, here’s something you can do tonight before the sun sets over the cornfields (9.14.16)… come out to learn more about what’s happening at the local municipal and regional levels and to show your support of farmland preservation at Upper Milford Township in Lehigh County tonight at 7:30 p.m.
RenewLV has been invited by the township attend their Open Space Committee and to extend the offer to you. We’ll update the committee on RenewLV’s farmland preservation campaign, following Diane Matthews-Gehringer on the agenda. Diane is Lehigh County’s recently hired Director of Farmland Preservation. RenewLV board member and Farmland Preservation Committee Chair, Julie Thomases, will be joining me for our presentation.
We’d love to see you, too. We consistently see that when you show up for meetings like this, change happens.
In January of this year RenewLV held a “Save It Or Pave It” event where approximately 125 appointed and elected officials and interested citizens gathered. It was a high-energy event. There, we explored various strategies of the 15 outlined in our RenewLV Farmland Preservation Toolbox, including raising dollars locally to match with county and state dollars.
Representatives of Upper Milford Township were at that meeting and are now moving toward a referendum in November to have an EIT (earned income tax) raise money locally for farmland preservation and open space. (More information below.)
RenewLV believes that the leverage of local, county and state dollars will mobilize the greatest amount of funding for the county easement programs.
We are thrilled to hear of Upper Milford’s efforts.
If you are able to join us tonight, the meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Upper Milford Township building at 5671 Chestnut Street, Old Zionsville, PA 18068 (the former Kings Highway School Building.)
What’s going to happen there? After Diane speaks Julie and I will be reviewing the RenewLV Farmland Preservation Snapshot that summarizes how each county is doing toward meeting the farmland preservation goal. This goal is stated on page 35 of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s regional comprehensive plan:
“to preserve approximately 25% of the land in Lehigh and Northampton counties for agriculture.”
To urgently work toward meeting this goal, RenewLV has recommended the restoration of funding to both county farmland preservation programs ($2 million per year for Lehigh County and $1 million per year for Northampton County) for ten years.
We will be updating everyone on recent progress made in Lehigh County toward funding their program (Lehigh County Executive, Tom Muller has proposed a budget that restores funding of $2 million for three years for Lehigh County.)
Also tonight, we will be bringing along and displaying our new SAVE IT – DON’T PAVE IT banners as seen in the photo above.
We need you! We are inviting interested citizens to help us with our new photography/social media project in which people hold these banners up in a rural vista or farmfield in your community – perhaps a farm you own or to which you have access. Preservation advocates will assemble with these banners for photos that RenewLV will widely distribute on Facebook, Twitter and through emails like this one.
Let us know if you’d like us to put a spotlight on the support for farmland preservation in your community. We’ll happily schedule a day and time to come to you.
Some friends of mine helped me to create these banners which we just finished last Sunday night — so we are just NOW rolling out this project. With your help, we can show our elected leadership the grassroots support for farmland preservation in the Lehigh Valley.
Here’s a brief summary of Upper Milford’s referendum from Tim Haas, their Assistant Manager/Secretary:
The Board of Supervisors deem it to be in the best interest and general welfare of Upper Milford Township to acquire interest in open space for the purposes of protecting, conserving, and preserving undeveloped open spaces; forests and farmland; natural and scenic resources; and recreational and historical land. There will be a ballot question before the voters of Upper Milford Township at the general election of November 8, 2016, asking if they favor the imposition of an additional Earned Income Tax to finance the acquisition of interests in real property.
The ballot question to be asked is:
“Do you favor the imposition by Upper Milford Township of an additional Earned Income Tax at the rate of 0.1385 (%) percent on an annual basis beginning January 1, 2017, to be used for the purposes of financing the acquisition, protection, conservation or preservation of undeveloped open spaces or areas; forests and farmlands; natural and scenic resources; and recreational or historic lands; and payment of the attendant costs associated with such actions? YES or NO”
If the referendum passes, there will be an additional Earned Income Tax increase of thirteen and 85/100 ($13.85) dollars per ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars of earned income beginning in 2017. All revenue raised by the additional Earned Income Tax will be used to acquire agricultural conservation easements, finance the acquisition of open space, finance the protection of recreational or historical lands, and to pay the costs associated with such actions. The additional Earned Income Tax will remain in effect for at least five (5) years, at which time a new question can be placed on the ballot asking the voters whether they wish to rescind the additional tax.
We hope to see you tonight. If you are an ardent farmland preservation supporter but cannot attend, please let us know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone call at 484-893-1060. We’ll put you on the list to be invited to show up for future photos! Also, if you like the work we’re doing and want to keep the drum beat going for farmland preservation, please make a donation to RenewLV at this link.