Stone Meadows Farm
As we all know, Langhorne Open Space loves farms! After all, the first thing we saved was Heritage Farm on Green Street in historic Langhorne Borough. It soon became a beloved landmark.
Now, another nearby farm is at serious risk. Stone Meadows Farm is a familiar sight to anyone who travels on Route 413 between Langhorne Borough and Newtown Borough. Located within Middletown Township, it is across the road from Pennswood and George School. The buildings are set far back, so are not clearly visible from the road. But the parcel is of significant size, the last farm of this size in southern Bucks County, consisting of 166 acres of farmland, a creek and wetlands, two farmhouses, barns and several outbuildings. Unfortunately, it is under a conditional agreement with a developer than is promising to cover the farmlands with 150 houses and roadways that will funnel 1,000 car-trips per day to the already over-congested local roads.
Does Langhorne Open Space care about what happens to Stone Meadows Farm? Of course! As the only land trust with headquarters in southern Bucks County, how could we not care? But the task of preserving a property of such size and complexity is daunting. Because the pathway to success is not clear, it’s tempting to say “We’ve done enough. Let’s hope someone else will take on this task.”
But that’s not the way of Langhorne Open Space Land Trust. In its past, it has, more than once taken on projects that have required more than seven years of determination, significant fundraising efforts, or once even gone to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In an important board meeting in March of 2016, LOSI’s Board of Directors took a brave step forward, becoming the first organization that we know of to commit itself to a 10-step Exploratory Strategic Plan for investigating the possible avenues to preserve Stone Meadows Farm. To our knowledge, we are also the first organization to set aside funds for this purpose. We have established a separate fund for those who wish to donate to the preservation of Stone Meadows Farm (several donations have already been received!). Other elements of the 10-Step plan include forming a coalition of other organizations and agencies supporting the cause; appointing committees to attend Middletown Township meetings of Supervisors, Planning Commission, and Zoning Board; and becoming a clearinghouse of information for area residents.
If you are interested in helping with LOSI’s newest challenge, please send an email to email@example.com or let a Board member know.
To contribute to the Stone Meadows Farm Preservation effort, visit our Membership page, or mail donation to:
Phil Miele, LOSI Treasurer 940 Langhorne-Yardley Road Langhorne, PA 19047-8243
Please make check payable to: LOSI, Stone Meadows Farm Project.
UPDATE re. MIDDLETOWN PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING (JUNE 1, 2016)
FOR SUPPORTERS OF “SAVE STONE MEADOWS FARM” MOVEMENT
Although the specific detail are not public, to the best of our knowledge The Metropolitan Group has entered into an agreement with the Stone Family to purchase their approximately 166-acre farm, conditional upon Metropolitan presenting a development plan that is acceptable to the Middletown Township Supervisors.
Many steps must be taken before the Supervisors vote. One of those steps is for the Middletown Township Planning Commission to review the plan and recommend to the Supervisors whether or not they think that plan meets Township ordinances.
The Planning Commission’s recommendation to the Supervisors is not binding but it is very significant.
The June 1, 2016 Meeting
There were well over 100 people attending, the meeting, and they seemed to be mostly from the Middletown communities that surround Stone Meadow Farm. Langhorne Open Space Land Trust was also represented by several Board Members and spouses, handing out flyers, newsletters, and sign-up sheets.
The attorney for the developer (Metropolitan Group) presented two options:
1. A “By Right” sketch plan was presented at the February Planning Commission meeting. (By-Right is a plan that the development claims meets all ordinances and requires no variances.)
2. A sketch plan for “cluster housing” that features higher-density, smaller lots, and therefore somewhat more open space.
The attorney insisted that the Planning Commission immediately decide whether they favored the original plan or the cluster housing plan, saying that it was too expensive for the builder to prepare two detailed plans.
Verbal comments—all against the development—were made by about 20 people who live in the area immediately surrounding the Stone Farm , as well as three Directors of the Board of Langhorne Open Space Land Trust– Pat Carr President, Carol Zetterberg Director of Finance and Development, and Florence Wharton former Chair of Langhorne Borough Planning Commission. (Audience comments may be available as a part of the minutes at Middletown Township Offices.)
To their credit, Middletown Planning Commission members refused to be bullied into making an immediate decision on the matter, pointing out that the material presented by Metropolitan’s attorney was grossly incomplete and inadequate for them to make an informed decision, lacking the number of the housing units, the lot sizes, traffic studies, environmental impact studies, sewage and water studies … to name a few. This part of the meeting ended with the Middletown Planning Commission voting unanimously to NOT vote to recommend until Metropolitan returns with a completed plan.
This was a very big relief and a positive outcome for the supporters of preserving Stone Meadow Farm. Of course, this does not mean that the Planning Commission could not eventually vote to recommend the developer’s plan. But importantly, they were not rushed into making a decision that evening. And it is possible that the plan never will be recommended.
For the supporters of the Stone Farm movement, one of the most positive things that happened is that the forward movement of the developer was delayed. Just as important was the good news that the Planning Commission appears as if they will insist on a plan that meets all zoning requirements, and is worthy of the citizens of Middletown.
Since the summer of 2007, Langhorne Open Space has been working to save the open space surrounding this historic home at the corner of North Bellevue and Marshall Avenues. Interestingly, the original portion of the home is located at the rear of the current structure. Sections have been added over the years, resulting in one of the more notable homes in the Borough. Throughout its history, the home has been surrounded by nearly two acres of open space. Many generations of neighborhood children have enjoyed playing in the expansive yard.
Upon Mary Merrick’s death (the property’s long-time owner), builders were considering plans to develop the property. Knowing of Mary’s desire to preserve her expansive yard as open space, her heirs have been working with Langhorne Open Space to find ways to accomplish that goal.
Langhorne Open Space is currently pursuing grants and raising funds to purchase the development rights to the open space — known locally as Merrick’s Meadow. Our goal is to preserve the beautiful viewscape enjoyed by the many walkers in Langhorne Borough. At the same time, the property would remain in private hands and continue to be on the tax rolls. Our longer term objective is to provide linkage with Catawissa Nature Preserve.
If you wish to make a contribution toward our current preservation effort, please fill out our membership form.