East Cocalico OKs sale of property

By on April 16, 2014

East Cocalico Township officials are poised to sell a property at 1975 N. Reading Road that is jointly owned with three neighboring municipalities.

East Cocalico, Adamstown and Denver boroughs, and West Cocalico townships purchased the property in 2006 for $3.74 million.

A planned regional recreation center on the property -the former Four Seasons Produce facility -never came to fruition.

Supervisors on April 10 voted to join Denver and Adamstown officials who’ve already approved a motion to support the sale of the property.

West Cocalico Township has not yet voted on the matter.

The inter-municipal agreement between the four dictates the ways the property can be disposed of. It allows for the sale if at least three of the four municipalities are in agreement.

A lease to Perdue Chicken, which has rented part of the facility, expires at the end of the month. The company had notified the township it won’t renew.

The mortgage on the 20.6-acre property is $250,000 per year. The Perdue lease generated income of $144,000 for half of the 50,000-square-foot building.

Township Manager Mark Hiester said that the supervisors had an obligation to notify the other three municipalities upon their vote.

Supervisor Noelle Fortna suggested this be done immediately via email in advance of formal notification through certified mail.

In other township news, the board discussed its partnership between the township, its agriculture community, and the Lancaster Farmland Trust.

Stephanie Smith, a Farmland Trust official, detailed the group’s Best Management Practices, BMP, assessment summary -part of a two-year effort which began in January.

“We are all looking for a new model for improving water quality,” Smith told supervisors. “We also find that many municipalities are concerned with how to meet the aggressive timeline for nutrient reductions.”

The trust, which specializes in working with Plain sect and conservative Mennonite farms who may not be comfortable taking government funds to preserve their farms, has added 433 farms and over 26,000 acres of county farmland to its roster of farms with active conservation and preservation plans in place.

Smith explained that the Trust is often able to speak with farm owners on a different level than government groups, coming along side to encourage implementation of conservation plans, nutrient reductions programs and preservations plans.

She added that in taking inventory of local farms and the various conservation plans in place, often local farmers are already employing best management practices. Such an inventory will help the township to document those efforts for credit against the expectations of county, state and federal government regulations.

Overall the work of Lancaster Farmland Trust will cost the township $43,000 over two years.

The board noted that New Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, MS4, requirements must be approved and enacted by each county municipality by May 7. East Cocalico officials said they’re ahead of the curve, with most provisions of the new ordinance already in compliance.

Taking the model ordinance provided by county leaders, East Cocalico was then able to dovetail new recommended changes into the new ordinance.

“In our pilot program with East Lampeter, we found that 50 percent of the BMP’s were already in place, but undocumented,” added Smith. “These were things already happening but the township was not getting credit for it. A lot of farms were not taking federal money for conservation because it was against their beliefs, but regardless they were doing some very good work.”

Major provisions included in the new ordinances across the county mandate the amount of allowable impervious surface a property can have, based on the size, lot and zoning of the lot.

East Cocalico has an estimated 154 farms with ten acres or more.

“We go out and talk to land owners and ask if they have conservation or nutrient management plans,” noted Smith. “This is not as scary since we are a non-profit, meeting on non government land. We walk the property to see what BMP’s are in application but may not be documented. And we have a conversation with the land owner to see if they are amenable to partner with us or the township for BMP implementation.”

Smith explained that it can lead to a big reduction for township MS4 plans to document what may already be in place.

“Perhaps we can do the reduction at less cost, more effective means simply by documenting what is already in place,” said Smith.

Going forward, the trust would like to meet with farmers when the opportunity arises during the growing season, perhaps in mid July to review findings and discuss critical next steps.

For additional information on East Cocalico Township please visit their website at www.eastcocalicotownship.com. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gpklinger.

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