Patterson Farm gets another agricultural easement

A sign on the Lower Makefield Township-owned Patterson Farm. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)

Lower Makefield Township’s Patterson Farm - county-owned open space that had been the center of a months-long debate about land-use - will have an additional portion of land preserved as farmland, after township supervisors voted Wednesday to approve an agricultural easement on about 93 of the farm’s 234 acres.

A similar easement signed in 1999 already protected 71 acres on the farm and limited use of that land to agricultural production-related activities. The easement signed Wednesday will do the same for the additional acreage.

Township supervisor Jeff Benedetto said Thursday that the easement is “good news for the township, it’s good news for those wanting to preserve Patterson Farm."

The farm, which the township purchased for about $7 million through eminent domain in 1998, had been the subject of a heated public debate recently. Township officials wanted to allow a husband-and-wife team of veterinarians to build a private equine hospital on about five acres of the land, while a group of local residents, supported by Benedetto, vocally opposed such plans.

The township zoning declined earlier this month to grant variances to the veterinarians, meaning plans for the hospital cannot move forward. The veterinarian, Amy Benz, has until next month to appeal the vote.

The decision delighted local residents, and Benedetto said Thursday that he hoped some of the revenue generated from the new easement - about $840,000 - would be put toward restoring the portion of the farm where the proposed hospital would have been located. That portion of land is not a part of either easement.