Open Space

Londonderry Township is fortunate to have over 3700 acres of open land permanently protected. This is more than half of the land in our township!

In 2003, township residents voted in favor of a referendum to collect a 0.25% Earned Income Tax for the purpose of funding open space initiatives within the township. The following year an Open Space Committee was formed to assist residents interested in selling or donating agricultural or conservation easements.

Since passage of that Open Space Referendum over 1750 acres have been protected. To make this happen, the township partnered with local agencies, both public and private, to purchase agricultural or conservation easements on several working farms, and three landowners privately donated conservation easements to the Brandywine Conservancy.

This year, 2014, three more landowners have entered into agreements with the Commonwealth, Chester County, Londonderry Township, and The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, to preserve almost 300 more acres.

Every time Londonderry Township spends your Open Space Funds we ask for easement restrictions that go beyond the agricultural restrictions that are required by government programs. We do this to insure that the farm we protected always looks like a "FARM" as our residents imagine one to be, not a feed lot, a row of mushroom houses, or a composting site.

If you own 10 or more acres, consider the advantages of easing your property:

There are several state and county programs that pay landowners up to $12,000 per acre for agricultural easements, and the landowner retains ownership. The Chester County Agricultural Conservation Easement Challenge Grant program allows townships to partner with the County to preserve farms at risk. Applications are accepted for farms of 25-acres or greater, and for farms of 10 or more acres when they are adjacent to other preserved property. Approved farm uses now include boarding and training of horses, in addition to all other agricultural businesses.

Tax incentives from the federal government make donating an easement extremely attractive. The value of a donation is determined by an appraisal that subtracts the reduced value as farmland from the property’s value for development purposes. Landowners who donate conservation easements may deduct this donation from their adjusted gross income over a period of years.

There are non tax-deductible costs associated with donating a conservation easement, and these costs must be paid '"up front."   To cover these costs, and in recognition of the fact that all of our citizens benefit from the preservation of open space,the supervisors have resolved to use dedicated Open Space Funds to pay landowners up to $20,000 toward these costs when donating a qualified conservation easement!

The Open Space Committee wants to help landowners gain as much information as possible about the many open space preservation and conservation opportunities that are available. If you have any questions contact chairman Hank Detering, at 610-869-3631.