Open Space Review Board
The Open Space Review Board (OSRB) is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on the 4th Tuesday of each month. Please check the Township calendar for scheduling changes.
Chris Washburn, Chairman
Spencer Claypoole, Vice Chairman
Township Open Space Program Report as of 2017
The Open Space Review Board just completed their 15th year of North Coventry’s Open Space program. During this time they have made remarkable progress in preserving the Township’s character and high quality natural resources, many of which are recognized for regional and national significance.
Below are the achievements frequently cited by Chester County and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State.
Achievements During 2017
- The Township completed its subdivision and acquisition of 13.9 acres of woodlands between Cornerstone Drive, near Scholl Road and the Schuylkill River, and Valley View Road. This acquisition expands a relatively inaccessible park on Shenkel Road to 26.5 acres with access from three roads. These parcels will include +2,640 feet of trails to connect to the existing park.
- The Township has an agreement to subdivide and exchange 2 unused acres of its Bickel Run Park west of Keim Street for 2 subdivided acres of a farm adjacent to Bickel Run. This acquisition will provide over 800 feet of frontage on Bickel Run and effectively complete the path of the Coventry Trail from near Miller Road to Hanover Street and to Hanover Meadows adjacent to Route 100. The Township approved both subdivisions and closing is pending completion of a trail easement over a small portion of the owner’s retained land.
- The Open Space Review Board actively discussed the possible preservation of 18 additional parcels in different parts of the Township. The Board did research on the history and quality of many of the parcels, worked with a seller of a large parcel to appraise and find a buyer interested in a conservation easement on the land, and attempted to subdivide and acquire a small portion of a large parcel going through foreclosure.
- In recognition of the importance of the quality of the natural lands in our Township, Chester County announced that the Township will receive $70,000 for the acquisition of the parcel between Cornerstone Drive and Valley View Road. This is in addition to a 2016 DCNR grant of $135,000 for the same Property.
- The Open Space Review Board presented and had a display at the Coventry Woods Festival on May 21. The Board received positive feedback, good suggestions and contacts not only from our citizens but also from residents of other townships. Nineteen parcels were identified by the public for possible preservation.
- The Open Space Review Board made 3 recommendations at the request of the Planning Commission on proposed land development plans and 1 recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for the potential use of the Stubblebine House and Paravis Hall at the Fernbrook access to Coventry Woods Park.
- The OSRB actively participates in the Hopewell Big Woods Partnership, the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative and the Northern Federation Regional Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan. These alliances are designed to preserve this region’s unique resources and create regional trail and tourism links between our Townships and nearby parks and attractions.
- Due to 2014 legislation, the Township authorized partial use of our Open Space Funds to care for land acquired with these funds. This enables the Township to initiate improvements and maintenance of existing parks that have been purchased with dedicated Open Space funds. Total spent for this purpose in 2017 was $40,547.
- The Reading Eagle published an article on January 29, 2017 on the Township’s success in creating the 696-acre Coventry Woods Park, including its Fernbrook Access.
Our Overall Achievements
In May, 2002 the voters of our Township approved the open space referendum by a substantial 77%. Motivated and thankful to our residents for enabling our Township to preserve its character and natural resources, we have accomplished much in only 15 years:
- In the 15 years of our open space initiative, the Township directly or in partnership with others has preserved or has under agreement 1,451 acres of natural lands. This total represents 799 acres of forest and trails, 53 acres of active recreation parkland, and 599 acres of perpetual agricultural easements on farms. These totals include 89 acres dedicated by developers to open space as required by our township ordinances. To accomplish this, the Board negotiated 51 separate transactions for 82 separate tax parcels.
- The total value of all land preserved or under agreement in the last 14 years is $20.1 million. Since 2002 the Township has received $11.8 million in grants from the State, County and Federal governments and $4.8 million through land owner donations or conservation organization assistance. The net value paid by the Township is $3.5 million. As a result, the Township has successfully leveraged 83% of all acquisitions with funding from other sources. According to Chester County’s published record of grants in the 29 years since 1988, our Township in only 15 years has preserved or developed the second highest number of acres among the 68 municipal recipients and received the third highest amount of municipal grant funds since the County program began. Likewise, the Township in 15 years has received more grants from the 25-year history of DCNR’s Keystone Fund than any city or town in the state except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This record demonstrates the quality of land in our Township.
- To initiate these purchases, the Township borrowed $3 million in 2003. Annually the Township receives approximately $600,000 in earned income tax for open space. As a result of these combined funding sources and grants, we have been able to fund our acquisitions and still reduce the original debt to $723,000. We currently have over $4,273,000 remaining in open space funds.
Above are two maps that show the land preserved before the 2002 public referendum and the land that has been preserved today.
The Open Space Review Board has accomplished much in only fifteen years. It is critical that the board continue its efforts to preserve open space at strategic locations throughout the township. All citizens are encouraged to actively participate in meeting this objective. This can be accomplished with assistance from the OSRB by planning for their personal financial future as well as ensuring the preservation of their homestead for future generations. Together we will continue to fulfill our goal of preserving the natural landscape and character of our township.
Christopher Washburn, Chairman