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South Whitehall investigating land preservation

At the South Whitehall Township commissioners Jan. 15 meeting, Commissioner Matthew Mobilio suggested the township establish a land preservation department to look for ways to preserve open space.

He raised the possibility of inaugurating an earned income tax for the exclusive purpose of preserving land.

The matter could be placed on a referendum to give the public an opportunity to express their opinions on land preservation in the township, Mobilio said.

He recommended taking a look at preserving what is there now while also looking to the future.

Township Manager Renee Bickel commented on the suggestion.

“Time is of the essence to be on a referendum,” Bickel said.

The measure would have to be prepared by August to be on the November ballot.

Bickel suggested working with public land trusts.

Solicitor Joe Zator said some help may be available from Lehigh County.

He noted a municipality can purchase preservation easements.

Mobilio and Commissioner Michael Wolk volunteered to serve on a committee.

The board agreed to discuss the land preservation matter at a workshop session in which staff can report on efforts they have already undertaken in that direction.

Board members also sanctioned preparation of a mission statement for the land preservation project.