Benefits of Open Space

Open Space Protection Progress Report February 2016

Benefits of Open Space
The 0.05% earned income tax for open space is an investment in your community and benefits you by protecting the value of your property and the quality of life that you enjoy.   The open space fund is a dedicated source of money that can only be used for open space purposes, specifically the preservation of Elk Township’s special landscapes and way of life.  Many of the County and State land preservation grant programs require up to a 50 percent match from the municipality thus compounding the value of our contribution.

In a township-wide survey conducted in 2005, 90 percent of respondents expressed support for protecting open space and agriculture in Elk Township.

In 2006, 65 percent of Elk Township voters approved a 0.05% earned income tax to protect open space.

A Cost of Community Services study prepared by the Brandywine Conservancy found that residential development costs more in its need for Township services than the tax revenue it generates ($1.00 generated/ $1.04 cost) than agriculture, which generates $1.00 in revenue and costs the municipality only $0.04 (four) cents in services.

Studies show (10,000 Friends of PA and Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission) that property values increase when in close proximity to protected open space and agricultural land.

Protected open space contributes to the economic stability of the municipality.

Municipalities with protected open space generate less vehicular traffic and experience safer roads.

Preserved open space protects the quality and quantity of our ground- and surface water supplies.

The Elk Township Board of Supervisors and Open Space Committee diligently pursue opportunities to work with owners of larger properties (e.g., greater than 10 acres) who are interested in willingly protecting their land. The Township, with the support of the Brandywine Conservancy has held Landowner Meetings yearly, to present the various preservation programs and funding sources, and to address questions and concerns that landowners may have.

Board members, Committee members, and Brandywine Conservancy staff (who assist the Township and landowners at low or no cost) have guided a number of these landowners with the grant applications to protect their land. Over 2000 acres are already protected, much of which is accessible for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Leveraging our local open space tax to permanently protect land benefits:

(1)      The value of the money we pay into the Open Space fund is increased considerably when it is combined with funding from other programs, and it remains in the Township, benefitting the residents directly.

(2)       Preserving open space preserves farming, Pennsylvania’s #1 industry. It also protects our woods, streams, and meadows, making significant contributions to our health (e.g., filtering pollutants from the water that feeds our wells).

(3)       The cost of local government services remains low due to the need for fewer services by residents, keeping local taxes to a minimum.

As of 2014 the Township Open Space fund has helped to protect 8 properties with a total of 492 acres.

Melanie Ryan
Open Space Committee