Warriors Mark makes case for ag land

The Huntingdon County Commissioners Tuesday spoke about the importance of separating valuable agricultural land from residential development. The commissioners met with Andy Patterson, director of the Huntingdon County Soil Conservation Office and a special guest, former Warriors Mark Township supervisor Bill Hoover.
“We have a rich agricultural community (in Warriors Mark Township),” Hoover remarked. “While we all agree that residential development in the county is important, I think the (Warriors Mark) supervisors are very concerned about the amount of interest there is in development in the township.
“A large agricultural community and the desire to develop do not mix,” Hoover continued. “There is enough room in other areas of the county for development.”
Hoover informed the board of commissioners that in recent months, the Warriors Mark Supervisors have been conducting surveys of township residents to get their take on increased residential development.
“We held a visioning session last fall,” Hoover noted. “The results were unmistakable. A large number of residents want to use township funds to support farmland preservation.”
Hoover explained that over 600 surveys were circulated and of those, more than 250 were returned. The consensus was a “thumbs up” for ag preservation.
“I think the message is clear,” Hoover said. “The people of Warriors Mark Township like the agricultural setting.”
After his presentation, Hoover, on behalf of the Warriors Mark Township Supervisors, presented the county commissioners with a check in the amount of $10,000. Hoover asked that the money be allocated for ag easements in Warriors Mark Township.
“I’m glad to hear that farmland preservation is so important to Warriors Mark Township residents,” remarked county commissioner Roy Thomas. “I think we can probably say that this money will be used in the township. As far as matching funds go, I don’t think we could make any such guarantee.”
The question was directed to Patterson, who indicated that Thomas’s opinion was on the mark.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re not against residential development,” Hoover clarified. “We just want to ensure that the rich soil we’re lucky to have in the township is not used up.”
“It is possible for ag land and residential developments to co-exist,” added commissioner Charles States. “There has to be a balance, with regard to open space. That’s where township ordinances come into play.”
Commissioner R. Dean Fluke questioned the request to utilize the $10,000 exclusively in Warriors Mark Township. “What if another municipality provided like funds and made a similar request to use the money in that township, but the soil in that particular township did not qualify for an easement purchase?” he asked. “What would we do then?”
Patterson fielded that question. “We wouldn’t encourage a municipality to provide funds like this unless it was possible to purchase an easement,” he explained. “That’s why this process takes such a long time. The state would have to certify the farm. These things are scrutinized by many bodies, our office, the state board. An easement is a forever deal.”