Letters to the Editor

Letters: Pine Hall forest should be preserved; Giving away the farm

Pine Hall forest should be preserved

A 65-acre Happy Valley forest is endangered. The 7 p.m. Aug. 19 continuation of the public hearing at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building provides your last opportunity to share your opinion on whether this forest should be preserved.

Ferguson is an Arbor Day Foundation “Tree City USA.” Yet Ferguson’s supposedly tree-friendly 145 acre Pine Hall Traditional Townhall Development (TTD) has plans to cut down the vast majority of trees between Blue Course Drive and Accuweather.

According to Ferguson’s TTD ordinance, 40% of the Pine Hall forest could be saved. Instead, Ferguson OK’d 90% removal, then partial replacement of larger trees with 2 inch saplings — this in exchange for questionable amenities: a commercial district and parking lots.

For 100 years, Pine Hall forest has been an active ecosystem. It hosts native wildflowers and shelters wildlife. It filters storm water and cleans our air. It provides walkers and bikers a quiet, shady retreat from the increasing bustle of Happy Valley. According to Ferguson’s own professional survey, 90% of residents want more nearby nature.

When this project was formulated, engineers’ plans removed trees as an obstacle to development. But cutting down mature trees is no longer a sane option. Climate change is an existential crisis; we have 12 years to hang on to a livable climate by reducing/sequestering carbon equivalents. Large trees do that well. Two-inch saplings do not.

Little else in Happy Valley is more venerable than heritage trees. Please attend the hearing. For more information, see nittanyvalley-eco.org.

Dorothy Blair, Boalsburg

Giving away the farm

In reference to the Spring Township meeting of Aug. 5, direct mail announcement of the zoning meeting was deliberately restricted to only the tiniest legal number, rather than to the entire neighborhood, all of whom would be gravely, negatively impacted should Berks Homes get its way.

The focus of the hearing was Berks Homes wanting to put up a huge residential complex on the farmland proposed to be re-zoned — no rezoning, no development. It would in effect result in a Mega-Amberleigh suburban sprawl complex, abutting the current Amberleigh by Berks Homes complex which already is fraught with difficulties and complaints which prior planning actions failed to anticipate or to address.

Board members (Perryman, Capparella, Royer) refused to respond substantively to repeated direct questions from homeowners about compliance with the current planning documents; the alleged need for additional residences; buffer zones; and the traffic threat to safety. The current county planning document, however, repeatedly and in detail calls for the protection of agricultural farmland in our township, region and county explicitly in opposition to further development.

It is not the mission of the Spring Township Planning Commission to enhance the profitability of Berks Homes (not even situated in our county) or the landowner, and certainly not at the expense of existing residents of the neighborhood in terms of property value, traffic congestion, and general peace and quiet.

Attend and speak out at planning meetings before they sell off the entire county to Berks Homes. Come election time, let’s find replacements.

Paul Dombrowski, Bellefonte