On what would have been the 110th birthday of the farmer who previously owned it, citizens from Bucks County, PA and around the country are rallying in support of permanent preservation for the Patterson Farm in Lower Makefield township. Over 1,300 signatures have been collected on an online petition in support of halting the township’s proposed sale of historic Satterthwaite House (c. 1760), and in favor of preserving intact the Patterson Farm where the house is located. Preservationists involved in the effort are commemorating Thomas Patterson’s June 11th birthday by redoubling their efforts to push for perpetual preservation of his farm. Among the signers of the petition for preservation are many of Pattersons relatives and friends.
Lower Makefield Township obtained Patterson Farm for preservation in a controversial Eminent Domain taking in the late 1990’s. Thomas Patterson and his wife Alice agreed to accept far less than market value for their 234 acre farm so it could be preserved by the township.
The history of Satterthwaite House (c. 1760) and the Patterson Farm can be traced back to the Quaker settlers who received it via a land grant from William Penn. To the annoyance of residents, fifteen years have passed since the townships condemnation, with only a small portion of the farm receiving protection from development today. Patterson Farm Preservation group founder Donna Doan stated, “Patterson Farm is one of PA’s finest farms. Lower Makefield township needs to live up to their end of the deal and preserve it. Their ‘preserved’ sign on the farm is misleading to the public.” Despite a sign posted on the farm that states “234 acres preserved as open space”, the majority of the farm, including its historic structures, much of the tillable acreage, along with wetlands and woodlands are not protected.
Township officials, having refused to allow a public effort to restore the house, now claim Satterthwaite would be too costly to repair and have subdivided a 5.14 acre parcel from the farm containing the house, barn and agricultural outbuildings, prompting the online petition. Residents deny the townships expense claims, and allege officials have committed demolition by neglect to support a pro-development agenda.
A June 18th zoning hearing at 7:30pm at the Lower Makefield Township municipal building is scheduled to consider several Commercial zoning variances that have been requested by a potential buyer who plans to demolish many of the agricultural structures, “repurpose” Satterthwaite House for offices, pave much of the farmstead, and build a gated home and multi-structure equine medical complex on the site. Neighbors have retained an attorney.
Only 70 acres of Patterson Farms tillable fields are enrolled in the County Open Space program. Several acres of the Open Space land were destroyed last year when a 56,000 sq ft hydroponic complex and retention basins were built on farmland that was under lease to a local farmer. Residents claim township supervisors ousted the local farmer in order to give preferential treatment to the well-connected developer, and acted inappropriately in their handling of farmland preserved with Open Space funds.
Thomas Patterson passed away in 2000 at age 97. Alice Patterson passed away in 2005 at age 96.
Access the petition to preserve Patterson Farm by clicking http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-officials-of-lower-makefield-township-bucks-county-pa-preserve-patterson-farm-now