While service demand is increasing, Bedminster Township is advertising a no-tax-increase proposed budget for 2024. The authorization was approved by supervisors on Nov. 8.
The tax rate is to remain at a total of 7.5 mills, including 5 mills for real estate, 1.5 mills for open space, and 1 mil for the dedicated fire tax. The complete budget is to be posted on the township website, with opportunity for input and discussion before and during the next supervisors meeting on Dec. 13, when it is scheduled for adoption.
During his budget presentation, Township Manager Rich Schilling reported an “increase in request for services across all departments.” He also noted that the open space fund for the township’s portion of preservation easements was “very strong, fully funded, and (with) no debt.”
Also at the Nov. 8 meeting, supervisors approved a resolution to “request a Statewide Local Share Assessment grant, in an amount to be determined by the township manager, from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, to be used for a community recreation project,” understood to refer to a new baseball field and associated structures, while also “enhancing the security of the township’s municipal and recreational complex.”
At the outset of the Nov. 8 meeting, Solicitor Peter Nelson conducted a conditional use hearing regarding a request from Aviator Vineyard and Winery, also known as AGA Farms, on Elephant Road, to establish a winery agritourism accessory use on the 52-acre property.
Last September, the township’s zoning hearing board had granted permission for a Winery/Brewery/Distillery use of the property.
The “growing of grapes, with a tasting room,” and related activity was noted by the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program last October as permitted, subject to “rural enterprise guidelines,” as well as various township regulations.
In the conditional use application, AGA noted that “the property is currently used for other agritourism events such as pumpkin picking and other related activities,” and that “the use of the property for the proposed winery is consistent with agritourism uses traditionally found at similar farms.”
A legal notice for the conditional use hearing was transmitted to 10 adjacent property owners Oct. 13.
During the hearing, the property owners and their representatives responded to a variety of questions from supervisors and their solicitor, including how much of the calendar year was intended for the use; was existing lighting adequate; how bathroom facilities would be provided; and if any outdoor amplified music was intended.
The hearing was concluded with a promise from supervisors to spell out particular conditions for the new use as required for the conditional use approval. There would be no need for a land development process to follow, since there are no property or structure alterations proposed.