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TOWNSHIP WANTS OUT OF LANDLORD BUSINESS
03/07/05 10:00am

PHILADELPHIA - Township administrators want to sell more than 3 acres on Penns Park Road that includes a 200-plus-year-old farmhouse. The 1,981-square-foot building has three stories and three bedrooms and has been vacant since October. The lot could be subdivided.

"We didn't renew the lease because the township had the intention to sell," township official Eileen Bradley said. "We don't need the land, so we want to get rid of it as soon as possible. It's difficult for Wrightstown, or any township, to be in the landlord business."

Residents will meet tonight with the board of supervisors over concerns of what would happen to the historic farmhouse.

Many believe a prospective buyer would knock down the building. "This farmhouse is a real gateway to historic Penns Park," said Jane DelBianco, a resident and member of the historical commission. "The character would be changed if that building was knocked down and a mansion was built."

Supervisors Chairman Chester Pogonowski said that since the property has sat vacant for several months, the board intends to take whatever offer comes in.

"Just looking for the highest amount is not preserving history," resident Janice Shimeck said. "I'm totally against that. If the board allows the property to be chopped up in the name of the highest bidder, it could change the look of Penns Park."

The township purchased the property in 1993 with the intent of adding it to the township facility, which houses the codes department, permits, finance, administrative offices and files - all in less than 1,200 square feet.

"It's very cramped. We kind of figured that it may present room for expansion or an addition on the existing facility that would give us a little more elbow room," she said.

The board isn't reaching an appraisal of the land and farmhouse, Bradley said.

"Essentially, we'd love to have a family willing to put in the money to renovate the interior, but keep the outside the way it is," she said.

Bradley said that didn't work because of the cost and building configuration.

That led the township to consider moving a 13,000-square-foot building on Second Street Pike that formerly houses the Better Materials Quarry headquarters.

The move is under negotiation, Bradley said.

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