Congratulations to Whitemarsh Township on a skillful intervention with public support (and multiple collaborating local individuals and organizations) to shift a major redevelopment project into a critical land conservation and public lands win.
See release below for details:
Release: Whitemarsh Township Open Space Preservation Continues
7111 Sheaff Lane
2023: 51 acres
[$6,095,000 from Whitemarsh Township Open Space Funds plus $7,280,000 of other public and private funds]
- The owner of a 51-acre tract of open space adjacent to the 40-acre Highlands Estate filed an application for a 46-lot residential subdivision.
- The Highlands Historical Society, after extensive negotiations with the developer, purchased the entire 7111 Sheaff Lane tract in December 2023 for $13,375,000.
- The 51 acres has been subdivided into four separate lots, consisting of three 10+ acre lots totaling 32 acres and one 19-acre lot.
- The three 10-acre lots have been resold by the Highlands Historical Society to conservation buyers subject to easements held by the Township, limiting development to one residence per lot.
- The remaining 19-acre lot will be retained by the Highlands and added to its 40-acre estate and is subject to an easement held by the Township preventing any development, and providing for unrestricted public access. This 19-acre tract is contiguous with both the Highlands estate and Wissahickon Trails’ Willow Lake Farm and its extensive trail network.
- This will create a 170-acre privately owned public park extending from Sheaff Lane in Whitemarsh Township to Broad Axe in Whitpain Township, with ample trailhead parking at the Highlands.
- Funding sources included $6,095,000 of Whitemarsh Township Open Space Funds; $500,000 of Montgomery County Open Space Funds; $5,500,000 from the resale of the three 10 acre lots; and the $1,800,000 proceeds of a broad-based public fundraising program initiated by the Highlands, which also included funds to cover transaction expenses and a small endowment to cover maintenance expenses on the 19-acre lot. Contributions were received from 104 donors, with the largest being $500,000 and the smallest $25.
- This broad-based public support evidence the importance which residents of Whitemarsh Township attach to protecting open space and open space amenities, including public trails.
Photos from the conserved property, supplied by Whitemarsh Township: