Scio Township continues its mission to preserve land and address community needs

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Scio Township approved two agreements related to one piece of property in its goal to preserve a big piece of land while also addressing future fire and utility needs.

At their Dec. 14 meeting, the Scio Township Board approved two decisions related to the over 100 acres of farmland located on Wagner Road between Scio Church and West Liberty roads, known as the Renz Farm.

One decision was the approval of the purchase agreement for a 9.5 acre parcel within the larger Renz agricultural land conservation.

The other decision was the approval of the option to assign agreement to purchase land as part of the effort to preserve the Renz Farm for agricultural use.

These two decisions followed up previous decisions this past fall when the township began to take a serious look at the land.

Township supervisor Will Hathaway told The Sun Times News (STN) that the larger purchase is a major achievement by the Scio Land Preservation Commission (LPC).

“The purchase of the Renz property will preserve 100 plus acres of prime, agricultural land,” said Hathaway. “The goal for this property is to place a conservation easement on the land and resell it to someone who will farm it.”

In his report to the board, Hathaway said the LPC has assembled funding for the purchase of the Renz Farm property of over 100 acres in order to preserve it for agricultural use. He said it may be “necessary to temporarily assign the purchase agreement to the American Farmland Trust as a step in the process of finding a suitable farmer to buy the land. This option agreement will prepare for that possibility.”

Earlier this fall, Hathaway said the LPC placed a high priority on keeping this land in agricultural use and assembled approximately $3 million from a variety of sources including other local government partners and funders at the national level.

Hathaway said the smaller, 9.5 acre purchase supports “long-term infrastructure planning and is intended for two uses: 1) a second fire station to better serve the densely populated southeast quadrant of the township, and 2) a water storage facility to help maintain water pressure for that area.”

The township is dedicating $225,000 from the general fund to purchase the 9.5 acres.

There are no immediate plans for construction of either the fire station or the water utility facility.

Hathaway said the township saw an opportunity to secure the land for these two projects and did so as part of a long-term capital improvement plan.

STN asked Hathaway if there is anything in particular he wants the community to know about this and he said it goes back to 2004 when township voters first approved a millage to support land conservation.

“That was a pivotal moment for the future of Scio Township,” Hathaway said. “The township residents who have served on the Land Preservation Commission since then have worked hard and they have stretched those tax dollars by collaborating with partners who have invested in land conservation projects within Scio Township. Together we've protected a significant portion of the natural, rural landscape of Scio. As a result, there are natural areas that will remain protected for future generations and farmland, like the Renz property on Wagner Road, that will continue to be farmed. This is a big success story!”

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