Rapuano Farm Open Space Preservation


  • Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania


  • Conservation-Based Development
  • Open Space Preservation
  • Agricultural Lands Preservation

In a great example of blending important preservation goals and low-impact development, Heritage Conservancy helped to permanently protect 172 acres of prime real estate in the center of Bucks County’s Upper Makefield Township.

Using a combination of conservation easements, fee simple purchase and “smart growth” land development, Heritage Conservancy worked with the estate of the late Catherine Peck Rapuano and with Upper Makefield Township to achieve the conservation goals of both the family and community, while meeting the family’s personal fiduciary responsibilities.

This was a complex project, because the estate required that any preservation plan that was pursued be as financially beneficial as a traditional development plan. The township partnered with the Bucks County Agricultural Preservation Program and the state of Pennsylvania to purchase the conservation easement. In order to make this purchase financially feasible for the township, however, some of the property had to be sold for development.

Heritage Conservancy helped identify the most appropriate location on the property and the most appropriate development firm for this limited development. Three key issues in locating the development were to maintain the property’s vast viewshed, to preserve a large amount of contiguous agricultural open space, and to enhance and protect the riparian buffer along the stream.

Heritage Conservancy, as the acting developer, shepherded the project through the subdivision process in record time because the traditional confrontational attitude between developer and township did not exist. Both sides understood that they had a common goal-to preserve as much open space as possible within the confines of the financial resources available.

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