Bucks County voters appeared to speak resoundingly in favor of saving their scenic landscapes Tuesday, telling county officials to move forward with plans to borrow $87 million for a second round of open space preservation.
The open space question was at the top of many voters' lists of reasons for coming out to vote in a the low-profile, off-year election.
Most appeared to share the opinion of Dublin's Jennifer Berg, who voted yes on the ballot question.
''Bucks County has had astronomical population growth,'' said Berg, 31, outside her polling place Tuesday afternoon. ''Farmland and natural areas are getting eaten up.''
Some other voters, apparently in the minority, said they didn't think the open space money was being used wisely.
Wayne Wexler, 41, of Hilltown Township said he thinks there is little public benefit to open space expenditures, especially when land is preserved without public access.
''I'm not a believer in what they are doing with the money,'' Wexler said. ''I don't see the benefit.''
Bucks County officials plan to borrow the money in installments, reaching the full $87 million around 2014.
A decade ago, voters approved the county's first $59 million open space program by a margin of more than 2-1, resulting in the preservation of roughly 15,000 acres over the program's first 10 years.
The newly approved spending will allow Bucks County to continue preserving farmland, natural areas and park land throughout the next decade.
It is expected to cost the average taxpayer roughly $10 in 2008, rising to $30 a year in 2014.
Leading up to the vote, a nonpartisan group led by former U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, former county commissioner Andy Warren and Judge William Hart Rufe, formed to promote the initiative.
''The alternate is to permit the county to become overdeveloped, congested, paved over, all of which will require additional government investment in schools and emergency services, trash collection and schools,'' Fitzpatrick said.
The group lined up a long list of municipal officials, business organizations and environmental advocates as supporters of the ballot initiative under the banner: Save Bucks County.
The money will be split up this way: $26 million for municipal grants, $25 million for farmland preservation, $19 million for parks, $11 million for natural areas and $7 million for Delaware riverfront.