Miller farm is located at 3107 Farmersville Rd. in Bethlehem Township. The 52-acre property known as Miller farm is going to be converted into mixed-used residences. (Courtesy of Miller farm)

A potentially grim future for local farmland: Miller Farm for sale


Miller Farm, on Farmersville Road in Bethlehem, includes two historical buildings and others that predate township records. Surrounding the property are homes and a community center. 

This characteristic farm has been owned by the Miller family for over nine decades, during which, it has become a landmark in the city. 

It is now up for sale, prompting a proposal sent to the township to convert the land into a mixed housing development brought forth by building company Kay Builders.

“I think it’s really sad,” vice president of the Bethlehem Board of Commissioners Malissa Davis said. “It’s a really visible piece of property in the township.”

Davis said Kay Builders does not yet have ownership of the property, but they have agreed to terms with the Miller family on a price. As of now, Kay Builders has only put forward a sketch, showing their proposal to build 166 housing units. 

Ninth-generation Bethlehem farm owner Dale Koehler worries that his storefront, near Miller Farm, may see fewer visitors because people may not want to turn out of his driveway due to traffic. 

Though, he said the most damaging impact on his property may be from wildlife being squeezed into less space. 

“You have more animals trying to cram onto smaller tracts of land,” Koehler said. “So when they come onto one of our fields, they do a lot more damage.”

The prospective loss of Miller Farm is yet another notable example of farmland being destroyed in Bethlehem Township. 

Miller farm is located at 3107 Farmersville Rd. in Bethlehem Township. The 52-acre property known as Miller farm is going to be converted into mixed-used residences. (Courtesy of Miller farm)

Davis notes that Bethlehem was almost entirely farmland, but over the last 50 years, Bethlehem has developed into a suburban area, and there’s not much farmland left.

Koehler said this has occurred because the value of land, housing and warehousing in Bethlehem is so high. 

“The township grew a lot in the 1980s, 1990s, 1970s,” Davis said. “From 1980, the (population) census was 10,148, and the current census is 25,868.”

Even though farmland is dwindling, Chad Meyerhoefer, a Lehigh professor who has won awards in agricultural economics, believes that the town can still retain the remaining farms.

“Ultimately, if people want greenspaces in their communities, the incentives that they provide have to be larger,” Meyerhoefer said. “Which is going to cost taxpayers more money, but if people are willing to pay that then that can be a solution.” 

Meyerhoefer believes there are a lot of outside economic pressures at play, and it is likely that more small farms in Bethlehem and other suburban areas around the U.S. will shut down in the coming years.

Despite the negative backlash the development has received, Davis believes the situation has gotten more people involved in local politics in Bethlehem. 

“This has made it so people are interested,” Davis said. “And that’s a good thing.”

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1 Comment

  1. Aaron Vanhorn on

    This stuff that has been going on for years actually has me questioning this countries laws honestly! Land is not personal property thats why we pay taxes on it! Just because a rich millionaire buys land that does not give that person the automatic right to destroy it! The main reason this happens is because supervisors are either paid off or are scared of the daveloper. Let’s get real here! If I want to get an exception to do something on my property not normally accepted or frowned upon the township will simply deny my request because they have the power to do so! But people like me do not have the money to threaten with crooked lawyers or pay off the supervisors either! This entire thing is way out of control! Fact is these few idiots do this land destruction and the rest of us must live with the consequences. Hhhmmm… that does not sound like the United States of America at all! Heck england who we broke away from enforces their land rights better than we do! And no im not sticking up for England but this country has a very serious problem in which davelopers aka land destroyers do not care about any of. They care about the money in the land destruction and most of our countries supervisors either are afraid of them, getting kickback, or just don’t care. But we have to live with this destruction! America is sapposed to be for us all not just several rich assholes!

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