Sunday, September 12, 2010

Preserved land catch-up! Where have you been??

Please forgive me! Since Morristown Patch has started, my life has been consumed by everything Morristown. Now, finally, things are starting to settle down and I am going to try and catch myself up on some of the great preservation projects that have happened since mid-July. Wish me luck!

Medford, Shamong farmland to be preserved

By Carol Comegno, from Courier Post, Sept. 9, 2010
(There was no photo with the story, so I have included one of Lake Atsion, in Shamong)

MOUNT HOLLY — Burlington County and the state are preserving another 1,211 acres of farmland in the Pinelands in Medford and Shamong.

The Burlington County Board of Freeholders unanimously approved the expenditure of more than $1 million Wednesday night to secure property easements on two farms that will preserve them by banning any development but agriculture.
The county is purchasing those rights for 702 acres of the Brick Farm on Jackson Road in Medford for $666,198 at $949 per acre. The state is preserving the other 400 acres by purchasing the land outright through its Green Acres program.
The Pinelands Commission is giving the county a $115,000 grant to help buy the rights to the Brick Farm, which is in cranberry and blueberry production. The farm is also in a special agricultural production area within the preservation area of the Pinelands rather than in a Pinelands development area.
The county is also expecting a reimbursement from the state Green Acres program for up to 60 percent of its share of the cost.
"These are unique acquisitions in a unique area of Burlington County," Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio said. "These are working farms that contribute not only to the county's agricultural industry but also to our Pinelands heritage."
The listed owner is Brick Enterprises. Bob Brick, owner of Medford Concrete Co. and a family member and a principal in Brick Enterprises, said his family has farmed the ground and wants to keep it in farming. "This seems to be a good way to do that. I think the county program has been pretty successful," he added.
Larry Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the state will not disclose the price it will pay for approximately 400 acres until the pending sale contract is signed. He said the department is hoping that will occur in the next two months.
"Pinelands regulations are zoning regulations that provide a good level of protection but not permanent protection," Hajna said.
"Moreover, the acquisition will be added to the Wharton State Forest, the largest state forest in New Jerseywith more than 100,000 acres."
To pay the easement cost, the county is using property taxes from its special trust account for open space, farmland and historic preservation that is financed by a four-cent property tax approved by county voters.
The other farm being preserved by the county, at a cost of $453,658 for 109 acres, is the Abrams Farm at Route 620 and Old Schoolhouse Road in Shamong at $4,162 per acre. Pearl Abrams, owner of the vegetable farm, was unavailable for comment.
These two farms boost the number of farmland acres preserved throughout the county to close to 30,000. The county goal is 40,000 acres.
Reach Carol Comegno at (856) 486-2473 or
Maple Lane Farm in Hillsborough Preserved
D&R Greenway Land Trust press release (
Maple Lane Farm on Township Line Rd., Hillsborough,was poised for development. With its 57 acres located just east of Route 206 in the desirable community of Hillsborough, the property could have become yet another suburban subdivision.

The family who had owned the land for many years wanted to see the property remain a farm.  They sought a solution that would meet their financial needs while providing for the permanent protection of the land.   The landowners were friends of D&R Greenway Trustee, Rosemary Blair.  When she found out the family wanted to preserve their farm, Mrs. Blair called D&R Greenway's Director of Land Preservation, Bill Rawlyk, to see if an answer could be found.
According to Mr. Rawlyk, "The majority of the property is agricultural land with hedgerows and forested buffer along Pikes Run.  The NJDEP Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) has documented bobolink nesting on the field and meadowlarks have been observed.  In the forested areas the ENSP had documented great blue heron.  The bobolink is classified as a threatened species and the meadowlark and great blue heron are classified as a species of concern in New Jersey.  Declining populations are due, in part, to lack of adequate breeding habitat.  "Having the ability to preserve New Jersey's farming heritage and creating synergy with habitat protection made this a great project."
"Having the ability to preserve New Jersey's farming heritage and creating synergy with habitat protection made this a great project."   Bill Rawlyk, Director of Land Preservation at D&R Greenway
Maple Lane Farm could have been another subdivision if not for the family's wish to preserve the property.
The property provides for aquifer recharge and stream corridor and wetlands protection, as well as habitat for woodland species.  In addition, the property contributes to an assemblage of 600 acres of preserved farmland.

Working closely with the family, D&R Greenway developed a three-part strategy to finance the preservation of the land while, at the same time, serving the best interests of the public. 
Step one was for D&R Greenway to apply, on behalf of the family, to the Somerset County Farmland Preservation Program. Somerset County purchased an agricultural easement on the property for $1,096,699 with grants from three sources: the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee; a federal grant from the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) - administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) - that was  contributed by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation; and county preservation funds.  As preservedfarmland, Maple Lane Farm will continue to provide a hay crop, and continue to contribute to the local agricultural economy.
"The Somerset County Agriculture Development Board and Board of Freeholders have funded the preservation of over 8,000 acres since the inception of the Somerset County Farmland Preservation Program, with the largest portion in Hillsborough Township," said Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, the program's liaison. "We are very happy that we were able to take advantage of federal funding through a partnership with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation for the preservation of the Maple Lane Farm. This farm will be a proud addition to our inventory of preserved farmland in Somerset County." 
Step two was for D&R Greenway to purchase the now deed-restricted Maple Lane Farm and farm the land in a manner that will also enhance and sustain grassland bird habitat.  A $199,500 Raritan Piedmont Wildlife Habitat Partnership (RPWHP) grant from Conservation Resources, Inc. allowed for the acquisition.   Conservation Resources Inc. (CRI) is a non-profit organization providing financial and technical services to the conservation community in New Jersey.  Funding for the grant was provided to CRI by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
"Maple Lane Farm is one of the priority tracts identified in the RPWHP Grassland Conservation Plan," said Anne Heasly, Vice President of CRI, who also serves as the RPWHP Coordinator. "Preservation of this critical habitat will help ensure that grassland birds will remain a part of the natural heritage of the Central Piedmont area of New Jersey," she explained. 

Step three will be for D&R Greenway to showcase Maple Lane Farm as a model for the agricultural and conservation communities. The property will serve as a demonstration site showing how farmland and wildlife management can complement each other.

D&R Greenway's Executive Director Linda Mead observed "Given limited funding resources and a tremendous need to preserve New Jersey's remaining undeveloped lands, projects like Maple Lane Farm are extremely valuable.  We see this dynamic in our work in Salem County - where preserving economically-significant farmland also provides protection for an internationally-significant waterfowl habitat known as Mannington Meadows - and on our
St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell - where productive farmland and adjacent natural land complement each other.  Projects like these are win-win; the preservation of both agricultural and conservation lands doubles the benefit to the community."

Madelyn Berger Belliveau, the family member who worked with D&R Greenway to save Maple Lane Farm attests, "The family of John Van Dyke and Blanche Mertz Berger are proud that Maple Lane Farm will remain undeveloped.  We would like to extend our thanks to Rosemary Blair and special thanks to Bill Rawlyk of D&R Greenway for making this preservation possible."

106-acre Farm in Franklin Township, Warren County, Preserved (The Land Conservancy of New Jersey)
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is pleased to announce that the Santini Trust Farm in Franklin Township, Warren County has been permanently preserved. This 106-acre farm is owned by the Clara S. Santini and the Santino J. Santini Testament Trust (“Santini Trust”) and has been protected through the purchase of an agricultural easement ensuring the land remains farmland in perpetuity.

Negotiated by The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, this property was preserved using funds provided by Franklin Township’s local Open Space Trust Fund, with matching grants from the Warren County Agricultural Development Board, State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC), and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program.

This farm was targeted as a priority under Franklin Township’s Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan, written by the Conservancy and the Township. The farm is located within one of the Plan’s main project areas, the Pohatcong Valley West Project Area. The Plan allowed the Township to qualify for grant funds provided by the State Agriculture Development Committee through the municipal farmland Planning Incentive grant program. This is an important funding source for municipalities throughout New Jersey for farmland preservation. Preserving this farm helps retain the rural, agrarian beauty and economy of the area, as well as protect the Santini family’s interest in farming.

Approximately seventy percent of the farm contains prime farmland soils needed to produce a high yield of crops. A tributary of the Pohatcong Creek bisects the property and preservation of the farm will help ensure protection of this stream and its watershed.

“The preservation of this farm insures permanent protection for prime farmland in a region with a long and productive history of agricultural activity," said Bob Canace, Land Preservation Specialist with The Land Conservancy of New Jersey. "Preservation of this fertile farmland greatly advances Franklin Township and Warren County’s commitment to protecting its best farmland for future generations. The acquisition is a prime example of how towns, counties, the state, and the federal government can pool resources to protect important farmland before it succumbs to development.”

The Conservancy would like to recognize the efforts of Stefanie Miller of the SADC, for helping Franklin Township obtain the federal funding and coordinating the property’s closing with Warren County. Katrina Campbell, the County’s attorney, also worked extremely hard to ensure the farm closed by the end of the State’s fiscal year. Thanks to them and the Township of Franklin, their commitment to farmland preservation ensured this project was a success.
Old Bridge will finally get its Cottrell Farm
County, state help town come up with $10.6 million for orchard, adjacent tract

A five-year mission to preserve 63 acres of land in the center of Old Bridge will soon be accomplished, thanks to financial assistance from several parties.
In a joint effort by Old Bridge, Middlesex County, the state of New Jersey and the NY/NJ Baykeeper, the township will purchase the 27 acres that were formerly home to the Cottrell Farm, and an adjacent 36 acres known as Whitney Estates. The two tracts, at Route 516 and Cottrell Road, will be acquired for $10.6 million and preserved as open space.

“This certainly needed to be a combined effort to acquire these properties,” Mayor Jim Phillips said. “But everyone stepped up to the plate and wholeheartedly agreed that this land needed to be preserved.”

Phillips said that while the acquisition has proved to be a long and difficult process, it was necessary in order to prevent extensive development on the two tracts.

In 2003, Old Bridge granted Gerald Cernero, owner of the Wall Townshipbased development firm Jerald Development Corp., a 10-year general development plan (GDP) approval for Carriage House Crossing, which called for the construction of a 120,725-square-foot retail and office space, 83 age-restricted townhouse units, and 129 second-floor apartments on the property.

The Planning Board rejected Cernero’s plan in December 2008 “without prejudice,” meaning that the developer could ask for an interpretation from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, an opportunity the builder chose to pursue. After several rounds of testimony, zoning board members voted Jan. 7 that certain aspects of the plan were not permitted under township ordinances, and therefore the applicant would need to seek a use variance.

However, the new application never materialized, and the township finally succeeded in purchasing both properties from Cernero five years after municipal officials began working on the acquisition.

“It was too many potatoes in too small of a bag,” Phillips said in reference to the developer’s plan. “It wasn’t going to happen. This economic climate does not lend itself to his project.”

The recent economic turmoil did not help the township’s position either, Phillips said, but Old Bridge was fortunate to have several supporters.

For the impending purchase, Old Bridge will contribute $2.4 million from its open space trust fund, which has been accumulated through the township’s open space tax over the past 10 years. NY/NJ Baykeeper will spend $200,000, and the state Green Acres program has pledged $1.6 million. But the largest portion will come from the Middlesex County Open Space Acquisitions Fund — a $6.36 million contribution.

“This could not have happened without the technical expertise and due diligence of the county, not to mention their generous contribution,” Phillips said. “They provided the financial resources that really made this work.”

Jerald Development will be required to fix some environmental issues on the property before the properties are officially handed over, the mayor said. He noted that minor asbestos and mold in some of the tracts’ buildings will be remediated, as well as arsenic residue in the orchard.

Maintaining the farm?

As for the future of the properties, Phillips said he would like the township to get back to its agricultural roots by restoring the orchards and opening them to the public as a “pickyour own operation.” He also mentioned the possibility of holding the Old Bridge Farmers Market on the land, as well as opening a pumpkin patch or petting zoo.

“The township purchased the Lambertson Farm, and we put the land to good use,” Phillips said. That land was slated for a municipal golf course but has remained a farm as the township leases it to a local farmer.

The mayor also noted that he would extend an offer to Herbert Cottrell, whose family has farmed the land for generations, to stay on the property and run the farm.

“He’s done a remarkable service for the people of Old Bridge,” Phillips said of Cottrell. “I hope he will continue to stay.”

Though the purchase has not been finalized, Phillips said he feels a sense of accomplishment in acquiring the land and preventing the development.

“I love pizza, but I think I’d rather look at apple trees and a historical carriage house, barn and farmhouse than look at a pizza parlor or a nail salon or another housing development,” Phillips said. “It’s personally gratifying for me — I never saw the wisdom in his plan. But I won’t be truly satisfied until those orchards are open to the public.”


40 acres preserved in Bethlehem Twp., next to Tower Hill, Jugtown reserves

BETHLEHEM TWP. — Some 40 acres of forest and wetlands here have been preserved by the Hunterdon Land Trust, the New Jersey Audubon Society, the township and the New Jersey Water Supply Authority for a total cost of $285,000.
Nestled between land already preserved by the authority and Tower Hill and Jugtown reserves, owned by Hunterdon County, the newly preserved property fulfills many important environmental goals.
“One of our goals at the Hunterdon Land Trust is to preserve continuous expanses of land” said Margaret Waldock, the organization’s executive director. “This property was surrounded on three sides by protected land, which increases the positive impact its preservation will have on our county’s water quality, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat and rural character and made it an ideal property for preservation.”
The land is on the south side of Mine Road near Mountain View Road. It’s home to a wealth of wildlife and wildflowers. A variety of birds live in the forest, and the seasonal pools and streams provide breeding habitat for wood frogs, salamanders and the eastern box turtle.
Mulhockaway Creek, part of the Upper Raritan Watershed, crosses the land and runs into Spruce Run Reservoir. “The preservation of this property is important to maintaining the water quality” of the reservoir, said Henry Patterson, executive director, NJWSA. The authority’s water customers fund its contributions through their payments.
New Jersey Audubon Society felt this was an important project given the property’s proximity to existing preserved land, the potential for recreation including the connection of existing trails to Hunterdon County parks, bird watching and nature study as well as its potential to provide habitat for birds and forested wildlife.
The Audubon Society put in $57,000 it received from the Hunterdon County Open Space Trust Fund. Bethlehem Township contributed $85,500, using $71,250 from the state Green Acres program and the balance from their County Open Space trust funds. NJWSA paid $142,500.00, or 50% of the purchase price.
The Hunterdon Land Trust brought together the coalition of partners that worked together to fund the preservation of the property is temporarily managing it.
According to Waldock, “we’ll continue to talk with the county to see if the management of this land can be integrated into work the Department of Parks and Recreation is already doing on the adjacent Jugtown and Tower Hill reserves.”
In the meantime, the Land Trust worked with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference to create a link to the Highlands Trail, a “rugged footpath” uniting the Highlands region of New York and New Jersey.
The property can be accessed through the Jugtown or Tower Hill Reserve along the Highland Trail, which is marked with teal, diamond-shaped blazes.
242 Acres of Farmland Preserved in Warren County
WARREN COUNTY – In a “triple play” of farmland preservation, three Warren County farms totaling 242 acres have been preserved by a partnership between the county, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the State Agriculture Development Committee, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Warren County purchased the development rights on three farms, meaning they will remain in agriculture forever. They are:

• The 108-acre Prant farm in Allamuchy Township, which includes pastures, hay and crop fields, and woodlands along the Pequest River. It is surrounded by Allamuchy State Park and hundreds of acres of preserved farmland;

• The 56-acre Schuster farm in Greenwich Township, located near the Musconetcong River and consisting mostly of corn fields. It is located a short distance from the state’s Musconetcong Wildlife Management Area;

• The 78-acre Demeter farm on Scott’s Mountain in White Township, rolling farmland with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including nearby preserved farmland and open space.

Funded by Partnership

All three easements were purchased using a combination of Warren County farmland preservation funds, a portion of New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s federal Farm and Ranch Lands Preservation Program (FRPP) grant, and state farmland preservation funding through the Planning Incentive Grant program.

“We’re very pleased to help Warren County preserve these three farms, and help maintain the county’s rural and agricultural character,” said Michele S. Byers, executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.
“The preservation of these farms underscores the important role that partnerships play in reaching New Jersey’s farmland preservation goals,” said Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher, chair of the State Agriculture Development Committee that administers the state Farmland Preservation Program. “I want to particularly commend Warren County for maintaining its financial commitment to farmland and open space preservation, and ensuring that the County remains a strong funding partner during these challenging fiscal times.”

Robert Resker, head of Warren County’s land preservation program, said he is grateful to New Jersey Conservation Foundation for its readiness to commit part of its annual Farm and Ranch Lands Preservation Program grant to Warren County.

“The county saved about $300,000, a pretty significant amount” that otherwise would have been taken from its farmland preservation fund, Resker said. “It was very much appreciated and very helpful.”

The Prant farm easement cost $538,620, the Schuster farm easement cost $330,513, and the Demeter farm easement cost $668,388.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit whose mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, the Foundation has protected more than 120,000 acres, or 187 square miles. For more information on programs and preserves, visit or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).


48 Acres Preserved for Open Space in Montville

MONTVILLE — The township, with assistance from the Land Conservancy of New Jersey, has preserved 48 acres of land owned by Robin Starkey for a new park to be named Starkey Park, according to Barbara McCloskey of the conservancy.

The property, located on the corner of River Road and Millers Lane, is one of only a few undeveloped properties remaining in the township and will be part of the Montville Greenway, offering recreational opportunities to residents, said McCloskey, who is the conservancy's membership program manager.
It will be used for hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing and bird watching. The township also is considering adding fields in the future for sports.
This is the 16th property the township has preserved in partnership with The Land Conservancy, for a total of 567 acres since 1999.
The conservancy is an accredited land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting New Jersey's vital natural lands and water resources. The Conservancy has preserved more than 16,500 acres of land and helped towns receive $192 million in grants to purchase and protect land throughout New Jersey.
The Conservancy has worked with more than 76 municipalities in 13 counties, impacting over half of New Jersey's counties and benefiting millions of residents throughout the state.

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