Wednesday, October 6, 2010

70 acres in N. Brunswick, 30 in Bridgewater expected to be preserved

The Bridgewater article:

BRIDGEWATER — Township Council approved the introduction of an ordinance to buy the development rights for about 30 acres at 791 Newmans Lane so that the property is restricted for farm use only and not built out with housing.

The township will pay $120,000 per acre or a total purchase price of $3,108,000, which will come out of the taxpayer-funded open space trust fund.

The council introduced a second ordinance to purchase outright about 6 acres that is part of the same property at 791 Newmans Lane, to be used solely for open space and recreation. The purchase price of $928,000 will also be paid from the open space trust fund.

A public hearing on the purchases will take place during the October 18 council meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. to be held inside the Bridgewater Municipal Courtroom at 100 Commons Way.

The township had been attempting to preserve the property from development for several years now, according Township Administrator James Naples speaking at the October 4 council meeting.

Purchasing the development rights on the 25.9 acres and buying the other 5.8 acres outright was accomplished after Mayor Patricia Flannery had established a rapport with the family that owns the land, Naples said.

If council approves the 5.8-acre acquisition, that property then can be used for active and passive recreation, he said.

“This has been property that has been on our radar screen for the better part of 10 years,” said Councilman Allen Kurdyla.

The councilman asked Naples what the amount of money was needed to purchase the 25.9 acres, not just the development rights.

“I know the goal eventually is to own the property,” Kurdyla said.

“My concern is that this is a significant amount of money coming out of the open space fund,” said Councilman Christine Henderson Rose.

She emphasized that no money is likely to go back into open space trust fund any time soon.

“It is possible that some of this money will be reimbursed,” said Bridgewater Township Attorney William Savo, explaining that the township could receive grant money for open space preservation through Somerset County by way of the Green Acres program run by of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.

Council President Moench said he wanted a status report at the October 18 meeting on the amount of money still remaining in the open space trust fund and what monies are already allocated either for land purchases or open space development.

Naples said that there is about $12 million currently in the fund. About $3 million of that has already been dedicated to developing passive and active recreation at several existing open space properties, and roughly $4 million, if approved, would be spent on the Newmans Lane property.

“We’ll have roughly $3 or $4 million left,” Moench said.

The North Brunswick article:

Mayor Francis "Mac" Womack and others in municipal government are open to ideas for using the tract known as Pulda Farm, now that the council, as had been expected, voted unanimously to purchase the property after years of debate.

"There was a suggestion from the public that we could use it as some sort of community garden...It is a good suggestion and we will consider it," said Township Administrator Robert Lombard. "We expect that it (the farm) will remain open space."

The council on Monday voted to purchase what is one of the last agricultural tracts in North Brunswick, agreeing to pay $22 million for the 70-acre parcel bordering Farrington Lake.

Lombard said it could take "a couple of months" before paperwork for the transaction is completed.

The farm is one of the township's last undeveloped properties and had been the focus of various plans for possible development for more than a decade.

Groups that worried about North Brunswick's population density pushed for keeping the farm out of the hands of developers. They have applauded the decision to purchase and preserve the tract. Womack had said half of the $22 million is to be paid by the county through open-space funds. Township officials hope to get $5.5 million through New Jersey's Green Acres program, with the township paying the remaining $5.5 million.

The property is located at 300 Old Georges Road.

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