WOODBURY, NJ – Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger and Freeholder Frank J. DiMarco announced Friday that six different farms in three municipalities will be permanently preserved. Two of the farms are located in Woolwich, one in South Harrison and three in Franklin Township.
“There were approvals for 89 single family homes to be developed on the Woolwich farms, and 53 more on the South Harrison Farm. When you look at the enormous growth in Woolwich and find ways to permanently preserve land for farming instead of becoming housing developments you make a big impact on the quality of life for everyone,” said Freeholder Director Damminger.
The farms to be preserved under the County’s traditional Farmland Preservation Program that were approved at Thursday night’s Freeholder meeting include a 91.4 acre farm in Woolwich, a 129 acre parcel in Woolwich, and a 31.2 acre farm in South Harrison. These properties all had municipal approval for housing developments. Under the County Farmland Preservation Program, the county is eligible for a 60% reimbursement from the State for the acquisition costs of the land.
Three farms in Franklin Township totaling 155 acres will be preserved using the Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) program and both the county and the municipality will be completely reimbursed for their portion of the funding through a federal grant administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Services – Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
“It is very exciting to help preserve these farms and maintain the agricultural and rural nature of our county. By utilizing the resources available through the federal government and the state, the county and municipality save a combined $373,596 to purchase these farms and save them from development. That is a win for the farmers and the taxpayers,” said Freeholder DiMarco, liaison to the Department of Parks and Land Preservation.
According to the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee, Farms or development easements that are acquired through the Farmland Preservation Program will forever be protected for agricultural use. Landowners who have sold their development rights still can sell their land at any time. Deed restrictions prohibiting non-agricultural development run with the land, so future owners of preserved farms also would be required to comply with the deed restrictions.
The sale of development rights does not make farmland public property. The public has no right to access or use a deed-restricted farm without the landowner’s consent.