A number of appropriations bills were recently passed by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, with two signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy. The bills appropriate funds for constitutionally dedicated purposes including farmland preservation purposes.
One of the bills sponsored by State Sen. Steve Sweeney (S-3225) would appropriate $11.5 million to State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) for municipal planning incentive grants, of which 10 municipalities would be eligible to receive funding between $500,000 and $1 million.
An additional 35 towns would be eligible for an additional grant of up to $500,000 form the Competitive Grant Fund.
“Being known as the ‘Garden State’ means we have a lot of farmland throughout our state and these funds will help keep it green for many years to come,” said the Senate President.
A co-sponsor of the bill, State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) noted the money is sourced from constitutionally dedicated corporate business tax revenue.
“Farms are prime targets for residential or commercial construction,” said Oroho . “The grants made possible by signing my bipartisan bill will help New Jersey towns conserve farmland and maintain the identity of their communities. State residents have demonstrated their desire to safeguard the Garden State’s farm acreage and orchards.”
A second bill penned by State Sen. Kristin Corrado which would appropriate $3.7 million to the SADC to ensure farmland preservation was signed into law by the governor as well.
“The appropriation will fund significant projects on a dozen farms in the state, ensuring that future generations will have the chance to enjoy and appreciate the contributions of agriculture to New Jersey,” she said.
Under the bill, grants would fund up to 50% of the costs of developming easements on farmland for preservation efforts.
A third bill, sponsored by State Sen. Richard Codey, S-3229 would appropriate $about $37.2 million to the Department of Environmental Protection for state capital and park development projects, is still awaiting action.
Codey noted that New Jersey had many parks that exemplified the reason for the Garden State nickname, but more could be done to ensure their survival in the years to come.
“These funds will be crucial in carrying out the necessary repairs to ensure that our parks can be around for many more years,” he said.