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Senate Environment and Energy Committee Advances Farmland Preservation Bills

Trenton – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee today passed a series of bills that would appropriate money for various farmland preservation purposes from constitutionally dedicated corporate business tax revenue.

S-3225, sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, would appropriate $11.5 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) for municipal planning incentive grants.

Under the Municipal Planning Incentive Grants program, 10 municipalities would be eligible to receive a base grant of either $500,000 or $1,000,000. Additionally, these municipalities and 35 additional municipalities will be eligible to compete to receive an additional grant up to $500,000 from the Competitive Grant Fund.

“These grants will go a long way towards helping municipalities preserve their farmlands,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Camden). “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.”

S-3226, sponsored by Senator Dawn Addiego, would appropriate $29,886,172 to the SADC for farmland preservation purposes. These funds would go towards helping the committee, counties, municipalities and nonprofits acquire farmland for preservation.

“Our hope is that this bill will make it easier for us to save and maintain our farmlands, and to preserve open space,” said Senator Addiego (D-Atlantic/Burlington/Camden). “These grants will make this process easier for all involved, creating a smoother, more efficient process.”

S-3228, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal, would appropriate $12 million to the SADC for county planning incentive grants for eligible farmland preservation projects. Under the bill, seven counties are currently eligible for the planning incentive grants, which award up to 80% of the cost of acquisition of development easements”

“New Jersey farmlands are a staple of the state, and we want to do all that we can to ensure we can enjoy them for generations to come,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Through this bill, we will be able to help these seven counties with the planning needed to protect these lands.”

S-3229, sponsored by Senator Richard Codey, would appropriate $37.16 million to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for state capital and park development projects.

“New Jersey has many parks that highlight the beauty of the state, however, over time, many of these parks have entered a state of disarray,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris). “These funds will be crucial in carrying out the necessary repairs to ensure that our parks can be around for many more years.”

S-3230, sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein, would appropriate $30.387 million to the DEP for state acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, including the Blue Acres projects.

“The Blue Acres project is imperative to help prevent the mass flooding that the state experienced in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “These funds will help the state purchase flood-prone properties so that residents have the best options available when purchasing a new home.”

View the complete list of projects here.