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Smith, Greenstein, Bateman Bill to Establish Permanent Funding for Open Space & Farmland Preservation Passes Committee

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Chair Bob Smith, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Christopher Bateman, which would establish funding for constitutionally dedicated Corporate Business Tax (CBT) revenues for the State’s open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and thereafter, passed the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

“The creation of this bill has been a very long time coming. The legislature, environmental groups and activists have worked longer than anyone can imagine on making sure this bill covers everything it is supposed to,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, so the preservation of open space and farmland is extremely important if we are going to prevent overdevelopment.”

“The idea of open space and farmland preservation has always been important to me. Undeveloped land can provide major benefits around population centers, for example, swamps protect water supplies and can prevent disastrous flooding during severe storms,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “Now we can be more effective and have a broader reach in how much land we can preserve from over-development.”

“Open space preservation needs a constant source of funding. A onetime payment is simply not enough to protect New Jersey’s parks and farmland from pollution or overdevelopment,” said Senator Bateman (R-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “When it comes to safeguarding environmental resources in the most densely populated state in the nation, we have to think ahead. This legislation is a fiscally-responsible way to keep the Garden State clean and green for years to come.”

Starting in FY2020, the constitutionally dedicated CBT revenues for open space would be allocated as follows: 62% would go towards the acquisition and development of lands for public recreation and conservation purposes, 31% for farmland preservation purposes and 7% for historic preservation purposes.

Under Green Acres, local governments would be able to apply for grants to be used for open space acquisition and recreational development. However, the majority of the funds would go towards State open space acquisition and development projects.

The bill would allocate funding for farmland preservation, and would provide grants to local governments to assist in the acquisition of farmland. It would also provide grants to the State government to pay for the majority of the cost of the acquisition of farmland.

The bill would also provide funding for the preservation of historic sites, where the funds would be placed annually into the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund. Capital preservation grants would fund the restoration, preservation, repair and rehabilitation of historic properties listed, or eligible for listing, in the State or National Register of Historic Places.

The bill, S-2920, was released from committee by a vote of 5-0, and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.