TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew to permit a South Jersey farm to host youth soccer tournaments, as well as games and practices, on its grounds, has been signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. The law includes changes recommended by the governor. It takes effect immediately.
The law is in response to a 2014 Pinelands Commission decision that found holding soccer tournaments on the grounds of Tuckahoe Turf Farms, a sod farm in Hammonton Township, violated a deed restriction limiting its recreational use to “low recreation” activities, described as hiking, hunting, canoeing, horseback riding and bicycling, among others, according to a Press of Atlantic City report.
“We’ve been working on this issue for more than a year. I am grateful that we finally got it resolved and that kids can continue playing in the soccer tournaments that take place on this farm. The initial decision by the Pinelands Commission to prohibit the games on the field puzzled a lot of people, since there was no development occurring and no damage to the land,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “The law now clarifies that soccer is permitted as long as no permanent structures are built. I want to thank the families for being patient with us as we worked to resolve this issue, which I believe strongly we shouldn’t have had to legislate in the first place.”
The legislation (S-2125/A-3257) provides that field sports, including but not limited to soccer and soccer tournaments, conducted or occurring in an agricultural production area within the Pinelands area, shall constitute a low-intensity recreational use under the comprehensive management plan adopted pursuant to the “Pinelands Protection Act,” provided that no permanent structure is established to accommodate its use.
The Pinelands Commission notified the owner of Tuckahoe Turf Farms last year that the tournaments violated a deed restriction limiting its recreational use to “low recreation” activities. Senator Van Drew previously called on the Pinelands Commission to work with the land owner to resolve the dispute, and to work out any issues that needed to be addressed.
The Assembly approved the revised bill by a vote of 52-6-3. The Senate approved it by a vote of 27-7. The law takes effect immediately.