MONROE TWP., N.J. — A 17-acre equine farm has become the 11th farm in Monroe Township and the 55th in Middlesex County preserved forever now that it has entered the Middlesex County Farmland Preservation Program.
The county, with its funds and contributions from the State and the Township of Monroe, purchased an agriculture preservation easement on the farm known as J.B. Heatherwood Farms, owned by Melissa Beck-Callanan of Monroe Township.
The total cost of the development rights for the farm on Gravel Hill-Spotswood Road are $405,163.20. The State contributed $243,097.92. The county paid $81,032.64, and Monroe Township also paid $81,032.64 The purchase was completed March 19.
“I thank Monroe Township and the many families who have partnered with us over the years to save our precious lands and farming tradition,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.
This acquisition brings the county’s total amount of preserved farmland through the Farmland Preservation Program to 4,943 acres. Over 632 of these preserved acres are located in Monroe Township.
Overall, with the addition of this farm, more than 5,488 acres of farmland, have been preserved throughout the county. That number includes preservation easements purchased through the County Farmland Preservation Program funds, as well as purchases made directly by the State, the municipalities, non-profit organizations and land donated to the county.
“Middlesex County is committed to preserving its environment for future generations,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director Charles E. Tomaro, liaison to the Open Space and Farmland Public Advisory Committee. “Our preservation efforts will go a long way toward keeping this county and its residents healthy.”
Middlesex County’s Farmland Preservation Program purchases the non-agriculture development rights on farmland that meets criteria established by the Middlesex County Agriculture Development Board and the New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee. The value is determined by two independent appraisals. The farmland is preserved by placing an agriculture preservation easement on the property. The state, county and town share the cost of the farms’ development rights, with the state paying the majority of the purchase price. Middlesex County’s program is strictly voluntary. Farmland owners interested in participating in the program must submit a formal application to the County Agriculture Development Board. Farm owners interested in the program can contact Laurie Sobel, Senior Environmental Planner, of the Middlesex County Office of Planning at 732-745-4014.
— Middlesex County Office of Information