The Burlington County Commissioners gave preliminary approval for three new farms to enter the County Farmland Preservation Program.
The Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the preliminary applications for the preservation of the three properties totaling 310 acres. Through the program, the County will seek appraisals to purchase the development rights for the farms and have them deed restricted to remain in agriculture. The farmers will continue to retain ownership of the land.
More than 63,000 acres of farmland has been preserved in Burlington County, ranking the county No. 1 in the state for total acres preserved and No. 7 nationally.
Earlier this year, the Board also gave final approval for the preservation of the Black Walnut Farm in Mansfield, the Brace Lane Farm in Tabernacle and the Gatley Farm in Shamong. The County expects to close on all three of those properties this summer, adding another 138 acres to the preservation total.
“Burlington County has a wonderful agricultural heritage and our Board is 100% committed to keeping farming a strong and vibrant industry in our county for both our current and future generations,” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “Preserving farmland is a win-win. It keeps land in agriculture and helps guard against overdevelopment that has become a growing concern as developers aggressively target our county’s remaining farms and open space. We must continue to preserve and protect agriculture and our county landscape.”
The new farms that received preliminary approval are:
- The Durr Farm in North Hanover, a 98-acre property used to grow flowers and produce.
- The Roohr Farm in Southampton, a 58-acre property used to grow hay and grains.
- The Russo Farm in Tabernacle, a 154-acre acre property used to grow assorted fruits and vegetables.
All three properties are eligible for state funding to cover as much as 60% of the preservation costs. The Durr and Roohr farms are also eligible for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Defense because they are located within a 5-mile buffer zone around Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
The buffer zone is important because it helps to minimize security issues and limits development and land use conflicts near the base.
Since 2008, the County has preserved more than 2,300 acres in the buffer zone.
“All three of these properties have long histories in farming and contribute to our county’s tradition as one of New Jersey’s top agriculture producers,” said Commissioner Allison Eckel, the liaison to the Department of Resource Conservation. “Preserving them will keep these lands in agriculture forever and prevent developers from grabbing important parts of our county landscape. It’s the right thing to do for our farmers and for our residents’ quality of life.”