Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Preservation in Cape May NJ moving beyond farmland

Goshen Farm is part of Cape May County's Farmland Preservation Program which preserves is use for farming

Jack Tomczuk reports for the Atlantic City Press:

    • J.P. Hand applied for Cape May County’s Farmland Preservation Program more than a decade ago to protect his 50-acre farm in Middle Township.
      “It takes away the urge for people to sell out to developers,” said Hand, who grows vegetables and raises chickens, ducks and horses on the farm. “You can leave it to your children or sell it, but it will always be farmland.”
      That’s because the county bought the development rights to Hand’s farm through the Open Space Trust Fund, which for more than 25 years has used a dedicated tax to preserve farmland and open space.
      Now, the mission of that fund has shifted to include projects such as spending $500,000 for an Ocean City skateboard park and, earlier this year, $800,000 for a vacant lot in Wildwood that officials are planning to convert into an outdoor event area that will host festivals, markets and concerts.
      In 1989, county voters approved by a 2-1 margin a ballot question that established the trust fund, which is paid for through a 1-cent tax per $100 of assessed property value. It received $4.76 million in taxpayer money in 2016.
      The trust expanded in 2013, going from just protecting farmland and open space to funding projects related to historic preservation and parks and recreation.
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