FREEHOLDERS TO ENDORSE WOOLWICH FARMLAND PRESERVATION PLAN & PLANNING INCENTIVE GRANT APPLICATION
(Woodbury, NJ) - Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney and Freeholder Deputy Director Bob Damminger announced today that the Freeholders will adopt a resolution at tonight's Freeholder meeting in support of the "Woolwich Township Farmland Preservation Plan and Farmland Planning Incentive Grant Application".
The endorsement is necessary in order for the township to submit the Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) application to the State Agricultural Development Committee (SADC) to receive up to $1.5 million in funding for the township to target farmland preservation.
The PIG program provides grants to municipalities for the permanent purchase of development easement rights on land that the Township has identified in their application. This serves a variety of purposes. It allows the Township to concentrate on and target areas that they have identified as important for farmland preservation activities. It also provides a funding mechanism through the grant that is otherwise not available without the submission of the application.
Further, it means that the County does not have to commit as much funding to these activities since an additional funding source is being provided to the municipality via the grant.
"Gloucester County's Farmland Preservation Program has been one of our most successful initiatives over the past five years. With more than 12,000 acres of land preserved, the Freeholder Board has taken great strides to ensure that agricultural will always remain a vital part of Gloucester County's heritage," stated Freeholder Director Sweeney.
Sweeney said, "The interest from potential applicants is higher than ever and the value of property is constantly rising. Based on the trends we have seen over the past few years Gloucester County needs every tool at its disposal to make sure that the preservation program remains as active as it has in the past, from finding new funding sources to ensuring that the land we preserve is vital to the County and its host municipality.
Freeholder Deputy Director Damminger, who serves as the Freeholder Liaison to the County's Office of Land Preservation, said, "Woolwich Township has taken a major step in this task by developing a Farmland Preservation Plan and Farmland Planning Incentive Grant Application." Damminger said that the purposes of this report are diverse. "This document will be incorporated into the Woolwich Township Master Plan and detail the areas that Woolwich hopes to target for farmland preservation activities as well as areas that will be targeted for residential and commercial growth," Damminger stated.
"Woolwich Township is the first municipality in Gloucester County to develop and submit a Farmland Preservation Plan and Farmland Planning Incentive Grant Application. They should be recognized for their innovation and initiative, as their actions will help to serve Gloucester County's overall efforts in the preservation of our rapidly diminishing farmland," said Freeholder Deputy Director Damminger.
In order for Woolwich Township to submit this Plan to the SADC, a supporting resolution from the Freeholder Board must be adopted. The Gloucester County Agricultural Development Board (GCADB) passed a similar resolution at its meeting conducted on February 5, 2005.