WHITE TOWNSHIP, NJ [December 15, 2004] – Warren County officials announced that with the purchase of a farm in Mansfield Township, there are now 100 preserved farms in the County, protected forever from development.
The three members of the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders pointed with pride to the milestone achievement, noting it shows the County’s farmland preservation efforts are going strong.
In a closing held on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the County purchased a 161-acre farm located between Route 57 and Rockport Road from White Township resident Lisa Van Horn. Sale price was $966,216 or approximately $6,000 an acre. The County plans to permanently retire the development rights and auction the property sometime next year, with restrictions so that it will remain forever open.
“Preserving the 100th farm in Warren County is truly a tremendous milestone,” said Freeholder Director Richard D. Gardner. “The Board of Chosen Freeholders, along with the Land Preservation Department, is grateful to Ms. Van Horn for her desire to keep this property as open and green space for decades to come,” Gardner remarked.
“It shows the freeholder board’s commitment to preserving agriculture in Warren County,” Freeholder Deputy Director John DiMaio said of the purchase. Agriculture remains a very important industry in Warren County, DiMaio said, noting that it is not only a critical part of the County’s economy, but also serves to “preserve our quality of life and the scenic beauty of our county.”
“We want to continue the trend to acquire as many farms and acres as possible,” Freeholder Everett A. Chamberlain said. He noted that farmland preservation protects open space, keeps a strong agricultural economic base and maintains Warren County’s rural character without taking land off the tax rolls.
At a Dec. 15 news conference, the freeholders announced the preservation purchase had been completed the day before by Robert Resker, Administrator of the Warren County Land Preservation Department. The freeholders, along with New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles Kuperus and Warren County Agriculture Development Board Chairman Joel Schnetzer also presented a ceremonial check to Van Horn, who is selling the farm in Mansfield but continuing to farm on property she owns in White Township.
“I’m glad it’s going to preservation,” Van Horn said of the farm, adding, “I’d like to see more farms preserved.” Van Horn raises beef cattle on a farm near Belvidere in White Township, but noted she plans to change that operation to a horse farm, the Overview Equestrian Center. She said she will offer training, boarding and sales, and have a professional cutting horse trainer on site. “I love farming. It’s in my blood,” Van Horn remarked. “I can’t think of anything better to do than work with animals.”
The Mansfield farm acquired by the County has been used to raise field crops, most recently soybeans.
Van Horn said she was sad to see other farms disappear, but noted she was excited to be involved with the 100th farm to be protected from development in Warren County. “I think it’s a great and wonderful idea,” she said of the preservation program. “I’m glad I could participate in having the farm preserved. I hope in the future people can enjoy it,” Van Horn added.
In addition to the freeholders, Kuperus, Schnetzer and Resker, also participating in the announcement were NJ FFA Vice President Rebecca Schnetzer, current and former members of the Warren County Agriculture Development Board – the group the oversees the County’s farmland preservation efforts – and members of the Warren County Board of Agriculture.
Warren County launched its farmland preservation program in August 1989 with the purchase of development rights on two farms totaling about 600 acres in Allamuchy Township owned by the Gibbs family.
Another significant milestone was reached in late 2003 with the preservation of 10,000 acres of farmland. A year later, the County now has 12,200 acres of land preserved, and Resker said he anticipates that figure will hit 15,000 acres by the end of 2005.
“Each year, we’re making new strides, reaching for higher benchmarks,” Gardner remarked. “This is a great landmark in the preservation efforts of Warren County and the local community of Mansfield as well,” he added.
Kuperus praised Warren County officials and their efforts to preserve farmland, noting that agriculture is part of the County’s heritage, and New Jersey’s heritage as well. “We’re the Garden State for a reason,” the agriculture secretary remarked.
Kuperus noted that Warren County’s preservation efforts are on track with other parts of the state. About 16 percent of Warren County’s land is now preserved farmland, and that ratio holds elsewhere in New Jersey. He added that Warren is the fourth county to have reached the milestone of 100 preserved farms.
Kuperus and the county officials also praised Van Horn for her willingness to sell the land for preservation instead of to a builder, noting development pressure is high in that northeast corner of the County.
“We couldn’t have done this without you,” Joel Schnetzer told Van Horn. “It takes a willing buyer and seller.” Resker noted the purchase was closed in 60 days, due to Van Horn’s cooperation and the support from the freeholder board.
The freeholders also cited the efforts of the Land Preservation Department and the current and former members of the Warren County Agriculture Development Board. “We could not do it without the members of the board, past and present,” DiMaio said.
Rebecca Schnetzer, who is Joel Schnetzer’s daughter, noted she grew up on a dairy farm and always expected it would remain in farming. However, she said it is important to “develop today’s young agriculturalists” who will continue to farm the land.
Speaking on behalf of the younger generation of farmers, she told the officials, “I challenge you to continue the fight to preserve Warren County’s farmland.”
Gardner noted that when he took office two years ago, he set of goal of seeing 20,000 of farmland in Warren County protected from development. “Right now, we’re on track with that commitment,” Gardner said.
(Photo courtesy of Warren County Public Information Dept.)
|Warren County marked the milestone of having 100 farms preserved from development by presenting a ceremonial check to property owner Lisa Van Horn. L-R are Freeholder Everett Chamberlain, New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles Kuperus, Freeholder Director Richard Gardner, Van Horn, Freeholder John DiMaio and Warren County Agriculture Development Board Chairman Joel Schnetzer. Warren County purchased 161 acres of farmland in Mansfield Township from Van Horn for $966,216, and she will continue to farm on another property she owns across the county in White Township.
||161-acre farm in Mansfield Township, located between Route 57 and Rockport Road, adjacent to the preserved Watters Farm and land purchased for open space by the Township.
||Lisa Van Horn, who raises beef cattle at her farm in White Township and plans to open the Overview Equestrian Center there. Previously owned by her father, the late Earl Richard Smith.
||Warren County is purchasing the farm fee simple, and plans to sell it, minus the development rights, at auction.
||The farm was purchased for approximately $6,000 an acre, for a total of $966,216. Warren County is using proceeds of its farmland preservation bond sale for the purchase, and will seek reimbursement from the state’s farmland preservation program.
||The first farmland preservation project in Warren County was completed in August 1989, when the development rights on nearly 600 acres on two dairy farms in Allamuchy owned by the Gibbs family were purchased and permanently retired. In December 2003, Warren County achieved the milestone of having 10,000 acres of farmland preserved. A total of 100 farms with approximately 12,200 acres are now permanently preserved in Warren County, including four farms purchased by municipalities that are seeking county and state reimbursement for a portion of the project costs; 10 purchased by the state; 2 purchased by conservancies; and 5 protected through the state Planning Incentive Grant (PIG) program. By the end of 2005, Warren County expects to have preserved 15,000 acres of farmland.