Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2, Mar 26, 2018 | MonroeNow
Middlesex County announced on March 22 that it has finalized protecting a 17-acre equine farm in Monroe Township – making it the 55th property to receive the farmland preservation designation in the county, according to a statement.
In a funding agreement between the county, state and Township, the entities paid $405,163 to block future development at the Gravel Hill-Spotswood Road property that would not conform to its current use. Monroe and the county each contributed approximately $81,000, and the state covered the remaining $243,000, to the owner Melissa Beck-Callanan of Monroe Township.
With this purchase, Middlesex has protected more than 630 acres of farmland in Monroe and 5,488 within county. Preserving the land has been done directly by the county’s Farmland Preservation Program funds, as well as acquisitions by the state, municipalities and non-profits, or land donations made 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, in a statement. “Our preservation efforts will go a long way toward keeping this County and its residents healthy.”
The county and Township are also in the process of protecting a 37-acre tract of farmland on Federal and Gravel Hill roads. That application seeks approximately $600,000 from the state Agricultural Development Committee to help cover the projected $1 million cost. If approved, Middlesex County and Monroe would split the remaining $400,000.
In a previous interview, multiple state officials confirmed that the final price has not been finalized. A communication spokesperson for the state Agricultural Development Committee said the agency does not comment on applications that have not been approved, but did confirm that the request is not in the final phase to determine an award amount.
“Monroe has long prioritized farmland preservation,” Mayor Gerald Tamburro said in a statement. “We have pledged to preserve more than 50 percent of our approximately 43-square-mile community and each year working in concert with the county and state, we advance that much closer.”