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Preservation Process for 145 Farms Saves Taxpayer Dollars
For Immediate Release: Contact:

Hope Gruzlovic


The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) certified development values in the low or middle ranges for nearly 90 percent of the 145 farms it has recommended for preservation under a funding request that has been submitted to the State Legislature. "This process has resulted in a good deal for the taxpayers of New Jersey, who will benefit not only from the preservation of these farms, but from the cost-conscious approach to preserving them," said Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr., who chairs the SADC. The following value summaries for each farm show the development values recommended by two licensed, independent appraisers, the value the SADC certified, the percentage of landowner discount, and the actual purchase price. The SADC may certify values as low as the lowest appraisal, as high as the highest appraisal or somewhere in between, depending on what it determines to be the fair market value for the development rights. For 10 of the 145 farms, the appraisers recommended identical values, which the SADC certified. Of the remainder, the SADC certified toward the lower value on 47 percent of the farms, in the middle on 42 percent of the properties and toward the higher value on 11 percent of the farms. In addition, 80 of the 145 landowners offered to sell below the SADC's certified value, for a savings of $1.5 million. Landowners for the 145 farms have applied to sell their development rights to their respective counties under the SADC's county easement purchase program. The SADC provides cost-sharing grants of between 60 and 80 percent to help fund those purchases. To determine how much to pay for those development rights, the SADC required independent appraisals from two licensed appraisers for each farm. Those appraisers took into consideration all of the factors affecting the farm's development value, including market conditions, zoning, wetlands and septic suitability. Now that negotiations with landowners have concluded, those appraisals are available for public review at the SADC's offices in Trenton. The two appraisers made separate value determinations, which were reviewed by an SADC staff appraiser. The review appraiser made a recommendation to the SADC, which certified a final development value. In the final step of the process, landowners were required to submit sealed bids containing their final offers. If landowners chose to sell below the SADC's certified value, this moved their farms higher on the preservation priority list. The SADC had determined initial rankings on the priority list based on the farms' potential for agricultural productivity and threat of development. The Garden State Preservation Trust last Tuesday approved the SADC's funding request for $36.1 million to preserve the 145 farms totaling more than 12,000 acres. That request has been forwarded for legislative approval. The SADC administers New Jersey's Farmland Preservation Program.