Zwicker Bill Package to Fund Farmland & Historic Preservation Projects in NJ Clears General Assembly

(Trenton, NJ) -- A three-bill bipartisan legislative package Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker sponsored aimed at funding historic land and farmland preservation and state acquisitions of land for recreation and conservation use gained General Assembly approval on Thursday. The legislation follows the 2014 constitutional amendment to dedicate six percent of corporation business tax (CBT) revenue each year for the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites.

The first bill (A-4583) would appropriate $3 million from the 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally-dedicated CBT revenues to fund certain historic preservation projects. The list of 25 eligible projects includes Case-Dvoor Farmstead in Raritan Township and the Daniel Robert House in Somerville.

“The Daniel Robert House, which houses Borough Hall and the borough’s library, is a center of civic life in Somerville,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Historic sites like this are all over our state, these sites bind us, not just to each other, but to our state's rich past.  We must invest in preserving them.”

The second bill (A-4584) would appropriate $7.5 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee from CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes. The legislation would provide grants in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 to 19 municipalities, including Delaware Township in Hunterdon County.

“Farmland is the foundation of the agriculture industry. It’s what gives New Jersey its identity as the ‘Garden State,’” said Zwicker. “In addition to providing direct economic benefits to the entire state, investing in farmland preservation can help limit sprawl and create stability for New Jersey’s farmers.” 

Both measures, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now await further Senate consideration.

The third bill (A-4597), known as the “Preserve New Jersey Act, would appropriate $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection from CBT revenues for the acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes. The measure would fund capital and park development projects, and the appropriations include allocations of funds for projects for all 14 towns of the 16th legislative district.

“The people of New Jersey want to ensure that we preserve our open space,” said Zwicker. “This appropriation will provide funding to protect our water, preserve wildlife habitats and improve the quality of life in New Jersey overall.” 

The bill, which received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, now goes to the governor.