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Mercer & Middlesex County Towns to Benefit from Funding

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson (both D-Mercer/Middlesex) to help preserve farmland throughout the Garden State was signed into law on Wednesday.

“These funds have historically benefited densely-populated suburban areas like Mercer and Middlesex counties where development threatens to encroach on precious farmland,” said DeAngelo. “These funds will ease the burden on taxpayers, farmers and municipalities while helping us to maintain our reputation as the Garden State.”

The new law (S-2896/A-4060) appropriates $39 million to help counties acquire development easements on farmland for preservation purposes.

“This is an investment in our quality of life that will help us preserve open space and protect our natural reDests,” said Benson, who attended today’s signing ceremony at Terhune Orchard. “This funding will help us fight overdevelopment and unplanned growth and ensures that future generations may continue to enjoy our farms and open spaces.”

The funds will be used to provide planning incentive grants to 16 counties for up to 80 percent of the cost to acquire development easements on farmland. Under the law, the 16 counties will each receive a “base grant” of $1.5 million. These counties will also be eligible to compete to receive an additional grant of up to $3 million each from the “competitive grant fund” of $15 million, for a maximum grant award of $4.5 million.

Both Middlesex and Mercer counties will initially receive $1.5 million each to be used to acquire development easements in a number of municipalities, including the following towns in the 14th Legislative District:

– Mercer County: Hamilton and West Windsor.

– Middlesex County: Cranbury, Monroe, Old Bridge, Plainsboro and South Brunswick.