Vote yes for open space

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:01

    On Tuesday, Nov. 8 voters across New Jersey will be heading to their polling booths to vote in the general election. Many residents across northern New Jersey will be voting on questions focusing on open space preservation and recreation development. As open space programs move forward throughout the state and in your local neighborhoods, needs change and priorities crystallize into targeted preservation areas and recreation centers. Morris Land Conservancy supports local questions which increase the use and breadth of our limited open space dollars to preserve our sensitive water supplies and beautiful natural resources. Sussex County is asking county residents to vote on an increase and expansion of the county trust fund for open space and farmland preservation. Land values continue to rise in Sussex County and land preservation efforts are racing to meet this need. Currently, the county trust is set at two cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value. Ten percent of the total collected is dedicated to open space preservation and the remaining funding is set aside for farmland preservation. In 2000 county residents overwhelmingly supported the establishment of a county trust fund, 73% of voters responded favorably to the ballot question. County freeholders are asking for an additional 1½ cents for the trust fund. A larger trust will not only increase the amount of dollars available for the county farmland program, it will also attract greater matching funds from the state for land conservation in Sussex County. In a letter to the Sussex County Board of Freeholders, Green Township wrote, “The Township Committee of the Township of Green applauds and supports your decision to place the public question to increase the County Open Space Tax on the November ballot.” There are also two towns in Sussex County that have ballot questions establishing new open space trust funds. Lafayette and Stillwater Townships have both placed questions on the November ballot asking voters to support a local open space trust fund. A trust fund will allow the towns to purchase land of local significance for recreation fields, hiking trails, natural resource protection and farmland. An open space trust fund protects drinking water, farmland, historic landscapes and structures, scenic ridgelines and their lovely valleys. Sussex County is a place where rural beauty defines the quality of life and clean, plentiful drinking water is a valued resource that is need of permanent preservation. Outdoor recreation for hunting, hiking and fishing is a part of the fabric of everyday life in Sussex County and an expanded trust fund and strong local municipal open space and farmland preservation programs will help to make this a permanent resource for now and into the future. Morris Land Conservancy strongly supports these initiatives and urges Sussex County residents to vote Yes for open space and farmland preservation on November 8th. We are happy to answer questions you may have, please give Barbara Davis a call at our office (973) 541-1010.