WHEREAS, as of November 30, 2008, 1,755 farms totaling 170,921 acres had been permanently preserved through the State Farmland Preservation Program – including 66 farms covering 9,876 acres in the Pinelands; and
WHEREAS, in 1998 the Garden State Preservation Trust Act authorized the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) to establish a formula for determining easement values in certain areas of the Pinelands in an effort to increase the permanent preservation of farmland and provide an opportunity for equity restitution; and
WHEREAS, the SADC’s program offers two alternatives for determining easement value in the Pinelands – one based on the formula valuation and the other based on a standard appraisal of the easement as determined by the appraiser; and
WHEREAS, certain lands within the Pinelands Area are afforded the opportunity to be preserved through the sale of Pinelands Development Credits (PDCs), which can then be used to increase development density in designated growth areas of the Pinelands; and
WHEREAS, according to the New Jersey State Pinelands Development Credit Bank, some 50,000 acres of land have been preserved through the severance of PDCs to date; and PDCs as of November 14, 2008, were being sold for an average price of approximately $18,500 per right, compared with $2,500 per building right at the inception of the program; and
WHEREAS, because of the increase in PDC value, many landowners in the Pinelands are, for the first time since the inception of the Pinelands program, able to achieve a reasonable level of equity compensation through the sale of PDCs; and
WHEREAS, there is a need to review and process applications for agricultural improvements in the Pinelands region in a more efficient and expeditious manner.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 94th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 11, 2009, support the SADC’s ongoing efforts to promote the enrollment of Pinelands farms into the State Farmland Preservation Program and encourage the SADC to continue to make available adequate funding for Pinelands application rounds to accomplish this goal.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SADC be encouraged to continue to allow both appraisal valuations and formula valuations to be conducted for each application submitted in order to make an offer to the landowner based on the higher of the two values.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we continue to support the work of the Pinelands Agricultural Advisory Committee in their review of significant issues pertaining to agriculture and forestry in that region.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the SADC take necessary actions to ensure that farms preserved through the sale of PDCs be afforded the same eligibility for soil and water cost-share funds as those farms preserved through the Farmland Preservation Program.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly discourage any changes to the Pinelands CMP or PDC program rules by the Pinelands Commission that would diminish or dilute the demand for, or market value of, PDCs in the private market.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage the New Jersey State Pinelands Development Credit Bank to identify and implement whatever administrative and procedural changes are necessary to expedite, support and encourage the private-sector purchase and sale of PDCs to maximize the preservation of Pinelands farms and the protection of landowner equity in the Pinelands.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we recognize efforts to streamline processes and urge the Pinelands Commission to review and process applications related to agricultural improvements in the most efficient manner possible.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge the Pinelands Commission to continue efforts to streamline the processes for the construction of on-farm labor housing, recognizing that some duplicative steps in the application process are imposed by the Federal National Parks and Recreation Act, but that a concerted effort of the Pinelands Commission to improve responses to applicants has reduced turnaround time to 30 days, in most cases; and that we identify to the Commission staff specific issues that arise in labor housing so that they may receive attention as appropriate to the issue.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we sincerely thank Stephen Lee for his dedicated and tireless service on the Pinelands Commission representing agriculture’s interests on the Commission. His representation of the landowners in the Pinelands has been vital to the survival of agriculture in this region.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call upon Governor Corzine to reappoint Stephen Lee III immediately to the Pinelands Commission to represent agricultural interests.