WOOLWICH TWP. — Freeholder Director Robert Damminger and Freeholder Frank J. DiMarco presented the deed to 32 acres of open space and 36 acres of farmland to Woolwich Township Deputy Mayor Rizzi, expanding the total number of preserved acres in Gloucester County to 21,274.
Day Break Farm on High Hill Road in Woolwich, which is now permanently preserved open space, will add to more than 390 contiguous acres of permanently preserved open space in Woolwich and Swedesboro said Damminger.
“This is the sixth open space project we have done with Woolwich in order to create this amazing greenway. The importance of saving our open space is especially important in an area that has seen such high growth. Now this land can never be turned into a housing development,” said Damminger.
DiMarco, liaison to the Office of Land Preservation, said that the 32-acres parcel is being deeded directly to Woolwich Township to be used for recreation and conservation purposes.
“As our county continues to grow, our residents need open space areas for their recreational needs, be they passive or active. To this end the County’s Open Space program has procured expansion in many towns and we are proud to continue to work with Woolwich to expand this Locke Ave. Park Greenway,” said DiMarco.
The total purchase for this property was $490,000 with the county contributing $367,500 and Woolwich paying the remaining $122,500. The County will seek a reimbursement from the State for 50 percent of the acquisition costs.
Thirty-six acres of permanently preserved farmland on Russell Mill Road was also deeded by the county and prevented the development of 23 homes.
“This has been a truly remarkable time for the township in its efforts to preserve farmland and our community character,” said Woolwich Deputy Mayor Rizzi. According to the township, over the past several months, the township, with the help of its state and county partners, has preserved a 918 acres of farmland and open space within the community.
For perspective, that’s more land than many counties will preserve in a year. While much of the funding involved in recent efforts was provided by the State Transfer of Development Rights Bank in support of the Township’s TDR program, the County played a vital role in the two most recent projects.
The farmland property was owned by Woolwich Investors LLC, and is located on Russell Mill Road and Swedesboro-Harrisonville Road in Woolwich Township.
The Gloucester County Office of Land Preservation preserved this 36.467-acre farm property in cooperation with the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) and Woolwich Township through the Township’s Municipal Farmland Preservation Program.
The County provided $580,554.64 towards this acquisition of this property, and Woolwich Township provided $145,138.66. The SADC will reimburse the County the sum of $435,138.66 for the State’s portion of the total acquisition costs. This will occur as soon as the Governor authorizes the SADC’s FY2017 Funding Allocation, which has already been approved by the State Legislature. Had the county not covered this temporary shortfall in state funding, the property would not be preserved at this time.
This property had development approvals for the construction of 23 homes, but has now been permanently preserved for agricultural uses. The property was recently sold to a landowner who proposes to raise crops and livestock on the parcel. The property is also contiguous to more than 1,000 acres of previously preserved farmland.
Including these properties, the county and Woolwich Township have cooperated on seven farmland preservation projects totaling 265 acres. The county itself has preserved 24 farms in Woolwich through its own Farmland Preservation Program totaling 1,018 acres. The township itself has preserved 817 acres on 19 farms through its Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program.