Jackson Council Backs Bill To Save Farmland

Photo courtesy Rova Farms Historic District Association

  JACKSON – Government leaders in Jackson praised efforts by other local politicians to preserve land.

  Council President Martin Flemming was pleased to announce that Ocean County was investing more money in the township.

  Noting related resolutions on a recent council meeting agenda, he said the County was “acquiring almost 60 acres, that gives the grand total of county land preserved to almost 27,000 acres. They are doing a great job over at the bay protecting our wetlands and protecting our land.”

  Councilman Nino Borrelli introduced a resolution supporting a bill by former Jackson Councilman Alex Sauickie who recently won election as 12th District Assemblyman, that would “create a state wide farmland preservation formula to determine the amount offered to farmers to preserve their land and for open space purposes.”

  “Keeping the garden in the Garden State should be a bi-partisan endeavor. According to the Ocean County website as of January 2020, the Ocean County Agricultural Board with the assistance from the State of New Jersey has preserved 55 farms in Ocean County consisting of 3,357 acres,” Borrelli said.

  He noted, “we see examples of this program in our own town with land preserved by Ocean County at Wit’s End Farm at Jackson Hills Road and ING Farms on Whitesville Road. The bill also promotes greater farmland preservation and strives to preserve the hardworking and entrepreneurial spirit of farmers who are an important part of our state.”

  Sauickie’s bill (A4729)) creates a new appraisal formula that considers the value of farmland in nearby towns and counties, the importance of preserving farmland in the area, and other relevant factors. The State Agriculture Development Committee would be required to use whatever appraisal process resulted in the higher value as the basis for negotiations with the landowner.

  The legislation also updates the appraisal process for determining the value of farmland acquired for preservation. It was recently cleared by an Assembly committee.

  “From limiting urban sprawl to providing locally grown produce, preserved farmland benefits communities in so many ways. In order to encourage farmers to participate in the preservation program, New Jersey needs to ensure that farmers are getting a fair deal and purchase offers reflect the true value of their land,” Sauickie said.

  His bill is supported by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, North Hanover Township, Jackson Township Council, the Burlington County Agriculture Development Board, and the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey.

  New Jersey had approximately 750,000 acres of farmland with 247,400 acres preserved through the Farmland Preservation Program as of September 2022.

Respect For Marriage Act

  Councilman Steven Chisholm brought up his view on recent federal legislation that would protect same-sex marriage. “You may have heard about the Respect For Marriage Act. This particular law does nothing about respecting marriage and unfortunately, they are using scare tactics to rile up certain constituencies. The reality is this may do nothing to enhance any protections or strengthen the laws currently on the books.”

  “It may strip other Americans of their religious freedoms and personal freedoms. Your religious rights come from God above and not the government,” Chisholm added.

  Late last month the U.S. Senate voted 61-36 to approve the bill concerning marriage equality. It applies to both same-sex and interracial marriage and would require that two people be considered married so long as their marriage was legal in the state in which it was performed.

  The act also repeals the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) law that defines marriage as one between a man and a woman, which has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015.

  President Joseph Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law on December 13. The bipartisan legislation passed in the House in a 258-169 vote with 39 Republicans supporting the measure. This marked a shift for Biden who voted in favor of DOMA.

Help Those In Need

  Councilwoman Samara O’Neill reminded residents “to check the local postings. There is a lot of people in need this holiday season. We have the Jackson Food Pantry and other programs that you could contribute to as well.

  “To the parents out there please check the school district website that gives notifications and updates relating to mental awareness programs we collaborate with to offer support to our adult and our children within the community,” she added. ”That website includes recent presentations including a monthly webinar series relating to student emotional health.”

Van provided to Lakewood PD

  Flemming also explained to a resident who asked about a program by the Jackson Police Department and Lakewood Police Department concerning police vehicles.

  “It was an agreement between our chief of police and Lakewood’s chief of police for vehicles we no longer need for our police force and have no service life left. It involves a van not a patrol car. It might have been an impound confiscation. It was 17 years old,” Flemming explained.