TRENTON, NJ – A bipartisan legislative package co-sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th that would fund historic land and farmland preservation and state acquisitions of land for recreation and conservation has been approved by a unanimous vote of 74-0.
Somerville's Borough Hall and municipal library - The Daniel Robert House, built in 1888 - is one of 25 projects eligible for funding through the legislation, according to Zwicker, one of 22 sponsors of the bill.
The legislation follows the 2014 constitutional amendment to dedicate six percent of corporation business tax (CBT) revenue each year for the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites.
The bill, also approved unanimously by the Senate, now awaits Gov. Chris Christie's approval.
The first bill (A-4583) would appropriate $3 million from the 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally-dedicated CBT revenues to fund certain historic preservation projects. The list of 25 eligible projects includes Case-Dvoor Farmstead in Raritan Township and the Daniel Robert House.
“The Daniel Robert House, which houses Borough Hall and the borough’s library, is a center of civic life in Somerville,” said Zwicker. “Historic sites like this are all over our state, these sites bind us, not just to each other, but to our state's rich past. We must invest in preserving them.”
The Daniel Robert mansion is one of seven sites in Somerville included on both the state and National Historic Registries.
The restoration of the 24-foot vaulted ceiling and hallways on the second-floor was completed in the fall of 2014 with a $150,000 grant from the Somerset County Historic Preservation Grant program. Awaiting funding is replacement of the windows in the building.
The second bill (A-4584) would appropriate $7.5 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee from CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes. The legislation would provide grants in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 to 19 municipalities, including Delaware Township in Hunterdon County.
“Farmland is the foundation of the agriculture industry. It’s what gives New Jersey its identity as the ‘Garden State,’” said Zwicker. “In addition to providing direct economic benefits to the entire state, investing in farmland preservation can help limit sprawl and create stability for New Jersey’s farmers.”
Both measures, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now await further Senate consideration.
The third bill (A-4597), known as the “Preserve New Jersey Act, would appropriate $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection from CBT revenues for the acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes. The measure would fund capital and park development projects, and the appropriations include allocations of funds for projects for all 14 towns of the 16th legislative district.
“The people of New Jersey want to ensure that we preserve our open space,” said Zwicker. “This appropriation will provide funding to protect our water, preserve wildlife habitats and improve the quality of life in New Jersey overall.”