Ask your local candidate a question.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Knowlton Gets Report on Farmland Preservation

Land use map of Knowlton prepared by the State Agriculture Development Committee. The red areas indicate land not protected by farmland preservation programs. Photo by Joe Phalon, 11/2023.

Almost one third of Knowlton Township is subject to development, and while great strides have been made to preserve farmland and woodland, the State Agriculture Development Committee wants residents to pay particular interest in that land.

“That’s basically everything in the township that can be developed further,” said longtime resident Bob McNinch, speaking on behalf of the State Agriculture Development Committee. “It’s not preserved farmland, it’s not preserved woodland, it’s not parks. It’s basically everything. All of this can be subdivided and developed in the future.”

During a presentation to the Knowlton Township Committee November 13, McNinch gave an update on progress and challenges in preserving existing farmland within that portion of the township, which includes approximately 4,500 acres of Knowlton’s 15,808 acres.

Currently, Knowlton has 2,600 acres of preserved farmland, in which the owners accept a payment from funds made available from the state and federal governments and agree the land will remain farmland in perpetuity.

McNinch pointed out that unlike government-owned preserved land, such as state and federally owned parks and open spaces lands, preserved farms continue to generate property taxes. The state and federal land encompasses 3,500 while the township owns 94 acres, which are dedicated to parks and open space.

And while many of the 4,500 acres that are privately owned include many plots that could not be developed for a multitude of reasons such as mountainous terrain and wetlands, that figure also includes unrestricted farmland, which by its nature, can be attractive to developers, McNinch said.

“They can be developed into housing subdivisions, industrial, solar complexes, etc.” McNinch said. Half the 4,500 acres are farmland, he said, which could be eligible for the farmland preservation program.

Upcoming projects include making people who own property that might be eligible for the preservation programs aware of them. McNinch emphasized that there is no obligation and that many people have reasons to keep the status quo.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.