July 31, 2012
Re: A-323/S-2074 – Permits “Agricultural Tourism” Activities on Preserved Farmland
In May the General Assembly approved A-323, which would permit “special occasion events” to be conducted on preserved farmland. It is now referenced to the Senate Economic Growth Committee, where it joins its Senate companion, S-2074, The League opposes the legislation.
The legislation is being pushed by a number of wineries operating on preserved farmland. However, the bill is not limited to wineries, and could permit these events on any preserved farmland throughout the State. It is our belief that these proposed amendments circumvent the objectives of the State’s successful farmland preservation efforts, in which public dollars have been committed to permanently preserve prime agricultural lands throughout the Garden State.
Further, A-323 & S-2074 would qualify preserved farmland for commercial activities without the appropriate degree of local input and oversight over the frequency, intensity and other planning related impacts. The municipality and the neighboring residents might have to deal with increased traffic, litter, solid waste and noise issues. Accordingly, the local governing body should be allowed the broad discretion to determine when and if each of the designated events should be allowed, and to set conditions on a permitted activity. In this case, this is not an issue that can or should be dealt with a single, statewide standard. Municipalities should be accorded the appropriate oversight to balance the concerns of the farm and those of its residential and commercial neighbors.
At the request of a number of towns, the League has prepared a sample resolution for your consideration. It is posted online at:
PDF - http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/resoluton-opposing-A-323-(2012-2013).pdf
WORD – http://www.njslom.org/resolutions/resoluton-opposing-A-323-(2012-2013).doc
We do note that the League and some local officials will be meeting with Senator Donald Norcross, the Senator sponsor, in the upcoming weeks to address the concerns outlined above. The sponsor has acknowledged the concerns of municipalities and will meet with interested stakeholders before any consideration of the bill in the Senate. The League will advise you of all developments related to the bill, but in the meanwhile we would recommend contacting your State Senator with your concerns with A-323/S-2074.
Questions can be directed to Mike Cerra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-695-3481 x120.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.