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NJ Governor Rolls-Out Open Space Initiatives
Recreation - News Center
Moves forward on his State of the State smart growth agenda

March 06, 2003 (rt23 news) - (TRENTON)—Reinforcing his commitment to protecting the quality of life in New Jersey, Governor James E. McGreevey today unveiled the first in a series of legislative packages to implement his Smart Growth agenda as outlined in his State of the State address. The proposals would accelerate the preservation of New Jersey’s open space and farmland, support the development or upgrading of 200 local parks, and conserve the state’s natural resources.

"We lose nearly fifty acres of land a day to poorly controlled development in New Jersey, " stated Governor McGreevey. "The opportunity to preserve our dwindling open space is swiftly passing us by and will soon be lost without the aggressive actions outlined in these proposals."

Specifically, they will raise the cap on the bonding capacity of the Garden State Preservation Trust (GSPT); exempt from capital gains taxes the sale or transfer of land to the state for farmland and open space preservation and parkland; and allow farmers to average yearly net profits over a four-year period to level out their tax liability.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell, Department of Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus, Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin, State Treasurer John McCormac and statewide environmental groups joined the Governor for the announcement, which was made at Cadwalader Park in Trenton.

The proposal to raise bonding capacity for the GSPT will have the effect of increasing by at least $100 million the amount of money available for open space preservation over the next three years. The Governor has proposed these additional funds be divided between land acquisition in the New Jersey Highlands and local park upgrades and expansions throughout the state.

The Highlands area supplies one-third of New Jersey’s drinking water. A recently released report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service stated that projected rates of development in the Highlands would have significant detrimental effects on the high quality water this area provides.

The capital gains proposal would authorize the Department of the Treasury to exempt from the state’s capital gains tax open space transfers to the state. It would apply to land given or sold to the state for the purpose of increasing parkland or preserving open space or farmland and would expire after three years.

Both of these proposals are intended to expedite open space preservation.

"The Governor’s proposals for open space preservation are critical to New Jersey’s quality of life," stated Commissioner Campbell. "They will ensure that present and future state residents have access to recreational opportunities and that New Jersey protects the water supply needed to for a growing population and a growing economy."

Another proposal outlined today will provide farmers with more control over financial risks by allowing them to average yearly net profits over a four-year period to level out their tax liability. Because of the cyclical nature of farming operations, a farmer who suffers financially in one year will be able to balance that with a net gain in another year.

“Preserving our farmland and keeping our agricultural operations economically viable are essential to saving New Jersey’s working farms,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “The initiatives announced today will help New Jersey protect more farmland and ensure that farmers can afford to remain on the land.”

"Today, we are at a crossroads in New Jersey," stated the Governor. "We can carry on as we have, and leave nothing to our children but asphalt and suburban sprawl. Or, we can take the bold action necessary to leave them a legacy with plenty of open space; clean water for drinking, farming and recreation; and a quality of life as good as we have had growing up in New Jersey. I hope and expect legislators on both sides of the aisle will choose to leave a legacy."

Posted by: Staff at
March 06, 2003

NJ Governor Rolls-Out Open Space Initiatives

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