N.J. lawmakers open tap on open space funding

Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel is part of Monmouth County's open space. (Andy Kazie/Bigstock)

Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel is part of Monmouth County's open space. (Andy Kazie/Bigstock)

Legislation passed in both houses of the New Jersey legislature clears the way for distribution of state funds to protect open space.

The measure implements constitutional dedication of a portion of state business tax revenues for open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs, said Kelly Mooij, New Jersey Keep It Green Coalition coordinator.

“Voters have been waiting since 2014 when they dedicated these funds in order to ensure that there would be money going out to these incredibly important projects,” she said. “It’s a great quality-of-life issue for the state of New Jersey, particularly important to make New Jersey the kind of place where you want to live, raise a family, and do business.”

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said the legislation ensures that money intended for open space, farmland, and historic preservation programs won’t go toward administrative costs.

“The money will not come from open space for parks salaries. It could come from the clean energy fund because that’s in the Democratic budget, so that’s a concern,” Tittel said. “But the important money is that money that’s been sitting in the treasurer’s office will start flowing to buy open space.”

The legislation allocates 4 percent of the open space funds for the Blue Acres program to buy homes from willing sellers in flood-prone areas.

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