New Jersey temporarily blocks Millville’s plan to develop open space

 Under the plan the area in red would be open to development and in exchange the yellow area would become protected open space.

Under the plan the area in red would be open to development and in exchange the yellow area would become protected open space.

The New Jersey Office of Legislative Services yesterday temporarily blocked the controversial conveyance of 81 acres of a state wildlife management area to the city of Millville or its designee for potential development.

The parcel, purchased by the state Green Acres program less than two years ago, is known as the Durand tract and is part of the Menantico Ponds Wildlife Management Area. Surrounded on three sides by protected open space, the land is home to numerous threatened and endangered species and is a migratory stopover for more than 120 types of birds.

The proposed conveyance by the state Department of Environmental Protection would be the largest diversion of Green Acres property in the history of the program, according to conservationists who strongly opposed the deal. They questioned why already protected open space could be converted to possible industrial use.

In exchange for the property, the state would receive $395,000 — $25,000 more than it originally paid. The money would be used to buy an equal amount of land in either Millville or elsewhere in Cumberland County.

The commission balked at the deal in a meeting yesterday largely on technical grounds, based on an opinion from the Office of Legislative Services. The three-page memo said the commission failed to provide proper public notice and indicated that the appraised value of the tract, nearly two-and-one-half years old, “is potentially stale.’’

____________________________________________

NJ Spotlight, an independent online news service on issues critical to New Jersey, makes its in-depth reporting available to NewsWorks.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.