Tuesday, April 25th, 2017
PULTZ “SKY-TOP’’ FARM IN WASHINGTON TWP.IS LATEST FARM PERMANENTLY PRESERVED
The Morris County Agriculture Development Board has permanently enrolled the 10-acre Sky-Top Farm, a working hay farm in a heavily preserved agricultural section of Washington Township, into the county’s farmland preservation program.
The Morris County CADB purchased a development easement on the property for $127,819 from Clifford Pultz. The agreement restricts the land from non-agricultural uses, and permanently preserves the farm.
It is the 75th farm preserved in Washington Township – by far the town in Morris County with the most preserved farmland — with nearly 5,000 acres preserved for agriculture.
Sky-Top Farm is located on Fishers Mine Road and within a half-mile of five other preserved agricultural properties, according to Katherine Coyle, director of the Morris CADB. Local farmer George Melroy grows hay at this location for his beef cattle, which graze next door. There also are turkey pens and pigpens on the property.
Financing for the Sky-Top Farm easement purchase came from the voter-approved Morris County Open Space, Farmland, Floodplain Protection and Historic Preservation Trust Fund at $12,750 per acre.
“This long-term preservation program over the past several decades has been very effective in preserving Morris County’s agricultural roots, and creating a permanent and viable agricultural business district, especially in western Morris County,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, the county governing board’s liaison on preservation matters.
In contrast to open space preservation, the agricultural landowner retains ownership of, and may even choose to sell, the preserved farmland. However, the land retains a deed restriction ensuring that it cannot undergo non-farm development.
Agricultural development of the farm is permitted and the type of farming activity can change in the future.
Preservation of Sky-Top Farm brings the total area of preserved farmland in the county to 7,929 acres or the equivalent of 12 square miles, which is approximately the area of Long Hill Township, which is the 15th largest municipality in Morris County.
Sky-Top is the first of a large number of potential farm preservation closings in Morris County in 2017. Another 13 farms, totaling 533 acres, are under consideration for enrollment in the county program. They are located in Chester Township, Harding, Mine Hill, Mendham Township, Mount Olive, Rockaway Township, and Washington Township.
For detailed information on the county’s agricultural preservation program, visit the program’s website.