January 21, 2016
The Hunterdon County Planning Department drafted an updated open space plan, which was presented by the County Freeholders in late 2015. The plan outlines how money derived from the County open space tax should be spent. The new plan had significant changes from previous versions, neglected to identify percentages allocated toward different expenditures and caused reason for alarm by emphasizing spending for economic development and undefined maintenance and stewardship costs. In response to public outcry, the Freeholders are still in the process revising the proposed plan.
The original 1999 ballot referendum in which voters approved the County open space tax "enable[d] the County to acquire lands through purchase or easement to preserve tracts of open space, farmland preservation, recreation, conservation and rehabilitate County owned historic properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas and other objects, which are rapidly being lost to development or decay." Along with representatives from municipalities and non-profit environmental groups, CFR is telling the County Freeholders to revise the open space plan so that funds are spent directly on open space acquisition and specified open space maintenance and stewardship. Below is the letter we emailed to the Freeholders.
Visit the Hunterdon County Planning Board, Open Space Trust Fund Program website for more information and a link to the Trust Fund Plan. You can tell the County Freeholders how you feel by emailing them. Here are their emails:
Suzanne Lagay, Director- firstname.lastname@example.org
John E. Lanza, Deputy Director- email@example.com
John King- firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert G. Walton- email@example.com
J. Matthew Holt- firstname.lastname@example.org
CFR letter to County Freeholders: