Sunday, July 02, 2006

Seizing the The Harvestone Farm

From the Daily Record:

A Morris family farm awaits its fate

Steven Linz said he could not talk much about the state's proposal to take a chunk of his farm and turn it into wetlands. His family has owned the Harvestone Farm in Washington Township for three generations.

Now, because of possible legal implications, he is not talking much about the farm.

"My grandmother bought the land," Linz said this week. "It's been a family farm since 1960. We want to keep it in the family."

That is all he says now because he is a little nervous about what's going to happen next. He received a letter a couple of years ago asking whether he'd sell a piece of his farm to the state. The state Department of Transportation wanted the land as part of a legal requirement to replace wetlands that would be lost miles away as part of several road improvement projects in Byram and other parts of Sussex County. Linz's answer was a simple no.

The next time Linz heard from the state, according to those familiar with the case, was a few months ago, when officials said they were preparing to use eminent domain to seize the property.
"I think it's stupid," he said.

Tittel said it makes little sense for the state to target land that is not threatened by development. He referred to some wetlands mitigation projects as "a con game"-- a way to justify the destruction of wetlands for public projects.

Tittel said people living downstream from destroyed wetlands who get more flooding would not be helped by the creation of wetlands in another county. He said created wetlands often fail because they are not monitored, although state officials say they are required to be monitored for three to five years.

A state Department of Environmental Protection study from four years ago revealed that more than half of all freshwater wetlands mitigation projects had failed. DEP officials said some projects failed because developers squeezed them onto inappropriate sites near wetlands that had been destroyed. In some cases, they said, off-site wetlands mitigation projects in another part of a watershed have a better chance to succeed.


Blogger Metroplexual said...

Tittel is a jerk. His comment on any development was that it is "land cancer".

7/02/2006 09:24:00 AM  

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