Farm Land & Open Space Preservation
The history behind Readington Township's Open Space Preservation.
Over two decades ago, in 1977, Readington Township was undisputedly rural. Open farmland predominated. It was at this point in the Township's history, however, that a growing contingent of people realized that if they didn't plan for something different than their neighbors to the east of them, this rural character that they cared so much for would be totally lost in the face of wall to wall subdivisions.
In 1978, Readington became the first township in New Jersey to hold an Open Space Referendum. A ballot question asked the voters if they would favor bonding in the amount of one million dollars for open space preservation and they overwhelmingly supported the question. The Township went on, in 1979, to develop an Open Space Master Plan, which called for the preservation of land for agriculture, recreation, and conservation purposes. A separate report summarized a variety of techniques available to implement this Master Plan. The benefits of these early planning efforts, as well as of a renewed surge of interest, effort and success in the last eight years, are now readily apparent.
Currently there is about 16,000 acres of undeveloped land in Readington Township. Approximately 21% of the open acres, that is 3,303 acres, are protected by Farmland Preservation easements. Approximately 17 % of the open acres or 2,701 acres have been preserved for recreation and conservation purposes through Township, County and State efforts. In addition to this, the Township currently has, in various stages of the acquisition process, preservation projects that will protect over 529 acres in the next year. It continues to use a variety of preservation strategies, and a variety of funding sources.
In this 25-year period, Readington has certainly not stopped development. Its Preservation Program has, however, saved, not only significant amounts of land, but important elements of the Township's once rural character. This Program has continued to enjoy political and popular support and has begun to show that open space preservation pays.
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