TRENTON, N.J. – Farmers enticed to sell their land to warehouse or high-density developers would receive counter offers from the state under a new preservation program proposed by Assemblyman Alex Sauickie.

“While warehouses are good for consumers, they significantly impact a community’s character. Not every municipality may have the infrastructure to handle the increased truck traffic or the land may be in a historically significant area,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “That is why my goal with this bill and other measures has been to give farmers and towns more tools to make the decisions they believe are right for their communities.”

The bill (A5723) requires owners intending to sell farmland for warehouse development or any other high-density development project to notify the State Agriculture Development Committee. The committee would then determine if the land is suitable for preservation and make a competitive offer based on the landowner’s terms, existing purchase offers, and land value and development rights.

“This provides landowners with options that they may not otherwise have considered,” Sauickie said. “Protecting the land from development will also reduce carbon emissions from heavy construction equipment and additional truck traffic, while also preserving the residents’ quality of life.”

Because of the environmental benefits, Sauickie says the $50 million preservation program would be supported through the state’s global warming solutions fund, which receives money through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“Balancing farmland preservation, warehouse construction, and residential and environmental concerns is important throughout the state, but especially in smaller and more rural towns,” Sauickie added.

Another Sauickie-sponsored bill (A4950) that concerns warehouse development requires the State Planning Commission to prepare, adopt and disseminate model ordinances to help local governments prevent land-use conflicts when warehouse development applications are received. It unanimously passed the Assembly Agriculture and Food Security Committee late last year.

“A thoughtful and more flexible approach to development and preservation is needed to grow our economy while maintaining the Garden State’s valuable agricultural industry,” Sauickie said.