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Right to Farm Law Passes

Township Committee adopts an ordinance to expedite preservation

On a small private road off Picatinny Road in the shadow of Villa Walsh, the Rosenhaus Farms is tucked away nearly unnoticed in Morris Township.

It is unique in the township, however, being the only one of about a dozen properties with farmland assessment that qualified for farmland preservation. Last week, the township committee eliminated the last hurdle to a county grant to keep the 48 acres in farming forever.

With the adoption of a right-to-farm ordinance, the committee paved the way for Albie and Sharon Rosenhaus to receive a grant from the County Agricultural Development Board. The ordinance is required of every municipality with a farm in preservation. After months of discussion by the planning board the ordinance was finalized in early December and referred to the committee which had introduced it in November.

At the meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, newly elected committeeman Jeff Grayzel, who will join the governing body in January, asked some questions about the ramifications of the new law.

He asked if the committee could imagine reclassifying any land for farmland assessment. Mayor H. Scott Rosenbush said that was specifically precluded by the new ordinance. It only pertains to land currently in farmland assessment. It establishes an overlay zone to govern existing farms only.

Rosenbush pointed out farming is already allowed in the township. The new ordinance merely formalizes some details.

Not every aspect of farming can be regulated by local government. The planning board received input from the county on such aspects as density of livestock, although density of horses is governed by the state Equine Act. Manure storage is governed by best agriculture management practices, but is codified in the new ordinance. Much of the discussion at the planning board level dealt with farm stands and their lighting and parking.

Katherine Coyle, director of the county ag board, said the board can now start to get appraisals of the Rosenhaus farm. She said the preservation  process should take no more than a year to complete.

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