2014-04-03 / Front Page

Purchase of easement removes farm from development stream

COLTS NECK — Monmouth County has passed the 200 mark with its preservation of the 16-acre Cicalese farm on Phalanx and Laird roads.

“This farm is best known for its beautiful fields of gladiolus,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “We will continue to see the mid-summer gladiolus, along with other field-grown flowers and crops on the landscape, because the Cicalese farm has entered the county’s farmland preservation program.”

Monmouth County purchased an agricultural easement on the Cicalese farm on Feb. 21, forever restricting the land to agricultural use and eliminating potential residential development opportunities, according to a press release.

Preservation of the farm creates a contiguous 211-acre block of protected farmland in Colts Neck because it connects two other preserved farms — Swimming River Farm to Sugar Loaf Hill Farm.

The easement purchase project involved a financial partnership among the county, Colts Neck and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC).

“The county’s 24 percent share of the purchase came from the county’s open space and farmland preservation trust fund,” Burry said. “Colts Neck’s portion was funded out of its open space and farmland preservation trust fund, along with a grant from the state through the municipal Planning Incentive Grant program.”

The SADC share was approximately 60 percent, and Colts Neck put forth 16 percent. The total cost to purchase the development rights to the Cicalese farm was $832,315, according to the press release.

The Cicalese farm had been of longtime interest to the conservation community because of its proximity to the other farms and its location along one of the county’s scenic byways.

“Cicalese marks 201 agricultural easements acquired in Monmouth County,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “The county was brought over the 200-farm threshold in December 2013 with the acquisition of four easements on 303 acres of Baier Lustgarten Farms and Nurseries in Upper Freehold Township.”

The Upper Freehold wholesale nursery has been in operation since the 1950s, and is headquartered at its office on Jonathan Holmes Road in Cream Ridge, according to the press release.

Monmouth County has preserved 14,776 acres of farmland to date. The farms are in Colts Neck, Freehold Township, Holmdel, Howell, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown, Millstone Township, Roosevelt and Upper Freehold.

The operations on the various farms include a large number of equine farms and ornamental and horticultural nurseries. Hay, straw, field crops, sod, Christmas trees and vegetables are other common crops.

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