Sunday, November 26, 2006

Massive Preservation Grants for Morris County

Voters gave approval to ambitious projects

From The Star-Ledger:

Morris County approved $23.8 million in preservation grants for projects in 20 towns, including $3 million for the largest open-space project it has ever helped fund, to save 1,611 acres in the Troy Meadows natural area in Parsippany and East Hanover.

The Morris County Preservation Trust also will provide nearly $5 million to finance purchases of 135 acres in Mendham Township owned by two religious orders of nearly the same name.

The record $23.8 million in open space awards was financed by a voter-approved county tax of 4.5 cents per $100 of property value, generating $40 million this year, said Morris County Preservation Director Frank Pinto.

"There are not a lot of big, open parcels left in the county," Pinto said. "The remaining big parcels, which are attractive to developers, are becoming more expensive. We are facing more competition as the costs go up. Thankfully, we have more dollars."

The first deal garnered $2.6 million in county open space funding that targets 1,431 acres in Parsippany, while a second got $359,500 for a connected 180 acres in East Hanover.

Parsippany Mayor Michael Luther, who called the county funding "very exciting," said he hopes to reach an amicable agreement with Wildlife Preserves. He noted an uplands portion of the property has development potential, which concerns him.

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