Township of Branchburg, NJ
Somerset County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Ord. #98-771; Ord. #98-776; Ord. #2005-981]
ACQUISITION
Shall mean the securing of a fee simple or a lesser interest in land, including but not limited to an easement restricting development, by gift, purchase, installment purchase agreement, devise or condemnation;
DEVELOPMENT
Shall mean any improvement to land acquired for recreation and conservation purposes designed to expand and enhance its utilization for those purposes;
FARMLAND
Shall mean any land actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use that is valued, assessed and taxed pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964" (N.J.S.A. 54:4-23.1 et seq.);
FARMLAND PRESERVATION PURPOSES
Shall mean the long term preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use;
FUND
Shall mean the Municipal Open Space, Recreation and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (N.J.S.A. 40:12-15.1 et seq.);
LAND OR LANDS
Shall mean real property, including improvements thereof or thereon, rights-of-way, water, lakes, or riparian and other rights, easements, privileges and all other rights or interest of any kind or description in, related to or connected with real property;
OPEN SPACE
Shall mean any land acquired, developed or maintained for recreation or conservation purposes or for use as farmland or farmland preservation;
RECREATION AND CONSERVATION PURPOSES
Means the use of lands for parks, open space, natural areas, ecological and biological study, forests, water reserves, wildlife preserves, fishing, hunting, camping, boating, winter sports, or similar uses for either public outdoor recreation or conservation of natural resources, or both. "Recreation and conservation purposes" also means the use of lands for public indoor recreational facilities that have a gross coverage of not more than 5% on a tract that is restricted for recreation and conservation purposes and is at least 30 acres.
a. 
There is hereby established a reserve in the General Capital Fund which shall be noted and designated as the "Municipal Open Space Recreation and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund." A separate bank account shall be established and maintained for the fund entitled "Branchburg Township Open Space Recreation and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund Account." As directed by the township committee, monies from the fund shall be utilized for the following purposes:
1. 
Acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation;
2. 
Development of lands acquired in whole or part with monies from the fund for recreation and conservation;
3. 
Maintenance of lands acquired in whole or part with monies from the fund for recreation and conservation;
4. 
Acquisition of farmland for farmland preservation;
5. 
Payment of debt service on indebtedness issued or incurred by the township for any of the purposes set forth above.
b. 
In addition, the township committee may authorize the disbursement of monies from the fund to assist the County of Somerset in acquiring lands located within the township for the purposes stated in this subsection, provided that suitable arrangements are made to assure that: such lands are made subject to restrictions substantially similar to those imposed by this chapter; and if such lands are sold, the net proceeds of the disposition will be paid over to the fund in the same proportion that the township's contribution bore to the original purchase price.
Beginning in 1999, a special tax rate shall be added to the total township tax rate in the amount of $0.01 per $100 of the annual assessed valuations and tax rate, the revenue from which shall be deposited into the fund. The township committee may, in its discretion, deposit additional municipal monies into the fund, which deposit shall then be subject to all of the provisions governing the fund. The fund shall also be permitted to accept donations and testamentary bequests. All interest and other income earned on monies deposited into the fund shall remain in the fund and shall be utilized for the purposes described in subsection 24-1.2.
The monies accumulated within the fund shall be utilized for the purposes described in subsection 24-1.2, including the acquisition of lands. In connection with such acquisition, the fund may be utilized for appraisals and other items of expense permitted by law in connection with the acquisition, or as a down payment for the issuance of bonds or for debt service for the same purpose at the discretion of the township committee. In no eventuality shall the township pay more than fair market value for the land to be acquired. The township shall obtain a minimum of one appraisal from a certified appraiser as a guide to the fair market value. The cost of such appraisal may be paid out of the fund.
No lands acquired with monies from the fund shall be conveyed through sale, exchange, transfer, lease or other disposition unless, after at least one public hearing, it is determined that the land is required for another public use or that the purposes stated in subsection 24-1.2 would be better served by the conveyance. If such conveyance is made, the township committee shall be required to: place the monies received from the conveyance into the fund; and replace such land with land of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness, size, quality and location. In satisfying the requirements of the preceding sentence, the township committee shall not be required to expend the entire proceeds of a conveyance at a single time or on a single acquisition, or to expend the proceeds within a specified time following the conveyance, and may, in its discretion, combine all or a portion of the proceeds with other monies from within or without the fund toward any acquisition which is permissible under the stated purposes of subsection 24-1.2. The deed of any property acquired wholly or partly with monies from the fund shall contain a specific notation reflecting that the property was acquired with monies from the Municipal Open Space Recreation and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.
When this chapter has been in effect for a period of 10 years, then township committee shall conduct a review and, if it deems appropriate, issue a report with recommendations and conclusions concerning the continuation of the fund.
[Ord. #98-771; Ord. #98-776; Ord. #2004-945; Ord. #2005-1004; Ord. #2007-1083 Ord. #87-521; Ord. #88-538; Ord. #89-553; Ord. #89-557; Ord. No. 96-710]
[Ord. No. 2016-1297; Prior Ordinance History: Ord. Nos. 98-771, 98-776, 2004-945, 2005-1004, 2007-1083]
There is hereby established an open space advisory committee to review and recommend the acquisition of lands, within the township, for the purposes described in subsection 24-1.2. The words "advisory committee" when used in this chapter refer to the open space advisory committee.
[Ord. No. 2016-1297; amended 11-11-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-1367]
a. 
The Advisory Committee shall consist of:
1. 
The Township Engineer;
2. 
The Chair of the Township Planning Board or the Chair's designee;
3. 
A member of the Township Environmental Commission to be appointed by the Township Committee;
4. 
The Township Director of Recreation;
5. 
The Mayor or Mayor's designee;
6. 
The Township Administrator; and
7. 
Three members of the general public to be appointed by the Township Committee.
b. 
The Chair of the Planning Board and the member of the Environmental Commission shall have terms which coincide with the terms of their respective appointive offices. The Township Administrator, Township Engineer, and the Director of Recreation shall serve as members of the Advisory Committee as long as the Administrator, Engineer, and Director of Recreation are employed by the Township in their respective capacities. The Mayor or the Mayor's designee shall serve as a member of the Advisory Committee during the Mayor's term of office. The members of the general public shall serve two-year terms.
[Ord. No. 2016-1297; amended 11-11-2019 by Ord. No. 2019-1367]
a. 
The Advisory Committee shall prepare and submit to the Township Committee an open space map for the Township. The map shall include an inventory of open space within the Township. The map shall also include an evaluation and priority ranking of each such open space.
b. 
The Advisory Committee shall assist the Township in the establishment of a program to catalog the status of privately owned open space within the Township and record the Township's progress with respect to open space preservation.
c. 
The Advisory Committee shall provide guidance and support to the Township Committee and Planning Board on issues and matters of open space.
d. 
The Advisory Committee shall periodically review its functions and submit a recommendation to the Township Committee as to whether additional duties should be assigned or delegated to the Advisory Committee.
e. 
The Mayor or the Mayor's designee shall serve as the Chair of the Advisory Committee, the Planning Board Chair shall serve as Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee and the Township Administrator shall serve as the Secretary of the Advisory Committee. The Secretary of the Advisory Committee shall maintain minutes of the committee meetings and records of the proceedings of the committee.
f. 
The Advisory Committee shall meet at least once quarterly and from time to time as it deems necessary to meet its responsibilities. The advisory committee shall present its activities and findings to the Township Committee annually before the end of each year.
g. 
The Advisory Committee shall offer opinions on open space purchases to be considered by the Township Committee.
h. 
The Advisory Committee shall have such other duties as the Township Committee may assign to it from time to time.