D & R eyes parcel

Seeks funding for purchase.

By: Josh Appelbaum
   The township and Middlesex County will work with Delaware & Raritan Greenway to acquire the Kiesler property, west of the E. Barclay property on John White Road.
   D&R is seeking $200,000 from the township and $200,000 from the county to preserve the 28.6-acre Kiesler property for continued agricultural use, specifically hay farming. The property is located within the Millstone River stream corridor, which runs through Cranbury and Plainsboro.
   The deal includes an easement provided to the township allowing pedestrian access to areas on the Kiesler property lying beyond the Cranbury border in Plainsboro.
   If the county declines to participate in the sale, Cranbury will contribute all $400,000, according to Township Attorney Trishka Waterbury.
   Last week the Township Committee approved the borrowing of $500,000 for open space land acquisitions, some of which will be used for the Kiesler acquisition, again raising the township’s debt limit.
   The Township Committee passed the ordinance Monday with a 4-1 majority, with outgoing Committeeman Michael Mayes voting against the appropriation.
   Committeewoman Pari Stave said the Kiesler property is valuable to the township and that it is in Cranbury’s best interest to participate in the D&R deal to preserve five buildable lots. The Kiesler family was unwilling to enter into the county Farmland Preservation Program, but according to William Rawlyk, senior land preservation specialist at D&R, the family chose to sell to the nonprofit.
   "Contributing $200,000 is well worth it to stop development," Ms. Stave said.
   Committeewoman Becky Beauregard echoed Ms. Stave, and said the project was a very good one, and commended D&R for bringing many land acquisition projects to the township.
   Mr. Mayes said the money would be better spent for purchasing open space lands.
   "This is a small outlying property that borders Plainsboro Road. We will have no ownership of the land and it is a lot of money to spend on low-priority property," Mr. Mayes said.
   D&R is central New Jersey’s regional land conservancy. It protects and preserves central New Jersey’s open space and the land along the Delaware & Raritan Canal and the streams flowing through the surrounding 1,000-square-mile region. It also protects woodlands, wetlands, stream corridors, scenic vistas and open fields.
   D&R first approach the township about the Kiesler property, which borders the Millstone River near Plainsboro, in February after the Kiesler family decided to sell the farm and move out of town, choosing to sell the farm, rather than preserve it as farmland.
   D&R is also seeking Farmland Nonprofit funds to purchase and preserve the farm. The Nonprofit Farmland Preservation Program allows nonprofit organizations such as D&R to apply for grants for up to 50 percent of the purchase price of a farm.
   There is a separate fund allocated to this program by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority and the state Agricultural Development Committee.
   The state will provide the organization with 50 percent of the appraised land value. The county and municipality will have to match funds in the amount of $400,000.
   The Greenway has already preserved the Frostega farm adjacent to the Underwood farm on Dey Road. The preservation cost the township $70,000.