Montgomery Preserves Farmland with Sourland View

Montgomery Preserves Farmland with Sourland View

Posted on March 1, 2021

Montgomery Township has purchased a significant parcel of open space, which, along with adjacent open lands, will preserve the “western gateway” view of rural Montgomery.  The Township purchased these 45 acres of buildable, active farmland at the northeast corner of Route 518 and Spring Hill Road in December from the estate of Marie Abrahamsen.

“Thank you to the Open Space Committee for their tireless efforts and vision in preserving this significant parcel of open space. We greatly appreciate the Abrahamsen family’s cooperation in this preservation and we’re thankful for the County’s partnership in this acquisition. This preservation is an important step in maintaining the scenic rural corridor viewshed at the western entrance to our town, an area that provides a beautiful view of the Sourland Mountain ridge to the north and to the Princeton ridge to the south,” said Township Committee Member Kent Huang, liaison to Montgomery’s Open Space Committee.

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This purchase continues the township’s long term Master Plan goal of preserving as much land as possible with open views and reflecting its agricultural heritage in western Montgomery and along scenic roadways.  Montgomery’s earlier nearby land preservation efforts included 35 acres directly opposite this parcel on the south side of Route 518 in 2017.  The new acquisition also serves as a link from Route 518 north to Thorn Ridge Farm – 130 acres of farmland preserved in 1998.  These combined tracts are a significant contribution to the future viability of agriculture in Montgomery.

This preservation dovetails with similar efforts in neighboring Hopewell Township.  Hopewell and D&R Greenway have preserved several lots along 518 on their side of the border.  The 51-acre Zizak Preserve on Route 518 in Hopewell Township, for example, was preserved by D&R Greenway Land Trust in January 2016, and is actively farmed.  Frontage opposite the Zizak Preserve on the south side of Rt. 518 was preserved with Green Acres funding when a subdivision was planned.  This was done to reduce visibility of the subdivision in order to maintain the rural, open view from Rt. 518 as you enter/exit Hopewell Borough, as per a design by the late Ted Stiles, a well-known land conservationist and Rutgers University Professor.

Montgomery’s latest preservation leaves open a beautiful view northwest from Rt. 518 to the southern ridge of the Sourland Mountains.  Somerset County partnered to cost-share 25% of the property’s $2 million purchase price with funds from the County Open Space Tax.

“The Board of County Commissioners is committed to partnering with our municipalities to preserve the natural and cultural character of Somerset County for future generations,” said County Commissioner Melonie Marano, Open Space Advisory Commission liaison. ”We were pleased to help Montgomery Township preserve this scenic vista, which will be a picturesque entrance to our beautiful county and its rich bounty of preserved open space, farmland and historic treasures, all of which help to improve the quality of life for our residents.”

This newest acquisition along Rt. 518 has been on Montgomery’s Open Space Master Plan for a long time due to its prominent viewshed and agricultural viability. The Township anticipates its use as open space, farmland, and as a potential location for a recreational pathway link.  As an added dividend to the transaction, one of Mrs. Abrahamsen’s daughters also donated a 0.85 acre lot on Willow Road to Montgomery Township for municipal purposes as part of the same negotiation.

 

Source: Montgomery Township