The Manalapan Township Committee will pay Monmouth County their portion of the farmland preservation project for sitting Committeeman Andrew Lucas’ Burke Farm as the purchase order to the county was approved in a narrow vote Wednesday night.
The payment of $186,969.10, which was removed from the Township’s previous bill list and placed on the most recent one, is a sum which the Township is legally obligated to pay to Monmouth County because both the county and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) approved Lucas’ application to sell the developmental rights of Burke Farm.
The sum represents 16 percent of the farm’s acquisition and the Township made the commitment to pay this percentage when they agreed to participate in Burke Farm acquisition, according to Manalapan Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin.
McLaughlin also said that the money the Township is legally obligated to pay Monmouth County was encumbered two years ago and has remained encumbered for the past two years.
Despite the Township's obligation, Township Committeeman Ryan Green voted "no" to the purchase order and Deputy Mayor Jordan Maskowitz abstained from voting on it. Both voted "yes" on the rest of the Township's bill list.
Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen and Township Committeeman Donald Holland voted "yes". Township Committeeman Andrew Lucas was absent at the Committee meeting on Wednesay because he was representing Manalapan at the Freehold Regional High School District's State of Schools.
“When I was on the Township Committee prior to this and when I campaigned to be on the Township Committee, I was very, very firm on no more construction in town,” Cohen said. “To save a farm of 94-acres that could be nine houses or eight houses, I’m not really interested in who owns it, I’m interested in stopping construction.”
The bill list passed in its entirety, including the purchase order to Monmouth County which was adopted in a 2-1 vote with an abstention, McLaughlin explained.