SENATE, No. 3078

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ROBERT M. GORDON

District 38 (Bergen)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Allows municipalities to use open space trust funds for purchase of flood-prone properties.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the use of municipal open space trust funds for the purchase of flood-prone properties, and amending P.L.1997, c.24.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    As used in [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1 et seq.) :

     "Acquisition" or "acquire" means 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 [;] .

     "Blue Acres project" means any project to acquire, for recreation and conservation purposes, lands that have been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage, and includes the demolition of structures on, the removal of debris from, and the restoration of those lands to a natural state or to a state useful for recreation and conservation purposes.

     "Charitable conservancy" means a corporation or trust exempt from federal income taxation under paragraph (3) of subsection (c) of section 501 of the federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. s.501(c)(3)), whose purposes include (1) acquisition and preservation of lands in a natural, scenic, or open condition, or (2) historic preservation of historic properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects, or the acquisition of such properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects for historic preservation purposes [;] .

     "County trust fund" means a "County Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund" created pursuant to subsection c. of section 2 of [this act;] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.2).

     "Development" means any improvement to land acquired for recreation and conservation purposes designed to expand and enhance its utilization for those purposes [;] .

     "Farmland" means land actively devoted to agricultural or horticultural use that is valued, assessed, and taxed pursuant to the "Farmland Assessment Act of 1964," P.L.1964, c.48 (C.54:4-23.1 et seq.) [;] .

     "Farmland preservation purposes" means the long-term preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use [;] .

     "Historic preservation" means the performance of any work
relating to the stabilization, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, restoration, improvement, protection, or preservation of an historic property, structure, facility, site, area, or object [;] .

     "Historic property, structure, facility, site, area, or object" means any property, structure, facility, site, area, or object approved for inclusion, or which meets the criteria for inclusion, in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places pursuant to P.L.1970, c.268 (C.13:1B-15.128 et seq.) [;] .

     "Land" or "lands" means real property, including improvements thereof or thereon, rights-of-way, water, lakes, riparian and other rights, easements, privileges and all other rights or interests of any kind or description in, relating to or connected with real property [;] .

     "Municipal trust fund" means a "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund" created pursuant to subsection c. of section 7 of [this act;] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.7).

     "Public indoor recreation" means public recreation in enclosed structures or facilities, and includes but is not limited to swimming pools, basketball courts, and ice skating rinks open for public use [; and] .

     "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, or the use of lands for public indoor recreation.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.24, s.1)

 

     2.    Section 7 of P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.7) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    a. (1) The governing body of any municipality may submit to the voters of the municipality in a general or special election a proposition authorizing imposition of an annual levy for an amount or at a rate deemed appropriate for any or all of the following purposes, or any combination thereof, as determined by the governing body:

     (a)   acquisition of lands for recreation and conservation purposes;

     (b)   development of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes;

     (c)   maintenance of lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes;

     (d)   acquisition of farmland for farmland preservation purposes;

     (e)   historic preservation of historic properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects, and the acquisition of such properties, structures, facilities, sites, areas, or objects for historic preservation purposes; [or]

     (f)    payment of debt service on indebtedness issued or incurred by a municipality for any of the purposes set forth in subparagraph (a), (b), (d) [or] , (e) or (g) of this paragraph ; or

     (g)   Blue Acres projects .

     (2)   The amount or rate of the annual levy may be subdivided in the proposition to reflect the relative portions thereof to be allocated to any of the respective purposes specified in paragraph (1) of this subsection or may be depicted as a total amount or rate, to be subdivided in a manner determined previously, or to be determined at a later date, by the governing body of the municipality after conducting at least one public hearing thereon.

     b.    Upon approval of the proposition by a majority of the votes cast by the voters of the municipality, the governing body of the municipality may annually raise by taxation a sum not to exceed the amount or rate set forth in the proposition approved by the voters for the purposes specified therein.  If the amount or rate set forth in the proposition was not subdivided among the various purposes, the governing body of the municipality may determine the appropriate amount or rate to be allocated to each purpose after conducting at least one public hearing thereon.

     c.     Amounts raised by the levy imposed pursuant to this section shall be deposited into a "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund" to be created by the municipality, and shall be used exclusively for the purposes authorized by the voters of the municipality.  Any interest or other income earned on monies deposited into the municipal trust fund shall be credited to the fund to be used for the same purposes as the principal.  Separate accounts may be created within the municipal trust fund for the deposit of revenue to be expended for each of the purposes specified in the proposition approved by the voters of the municipality.  A municipality may deposit other funds into the Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, as it may, from time to time, deem appropriate.

     d.    The governing body of a municipality may submit to the voters of the municipality in a general or special election a proposition amending or supplementing a proposition previously submitted, approved, and implemented as provided pursuant to this section either (1) changing the amount or rate of the annual levy, or (2) adding or removing purposes authorized pursuant to this section for which the levy may be expended.  Upon approval of the amendatory or supplementary proposition by a majority of the votes cast by the voters of the municipality, the governing body of the municipality shall implement it in the same manner as set forth in this act for implementation of the original proposition.

     e.     Upon petition to the governing body of a municipality signed by the voters of the municipality equal in number to at least 15% of the votes cast therein at the last preceding general election, filed with the governing body at least 90 days before a general or special election, the governing body of the municipality shall submit to the voters of the municipality in the general or special election the proposition otherwise authorized pursuant to subsection a. or subsection d. of this section, as the case may be.

(cf:  P.L.2005, c.108, s.2)

 

     3.    Section 8 of P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.8) is amended to read as follows:

     8.    Any municipality whose voters, prior to the effective date of [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1 et seq.) , approved pursuant to R.S.40:12-10 et seq. a proposition authorizing the establishment, maintenance, and improvement of a system of public recreation shall be deemed to have approved a proposition for any or all of the purposes specified in paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 7 of [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.7) at the amount or rate specified in the original proposition, which purposes shall be determined by adoption of an ordinance by the governing body of the municipality after conducting at least one public hearing thereon.  Any fund created for the purposes of R.S.40:12-10 et seq. shall be dissolved and any monies remaining therein shall be deposited into the "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund" created pursuant to subsection c. of section 7 of [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.7) to be utilized for the purposes determined by the governing body of the municipality as authorized pursuant to this section.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.24, s.8)

 

     4.    Section 9 of P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.9) is amended to read as follows:

     9.    Lands acquired by a municipality using revenue raised pursuant to [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.1 et seq.) shall be held in trust and shall be used exclusively for the purposes authorized under [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 .

     After conducting at least one public hearing thereon and upon a finding that the purposes of [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 might otherwise be better served or that any land acquired by a municipality pursuant thereto is required for another public use, which finding shall be set forth in an ordinance adopted by the governing body of the municipality, the governing body may convey, through sale, exchange, transfer, or other disposition, title to, or a lesser interest in, that land, provided that the governing body shall replace any land conveyed under this section by land of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness, size, quality, and location to the land conveyed, and any monies derived from the conveyance shall be deposited into the "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund" created pursuant to subsection c. of section 7 of [this act] P.L.1997, c.24 (C.40:12-15.7) for use for the purposes authorized by this act for monies in the municipal trust fund.  Any such conveyance shall be made in accordance with the "Local Lands and Buildings Law," P.L.1971, c.199 (C.40A:12-1 et seq.).  In the event of conveyance by exchange, the land or improvements thereon to be transferred to the trust shall be at least equal in fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness, size, quality, and location to the land or improvements transferred from the trust.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.24, s.9)

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would allow municipalities to establish municipal open space trust funds specifically for the purchase of flood-prone properties, otherwise known as "Blue Acres projects."

     Under current law, municipalities are authorized to establish "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds."  This bill would expand this authorization to specifically include "Blue Acres projects" and would amend the name of these municipal open space trust funds to be "Municipal Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Funds."

     The bill defines "Blue Acres project" to mean any project to acquire, for recreation and conservation purposes, lands that have been damaged by, or may be prone to incurring damage caused by, storms or storm-related flooding, or that may buffer or protect other lands from such damage, and includes the demolition of structures on, the removal of debris from, and the restoration of those lands to a natural state or to a state useful for recreation and conservation purposes.