TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a legal victory for the state's efforts to preserve farmland Tuesday with a court ruling that a commercial plant grower must restore damaged farmland.
Superior Court Judge Peter Buchsbaum ruled June 25 that David Den Hollander, the owner of the Franklin Township-based Quaker Valley Farms, must restore the subsoil and topsoil in two areas to make the land suitable for growth of crops like hay, soybeans and corn. The land must also be re-graded at varying degrees of slope to allow for drainage and prevent erosion.
"This is a significant ruling, not only because it affirms the duty of land owners to comply with the state's farmland preservation laws, but because it makes plain that violators can, and will, be held accountable for their actions," Hoffman said.
In August, Buchsbaum found that Hollander was liable for destroying at least 14 areas of prime farmland he owned that was preserved under the New Jersey Agriculture Retention and Development Act. Buchsbaum determined the remedy for the matter after a four-day trial that took place in May.
Quaker Valley has 30 days to prepare a remediation plan for the damaged farmland and the State Agriculture Development Committee will have 30 days after that to comment on the plan. Buchsbaum said it could take several years of farming to determine if all criteria for the damaged farmland were met. He ruled that annual reports on the status of the restoration must be filed starting on July 1.
Buchsbaum rejected Hollander's request for an indefinite delay to get the restoration project started.