Farmland Preservation Attorneys
Rutter & Roy
Farmland Preservation Law Firm Located in New Jersey
New Jersey is one of the most heavily regulated states in the nation, particularly with respect to real estate and land rights. This includes the preservation and protection of farmland, which is under the jurisdiction of the state’s Farmland Preservation Program (“FPP”). Rutter & Roy has a long history of advising its clients with linear construction projects that cross property within the FPP, helping them complete their projects on time and with a minimal amount of regulatory interference.
When a project, particularly a federally regulated linear construction project, crosses land subject to the FPP, our attorneys work with the landowner, the state (through the State Agricultural Development Committee [“SADC”]), and the county (through the applicable County Agriculture Development Board) to obtain the necessary rights in the property. Typically, landowners will execute a Deed of Easement conveying their non-agricultural development rights to the state and applicable County Agriculture Development Board. By doing so, the landowner no longer has the ability to convey an easement for non-agricultural purposes, including linear construction projects like gas pipelines or electric transmission lines. There is also no legal mechanism by which the state or county can convey an easement to the utility company.
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How to Convey Easements to Utility Companies
To get around this issue, our office, over twenty years ago, developed a process by which our federally regulated pipeline clients can obtain easements across preserved farms in New Jersey. Since there is no way to obtain an easement through negotiation, condemnation is the only option. Our office works closely with the landowner, the county and the state to negotiate for compensation to be paid by the utility prior to filing the condemnation actions. Once a condemnation action is filed and the court grants an order for judgment, we can settle the matter based upon the agreed-upon compensation. This practical approach has allowed our clients to work through these difficult issues to get their projects built and has been the basis for our firm effectively acquiring rights in dozens of preserved farms over the past two decades. Our longstanding and strong personal working relationships with many counties, as well as with the staff and administration of the SADC, provides our clients with a significant advantage.
New Jersey Law Firm with PPP Case Experience
Rutter & Roy, as one of the few New Jersey firms who routinely handles FPP issues, is a known and trusted voice with a longstanding working relationship with state and county agriculture development boards. We know which issues within a negotiation are particularly important, and which are less so. We can often predict a response before it’s made, and shape our positions to manage it. The regulatory agencies with which we work know that we’ll keep them apprised of events. Our reputation for reasonableness, professionalism and clarity precedes us and benefits our clients. By anticipating challenges, we can do a great deal to manage them.
The objective, always, is to work with the SADC on projects in a manner that minimizes delays and obstacles, and smooths the path towards breaking ground. We have witnessed many, many examples of less experienced (albeit often larger) firms negotiating in a way that creates unnecessary difficulties for their clients. Our objective is the exact opposite. We work to avoid, rather than create, problems for our clients, minimize them when they do arise, and ultimately make the project happen as efficiently as possible.