Wantage Township officials may do something with the property the township owns on Berry Road, but until then, the town is hoping local farmers will continue to use the land so the township doesn’t have to maintain it.
Committee member Jonathan Morris said the farmer who has been maintaining the land wanted to seed the piece between a house and Sherman Ridge Road below the walking trail near Woodbourne Park with corn for the next several years.
“The problem is unless we’re willing to give [farmers] a five-year commitment, they basically can’t afford to put hay in there,” Morris said. “So, they will probably have to let that property go as much as he said they don’t want to. So that was his proposal. He’s not totally against planting hay there, but he asked the committee for some time.”
“I’m surprised he’s coming in this late in the game saying he has to do corn again,” Committee member William Gaechter said.
Gaechter proposed giving any farm an initial three-year commitment if they plant hay.
Mayor Ronald Bassani said the only thing the township might do on that property in no less than one year was put a parking lot on the corner of Berry Road and Sherman Ridge Road.
“It would obviously be no big issue for us, but the thought process was to get that in there to allow us, as we do work on the jogging path on that very roadside,” Bassani said. “It would be nice if there was a parking lot over there as well.”
Morris said he didn’t foresee any farmer taking over that property in the current economy, especially since hay yields don’t appear until at least the second, third or fourth years.
Bassani said he also didn’t want to take it over and place the onus of mowing the land on Wantage Township.
“If we just let it go, we know invasive species will hit it pretty quickly in a year or two,” Bassani said.