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  • NJ A1501
  • Creates Highlands Conservation Trust to preserve land in Highlands Region, and authorizes Highlands conservation license plate to raise revenue therefor.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill would create the Highlands Conservation Trust in but not of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council. The purposes of the trust would be to acquire and hold, or acquire and convey to other governmental entities or to qualified nonprofit organizations, environmentally important, valuable, or sensitive lands located in the New Jersey Highlands Region. These lands would be permanently preserved and managed in their natural state or in a largely natural or undeveloped state for the purposes of (1) conserving and enhancing the exceptional natural resources of the Highlands Region, such as clean air, contiguous forest lands, wetlands, pristine watersheds, and habitat for fauna and flora, (2) preserving sites of historic significance, and (3) providing abundant passive recreational opportunities. Any lands acquired by the trust would become exempt from taxation and the payment of any in lieu of tax obligation upon the date of acquisition. The trust would be administered by a seven-member board of trustees comprising: four private citizens appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate; the Commissioner of Environmental Protection; the executive director of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council; and a mayor, or elected chief executive, of a municipality in the Highlands preservation area appointed by the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council. The trust would be empowered, among other things, to: (1) plan and implement strategies to maximize land acquisition and preservation and environmental enhancement in the Highlands Region in keeping with the purposes of the trust; (2) acquire and hold, or convey to other government entities, including but not limited to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, or to qualified nonprofit organizations, environmentally important, valuable, or sensitive lands in the Highlands Region; and to preserve or manage those lands in their natural state, or in a largely natural or undeveloped state, for the purposes of conserving and enhancing the exceptional natural resources of the Highlands Region, such as clean air, contiguous forest lands, wetlands, pristine watersheds, and habitat for fauna and flora, preserving sites of historic significance, and providing abundant passive recreational opportunities; (3) establish a special working relationship with the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council in furthering the purposes of the trust; (4) apply for and accept grants and other aid; solicit and accept gifts, donations, legacies, bequests, and endowments; and solicit and accept rents or royalties, all to be used for the purposes of the trust; (5) if deemed useful, authorize establishment by appropriate persons or organizations of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization or organizations for the purposes of assisting the trust; and (6) establish incentive programs to encourage landowners within the Highlands Region to (a) convey land to the trust or to other public or private entities seeking to preserve land in keeping with the purposes of the trust, or (b) manage their lands in keeping with the purposes of the trust. The bill would also establish the "Highlands Conservation Trust Fund." The trust fund would be the depository for all moneys: (1) received as a grant or other form of aid by the trust or by the State and designated for the trust; (2) given, donated, bequeathed, or endowed to the trust from public or private sources; (3) received as rent or as a royalty by the trust or by the State on behalf of the trust; (4) received as net revenues from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in connection with the issuance of Highlands conservation license plates as authorized by the bill; and (5) appropriated or otherwise made available to the trust by the State. The moneys in the trust fund would be specifically dedicated to be used only for the purposes of the trust. No moneys in the trust fund could be utilized for the development of any land for any purpose or for the acquisition of land that will not remain in a natural or largely natural or undeveloped state, except that up to 8% of the moneys annually received and deposited into the trust fund could be used to pay for development of sites to allow for public access and environmental education and interpretation and for the development of trails, and up to 2% of the moneys annually received and deposited into the trust fund could be used to pay for promotional and program awareness efforts. No moneys in the trust fund could be used to pay or discharge the principal of or interest on any indebtedness incurred for any purpose by the trust or any other governmental entity.
Environment and Solid Waste
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified