Market Garden Ordinance Up for Final Adoption
Controversial ordinance could be settled Thursday.
More than a year after the issue first came before the Chatham Township Committee, the market garden ordinance comes up for final adoption Thursday.
The ordinance passed by a vote of 3-1 at the March 8 committee meeting, with Committee Memeber Robert Gallop casting the sole dissenting vote. Committee Member Kevin Tubbs, who previously indicated he would not support the ordinance, was absent from the meeting.
After the vote, the ordinance was sent back to the Chatham Township Planning Board on the advice of Attorney Carl Woodward. The board's role is to determine if the ordinance is consistent with the township's Master Plan.
Woodward said the committee made numerous changes to the ordinance after the Planning Board approved it in January, and "it should go back" once more before final adoption.
The board voted the ordinance was "not inconsistent" for a second time at the March 19 meeting. The vote was 7-2 with one abstention.
If the ordinance passes, qualifying township residents with applicable lots will be able to grow produce and sell it off-site for profit as a conditional use, once approval is granted by the Planning Board.
The ordinance prohibits, among other things, plants cultivated for replanting and business transactions taking place onsite. All gardens must be organic and meet certain county, state and federal organic requirements.
Township Clerk Greg LaConte released a complete list of the 277 properties in town which qualify for the market garden ordinance.
Most owners on the list are government entities such as Chatham Township, the County of Morris, the Morris County Park Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Others are utility companies, businesses, nonprofits or religious establishments, such as PSE&G, Transcontinental Gas Pipeline, the Great Swamp Watershed Association, the Fairmount Country Club, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township, Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church and the Noe Pond Club, which is owned by the Noe-Pierson Corp. and operated by Committee Member Bailey Brower, Jr.
The Board of Education/School District of the Chathams and Chatham Day School also own properties on the list.
According to LaConte, a total of 61 qualifying lots are owned by township residents who could use their properties under the market garden ordinance.
The ordinance applies to properties zoned as residential.
Mayor Nicole Hagner's property is on the list. Properties belonging to Daniel Miller and Thomas and Debra Bucuk, the neighbors who first asked the township to consider farming as a conditional use, are on the list.
The township sent a letter to every qualifying property owner in advance of Thursday's meeting.
The Chatham Township Committee meets Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chatham Township Municipal Building. A copy of the agenda, a complete list of qualifying properties, the latest draft of the market garden ordinance and a copy of the letter sent to property owners may be found attached to this article.