Keeping Bedminster Clean

In 1965, I fell in love with 34 acres in Bedminster Township. In addition to my dream home it housed a barn suitable for beef cows, hay fields, a pasture, and a large pond that is the headwater of a creek. I convinced my husband, Jack, that it was perfect for us. We moved in with our two children and two beagles, and before long, added some Hereford cows. Over the years we added and subtracted children and animals. We also allowed a wet section to revert to woods. When we no longer farmed, we allowed neighboring farmers to use the fields. Over the years, friends and neighbors hunted and fished; and our family enjoyed walks with the dogs, bird watching, and identifying wildflowers.

It didn’t take long after we moved to Bedminster for me to fall in love with the entire township. I served on the planning commission then ran for Township Supervisor with the slogan “Keep Bedminster Green.” I was elected and served for two six-year terms. In addition to zoning, various programs were implemented by the state, county and township to buy development rights. A dedicated group of volunteers started the Bedminster Land Conservancy (BLC)to educate the public and help in any way possible to preserve the township’s open space. I accepted a Board position and was appointed BLC’s representative to the Township’s Open Space Committee.

Soon Jack and I decided we should “put our money where our mouth was” and donate our development rights. He died before we took any action. Among the many changes to my life was a change in my tax situation. My property was one of the number two priorities on the township’s open space plan so I applied to that program and negotiated to donate the easement to the Township and BLC (as co-holders), with the Township paying all costs including an endowment.

The process was very simple and I am confident that the Land Conservancy and municipality, working together, can make the process equally pleasant for anyone who is interested in preserving their property.

Most of my neighbors are delighted that my land has been preserved. Some even sent thank you notes. My children and grandchildren are pleased that the place that has held so many happy memories will be undisturbed; and people who hunt and fish on the land are thrilled as well. In addition to the comfort I feel knowing this ground will stay the same, I also feel it is a memorial to my husband, Jack, who made it all possible.

 

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by Barbara Thomas

 

Bedminster Land Conservancy

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