Congratulations to the Township of Kingwood and its residents. On Friday, they dedicated a commemorative sign at the former Ukarish property on Union Road. The 85 acre property was farmed by the Ukarish family for a number of years. Guy De Sapio went to school with Joe and Paul Ukarish. They played together on the Delaware Valley Regional High School football team. The property was preserved primarily with funding from Kingwood Township taxpayers but also with a contribution from the Hunterdon County Freeholders.http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2011/04/kingwood_twp_officials_holding.html
If you are planning to sell your property or its development rights to the State of New Jersey or to your local municipality, you should consult an attorney. Many people question if they need to do so. They wonder whether they can avoid the legal cost by having the buyer prepare the Contract of Sale, the Deed and other paperwork. There are good reasons that you should consult an attorney before making that decision.
Any or all of these questions or situations could apply to you:
1. What are the tax implications of the way the transaction is being set up? An attorney may be able to help you find ways that you can increase your tax deduction or reduce your tax liability. You can often structure the transaction in a way to create a charitable contribution deduction. The buyer is not going to do this for you.
2. Are you concerned about how the property will be used after the closing? Does it make a difference to you whether it is preserved as inactive open space or whether the State or local community intend to use it actively by creating a pavilion, ball field, or other types of recreational use? If you want to limit its eventual use, this needs to be done before you sign the contract to sell.
3. Will the property be farmed after closing? If so, do you want to retain the right to continue to farm it or is it okay if the State or the Township let others farm your property?
4. Do you want to sell the actual title to the property and no longer own it or do you want to negotiate just to sell the development rights? If you sell just the development rights, you will still own the land. While you cannot develop housing or commercial uses on the property your family would have the sole right to continue to enjoy the property without visits from others.
5. We recently had someone come to us after not using an attorney on a sale to the State. A problem arose after closing. The State decided to open up the property to hunters who created nuisances when they parked, they trespassed, and did not hunt in a safe manner. The seller wanted to know whether he could stop it. The issue was now complicated and uncertain since the State already owned the land. If an attorney had been consulted they could have helped negotiate a provision before the property was sold which would have prohibited hunting or placed conditions on it.
6. Perhaps you are a farmer and will continue to grow crops on adjoining lands. For some farmers it is important that property be hunted so the deer will not congregate in a “safety zone” on adjoining preserved land and pose a risk to the remaining crops next door. Provisions governing this must be negotiated before you sell.
Our office, Guy De Sapio and Aaron Culton in particular, has extensive expertise in open space land acquisition. We have represented the Hunterdon County Agriculture Development Board and the Hunterdon County Freeholders since the beginning of the Farmland Preservation program. We have closed each farmland preservation acquisition involving Hunterdon County. Hunterdon County has closed on 334 farms, more than any County in the State of New Jersey. This office has handled each of those closings. In total, we have closed on the preservation of 27,625 acres in Hunterdon, a close second in ranking of acres preserved in the State. We have also represented private clients who have sold property to the State, Our office is familiar with the land sale preservation process.
If you are thinking about preserving your land, you are welcome to call us for a complimentary consultation to see if we might help.
Gaetano M. De Sapio, Esq.