New Jersey voters approved borrowing $400 million for land preservation programs today, narrowly passing the open-space question on the ballot.
Gannett reported that as of 11:35 p.m., with 98 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, the question was ahead 52 percent for to 48 percent against. More than 1.5 million votes were cast, according to the Associated Press.
The AP says the question passed in 15 of the state’s 21 counties, meeting with the most resistance in Sussex, Warren and Morris — all of which gave strong support to winning gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie.
The question’s approval was cheered by members of the New Jersey Keep it Green Campaign, a large coalition of organizations that had worked to get out information on the ballot question and urged the public to support it.
“Today we heard from the voters with a strong and unwavering voice that New Jersey continues to believe in these programs and recognizes the value of open space, clean water, farms and parks, not only to our pocketbooks, but to preserving what we love about New Jersey and protecting our quality of life,” said Kelly Mooij of the New Jersey Audubon Society, the campaign’s coordinator.
Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon, the ballot measure’s lead sponsor, has said that for every dollar New Jersey spends on open space, it gets 10 back.
“Today’s vote ensures that we can preserve available sources of clean drinking water by preserving thousands of acres in the Highlands region and saving hundreds of millions of dollars in filtration costs,” he said. “It is a vote to limit urban sprawl in the nation’s most densely populated state and a vote for jobs in tourism and farming.”
Of the $400 million approved by voters, $218 million will be set aside for Green Acres open space purchases, $146 million for farmland preservation, $24 million for purchases of flood-prone land and $12 million for historic preservation.
This story was updated Wednesday, Nov. 4.
More: Open space ballot question generates mixed reactions (Trenton Times)
A ‘yes’ for open space and New Jersey’s future (Green Jersey)
Why I’m voting ‘no’ on the open space bond question (Green Jersey)