Mayor Musich Expects To Take Legal Action To Stop The Pig Farming
It took about three weeks longer than the property owner expected, but there is a pig farm at the corner of Millhurst Road and Route 33 in the Township of Manalapan.
Joe Spano, the owner of the property announced last month that he was planning a pig farm for the property given the repeated failure of the Township Committee to approve any of the development proposals for the property. The farm has been a low impact soy bean field for years. Spano said he is under pressure from his bank to generate more revenue from the property.
Township Attorney Roger McLaughlin said at the Township Committee meeting on September 7 that the Committee viewed the prospect of a pig farm as an empty threat. He said that farming is not permitted in the VC (Village Commerical) zone that comprises the entire 130 acre farm and that the Township would not allow it. McLaughlin said that the Committee was expecting another unspecified proposal for the property.
Spano has maintained that the property, which was a farm prior to the rezoning of the property in the early 2000’s and has been a farm since, is grandfathered. So long as the pig farm meets all of the requirements of the County Agriculture Board, the Board of Health and the Department of Agriculture, the Township does not have the authority to stop him from farming the property with crops or livestock.
Spano told The NewsTranscript that he was negotiating with a large commerical farmer and that he doubted the farm would ever have more than 5,000 pigs at one time.
McLaughlin declined to comment when reached by MMM, noting that he has yet to talk to the Township Committee members. There is a Township Committee meeting tonight, October 5.
Mayor Mary Ann Musich, in a text message to MoreMonmouthMusings, said, “Pig farming is not a permitted use on the property. Mr. Spano has never applied to the Monmouth County Agriculture Board so he has no right to farm protection. We (the Township Commitee) will have a discussion with the Township Attorney (McLaughlin) tonight but I am sure will agree to take all possible legal action.
Musich said that McLaughlin has advised the Committee that they have the legal authority to stop the property from being used as a pig farm.
Spano told The NewsTranscript last month that the pig farm is not a vindictive threat, but rather a matter of the economics of using the property in more profitable manner even its current classification as a farm until the litigation regarding Township’s affordable housing obligation is resolved.
“Further allow me to say that I believe I have been unfairly accused of doing this as some type of vindictive response to the attacks by those who have fought allowing me to build an economically viable commercial development on the property, which absolutely cannot be accomplished without a residential component. Let me emphatically state that such talk of vindictiveness is untrue.
“What is true is that $20 million has been invested into this lot over the last 13 years. The carrying cost of the mortgage cannot be even close to covered by crop farming. I had to find a way to cover those costs and the bank wants me to demonstrate an income stream sufficient to cover the carry as well.
“Livestock can do that for the time being as I work through the legal system and the current affordable housing rules as an intervenor in the township’s (affordable housing) plan. This will take time, but I hope to prevail in that case and build hundreds of affordable homes and the accompanying multiple of market rate homes on the property and elsewhere in town. The demand is strong. In the meantime, we will serve the market in the agricultural space, as is our right in this beautiful, God-blessed country,” Spano said.
Spano has plans for a large affordable housing development on the property should he prevail in Court.