Farm Protection Helps Readington Township (NJ) Retain Rural Character

Readington Township: A remnant of Hunterdon County’s rural character was protected this week by Readington Township and the Trust for Public Land. The 40-acre Hobby Horse Hill Farm, located on Hillcrest Road just south of the village of Readington, will remain as an eternal reminder of the Hunterdon County of yesterday. The farm, owned by the Knocke family, has been a focus of the dressage horse show circuit since 1966. The farm houses an Olympic-size indoor riding hall and is famous for its shows and training.

Fifteen acres of the land, which abuts the Holland Brook stream corridor and Hillcrest Park have been acquired by Readington Township as an addition to the park. An additional 25 acres have been protected by a conservation easement that strictly limits future development. This land will be retained by the Knocke family for continued use as a horse farm. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, contributed a $200,000 non-profit Green Acres grant toward the purchase. The balance of the funding came from Readington Township’s open space trust fund created by an open space tax passed by voters in 1994.

“This is an excellent example of how the Trust for Public Land can partner with municipalities to meet their open space goals,” said Terrence Nolan, project manager for the TPL. “By contributing the grant we received from Green Acres, we were able to support this project and help the town achieve its goal of protecting the property.”

“This project shows how the preservation of private land through easement and ownership work well together,” said Julia Allen of the Readington Township Committee. “We are really grateful for the early help that the Trust for Public Land gave us in planning and acquisition.”

TPL’s involvement dates back to 1993, when the organization worked with the township to identify properties for protection. As a result of that planning, Readington was one of the first towns in Hunterdon County to pass an open space tax. TPL then submitted an application to the State of New Jersey’s Green Acres program and was awarded a $500,000 grant for land acquisition. In 1998, the organization helped preserve the 54-acre Lane Farm from a private development company that had planned to build a residential subdivision on the property. The land is along the Pleasant Run, one of three stream corridors designated by the township as critical for protection. Acquisition of the Knocke land and development rights made use of the final funds from the Green Acres grant.

“The emphasis of the greenways plan was to protect land along our stream corridors,” said Allen. “As we update the plan, we work to dovetail with farmland preservation where appropriate.”

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to improve the quality of life in our communities and to protect our natural and historic resources for future generations. With its state office in Morristown, TPL has protected more than 13,000 acres of land in New Jersey. In 1999, TPL launched its Greenprint for Growth campaign to conserve land as a way to control sprawl, protect air and water, and ensure a high quality of life in communities nationwide. New Jersey was recently recognized by TPL as a leader in such efforts.

For more information call (973) 425-0360 or visit TPL’s web site, at