Drive around an exclusive town like Mendham, in Morris County, and you’ll see homes that are palaces, with big swimming pools, tennis courts, and manicured lawns that seem to stretch on forever. These folks are doing all right.
Many of them are also getting away with murder when it comes to property taxes by pretending they are farmers. If you own at least five acres, all you have to do is sell a few Christmas trees, or jars of honey, and you can get a 98 percent break on that land thanks to the Farmland Assessment Act of 1964.
“The policy was set, but the circumstances around it have evolved,” says Marc Pfeiffer, who teaches local government at Rutgers University. “I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but what’s the public purpose now?”
Marc Pfeiffer, the assistant director at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center