TRENTON-Sterling Forest Corp., a Tuxedo, NY-based developer that at one time owned about one-sixth of the 19,500 acres making up the Sterling Forest reserve, straddling New Jersey (Passaic County) and New York (Orange and Rockland counties), has been trying to develop more of the tract over the last several years. But public and private sector opposition has made it slow going.

Now, however, SFC is cashing in on its investment in the land because the two states and some conservation groups have taken to buying up portions of it to take it out of circulation. In the latest move, the States of New Jersey and New York have collaborated with The Trust for Public Land to fork over just under $8 million for another 1,065 acres, which will be set aside as parklands. This follows a similar deal that occurred two years ago.

One of the key issues regarding the site is that the tract just purchased provides drinking water for some two million residents of North Jersey. Adjacent forests purify rainwater flowing into the Wanaque and Monksville reservoirs and Greenwood Lake.

The sale reduces Sterling Forest Corp.’s holdings to about 1,200 acres, about half of which is said to be developable. SFC still plans to build homes and a golf course, but on a much smaller scale than had been anticipated.

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