Lana Lobell Farms, owned by former Bedminster Township Committeeman Kurt Joerger and his wife, Janice, will be going up for sale at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Freeholders Meeting Room in the County Administration Building, 20 Grove St., Somerville, NJ.

Bank of America, which bought Merrill Lynch during the financial crisis of 2008, has foreclosed on the 123-acre property on Rattlesnake Bridge Road between the Branchburg border and Route 78.

 

During its heyday in the 1970s and ‘80s, Lana Lobell Farms was one of the nation’s top producers of Standardbred racehorses. Its annual yearling sale attracted high-profile buyers from around the world, and horses bred there included four winners of the Hambletonian, harness racing’s equivalent of the Kentucky Derby. 

But the prestigious horse farm came to an end in 1997, when the former owner filed for bankruptcy.

According to Somerset County Superior Court records, Joerger had an unpaid balance on the mortgage of $3,900,127 as of Dec. 1, 2018. Joerger also owed $192,627 in interest for a total, along with other costs, of $4,129,857.

Joerger had taken out a $5.42 million mortgage with Merrill Lynch to buy the property in July 2003 at an interest rate of 3.875%. The initial monthly payment, court papers say, was $17,736 per month.

Joerger never filed a response to any of the legal papers submitted to the court.

In February 2016, Somerset County spearheaded a partnership to purchase the two parcels making up the farm for $5.87 million.

Joining the county in the partnership were the New Jersey Conservation Foundation on behalf of Bedminster Township, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the New Jersey Agriculture Development Committee.

Somerset County's share of the purchase is about $1 million in open space funds.

The property, known for its iconic white fence on Rattlesnake Bridge Road, had been approved for nine estate homes in 2007, but was never developed. At one time a golf community was also proposed for the property.

Joerger resigned in 2007 from the Bedminster Township Committee when faced with a recall election.

Because of the agricultural easement on the property, the opportunities for any development are limited.

Reprinted with permission by the Bridgewater Courier News