BERKELEY – The governing body is looking to have a piece of land preserved as open space.
The property is south of Yesterday’s on Route 9 in Bayville. On a tax map, this would be referred to as Block 1014, Lots 21 & 22.
Currently, the land has no buildings on it. It is just wooded area. Back in October, the Berkeley Township Council voted to support its preservation as open space.
A representative from the county said that there is an application before the county for this purchase.
The Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund brings in more than $10 million in funding every year based on a 1.2 cent tax on every property in the county – both residential and commercial.
Berkeley has its own open space fund as well. Many towns find that they don’t have the buying power to make large purchases, so they ask the county to do it instead. Often, towns will wind up borrowing money to buy land and then use their municipal open space tax to pay off the principal and interest over a number of years.
The county, on the other hand, has the buying power to make the purchase all at once. The county requires the town’s governing body to pass a resolution stating that they approve of the sale. This is done because it will take the land off the town’s tax rolls, so the county wants to make sure that the governing body is on board. Officials generally say that preventing land from becoming a housing development saves money down the line, as taxes get raised for services and schooling.
The township isn’t actually involved in the purchase. That is done between the county and the owner of the land.
Funds For Drug Prevention
In other news, Berkeley received one payment of the National Opioid settlement in the amount of $26,313.37. Mayor Carmen Amato said this money will be provided to DARE and the Municipal Alliance.
The settlement came from a lawsuit against several of the largest opioid manufacturers. These companies knowingly lied to doctors which made them prescribe painkillers more frequently, and for ailments that the drugs were not designed for. This, in turn, has been one cause of the opioid epidemic that’s gripping the country as people run out of the prescriptions and turn to heroin and fentanyl.
Many towns joined in a lawsuit against these drug companies, and the payout could only be used for drug prevention measures.