Ocean County Buys Open Space In Berkeley

This map shows, in yellow, the land that the county will be buying. Route 9 passes through the center of the map. (Map courtesy Ocean County)

OCEAN COUNTY – The county will be adding more open space to its acquisitions, pending the usual approvals.

The Ocean County Freeholders accepted the recommendation from the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee to acquire two parcels of land in Berkeley Township, totaling a little more than 24 acres total.

The county is set to pay up to $1.025 million plus up to $2,200 for property tax adjustments.

Mark Villinger, the supervising planner with the county’s planning department, said even though the parcels are not adjacent, it’s one purchase because both lots belong to the same owner.

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The larger lot, 21.13 acres, is situated by Hickory Lane/Segal Avenue in Bayville, where a lot of development has been taking place. The parcel the county wants to acquire is approved for two homes and some industrial uses. It’s near an 812-acre tract that was purchased from the NJ Pulverizing Co. in December 2016, that is now the Florence T. Allen Conservation Area and where the Barnegat Bay Trail is near.

The second parcel totaling 3.10 acres is off Route 9 and fronts along Cedar Creek. There are two billboards on the property, which of course will come down once the county owns the land, Villinger said. That property is close to the township’s Dudley Park, but not anything owned by the county.

This map shows, in light green, the land the county will buy. Sonata Bay is to the northeast. (Map courtesy Ocean County)

County voters back in 1997 approved a 1.2-cent tax that goes into an Ocean County Natural Lands Trust. The program generates about $8 million a year. A nine-member advisory committee, established in 1998, nominates properties for the Freeholders to consider.

Freeholder Director Gerry Little has said that in a county that’s 408,000 acres, about 60 percent of it is permanently protected against development through Pinelands, state parks and 21,000 acres preserved through the natural lands and farmlands programs.