HARVEY CEDARS – Development is always one of the biggest issues in Ocean County, so when land is preserved for open space it is often celebrated.
Ordinarily, the land that is purchased is adjacent to already preserved land, like a wildlife area or watershed. Very rarely does it happen in shore areas, such as a property in Harvey Cedars.
Recently, a purchase was made of a 3.4-acre property located off Long Beach Boulevard. County officials said the purchase price was $81,125.
The National Lands Trust Fund Advisory Committee recommended the purchase to the Ocean County Commissioners. The National Lands Trust Fund is an account generated by an annual open space tax that every property owner in Ocean County pays. The Committee is a group of volunteers who make recommendations to the Commissioners, who run the county.
In every purchase, they also get the approval from the town where the land exists. This is so that they know that the town approves of taking this portion of land off the tax rolls. In this case, the county put in $50,000 of the purchase. The borough of Harvey Cedars provided funds and a matching grant from Green Acres. Ownership and management will stay with Harvey Cedars and a conservation easement will be dedicated to the County.
The property is a salt water marsh located at the municipal boundary and is adjacent to a Long Beach Township-owned marsh property, the county reported. The acquisition is the first Natural Lands Trust Open Space in Harvey Cedars.
Environmentalists praised the purchase and another one – 1.3 acres off Bayview Avenue in Berkeley. This land will add to the existing Good Luck Point wilderness area. It’s known locally as Becker’s Boat Basin.
“Ocean County is moving forward with preserving open space. They will be protecting 3 acres of salt marsh off of Barnegat Bay near Long Beach Island and adding 1 acre to the Good Luck Point wilderness area. The area by Barnegat Bay can flood, so protecting this salt marsh from development will protect nearby properties,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is especially important because Ocean County’s original open space plan was flawed, but they changed it. Now they are using open space funding to buy threatened and environmentally-sensitive lands to protect them from development.
“Ocean County has been leading the effort to protect land around Barnegat Bay, which helps protect water quality in the Bay. They are continuing that program by buying environmentally-sensitive open space in Berkeley and Harvey Cedars. Now that they’re using this money for the right purpose, they’ll be able to get more funding from Green Acres and nonprofits. This will further stretch the $13 million of open space funding,” said Tittel. “Preserving open space is more important than ever with climate impacts like flooding and sea-level rise. Open space funds are critical for stopping inappropriate development and protecting towns from sprawl. Protecting open space means less traffic, less water pollution and flooding.”
Last year, voters in Ocean County voted to increase their existing open space tax rate by 1 cent on every $100 of assessed property value. According to the Garden State Preservation Trust, Ocean County acquired 17,514 acres of open space from FY2000 to FY2019.
“It is important that Ocean County is moving forward with protecting open space now that the funding has been released. This will help prevent overdevelopment in areas that are constantly growing. Open space not only increases the value of homes in the area, but it helps protect against flooding and stormwater runoff,” Tittel said. “Purchasing open space is one of the most cost-effective ways to stop overdevelopment and prevent increased traffic and pollution. Acquiring this 4.7 acres acres of land will help prevent development and protect environmentally-sensitive land in one of the fastest-growing areas of the state.”