Ocean County to Preserve 46 Acres Off Route 9

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners, in partnership with Berkeley Township, approved the preservation of more than 46 acres of land off of Route 9 in Berkeley Township adding the parcels to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust.
“This is a key acquisition for the natural lands trust program,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who is liaison to the County’s open space program. “We worked closely with Berkeley Township in order to preserve this property.”
Berkeley Township Mayor Carmen Amato and Council President John A. Bacchione, on behalf of the Township, extended their appreciation to the Board of Commissioners noting this was an important acquisition for both the Township and the County.
“We appreciate the County’s ongoing efforts to preserve land as open space,” Amato said. “Working together, this land will now forever be preserved.”
He noted there were applications in front of the Berkeley Township Board of Adjustment and Planning Board seeking approvals for development of this property.
“This preservation is a positive step for all of us,” Amato said.
The land is located in an area overlay zone which provides for high density residential and or mixed residential and retail development. The properties have been subject of two different applications – one proposing 115 age restricted units with the other proposing 91 single family units – as well as proposals including a garden apartment development of 190 units.
Under the partnership with Berkeley Township, the Township will take ownership to approximately 20 acres and has committed to develop active recreation fields on a portion of this site.
The site is a former sand and gravel pit.
The Township has pledged to police the property with the hopes of curtailing some of the damage and public safety hazards being created by off-road vehicles which are prohibited on open space properties owned by the County and the township.
“This will be a big help in restricting improper use of these lands,” Haines said. “We appreciate the Township’s efforts to reduce the damage we have been experiencing.”
Berkeley Township has provided $241,000 toward the purchase and will also donate about 18 acres of property to the County’s open space inventory.
“This donation will help to buffer Ocean County’s Barnegat Branch Trail which is adjacent to the site,” Bacchione said.
The Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Advisory Committee recommended the purchase of the lands with frontage on Route 9 and Grant Concourse, and owned by two different owners for $1.9 million and $1,050,000 respectively.
The site does have evidence of threatened and endangered species habitat with Barred Owl being observed on the site in the past. Minimal ponding and depressions on the site also provide habitat for various amphibian species.
“Working in partnership with our municipalities like Berkeley Township and our environmental agencies brings many benefits to our open space program,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari. “The partnerships help preserve more land and in turn protects more of our environment.”

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