OCEAN COUNTY – The Freeholders voted to purchase several tracts of land to preserve it as open space. One patch of land straddles Manchester and Jackson. The other is in the Bamber Lake section of Lacey.
The Manchester and Jackson property is 182 acres that was previously mined by Stavola, Freeholder John Bartlett said. It could have been only about 20 homes built on the property. There are about 200 acres to the north of it that the county already owns. These 182 acres would join that area of undeveloped land.
The property was described as Block 22501, Lot 1 in Jackson, and Block 62, Lot 31 in Manchester. The purchase price was not to exceed $2,415,000, plus up to $9,000 for property tax adjustments. It is across from the Pine Barrens Golf Club on South Hope Chapel Road.
The price was very attractive to the county, Bartlett said. Additionally, the purchase is eligible for a reimbursement for half of that by the U.S. Department of Defense. This is because the land helps provide a buffer for the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
The Lacey properties are described as Block 4029, Lots 2, 4, 5, and 10. The total cost was not to exceed $51,000, plus $400 for property tax adjustments.
They are made up of several privately owned lots that became available, Bartlett said. The total area of the new lots is 2.4 acres. This adds up to 1,700 acres in the area that is already preserved.
The money comes from the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund. This is money generated by an open space tax residents voted for two decades ago.
A municipality has to approve of the purchase before the county buys it, Bartlett said, in case they had other plans for the land. Often, the purchases are used to create contiguous open space to protect resources, such as drinking water.
“When an opportunity comes about that looks good, we jump on it,” he said.
In related news, Jackson gave the county a lot of property described as Block 16901, Lot 23. This is land along Route 571. It was acquired by Jackson during a tax foreclosure. They had no use for the land except to widen the road if it needed to be widened in the future. So, the township gave it to the county.