Will North Dover Land Buy Contain Lakewood “Invasion?”

TOMS RIVER – The township council has approved over $10 million of open space purchases, with the township set to buy tracts of land in a neighborhood bordering Lakewood.

In the ongoing controversy regarding Lakewood Township’s rapid development – and how it is seemingly spilling over into surrounding communities – the North Dover section of Toms River has long been considered “ground zero,” due to its close proximity to Lakewood. Toms River mayor Tom Kelaher has likened it to an “invasion,” comments that sparked a feud with Lakewood’s mayor.

The Toms River ordinance authorizes up to $10,300,000 to be used to acquire tracts of of land near the Joseph A. Citta Elementary School. Lots 11, 17-23 and 32 of Block 171 as recorded on the township tax map have been approved to be acquired, either through purchase or eminent domain.

Using parcel data from the TRMUA’s geographic information system (GIS) we’ve mapped the purchase below:

The North Dover open space acquisitions. Green = to be acquired under this ordinance.

The North Dover open space acquisitions. Green = to be acquired under this ordinance. Click map for full size.

If given final approval, $9,785,000 of that sum will be authorized to be financed with debt, either in bonds or notes.

Publicly, neither Mayor Kelaher or the Toms River council have indicated that the purchase is intended to prevent Lakewood development, but given both the timing and location of the purchase, many (including the Asbury Park Press) have speculated that the township is buying the land in order to take it off the market to prevent Lakewood developers from getting their hands on it.

The ordinance, passed unanimously, was given a first reading at this week’s council meeting, and will subsequently require a second reading and public hearing before being given final passage.

OCP Poll:

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Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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2 Responses

  1. Janice says:

    Does not take a brain surgeon to figure out why they did this. I am sure to the delight of the North Dover residents. Not going to stop people from Lakewood moving here however. Good political move for the Mayor, even in a off election year.

  2. Johnny Arthur says:

    Nothing is going to stop the changing demographics of the landscape. Virtually no area of the country is culturally the same as it was 30 years ago. There should be zero tolerance for hate or hate speech against any group for any reason. There should also be zero tolerance for behaviors such as block busting and illegal construction, illegal businesses in residential neighborhoods, shady purchases through shell LLC’s, or for those that would attempt to manipulate and hasten the natural evolvement of demographics.

    These forces at work in Toms River and other neighboring towns of Lakewood have sparked a backlash against one particular religious group. Not because of the g-d they worship or their right to exist, but because of the behaviors, both past and present, of that particular group.

    Who doesn’t want a nice family that cares for their home as a neighbor? Especially if they are trying to escape the mess that Lakewood has become. Having 8 kids per family is going to change demographics rapidly enough, without having to resort to block busting, lawsuits, and illegal (or at best, questionable) practices to hasten the expansion.

    The ultimate question is whether or not the practices neighboring towns have witnessed are the work of a few unscrupulous people, or part of a playbook of religious leaders that has been used in Lakewood and several other places. I think the history of Crown Heights, Kiryas Joel, Monsey, East Ramapo, and Lakewood answers that question convincingly, and without prejudice.

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