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:

Should Toms River acquire open space to prevent development near Lakewood border?

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