Brick Township officials are forming a committee to identify and pursue opportunities to preserve open land in Brick, a policy that has come as more and more property owners are seeking to develop the few parcels of land remaining open in Brick.
Mayor John Ducey said the committee will be formed by volunteers and it will be open to new members on a rolling basis, as chosen by the township’s elected officials. In 2000, Brick voters passed a referendum to dedicate 1 cent per $100 of real property valuation to an open space fund. Those tax dollars can be used to directly purchase land to preserve or to partner with the county or state to do so. Recently, the township and county agreed to partner on a project to preserve a plot of land where 24 homes were slated to be constructed between Old Hooper Avenue and Cherry Quay Road.
“I don’t want to see new buildings, multifamily housing, big apartment buildings – we zoned that out,” said Ducey. “But what started happening was a cul-de-sac here, 12 houses here, 24 houses there.”
In other words, while sites that can handle major developments are largely either built already, or precluded from development through the zoning ordinance, these isolated parcels of land have begun to add up in terms of acreage as well as services that must be provided to homeowners. This particular proliferation of building proposals drove the idea of forming a committee of citizens to identify preservation opportunities.
“The idea here was that people who live in our neighborhoods probably know what is available as open space,” said Ducey. “What we want to do is try to purchase these properties, one or two a year. We did three this year.”
Ducey said the township is already looking into additional land preservation purposes off Mantoloking and Van Zile roads as well as a location on Hooper Avenue.
“We want to hear where these spots of open land are so we can be proactive,” the mayor said.
Those interested in joining the committee can contact the mayor’s office. Ultimately, the township council votes to decide whether to expend funds on land purchases, however the committee will be tasked with identifying properties relevant for purchase and discuss how to best approach the purchase.
“Do we get it from Green Acres? Do we get it from the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust, or is it a capital expense here in town?” Ducey asked, rhetorically.
The committee has been in the works for some time, driven by the popularity of past land preservation efforts.
“We don’t want to knock down any more trees,” said Ducey. “There are too many coming down. You think your town is built out, and then the next thing you see is more trees coming down.”