After several months of review and discussion, a public hearing will be held to hear comments on the Ocean County Planning board's final of the draft Master Plan.

The County Master Plan provides an overview of the county, addresses strategies for important issues, and gives recommendations on various programs and land use issues. The public hearing will be held on Wednesday at 6pm in the Ocean County Administration Building (room 119) on Hooper Avenue.

The public comment period will continue until Monday, December 19 at 5 pm, which is the deadline for when written comments will be accepted. Written comments can be sent to the Ocean County Planning Board at P.O. Box 2191, Toms River, N.J. 08754.

County master plans are authorized under the County Planning Act and unlike municipal master plans, which are tied to zoning, county master plans are not regulatory. The County Master Plan will be voted on by the Planning Board at their December 21'st meeting.

The County Master plan is advisory in nature, and not tied to zoning issues like their municipal counterparts. The public hearing is a requirement for the County Master Plan since it is authorized through the New Jersey County Planning Act.

This is the first major revision done to the Master Plan since 1988, though there have been updates made to the current plan regarding issues like open space, storm water management, solid waste, etc.

Ocean County Planning Director Dave McKeon says after twenty three years, they "felt it was time to update the whole document."

So why after all this time do they change the document now? Dave McKeon explains that "the real reason to do it now is the 2010 census information has just come out so we were able to add that to the document."

One of the most important functions for the document, which is non regulatory, is that it sets a context for many of the issues the municipalities of Ocean County face regulatory. Things like transportation, open space/environmental, and development issues which towns deal with often.

"So it sets a framework for a lot of those issues, and how those towns would fit into the regional plan." explain McKeon.

Additionally the plan also addresses some of the changes that have occurred to industries in the county.

"There is a growing increase in the health care service sector. Hospital, ancelary facilities, nursing facilities, those are higher paying jobs and have a great impact on the economy.' notes McKeon " additionally the new document addresses the  importance of Joint Base – McGuire, Dix and Lakehurst and the missions that they have."