Ocean County is expected to approve a historic $5.7 million purchase of 1,760 acres in Manchester and western Lacey Townships that will be preserved as open space, the Freeholder Board announced this week.

Ocean County Planning Department

The historic deal is contingent upon Manchester officials agreeing to contribute $500,000 towards the purchase because about 100 acres is located in the Township. "A lot of this land is adjacent to the Harry Wright Lake. It's a municipal property," said Ocean County Planning Director David McKeon.

Manchester has Green Acres funding it could use for its contribution; and although the County doesn't have any state or federal funds to apply towards the purchase, McKeon said, "We are holding out the hope in the future that some Green Acres money may become available simply because a lot of this land is adjacent to state forest property, state fish and wild life land."

Federal money also is a possibility because of the tract's close proximity to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The property could act as a buffer zone.

The property owner had approval to develop the land. "The owner had been in discussions with Manchester Township and the Pinelands Commission for years about the development of the property and basically had received the green light to move forward with over 200 units of clustered development just south of Whiting," McKeon said.

The Ocean County Freeholder Board is holding a public hearing on the acquisition this Wednesday.