The Nerve Center of Southern Ocean County: Stafford Twp.
Over the last twenty years, Stafford Township has grown by leaps and bounds.
On one side, you have the shore. On the other, the Pinelands. What was once a seasonal vacation spot has become a year-round home for many. The expansion continues even with limited acreage.
Although everything west of the Garden State Parkway is part of the Pinelands, there are several lots in Ocean Acres and Beach Haven West that have yet to be built on. There are also plans in the pipeline to bring more mixed use properties to Bay Avenue. Projects like the Stafford Business Park have brought in more jobs and opportunities for residents while still preserving open space.
According to Bonnie Flynn, the Director of Community Development for the Township, the population in the 2010 census was over 26,000. Back in 1990, it was under 14,000. Flynn says "we saw a massive boom to the area during the last few years - especially when water and sewer service was brought in to many of the Ocean Acres areas. The cost is one attraction as well as the beaches and the beauty of open spaces. There are trees here that will never be cut down."
If you drive along Route 72 in Manahawkin, you'll notice most store fronts are occupied with only a small number of vacancies. There are very few homes up for sale and more people moving in all the time. Flynn adds "we've made it possible to get everything you need in the town without having to drive up north. It's all here, every amenity."
In recent years, a number of first time homebuyers, young families and retirees have moved into the area. The popularity of the town grows with vacationers as well, especially during the busy summer tourism season.
In a way, you can call Stafford Township, the equivalent of Toms River for the Southern Ocean County area.