State environmental officials have reached a settlement with the developers of a proposed Walmart Super Center that would be constructed on the Toms River Township and Manchester Township border.

The project has been delayed almost seven years thanks to several issues involving legal wrangling back and fourth and the discovery of a pine snake hibernating on the grounds of the proposed site. The store would replace the existing Walmart on Route 37 near Mule Road and would include a full grocery store inside. The 189,797-square foot retail store would also feature a garden center and parking lot as well as a new access road to the busy Route 37 area.

At this point, environmentalists are bristling at the agreement which could lead to the agency granting the necessary construction permits. Environmental advocates say there's still a great danger to both the pine snake and the health of the Barnegat Bay. However, Larry Hajna with the DEP says the settlement makes concessions to not only protect the snakes but also to make sure stormwater runoff during construction and after doesn't harm the watershed.

Hajna says "by reducing the project footprint, redesigning the project to avoid a pine snake denning area and incorporating plans to install a barrier wall, we are taking every effort here to make sure the plan is in tip top shape and environmentally sound."

The settlement and plans are available for public review by appointment in the office of the State Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Land Use Regulation.

Comments regarding the Walmart plan for Ocean County should be sent to:

The Ocean County Section Chief

The Division of Land Use Regulation

New Jersey DEP

P.O. Box 420 501-02A

Trenton, New Jersey 08625


You can also get more information by calling their office direct at 609-633-2289.