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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2003

 

Contact: Amy Cradic
(609) 984-1795

 

DEP Celebrates Open Space Victory that Preserves 125 Acres in Ocean County

(03/98) TRENTON --- New Jersey Department of Environment Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced an open space victory in the settlement of two lawsuits in Long Beach Township, Ocean County, that resulted in the preservation of more than 125 acres of upland habitat, marsh and open water areas.

"The final resolution of the Desiderio lawsuit is a win-win for all parties involved and most importantly New Jersey residents who will benefit from the preservation of open space and the protection of precious wetland and coastal resources," said Commissioner Campbell. "This open space victory illustrates the effectiveness of cooperative partnerships and grassroots efforts to save the state's critical habitats and preserve dwindling undeveloped land."

In 2001, the Estate of Arnold Desiderio filed two lawsuits against the state of New Jersey to allow the construction of more than 100 homes within wetlands of the High Bar Harbor Section of Long Beach Township. The proposed homes were part of an earlier, larger development plan initiated in the mid-1950s that included the construction of 2,900 homes on 26 miles of lagoonfront properties and five miles of bayfront properties. A total of 333 homes were constructed on 8 lagoons according to the initial plan, however a major portion of the undeveloped project area was subsequently purchased by the United States as open space and remains undeveloped today. The balance of 36 acres of open tidal water and 48 acres of meadowland on which the Estate had local approval for 101 homes was later barred from development under the New Jersey Wetlands Act of 1970, which resulted in the Estate filing a "takings" complaint.

In September 2001, an initial settlement of the litigation was approved by the DEP and the state 's Tidelands Resource Council, which sold a filled property along Arnold Boulevard to the Estate in exchange for over 121 acres of lands in Long Beach Township and Barnegat Light. The Estate had plans to develop the Arnold Boulevard site with as many as 12 homes. However, as a result of a further settlement coordinated by the DEP and the Attorney General's office in response to citizen and environmental group concerns, the 10-acre Arnold Boulevard site is now being preserved as open space.

The 10-acre tract was purchased for $1.6 million through a settlement agreement that included $800,000 in DEP Green Acres funding and $500,000 of open space funds from the county of Ocean. The Trust for Public Lands and the Long Beach Township contributed an additional $300,000 toward the purchase.

 

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