Ocean County will preserve 1,760 acres in Manchester Township and western Lacey Township, officials announced this week.
The county's freeholder board is expected to approve the $5.7 million purchase soon, to which Manchester Township will contribute $500,000 for a number of smaller lots.
The land, located near the Roosevelt City area of Manchester and the western reaches of Lacey Road, east of Route 539 to areas northwest of Ocean County Airport, was appraised at $6,343,000 and slated for residential development, said Freeholder John Bartlett.
When the county's purchase of the land goes through, it will be the largest acquisition in county history.
The land's owner was "well in the process" of creating cluster housing and had permits in hand, Bartlett said. County officials, in the wake of the staggering economy, ultimately worked out a deal to shave $600,000 from the appraised price of the tract.
There is also the possibility, in the future, of obtaining federal funding to defray the acquitiion's cost since the land is located in close proximity to Joint Base McGuide-Dix-Lakehurst.
"This would credit the base as preserving the buffer zone," said Freeholder Gerry Little. "It would accrue to their benefit in the future BRAC meetings."
"The best neighbor of a military installation is open space," said Freeholder Jack Kelly.
County Administrator Carl Block said the land meets Department of Defense criteria for reimbursement, though funding at the federal level is not available presently.
Still, Bartlett said, the county has the cash in hand through its land trust to purchase the plot.
"The land owners who have development permits will sell it to us because nobody has to worry about our check bouncing," Bartlett said.
The freeholder board is expected to vote on the purchase at its April 2 meeting.