By DON STINE
Ocean Township residents approved a dedicated open space tax in a special ballot question in Tuesday’s election.
The ballot approved imposing an Open Space Tax equal to $.01 (one penny) for each $100 of assessed property value, resulting in $45.55 additional taxes based on an average $455,456 home.
The ballot question was approved by 4,093 votes, or 60.64 percent of ballots cast, to 2,657 votes against, or 39.36 percent.
Mayor Christopher Siciliano said they “put the issue in the hands of the voters” and that he is pleased with the outcome.
“I think this is a great thing for Ocean Township. I think it’s a small price to pay for something that will endure for a long time. They don’t make land any more and to keep the little bit we have left is a win/win for the township,” he said.
A similar Open Space Tax proposal, also put forward by Siciliano, was placed on the ballot in 2004 but it was narrowly defeated by only seven votes.
“The last referendum was very close but I think people now realize that we are running out of land and saving it is well-worth it. In the future, people will see this as a good thing,” he said.
There are still several spots of open space left in Ocean Township, scattered throughout its boundaries, ranging from about two acres up to 40 acres. The Open Space Tax is to provide for preservation and maintenance of open space and parks and purchasing land for open space preservation.
In a related election matter, Township Councilman John Napolitani, who ran unopposed, was elected to his first full three-year term with 4,282 votes, or 98.30 of ballots casts. There were also 74 write-in votes, or 1.70 percent.