Dover proposes home buyers be told about planned rail line

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/20/03

TOMS RIVER -- Prospective homeowners considering the purchase of property near an existing railroad right of way would have to be notified that trains might one day travel through the area, under an ordinance being considered by the Dover Township Committee.

Committee members heard Tuesday from leaders of the Central Jersey Rail Coalition, an advocacy group pushing for the restoration of passenger rail service from Lakehurst to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor at Monmouth Junction in Middlesex County.

It is known as the Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex, or MOM, rail line. It is strongly supported by officials of Monmouth and Ocean counties, but has run into strong resistance in Middlesex County, where trains would run through some back yards.

"There has been a lot of building along this MOM line, and a lot of back yards now abut the line," said William Braden, chairman of the coalition.

Coalition leaders are asking towns with existing rail rights of way to notify potential home buyers of the possibility that train service could be restored, just as prospective buyers would have to be told if a house was near a landfill or another site that might affect its attractiveness.

Braden said increased development along the existing railroad right of way could threaten plans to restore passenger rail service to the area.  "Transportation is going to be the future of this county," Braden said. "We just can't build the roads to support the population."

Braden said the rail coalition wants to protect the right of way from Lakehurst down Route 9 into downtown Toms River, even though the initial MOM line would not reach the downtown.

The MOM line would run through only a small part of Dover's northwestern section, but Braden said coalition officials hope that the township, Ocean County's most populous town, will take the lead by adopting an ordinance.

Mayor John F. Russo Jr. said Township Attorney David Corrigan and Engineer Lawrence P. Cagliostro will review the coalition's request and develop a plan to implement it by revising or amending ordinances.

Jean Mikle: (732) 557-5729, or [email protected]

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