As the mayoral campaign in Toms River has increasingly focused on over-development, a 2014 land sale approved by Councilman Mo Hill has come under renewed scrutiny. Hill and his fellow Council Members voted to sell 11 acres of township-owed open space to a developer and then approved a 102 unit housing project on the North Dover site, now known as Cornerstone Commons.
The story starts in 2003, when Toms River purchased 11-acres of woodlands near Cox Crow Road for $1.05 million. In 2014, the township sold the open space property to the Walters Group, a development company, for $750,000, resulting in a $300,000 loss for the township. According to Ocean County Tax Records, the land is now assessed at over $2.8 million.
Campaign finance reports show that Hill received a $3,000 campaign contribution from the Walters Group, the developer of the Cornerstone Commons property in North Dover. The Walters Group has also given $145,800 to the Ocean County Republican Finance Committee, which in turn gave an additional $15,400 to Hill’s campaign.
Councilman Hill’s opponent in the mayoral race, Jonathan Petro has criticized the land deal and the government subsidies as a giveaway to politically connected developers. Petro stated, “Toms River should be preserving open space, not selling it to developers at a budget price.”
Republican Mo Hill was elected to the Toms River Council in 2003. Petro is a local attorney who is running for office for the first time. The election is Tuesday, November 5th.