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Lower Township, New Jersey
Township
Township of Lower
Owen Coachman House
Owen Coachman House
Nickname(s): 
"Home of the Best Sunsets"
Lower Township highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Lower Township highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Lower Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Lower Township, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey is located in Cape May County, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey
Location in Cape May County, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey is located in the United States
Lower Township, New Jersey
Lower Township, New Jersey
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Flag of Cape May County, New Jersey.gif Cape May
Established April 2, 1723 (as precinct)
Incorporated February 21, 1798 (as township)
Government
 • Type Faulkner Act (council–manager)
 • Body Township Council
Area
 • Total 31.06 sq mi (80.45 km2)
 • Land 27.38 sq mi (70.91 km2)
 • Water 3.69 sq mi (9.54 km2)  11.86%
Area rank 84th of 565 in state
4th of 16 in county
Elevation
20 ft (6 m)
Population
 • Total 22,866
 • Estimate 
(2019)
21,339
 • Rank 110th of 566 in state
1st of 16 in county
 • Density 824.3/sq mi (318.3/km2)
 • Density rank 404th of 566 in state
10th of 16 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08251 - Villas
Area code(s) 609 exchanges: 884, 886, 889, 898
FIPS code 3400941610
GNIS feature ID 0882044
Website

Lower Township is a township in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 22,866, reflecting a decrease of 79 (-0.3%) from the 22,945 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 2,125 (+10.2%) from the 20,820 counted in the 1990 Census.

New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Lower Township as its 34th best place to live in its 2008 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey.

History

Lower Township was formed as a precinct on April 2, 1723, and was incorporated by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships established by the Township Act of 1798.

Portions of the township were taken to form Cape Island Borough (March 8, 1848, now known as Cape May city), Cape May Point borough (created April 19, 1878, restored to Lower Township on April 8, 1896, recreated April 6, 1908), Holly Beach (April 14, 1885, now part of Wildwood city), South Cape May (August 27, 1894; restored to Lower Township after the borough was dissolved on April 30, 1945), Wildwood Crest (April 6, 1910) and North Cape May (March 19, 1928; restored to Lower Township after it was dissolved on April 30, 1945). The township's name came from its location when Cape May was split into three townships in 1723 at the same time that Middle Township and Upper Township were created.

Geography

Lower Cape Branch Library NJ
Cape May County Library branch on Bayshore Road

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 31.015 square miles (80.327 km2), including 27.740 square miles (71.846 km2) of land and 3.275 square miles (8.482 km2) of water (10.56%).

Diamond Beach (2010 Census population of 136), Erma (2,134), North Cape May (3,226) and Villas (9,483) are unincorporated communities and census-designated places (CDPs) located within Lower Township. Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Bennett, Cold Spring, Cold Spring Inlet, Ephraims Island, Fishing Creek, Higbees Landing, Miami Beach, Schellingers Landing, Sewells Point, South Cape May, Sunset Beach, Town Bank, Weers Landing and Wildwood Gables.

Lower Township borders Middle Township, Wildwood City, Wildwood Crest Borough, Cape May City, West Cape May Borough, Cape May Point Borough, the Delaware Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 862
1820 1,001 16.1%
1830 999 −0.2%
1840 1,133 13.4%
1850 1,604 41.6%
1860 1,865 16.3%
1870 1,783 −4.4%
1880 1,779 −0.2%
1890 1,156 −35.0%
1900 1,141 −1.3%
1910 1,188 4.1%
1920 1,096 −7.7%
1930 1,444 31.8%
1940 1,693 17.2%
1950 2,737 61.7%
1960 6,332 131.3%
1970 10,154 60.4%
1980 17,105 68.5%
1990 20,820 21.7%
2000 22,945 10.2%
2010 22,866 −0.3%
2019 (est.) 21,339 −6.7%
Population sources: 1810-2000
1810-1920 1840 1850-1870
1850 1870 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 22,866 people, 9,579 households, and 6,351 families residing in the township. The population density was 824.3 per square mile (318.3/km2). There were 14,507 housing units at an average density of 523.0 per square mile (201.9/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 94.24% (21,549) White, 1.99% (456) Black or African American, 0.16% (37) Native American, 0.62% (142) Asian, 0.04% (10) Pacific Islander, 1.20% (275) from other races, and 1.74% (397) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.24% (969) of the population.

There were 9,579 households out of which 22.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the township, the population was spread out with 19.8% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 20.4% from 25 to 44, 31.0% from 45 to 64, and 21.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.5 years. For every 100 females there were 90.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 86.9 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $51,101 (with a margin of error of +/- $2,460) and the median family income was $62,587 (+/- $7,438). Males had a median income of $50,572 (+/- $3,361) versus $35,978 (+/- $2,297) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $28,175 (+/- $1,295). About 6.6% of families and 10.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 22,945 people, 9,328 households, and 6,380 families residing in the township. The population density was 813.0 people per square mile (313.9/km2). There were 13,924 housing units at an average density of 493.4 per square mile (190.5/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 96.26% White, 1.39% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.65% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.88% of the population.

There were 9,328 households, out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% were non-families. 27.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the township the population was spread out, with 23.7% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 25.1% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 20.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $38,977, and the median income for a family was $45,058. Males had a median income of $35,201 versus $24,715 for females. The per capita income for the township was $19,786. About 5.3% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.3% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

2020-09-12 10 36 31 View north along New Jersey State Route 109 at the exit for the Garden State Parkway NORTH in Lower Township, Cape May County, New Jersey
The south end of the Garden State Parkway in Lower Township

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 179.10 miles (288.23 km) of roadways, of which 131.92 miles (212.30 km) were maintained by the municipality, 33.83 miles (54.44 km) by Cape May County and 6.87 miles (11.06 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 6.48 miles (10.43 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The most prominent highway serving Lower Township is the Garden State Parkway, which has its southern terminus at the intersection with Route 109, within the township. U.S. Route 9, Route 162, and Ocean Drive are other significant roadways within Lower Township.

CMLF-CMTerminal
The Cape May terminal of the Cape May–Lewes Ferry

NJ Transit offers bus service on the 313 and 315 routes between Cape May / Wildwood / Philadelphia, on the 552 between Cape May and Atlantic City, with seasonal service on the 319 route serving shore points between Cape May and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City's Midtown Manhattan.

The Cape May–Lewes Ferry terminal is located in North Cape May. Operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority, the ferry makes the 17-mile (27 km) trip between Lower Township and Lewes, Delaware in 85 minutes, carrying passengers and vehicles. The Delaware River and Bay Authority operates a shuttle bus service that connects the ferry terminal with the Cape May Transportation Center in Cape May in the summer months and to the Cape May County Park & Zoo in July and August.

Cape May Airport is in Lower Township.

Points of interest

Cold Spring Presby
Cold Spring Presbyterian Church

Education

Lower Cape May Regional High School
Lower Cape May Regional High School in the Erma area
Lower Cape Branch Library NJ
Lower Township Branch, Cape May Library, on Bayshore Road in Villas CDP
Fishing Creek School from NW
Fishing Creek Schoolhouse

The Lower Township School District serves public-school students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of four schools, had an enrollment of 1,718 students and 143.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.0:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are:

  • David C. Douglass Veterans Memorial School (Villas CDP) with 410 students in grades PreK-K,
  • Carl T. Mitnick School (Cold Spring) with 401 students in grades 1–2,
  • Maud T. Abrams School (Cold Spring) with 436 students in grades 3-4, and
  • Charles W. Sandman Consolidated School (Cold Spring) with 449 students in grades 5–6. The Lower Township School District participates in the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which allows non-resident students to attend the district's schools without cost to their parents, with tuition paid by the state. Seats in the program for non-resident students are specified by the district and are allocated by lottery.

For seventh through twelfth grades, public-school students attend the schools of the Lower Cape May Regional School District, in the Erma area, which also serves students from Cape May City and West Cape May, along with students from Cape May Point who attend the district as part of a sending/receiving relationship. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are:

  • Richard M. Teitelman Middle School with 458 students in grades 7-8 and
  • Lower Cape May Regional High School with 871 students in grades 9-12. In the 2011–12 school year, the city of Cape May paid $6 million in property taxes to cover the district's 120 high-school students, an average of $50,000 per student attending the Lower Cape May district. Cape May officials have argued that the district's funding formula based on assessed property values unfairly penalizes Cape May, which has higher property values and a smaller number of high-school students as a percentage of the population than the other constituent districts, especially Lower Township. The district's board of education is comprisedof nine members, who are elected directly by voters to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with three seats up for election each year Seats on the board are allocated based on population, with Lower Township assigned seven seats.

Students are also eligible to attend Cape May County Technical High School in Cape May Court House, which serves students from the entire county in its comprehensive and vocational programs, which are offered without charge to students who are county residents. Special needs students may be referred to Cape May County Special Services School District in Cape May Court House.

Wildwood Catholic Academy (PreK-12) in North Wildwood, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden, is the nearest Catholic school. Villas had its own Catholic K–8 school, St. Raymond's School, until 2007, when it merged into Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Cape May. In 2010 Our Lady Star of the Sea merged into Cape Trinity Regional School (PreK – 8) in North Wildwood. That school in turn merged into Wildwood Catholic Academy in 2020. As of 2020 Bishop McHugh Regional School in Dennis Township takes students from Lower Township.

Two of the initial properties of Cape Christian Academy, formed circa 1990 as a merger of South Cape Christian Academy and Cape May County Christian School were in Lower Township. The current consolidated school building is in Middle Township, with a Cape May Courthouse postal address and within the CMCH census-designated place. Richard Degener of the Press of Atlantic City described it as being in Burleigh. Its campus has 6.5 acres (2.6 ha) of area.

Cape May County Library operates the Lower Township Library in Villas.

Notable people

See also (related category): People from Lower Township, New Jersey

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Lower Township include:

  • Bob Andrzejczak (born 1986), politician who represented the 1st Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2013 to 2019 and in the New Jersey Senate in 2019.
  • Maurice Catarcio (1929–2005), professional wrestler for the World Wrestling Federation and record holder in The Guinness Book of World Records.
  • T. Millet Hand (1902-1956), politician who represented New Jersey's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1945 to 1956.
  • Chris Jay, (born 1978), musician, screenwriter, actor, member of the band, Army of Freshmen.
  • Michael Linnington (born 1958), CEO of Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Charles W. Sandman Jr. (1921-1985), represented New Jersey's 2nd congressional district from 1967 to 1975.
  • Erik K. Simonsen, politician who represents the 1st Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly and had served as mayor of Lower Township from 2016 until 2020.
  • Matt Szczur (born 1989), Major League Baseball outfielder.

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