Lacey Township was incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 23, 1871, from portions of Dover Township (now known as Toms River Township) and Union Township (now Barnegat Township). Portions of the township were taken on June 23, 1933, to form the borough of Island Beach (which is now part of Berkeley Township).
The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is located in the southern part of the township.
Forked River is a census-designated place and unincorporated area located within Lacey Township. The township also contains the unincorporated area of Lanoka Harbor. Bamber Lakes, Laurel Harbor and Sun Rise Harbor are also areas of Lacey Township. The township names its fire stations after the various areas of Lacey Township.
In Lacey Township, the north-south track of the Garden State Parkway serves as an informal use divider under the 1979 Pinelands Act and the subsequent Comprehensive Management Plan. To the east of the Parkway are more than 95% of Lacey's residential dwellings, located in the unincorporated areas of Lanoka Harbor and Forked River. To the Parkway's west is a mostly undisturbed pine and cedar forest, part of New Jersey's vast Pine Barrens. The forest is interspersed with a scattered few farms, houses ranches, the tiny community of Bamber Lake and open pit gravel quarries - all of which predate passage of the Pinelands Act or were developed under its tight zoning rules. The conditions of grandfathering vary - the mines' exceptions are to expire upon the deaths of their owners whereas the farms' exceptions are indefinite. Development west of the parkway is strictly controlled by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission.
Many Ocean County residents commonly refer to all of Lacey Township as Forked River with the first word pronounced with two syllables (FOR-ked or FORK-ed). Pronouncing the first word with one syllable is a sign of a new resident or a Benny.
There were 9,336 households out of which 35.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.5% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 18.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the township the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $55,938, and the median income for a family was $61,298. Males had a median income of $47,406 versus $30,088 for females. The per capita income for the township was $23,136. About 3.7% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.1% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
Members of the Township Committee are Mayor David Most (R, term ends December 31, 2008), Deputy Mayor John C. Parker (R, 2010), Brian A. Reid (R, 2010), Mark Dykoff (R, 2009), and Gary Quinn (R, 2009).
Recent local controversies have surrounded development and land use. In particular, a proposal to build a road on an old railroad right of way behind the ShopRite has been a major issue in town. Other issues involve the lack of water resources to sustain the proposed Home Depot, which opened October 18, 2007 and Wal-Mart, which has yet to begin construction.
The Cancer Walk held annually at Gille Park brings together many residents to donate money towards cancer research.
Lacey has experienced a rapid growth in recent years with the addition of many new developments and new stores being built around town. Lacey is beginning to turn into a small city due to the vast development.
One recent example of such development is the planned development of a 140,000 square foot Wal-Mart on the site of the 250-year-old Good Luck Farm., despite the availability of two nearby Wal-Mart locations in neighboring Manahawkin and Toms River.