COLTS NECK - Officials passed an ordinance that will allow deer hunting in specific residential areas of Colts Neck.

The owner of Eastmont Orchard is one of the main proponents of the new legislation. He has had serious problems with deer eating his apple crop. 

"The deer in our case eat the apple buds off in the winter which is our profit for the next season," says farmer Dave Barclay. Last year he says his revenue was down 15 to 20 percent.

Once deer season begins in the fall, the owners themselves are allowed to hunt deer on their property, and so can anyone else with five or more acres of land. Hunters only need written permission from property owners.

The township committee cited loss of revenue for farmers, a rise in cases of Lyme disease and more deer versus car collisions. Township officials say that between 2009 and 2011 there were 238 deer versus vehicle collisions and 37 confirmed cases of Lyme disease.  

Opponents concerned about safety have been assured no hunting would be allowed in parks or in township-owned green space that surrounds houses.

"I welcome responsible hunters coming into Colts Neck to hunt responsibly and legally, and we hope they'll help us eat into this problem," says Mayor Russell Macnow.

Macnow says the goal of the ordinance is to bring down the deer population by 20 percent. This spring, the township will see if it worked.