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BREAKING: JACKSON'S ROYAL GROVE NEIGHBORS OBJECT TO 4 NEW LAKEWOOD SCHOOLS COMING TO THEIR BACKYARD

Lakewood's largest school, the Lakewood Cheder / Beis Faiga first announced, in October 2021 that they purchased a 30 acre property in Jackson Township. According to a report at the time on The Lakewood Scoop "The new property in Jackson will be for Jackson children will be home to both girls and boys schools, instead of having to bus them to Lakewood".

However, Jackson residents, who were previously excited to get local schools (as they did not yet know the location and size of the schools) without needing to negotiate Lakewood traffic, have now learned that there's more to the story - in fact, 50 school buses worth, right in their backyard.

Residents of Royal Grove, The Vineyards, and the adjacent Dunhill Road, and Butterfly Road have just received legal notice that the schools, under the new name Bais Yaakov of Jackson, has submitted an application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for prerequisite environmental permits. Thanks to this legal notice, it is now known that the location of the future schools is at 245 & 279 East Veterans Highway.

East Veterans Highway is a narrow, 2 lane collector roadway with barely no shoulders and not many traffic signals to help break traffic. The parallel collector roadway, Butterfly Road looks very much the same. As such, the neighbors got butterflies just thinking of how much more traffic the new schools will bring. The neighbors are also concerned about privacy due to having schools in their backyards.

Neighbors were able to obtain the Site Plan as it was submitted to DEP as part of their application, and is therefore now a public record even though it was not yet presented to the Township Planning Board.

The Site Plan depicts an elementary school building that can contain 1,350 students, two high school buildings that can contain 500 students in each, and an additional 9,800 sq feet gymnasium building.
The parking lot will contain 503 parking spaces and a bus lane which will be able to fit 8 buses in front of two of the school buildings and 9 buses in front of one of the school buildings.

The Site Plan indicates that the parking spaces meets the Jackson Township ordinances which require 1 space per 3 students in the high school (334 spaces for 1,000 students) and 1 space per 8 students in the elementary school (169 space for 1,350 students) - however, 136 of these spaces are indicated to be "land banked / recreational area" which means that it may not actually be fully paved and it will likely be used mainly for a recreational area and not actual parking.

The architectural floor plans indicate that each school building will contain two stories and no basements. Curiously, there doesn't seem to be any main dining area, rather each floor contains a smaller multi-purpose room. There does not appear to be any kitchens.


The proposed school site is currently 3 separate lots, totalling 37.9 acres. According to public records obtained by FAA News, Bais Yaakov of Jackson already closed last year on a $3,950,000 purchase on 2 of the lots at 245 East Veterans Highway; the remaining lot at 279 East Veterans Highway is currently owned by Chaim Grunwald.

The residents of these neighborhoods held a meeting tonight in a local shul with Mr. Aron Rottenberg who is a local school contractor and is a representative of the school.

Mr. Rottenberg began by saying that he is expecting the schools to contain 2,500 students and that they will arrive on 50 buses which will be somewhat staggered so as to share their parking lot (which, as noted above, can stage only 25 buses).

Neighbors immediately offered to buy out the school. Mr. Rottenberg vehemently rejected the offer, but did say that he would be willing to do a land swap with Jackson Township if they offer him a comparable parcel of land elsewhere closer to Lakewood.

Mr. Rottenberg then informed the neighbors that the school will not be a "new school for Jackson children", but rather that the existing Lakewood children will move to the new location in Jackson.

Neighbors asked if he can guarantee that their children will be able to get into the new school in exchange for them not opposing construction of the school in their neighborhood. Mr. Rottenberg immediately said "no way - you're not welcome in this school".

The neighbors attempted to impress upon Mr. Rottenberg that their collector roads are a single lane in each direction and the additional traffic from 50 school buses will literally choke their only access ways. They asked if turning lanes can be installed. Mr. Rottenberg responded that Ocean County has jurisdiction of the widening of the roads. The neighbors asked if he obtained a traffic study yet (as that would indicate whether or not turning lanes are warranted). Mr. Rottenberg responded that he does have a traffic study but that he refuses to show it to the neighbors. The neighbors told him that they can obtain it from the Township under an OPRA request. He was unfazed.

Neighbors tried to impress upon Mr. Rottenberg how much such big schools will impose on their privacy and they asked him to commit to planting proper trees and installing high fences. Mr. Rottenberg responded, "I won't agree here to do anything. You're welcome to fight me at the Township boards".

Mr. Rottenberg indicated that this site is proposed only for 3 girl's schools, and that they are under contract to buy an additional 12 acre site for their boys school, but that he "doesn't want to publicize the exact location until after elections because the seller is a supporter of one of the candidates and he doesn't want to hurt that candidates election bid".

Mr. Rottenberg also indicated that their land use application is being represented by Attorney Donna Jennings of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A.

Ms. Jennings has successfully handled litigation related to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) on behalf of individuals and institutions who were discriminated against by unfair zoning codes and landmarking laws.

She famously represented Agudath Israel in their lawsuit against Jackson Township in which she successfully secured a Preliminary Injunction which overturned the Township's ban against private schools - this very Preliminary Injunction is what permits Bais Yaakov of Jackson to seek a by-right approval for their schools which are now being opposed by the residents of Royal Grove, The Vineyards, and the adjacent Dunhill Road, and Butterfly Road.

The DEP permit application is the first step in the approval process for the schools. They will also require approval from the Jackson Township Planning Board and the Ocean County Planning Board.

The neighbors have reached out to an attorney to guide them in formally objecting to the entire application process.

Curious minds wonder why Mr. Rottenberg who didn't offer the neighbors anything, showed up to tonight's meeting. Curious minds also wonder what he meant regarding the connection between the seller of the land for boys school and "one of the candidates" and he "can't talk more until after the election".

Perhaps this is what's going on: Mayor Mike Reina just days ago (and just days prior to his big election day) announced that he successfully negotiated to swap land with Mordechai Eichorn to move his proposed schools closer to Lakewood. The local community activists are using this move to show that Reina supports yeshivos (and Agudah's efforts to help yeshivos build freely) and he is working to permit them to build in a way that they don't face opposition from non-Jewish neighbors. However, now as these neighbors are opposing these schools, they may turn their "school opposition" to "opposition against Reina who supports schools", and therefore Mr. Rottenberg wanted to just show up to try to calm things down so the neighbors can worry more about him than about Reina.

As shown in the photo below, Mayor Reina just last week visited this neighborhood to campaign for reelection. Seems that Mr. Rottenberg was working to calm things down so there won't be any "hiccups" with the neighbors support of Reina.



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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not even a commitment for a fence or trees!

Unfortunately, even when neighbors meet one on one with school developers, they show their true, completely uncaring feelings.

Anonymous said...

And now Jackson's non-Jewish residents are going to learn why they fought back against "the unknown" for so long!

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a showdown!

Royal Grove'r said...

We moved to far away Jackson to live quieter than in busy Lakewood. Agudah expended so much for schools, which sounded too good to be true as we would finally have our schools so our kids don't have to shlep to Lakewood. And now what do we get? They want to bring schools to Jackson but only for the existing Lakewood students!

Agudah's efforts truly were too good to be true😐

Anonymous said...

I bet the information reported by FAA is inaccurate. I’m certain that the proposed schools are intended to accommodate the Jackson children.

Royal Grove'r said...

I was at the meeting (which was recorded by the way), and unfortunately, I can affirm that this FAA News report is extremely accurate.

Anonymous said...

schools will eventually accomate Jackson...just a natural process..

Anonymous said...

You move out to Jackson but then expect Lakewood property taxes (tax free buildings for your kids schools) and infrastructure to accommodate you? There should be schools in Jackson either way as a third of all new kids in Lakewood schools come from Jackson.

Royal Grove resident said...

Turns out that Flemming is the better choice for us.

Reina "supports schools", however, instead of spreading our schools throughout parts of Jackson which have more space, his support only means moving "our" schools to "our" neighborhoods, which we actually don't want due to the narrowness of the roads.

Flemming does not support schools and therefore he was doing all he could to get Eichorn to build houses instead of schools. However, the good news is that Flemming's equal treatment of not wanting any schools anywhere means that he won't just dump "our" schools specifically in "our" neighborhood, so he's got my vote!

Jackson residents said...

Agudath Israel's fight in court did not end up helping us.

They should withdraw their Preliminary Injunction that now requires Jackson to permit large schools with 50 school buses in our backyards!

Anonymous said...

and then we wonder why were hated so much and legit requests such as shuls and mikvas are shut down and need to go to court with all its inherent expenses to get okayed

Lakewood taxpayer said...

Well at least Jackson isn't proposing a crazy ordinance to permit banquet halls with barely any parking in every zone of town, like the committeemen in Lakewood are trying to do - in order to help their buddies. Someone has to protect us from the 5 members on the committee trying to totally destroy our town. Please Help! This is an SOS call.

Flemming's got my vote! said...

Reina wants to take Eichorn's schools away from a non-Jewish neighborhood, and move them specifically closer to Lakewood because that is where the Jewish neighborhoods (which he is happy to screw up) are. In essence he is taking care of the non-Jews by screwing the Jewish neighborhoods.

Flemming, on the other hand, gives equal unwelcome treatment to all schools.

The proof is that Flemming is opposing Reina's land swap for Eichorn so much that he is willing to pay hard cash for the land (instead of doing the swap), all to ensure that no neighborhood gets screwed up with schools.

For this reason, Royal Grove will be super screwed up if Reina wins, because Reina will not do a land swap with The Cheder as he is perfectly happy with keeping that school in the Jewish neighborhood.

Additionally, if Reina wins, he will move even more schools to the Royal Grove neighborhood.

Let the buyer beware this election day!

Lakewood boy who feels your pain said...

Jackson residents need to take a lesson from the good residents of Lakewood.

You need to impress upon your non-Jewish neighbors and council members that there are "regular folks" and "traffic-congestion causing developers" and that they are not all one and the same!

Not every family who moves to Jackson wants anything more than a bigger backyard and some peaceful quiet.

True you do also need a place for prayer, but it doesn't need to be gigantic and in everyone's way.

You certainly are not trying to buy out the whole block and turn the nice single family homes into quadplexes with basement apartment rentals!

But, it's not enough to just know that, you need to make sure that your non-Jewish neighbors and Town Council understand that as well!

Just as in Lakewood when neighbors receive notice of a land use board application and they turn to the Town Boards to voice their opposition to the application, it's time to start doing the same in Jackson - and that's why I'm really thrilled to see this starting now in Royal Grove!

יותר כוח לכם!
וְקוֹיֵ ה' יַחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ יַ×¢ֲלוּ אֵבֶר כַּ× ְּשָׁרִים יָרוּצוּ וְלֹא יִיגָעוּ יֵלְכוּ וְלֹא יִיעָפוּ.

Anonymous said...

Share the video!