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Jackson Township Mayor Mike Reina this week announced that the township has negotiated successfully to acquire the 32-acre farm on Leesville Road, where Lakewood developer Mordechai Eichorn of Bellevue Estates had planned to build four private schools.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Eichorn was proposing to build 3 elementary schools, 1 high school and an ancillary gymnasium on this parcel of land at 443 Leesville Road between Burke and Diamond Road, and that proposal is pending before the Township's Planning Board.

“My priority is to protect existing neighborhoods within Jackson Township and to protect and honor the rights of all Jackson residents. We have found a way to achieve both outcomes with this agreement once it is finalized and approved", stated Mayor Reina in a press release. 

The negotiation is legally still in the preliminary stages as a potential purchase price for the property has not yet been disclosed, nor has the Township Council voted yet on the matter.

Reina's announcement of the land purchase comes just over a week before Election Day, where he is seeking reelection to a fifth term. He's opposed by Council President Martin Flemming III and, in recent weeks, both have said they were committed to purchasing more open space as a tool to control development.

According to a report by the Asbury Park Press, Flemming claims that this move, which comes so close to Election Day, is simply a political point, noting that "the Township Council had never been informed that the municipality was even in negotiations to purchase the site. I'm the council president, and I have no idea what the price and terms are. If this wasn't a political point, then why wasn't the council involved?"

If approved by the Town Council, the Township would purchase the land using their Open Space tax funds, which, in 2020 their voters approved to increase.

The Open Space is a tax which the Township collects specially to purchase, develop, and maintain lands for conservation and recreation purposes, such as farm land and historic sites and facilities.⁣ (I.e. to curb overdevelopment)

The voters of the township first approved the creation and funding of a Jackson Open Space Trust Fund in 2001, and authorized a collection rate of up to 1.5 cents per $100.00 of their property's assessed value.⁣

In 2004, the voters approved an increase in the open space tax to provide for an additional 1.5 cents per $100.00 of⁣ assessed valuation for a total of 3 cents per $100.00.⁣

Thereafter, due to inflation, the township governing body decided to reduce the amount of the open space tax to 2.0 cents per $100.00 of assessed valuation.

In the 2020 elections, the Township Council seeked voter approval to reauthorize the open space tax at the rate of 3.0 cents per $100.00 of assessed valuation.

In their zeal to curb Jewish overdevelopment, Township voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum. 

Seems that their support of the Open Space tax increase has now paid off for them.

The losers are the kids who will continue to shlep on long bus rides to Lakewood instead of getting their own schools more closely to home.

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Shlomo Perlman said...

Jackson and Toms River have their own municipal Open Space tax and that permits those municipalities to curb overdevelopment by purchasing the land out of the hands of the developers. Ocean County also has a county Open Space tax. However, Lakewood Township - which suffers from the most overdevelopment of all municipalities in the area - does not have its own Municipal Open Space tax.

Perhaps now is the time for the Lakewood Township Committee to enact an Open Space tax in our town as well!

Anonymous said...

This is great news! Enough building and overcrowding. The losers are the builders. The kinderlach are the winners!