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Based on a report from the Lakewood News Network, it appears that the residents of Royal Grove and The Vineyards who are neighbors of Bais Yaakov of Jackson's proposed campus of 3 schools are no longer seeking for Jackson Mayor Mike Reina to do a land swap so the schools can move to a different neighborhood.

As first reported here on FAA News, Lakewood's largest school, the Lakewood Cheder / Beis Faiga has submitted an application to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for prerequisite environmental permits to build 2 girls elementary schools and a girls high school on a 37.9 acres site at 245 & 279 East Veterans Highway, which is near Royal Grove, The Vineyards, Dunhill Road, and Butterfly Road.

The application documents indicate that the schools can contain 2,500 students who are expected to arrive on 50 schools buses. The proposed school parking lot can stage only 23 buses at once. The parking lot will technically contain 503 parking spaces, however, 136 of these spaces are indicated to be "land banked / recreational area" which means that the area will likely be used for a recreational area and not actual parking.

East Veterans Highway is a narrow, 2 lane collector roadway with barely any shoulders and not many traffic signals to help break traffic. The parallel collector roadway, Butterfly Road looks very much the same.

When the neighbors received legal notice of the pending DEP application, they set up a meeting with Aron Rottenberg, a representative of the school. At the meeting which was held last week in a local shul, Mr. Rottenberg 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 convey their objections to the school's application due to concerns that the traffic will be too overwhelming for their narrow roadways, and they asked if the school has obtained a Traffic Study which would indicate whether or not the proposal would require turning lanes or a traffic signal. Mr. Rottenberg responded that he has a traffic study but that he won't give it to the neighbors.

The 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".

In an attempt to be the cordial ones, the neighbors 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.

On Election Day, Mayor Reina won his own reelection by approximately 1,100 votes. According to a report by The Lakewood Scoop, approximately 3,000 of Reina's votes came from the Orthodox Jewish voters. Indeed, the Jewish community held the winning ticket as had their votes gone to Flemming, he would have been the one to declare victory tonight.

As reported here on FAA News, Reina won in District 11, which includes the Royal Grove neighborhood. Flemming won in District 13, which includes the 32-acre farm at 443 Leesville Road upon which, as previously reported here on FAA News, Lakewood developer Mordechai Eichorn of Bellevue Estates currently has an application pending before the Jackson Planning Board to build 4 private schools.

At the initial Planning Board hearing on the Leesville Road farm school application, numerous neighbors (who are not Jewish) showed up at the meeting and opposed the application.

Thereafter, - and mere days before the election, as previously reported here on FAA News, Mayor Reina broke the news that "to protect existing neighborhoods within Jackson Township and to protect and honor the rights of all Jackson residents", he "successfully negotiated to acquire Eichorn's farm [to keep it for open space]".

At a "town hall" Reina subsequently hosted for residents in the Leesville area, he clarified that the acquisition would be in the form of a land swap for Township owned land near the Lakewood Cross Street border, and that the swap requires and awaits approval from the Township Council.

As noted in our previous report, being that Reina won in District 11, which includes the Royal Grove neighborhood, while Reina lost in District 13, which includes the Leesville Road farm property which Reina has been working to acquire and retain as open space in an effort to "to protect existing neighborhoods within Jackson Township and to protect and honor the rights of all Jackson residents" (according to the wording of his press release), Jackson's District 11 voters, including Royal Grove residents, were eagerly awaiting to see if newly-reelected Mayor Reina will return the favor of his supporters and change his plans to instead swap land with Bais Yaakov of Jackson (which Mr. Rottenberg already said he would agree to swap if it was offered to him) so as to preserve District 11 and save them from the school development which they have expressed opposition to, or if he will stick to his original plan to swap land with Eichorn and save Leesville Road from the school development despite the fact that the voters in that district did not support him.

However, it now appears that Royal Grove residents have had a change of heart and they are no longer seeking this land swap in their favor.

According to a report yesterday on the Lakewood News Network, a local leader of Royal Grove stated that they "are not endorsing the schools, but [they are also not] opposing them".

Apparently, there was a change of heart and the neighbors of Bais Yaakov of Jackson's proposed campus of 3 schools are no longer seeking for Mayor Reina to do a land swap so the schools can move to a different neighborhood as they are no longer opposed to the school application.

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.

As recently reported here on FAA News, the school has already submitted their Site Plan to the Ocean County Planning Board. As shown in the review letter below, County officials have deemed the application incomplete and have refused to even hold a hearing on the application due to traffic concerns.

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Anonymous said...

Wow FAA what a blanket statement headline.
You just post as fact whatever anyone tells you?

Just because some Royal Grove "Leaders" have contracts under the table with the future Bais Yaakov of Jackson suddenly the neighbors no longer oppose this? This is misleading.
As a local neighbor I can assure you we are unhappy with the plans just as before.
The greed of ONE Royal Grove individual does not speak for us all.

Anonymous said...

There’s already another 15 acres across the street on East Veterans that was sold to build another school for the cheder. Trust me as a neighbour no one is giving up on this fight to preserve our quality of life in Jackson. Not the people of Royal Grove nor The Vineyards and surrounding areas. If we allow this to get built here another 10 schools will open up on our 2 lane streets. We just experienced 2 road closures in the past 2 days one on East Veterans and another on Bennetts Mills, the commute was hell, well this will be the new daily commute in and around Jackson if we don’t fight to preserve our neighbourhood.
Schools should only be built in commercial areas and not inside a quiet community neighbourhood with one outlet road which is a narrow 2 lane highway. It’s Insane!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Previously they were very adamant that they did not want the schools in their neighborhood and they wanted Reina to save them by doing a land swap. Apparently they changed their mind and they are no longer opposing the school so they don't need a land swap. I wonder who (and how much!) got them to change their mind.