Join Our Telegram Channel


Jackson Township's Planning Board last month held a three hour hearing on Bais Yaakov of Jackson's application for a 4-building school campus on East Veterans Highway. The Board will continue the hearing tonight, Monday, March 20.

The Board is chaired by Tzvi Herman. Board members include Mordechai Burnstein and Shimshi Heller.

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 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."

The use is conforming, however the application does seek several design waivers which will require Board approval, and which the neighbors are heavily relying on to oppose the application.

The parking lot, which will be accessed by two driveways on East Veterans Highway, will contain 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 lot will also "technically contain" 503 parking spaces as required, however, 136 of these spaces are indicated to be "land banked / recreational area" which means that they are proposed to be used mainly for a recreational area and not actual parking. This arrangement will require variance approval from the Board.

The school proposes to operate on septic, which is not typical for school development in Jackson - especially for schools of this size. The neighbors have expressed grave concerns regarding a school of this scope operating on a septic system close to their property.

Bais Yaakov of Jackson's application is 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, which ultimately is what permits this application to be presented as a conforming use.

As the news was first broken here on FAA News, back in November, the neighbors, who have concerns regarding traffic congestion as well as privacy, held a meeting in a local shul with Mr. Aron Rottenberg, a representative of the school.

Mr. Rottenberg indicated that this site is proposed only for 3 girls schools, and that they are under contract to buy an additional 12 acre site for their boys school.

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.

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 response, the neighbors have retained Brick Township Attorney Joseph Michelini Esq. of O'Malley, Surman, and Michelini to represent their opposition to the application.

At last months hearing, Mr. Michelini asked if the numerous "multi-purpose rooms" on each floor which have separate entrances and lobbies, as well as the gym building, would be turned into rentable banquet halls.

Mr. Rottenberg stated "no."

Noting that placement of a restrictive covenant would allow the neighbors to sue in court if they do indeed operate a banquet hall, Mr. Michelini then asked if he would be willing to place a restrictive covenant on the property that it can not be used for a rental hall. Mr. Rottenberg vehemently objected.

Mr. Michelini then asked if The Cheder's Lakewood schools have banquet halls and if yes, do those halls have Township approval.

Mr. Rottenberg responded that most of them do have halls and they all have proper Township approval for the halls.

Curiously, when the Lakewood Cheder presented their Site Plan and architectural plans to the Lakewood Township Planning Board, they depicted "open recreational space" which was then turned into two banquet halls. Lakewood Township never granted any Certificate of Occupancy for these banquet halls.

Additionally, when Beis Faiga's Gratter Building expansion presented their Site Plan and architectural plans to the Lakewood Township Planning Board, they depicted an "auditorium" which Mr. Rottenberg solemnly affirmed "will not be rented out." Lakewood Township also never granted any Certificate of Occupancy for this banquet hall.

The neighbors are therefore concerned that just as  the Lakewood schools contain banquet halls despite their representations at the Lakewood Planning Board that there will be no banquet halls, similarly the Jackson schools may also contain banquet halls despite their representations now to the Jackson Planning Board that there will be no banquet halls.

Yehuda Tomar, a well known Jackson askan sent out a text message urging Jackson residents to come show support for the application.

Numerous residents of the immediate area also came out to oppose the application.

Tonight's Board meeting will take place at 7:30pm at Jackson Town Hall, 95 West Veterans Highway
Jackson, NJ 08527.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Mr. Michelini represented Ridge Avenue residents opposed to Yeshiva Ruach Hatorah's application for a total of 30 houses on a cul-de-sac bulb road. After negotiating with the developer, the application was successfully tabled until further notice.

As also reported here on FAA News, Mr. Michelini represented Newport Avenue residents opposed to a possible banquet hall in a proposed child care center application. Mr. Michelini successfully negotiated a Consent Order with the developers who agreed not to build a banquet hall.

As also reported here on FAA News, Mr. Michelini represented the Harrogate development regarding Covington Village's application.

Beis Yaakov of Jackson recently received initial Ocean County Planning Board approval. Their DEP application remains pending.

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.

To join a FAA WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA WhatsApp Status, click here.

No comments: