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A proposal for a child care center, with a capacity of 450 children, on Bennetts Mills Road in Jackson, is facing opposition from numerous neighbors, including from some who are warning the Township's Planning Board that such a building may be rented out during the night.

Jackson Township's Planning Board recently heard initial testimony on an application submitted by Bennetts Mills Realty, LLC, for a new child care center at 28 Johnson Lane and 334 Bennetts Mills Road.

The application was represented by Attorney Salvatore Alfieri, Esq. and Engineer Graham MacFarlane of PDS Engineering.

The application was originally listed on the agenda as a "Daycare and Medical Center," however prior to the public hearing the medical center use was apparently eliminated.

Per the application documents, the proposed "daycare" was for ages 2.5-5, however at the public hearing the applicant's professionals testified that the child care center is actually for ages 0-5 and that drop offs would begin as early as 7:45am. They also testified that an after school program would keep the building in use until 5pm.

The building is proposed to contain 26 classrooms as well as 10 rooms for individual therapy. A total of 50 staff members are expected to work at the center.

An outside play area, with lawn recreational equipment, is also proposed.

The parking lot will be served by a single driveway on Bennetts Mills Road. The parking lot will contain 75 off-street parking spaces, as well as a car loading area for pick up and drop offs. As requested by the fire department, the parking lot will also contain a dedicated fire access lane.

Board members discussed Johnson Lane which serves a few adjoining homes but is only 12 feet wide. Board members were concerned that parents may cut through Johnson Lane to avoid pick up and drop off congestion. In response, the applicant's professionals stated that they preferred to keep access to Johnson Lane open for emergency vehicle access, but suggested they could provide fencing and other means of discouraging through traffic if the Board preferred.

The applicant did not propose any improvements to Johnson Lane. Additionally, the applicant sought a waiver from providing a sidewalk along Bennetts Mills Road.

Numerous neighbors opposed the application (which is a permitted use in the zoning district), saying that this is a "very residential area" and a  child care center this size, especially with drop offs so early in the morning, would bring extra noise and traffic to the area.

Additionally, some frum neighbors suggested to the Board that they clarify the scope of the intended use and hours of use of the building, noting that our child care centers tend to be used "in many different ways over many different hours including off school hours."

The neighbors implored the applicant to consider selling the property so it could instead be preserved for open space.

The Board tabled further discussion on the application until July 17 to give the applicant time to review and address all concerns expressed by the Board and neighbors.

Neighboring property owners will receive new legal notice prior to the next hearing date.

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Anonymous said...

Aaah. The joy of fights and lawsuits is spreading to Jackson. We need common sense rules when it comes to building.

Anonymous said...

Rule #1
Never try to build something near someone else that you wouldn't want built next to you.
How many times have I seen developers, builders protest someone else's project near their home, when they built the craziest stuff by other areas