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Jackson Township's Zoning Board is again set today, Wednesday May 31, to face - what appears to be - their first ever Yeshiva dormitory application. The application was submitted by Yeshiva Tiferes Talmud, which is apparently owned by Lakewood developer Mark Tress of Cedar Holdings.

The application was previously scheduled for a public hearing in April. However, that hearing was adjourned, with no further notice to the public, to May 3. Initial testimony on the application was provided that night. The continuation of the hearing was scheduled, with no further notice to the public, to tonight.

The application seeks to convert existing residential structures on the property located at 537 Brewers Bridge Road into a private school for approximately 60 students with an accessory dormitory and a parsonage, both of which are to be located in separate structures.

The parcel is split zoned between the R-1 and R-3 Zones which do not permit dormitories. These zones are also not included in the Township's settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice as a "future dormitory permitted zone." One of these zones also does not permit schools.

As such, the application seeks Use variance relief to permit the school and accessory dormitory uses.

The application is also seeking Preliminary and Final Major Site Plan Approval with variances to permit more than one principal structure or use on a lot containing a single family home, as well as bulk variance relief with respect to (i) minimum side yard setback violations, if deemed necessary, for both the existing single family home and detached garage; and (ii) to permit land banking of most of the required parking spaces; and a waiver with respect to the minimum size of the ADA parking space.

Jackson Township's zoning ordinances require 1 parking space per 1.5 students in this type of school. As such, a school with 60 students would require 40 parking spaces. The application provides only 5 spaces. As explained during the previous hearing, the rest of the parking spaces would be "land banked," which means that they will remain unpaved for now but they will be paved in the future if Township officials determine that they are needed for the site to operate properly.

The Zoning Board hearing will take place at 7:00pm in the Main Meeting Room at the Jackson Township Municipal Building, located at 95 West Veterans Highway. Members of the public may appear in person or by an attorney and present any comments and/or objections to the relief sought.

As a school is an inherently beneficial use, to be granted a Use Variance, pursuant to Sica v. Bd. of Adjustment of Tp. of Wall, the applicant's professionals would need to testify that the application meets the following negative criteria:

Under the first step, a Board is required to identify the public interest at stake.

Under the second step, a Board is required to identify any detriment effect that might ensue from the granting of a variance, with the primary emphasis being on visual impacts.

Under the third step, a reviewing Board may reduce any perceived detrimental effect by imposing reasonable conditions.

For the fourth and final step, a Board is required to weigh the positive and negative criteria, and determine on balance the grant of the variance would cause a substantial detriment to the public good.

Jackson's land use boards have, in recent months, approved a number of Yeshiva and shul applications. However, it appears that this is the Zoning Board's first ever Yeshiva dormitory application.

If this dormitory is approved, it may signal the beginning of a new era that dormitories are welcome in Jackson Township, perhaps even more so than in Lakewood.

As the news was very first broken here on FAA News, in response to a lawsuit filed by adjoining neighborhoods seeking to overturn the Lakewood Township Planning Board's approval of a dormitory expansion for Yeshiva Toras Chaim, located at 999 Ridge Avenue, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Marlene Ford did overturn the approval.

Additionally, as more recently reported here on FAA News, there is a lawsuit currently pending which seeks to overturn the Lakewood Township Planning Board's approval of a dormitory expansion for Yeshiva Birchas Chaim, located at 1111 Vine Avenue.

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