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Following several hours of testimony tonight and at a previous hearing, the Jackson Township Zoning Board on Wednesday night unanimously granted conditional-use variance approval to Khal Hampshire Hills.

The application proposes a shul with a mikva and simcha hall on North County Line Road and Piccadilly Drive.

The conditional-use variance approval is only the first step. The shul will need to return to the Board at a future time with a major Site Plan application.

The Site Plan depicts a driveway fronting Piccadilly Drive with 95 off-street parking spaces.

The architectural plans submitted depict a 2-story building plus a finished basement. The total gross floor area will be 21,575 sq feet. This includes a 4,746 sq foot Beis Medrash and 750 sq foot library on the first floor, a 1,546 sq foot Ezras Noshim and 1,046 sq foot lecture room on the second floor. The basement will be fully finished with a 4,551 sq foot simcha hall, as well as separate mikvas for men and women.

The main relief required was that the Township's ordinance does not permit houses of worship in this zone to have primary lot frontage and access from a residential street. The shul site does have frontage along County Line Road, however, due to wetlands, it is not possible to pave a driveway from that road. Therefore, the application required conditional use relief to permit the driveway access to be on a residential street.

The application also required conditional use relief from the minimum buffer requirement from a residential zone (50 feet is required, 25 feet wooded buffer will be provided).

Attorney Donna Jennings Esq. representing the shul told the Board that even if the Township Council had already passed the amended House of Worship ordinance that they previously introduced, this application would require the same relief.

Engineer Graham MacFarlane told the Board that the Township's Environmental Commission already issued a letter of no concern with the application.

He added that as a condition of approval, they will connect to sewer.

The Site Plan depicts Freshwater wetlands on a portion of the property including the parking area.

After reviewing this application for 2 years, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection finally granted the shul a Freshwater Wetlands Letter of Interpretation Line Verification on January 25, 2023.

Mr. MacFarlane added that the shul will also require a permit from the DEP for disturbance of the Riparian Buffer. He stated that this permit will be sought during the site plan design stage.

R' Moishy Libersohn, a member of the shul's Building Committee, told the Board that there are currently around 90 families living within a 15 minute walk who would attend this shul.

He added that the simcha hall is proposed to be used only on Shabbos, and not for outside rentals during the week.

Naftoli Gut, the building's architect, noted that the size of the Beis Medrash was purposely designed to accommodate the needs of future families and their children.

Public records indicate that the shul closed on the $800,000 purchase of the 14 acres property in February 2022. The seller was K-land No. 11 LLC.

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