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Just days ago, Lakewood Planning Board Attorney John Jackson did some pretty sloppy work that has already resulted in the filing of a lawsuit which taxpayers will be on the hook for.

The lawsuit was filed by Yanky Lipshitz who is represented by Attorney Adam Pfeffer Esq.

As first reported here on FAA News, in response to heavy opposition from the neighbors, the Planning Board denied Application SD 2553 to construct 13 duplex structures (26 houses plus basement apartments) on a new cul-de-sac bulb off of Chestnut Street, across from Evergreen Avenue.

The application was submitted by Chestnut Holdings (which is owned by Jacob Lipshitz and Hersh Eissenberg).

As more clearly explained here on FAA News, although the applicant's professionals asserted that the application did not require any variances, the Planning Board reinterpreted the Township's Open Space Ordinance to count basement apartments as a separate unit. Based on this new interpretation, the Board found that the Chestnut Holdings application did not comply with this Ordinance. The Board declined to grant a design waiver to provide relief from providing the required Open Space, and thus denied the application.

Subsequently, just last Tuesday, June 20, 2023, the Board adopted the Resolution of Denial which was drafted by the Board Attorney.

The Resolution was written extremely sloppy.

First the Resolution appears to indicate that under their new interpretation of the Open Space Ordinance, the application does not comply with the Ordinance:

The Board asked about whether the Open Space Ordinance defines unit and expressed concern regarding the lack of space for a playground or recreational space for the units. Mr. Flannery stated that the ordinance has been interpreted to mean, for example, 28 lots is 28 units, irrespective of basement units, since 1979. The Board said that if there are different families that are going to reside in the basement units, then 56 units must be considered when applying this Ordinance. The board confirmed their interpretation that a basement apartment, by definition, is a separate unit.

Then the Resolution does a 180° and contends that the application is conforming!

The Resolution states:

While the application represented a conforming subdivision, it is the duty of the planning board to weigh the evidence and to exercise its discretion in the event of significant concerns on the board of the board. The Board ultimately rejected the application on the basis of significant public safety concerns regarding traffic flow and the lack community facilities or recreational space, with the substantial proposed density particularly in light of the basement apartments noted on the plans. The Board found that an approval of this application would have significant detrimental effects on the safety of the neighborhood.

The Board finds that the applicant’s proposal does not further the purposes of zoning pursuant to N.J.S. 40:55D-2:
1. The applicant’s proposal is not the best planning alternative.
2. The proposed development would not secure safety from fire, flood, panic and other natural and man-made disasters.

Accordingly, the Board hereby denies the applicant’s request for major preliminary and
final subdivision approval.

The massive issue with this wording is that it throws away what the Board accomplished by reinterpreting the Open Space Ordinance - which was that the application was able to found to be non-conforming!

This created a massive lawsuit risk, as it's extremely easy to file a lawsuit against the Board when they deny a "fully conforming" application.

In fact, it's just 7 days later and a lawsuit has already been filed!

Attorney Adam Pfeffer is arguing that the Board's decision to deny the application was against the weight of the testimony presented at the hearings and is therefore arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.

Plaintiff complied in all respects with the land use ordinances of the Township of Lakewood, and did not require, nor did it seek any variances therefrom.

Plaintiff’s application for Preliminary and Final Major Subdivision Approval was properly noticed and published in compliance with the MLUL, and was the subject of a public hearing on March 28, 2023 and May 23, 2023.

During the course of the public hearings, the plaintiff introduced testimony from its engineer/planner who testified that the proposed duplex structures are a permissible use of the Premises within in HD-7 Highway Development Zoning District, and that no variances were required, and none were sought.

Notwithstanding the fact that Plaintiff’s application was “as-right” the Planning Board adopted a resolution of denial on June 20, 2023.

The resolution of denial of the Planning Board is arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious in that the plaintiff complied in all respects with the zoning requirements set forth in the HD-7 Highway Development Zoning District, and otherwise meet all conditions of the Lakewood Township zoning land use ordinances.

Accordingly, the Planning Board did not have the authority to deny Plaintiff’s application for Preliminary and Final Major Subdivision Approval pursuant to PRB Enterprises, Inc. v. South Brunswick Planning Board and its progeny.

The suit further contends that the Resolution of Denial contains insufficient conclusions of law and findings of fact not based on those presented at the hearing, which is a violation of N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10(g).

N.J.S.A. 40:55-10(g) requires that the Board make “findings of fact and conclusions based thereon.” Subsection 2 requires same be set forth in a memorializing resolution.


Neither of these conclusions are representative of the testimony provided at the hearing. At no time did the Board question any expert regarding safety concerns. In fact, the Resolution itself is devoid of any findings of facts on the record which speak to health and safety concerns upon which the Board could have drawn its conclusion.

As such, the Resolution is both deficient and contradictory to the testimony set forth on the record and in violation of N.J.S.A. 40:55D-10(g).

The Complaint in Lieu of Prerogative Writs, filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County requests judgment declaring the Resolution of Denial to be arbitrary, unreasonable and capricious, and void as a matter of law, and compelling the Planning Board to adopt a positive Resolution of Approval to approve the Plaintiff’s Application for Preliminary and Final Major Subdivision Approval.

The Complaint further seeks judgement awarding plaintiff attorneys’ fees and costs of suit, as well as for such other and further relief as may be just.

The Planning Board has 35 days to formulate an Answer to the Complaint.

As previously reported here on FAA News, Ocean County Superior Court Assignment Judge Francis Hodgson recently overturned the Planning Board's denial of a fully conforming application.

As previously reported here on FAA News, the Board is currently vehemently litigating a lawsuit filed by Franklin Shapiro over the Board's denial of his application to subdivide the rear yard of 30 Independence Court into a second lot. The trial on that matter was adjourned to July 27.

As previously reported here on FAA News, the Board is also currently vehemently litigating a lawsuit filed by Solomon Halpern of Besadar Holdings over the Board's denial of his "mostly conforming" application for 9 new single family homes on a cul-de-sac road along the southwest side of Fourteenth Street, southeast of Curtis Lane. The neighbors who opposed the application at the Board's public hearing have joined the lawsuit to help the Board defend its denial. The trial on that matter was adjourned to July 31.

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Anonymous said...

Either John Jackson is a total idiot or he was deliberately sloppy. Both are bad for the residents. Time to replace him.

Not a fan of John Jackson said...

I don't think that this was simply "sloppy work."

I fear that this is actually some behind the scenes corrupt collusion with Township officials who want to see this development approved...

I recall several earlier FAA News stories which revealed John Jackson doing some pretty insane behind the scenes corrupt collusion with Township officials...

At, after Judge Ford ruled that dormitories are not a permitted use in Lakewood, John Jackson urged the Court to reconsider, claiming that the Board wants to continue to permit dormitories.

This was quite an odd request, as actually, as reported at, the Board was trying to say "no more dormitories."

At, John Jackson admitted to Judge Hodgson that he was the one pushing the Planning Board to keep permitting dormitories as "that's what the governing body has decided."

At, after the Board expressly said no to a dormitory, John Jackson had the gall to straight up draft a Resolution saying that the Board did approve the dormitory!

Apparently, John Jackson has quite a history doing some behind the scene nefarious work.

I don't trust that Yanky Lipshitz's Resolution was simply "sloppy work..."

Anonymous said...

risky lawsuit will cause damage
arts and crafts may work at zoning
not so much in court

Anonymous said...

John Jackson obviously has to appease certain self-interested individuals so he can keep his job. A few years ago they threatened to give his job to the corrupt Ian Goldman (Adam Pfeffer’s partner) but he pleaded with them and promised to be better at toeing the line, regardless of the facts or what the law really says. He’s also recently left his long time law firm to go on his own, so he really needs the job and is therefore more susceptible to behind the scenes pressures and instructions from the committeemen through their township attorney.

Residents have been keeping a close eye on him and will file complaints at the right time.