Attorneys representing neighbors of Bais Yaakov of Jackson have filed legal action seeking for a court order requiring Jackson Planning Board Chairman Tzvi Herman to be questioned regarding allegations of conflict of interest.

The court hearing on the matter was originally scheduled for this past Friday, December 1, 2023. However, the attorneys representing Bais Yaakov of Jackson and the Planning Board have gotten the hearing postponed to January 5, 2024.

As the news was very first broken here on FAA News, back in November 2022, after they learned of the submission of the Site Plan application, neighbors of Bais Yaakov of Jackson's property - who have concerns regarding traffic congestion, privacy, and regarding the septic system of such a scope close to their property - held a meeting in a local shul with Mr. Aron Rottenberg, a representative of the school.

Neighbors asked if he can guarantee that their children will be able to get into the new school in exchange for them not opposing construction of the school in their neighborhood. Mr. Rottenberg immediately responded, "no way - you're not welcome in this school."

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

Despite the neighbors' objections, as previously reported here on FAA News, back in March 2023, Jackson Township's Planning Board unanimously gave their approval to Bais Yaakov of Jackson's Site Plan application for a 4-building school campus on East Veterans Highway.

Bais Yaakov of Jackson's application was represented by Attorney Donna Jennings of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A.

Following the Board's approval of the application as well as adoption and publication of their Resolution of Approval, as previously reported here on FAA News, back in July 2023, the neighbors, represented by Mr. Michelini, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Board's approval.

Mr. Michelini has now filed a motion seeking to expand the record and include allegations of conflict of interest regarding Ms. Jennings and Mr. Herman.

The motion states:

After the Resolution was adopted, I learned of an email from the applicant's attorney, Donna Jennings, confirming her representation of Bais Medrash of Jackson.

I also learned that Ms. Jennings filed for Site Plan approval on behalf of the shul, further confirming her ongoing representation of this particular shul. She wrote two letters on behalf of the shul before the Planning Board's public hearing of Bais Yaakov of Jackson's application.

I also learned that Jackson Planning Board Chairman Tzvi Herman was also on the board of the shul that Donna Jennings is representing. Prior Board membership by Mr. Herman is confirmed in an Asbury Park Press article.

Ms. Jennings and Mr. Herman had an existing client/attorney relationship during the hearings. Both Ms. Jennings and Chairman Herman failed to disclose any of the foregoing at the hearings or to recuse himself.

After the Resolution was adopted, I also learned that Mr. Herman was the editor of a magazine called Jackson Pulse wherein he made numerous comments regarding the positive development of private religious schools being approved. This demonstrates a predetermined bias.

If these facts had been properly disclosed at the start of the hearings, I could have and would have objected for the record.

It was only due to their failure to make these disclosures that I was prevented from doing so.

I request permission to depose Tzvi Herman regarding his and his congregation's legal relationship with Ms. Jennings as well as his personal, documented opinions regarding private school development in Jackson, which will assist in the fact sensitive analysis which will need to be undertaken by this court.

The motion was originally returnable before Judge Hodgson this past Friday, December 1, 2023.

The attorney representing the Planning Board requested an adjournment of one motion cycle to Friday, December 15, 2023.

The attorney representing Bais Yaakov of Jackson requested an additional adjournment to the next motion cycle. Due to the legal holidays, motions will not be heard on Friday, December 30, 2023. Accordingly, Judge Hodgson has now scheduled the matter to be heard on Friday, January 5, 2024.

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