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JUDGE TOSSES LAWSUIT SEEKING TO OVERTURN BAIS YAAKOV OF JACKSON'S SITE PLAN APPROVAL




At a trial held this morning, Ocean County Superior Court Assignment Judge Francis Hodgson dismissed a lawsuit which sought to overturn Jackson Township Planning Board's approval of Bais Yaakov of Jackson's Site Plan application for a 4-building school campus on East Veterans Highway.


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.


Mr. Rottenberg informed the neighbors that the school will not be a "new school for Jackson children," but rather that the existing Lakewood children will move to the new location in Jackson.


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."


The neighbors tried to impress upon Mr. Rottenberg their concerns and they asked him to commit to planting proper trees and installing high fences. Mr. Rottenberg responded, "I won't agree here to do anything. You're welcome to fight me at the Township boards."


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


Following the Board's approval of the application notwithstanding the neighbors' objections, 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.


The suit challenged the approval on a number of jurisdictional and procedural grounds.


At a trial held this morning, Judge Hodgson dismissed the challenge, permitting the building approval process to proceed.


The Site Plan depicts an elementary school building that can contain 1,350 students, two high school buildings that can contain 500 students in each, and an additional 9,800 sq feet gymnasium building.


The architectural floor plans indicate that each school building will contain two stories and no basements. There doesn't seem to be any main dining area, rather each floor contains a smaller "multi-purpose room."


The parking lot, which will be accessed by two driveways on East Veterans Highway, will contain a bus lane which will be able to fit 8 buses in front of two of the school buildings and 9 buses in front of one of the school buildings. A total of 503 parking spaces are required under Jackson's zoning ordinances.


The Site Plan "technically contains" 503 parking spaces as required, however, 136 of these spaces will be "land banked / recreational area" which means that they will be used for a recreational area and not actual parking.


The school's professionals agreed that annually, Township zoning officials can review the parking lot and if they determine that additional parking is required, then at that point the land banked area will be paved into parking spaces.


Bais Yaakov of Jackson's application was represented by Attorney Donna Jennings of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A, Engineer Ian Borden of PDS Engineering, Traffic Engineer John Rea of McDonough and Rea Associates, and Architect Melissa Mermelstein, Senior Architect employed at BF Design and Associates.


The school proposes to operate on a septic system as extending sewer to the site is costly. This proposal requires New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approval. That application remains pending.


The septic system also requires approval from the Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority (JTMUA) and that approval has already been granted.


In a shocking twist, according to public records obtained by FAA News, at one point, the JTMUA's engineer wrote that the school's proposal to operate on a septic system was "acceptable." Subsequently, the engineer was directed by MUA staff to change the wording on their letter to say that the school's proposal to operate on a septic system was "appropriate." 🤔


The neighbors have 45 days to file an appeal from today's ruling.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the less intelligent readers like me, perhaps you could have made the headline a drop less confusing. How about, "Judge upholds Bais Yaakov of Jackson's Site Plan Approval"?