JACKSON – A revised version of the $500 million Adventure Crossing Sports complex proposal was approved by members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment during its recent reorganization meeting.
That application saw opposition last year by a township-based citizens group called Jackson Neighbors Unite (JNU) and a court challenge by residents on Anderson Road. JNU members, the project’s applicant, Vito Cardinale, president and CEO of Vito Cardinale Enterprises and his attorney Sal Alfieri and professional planner Ian Borden were present during the meeting.
Borden discussed the project’s new General Development Plan (GDP) which was based on the concessions of the lawsuit. Members of JNU had posted on their Facebook page that Adventure Crossings would compromise the quality of life in the township and surrounding communities because it had been proposed to include 500 residential apartments, 90 of which being affordable housing, 40-plus structures including a 50’ high air dome and proposed multi-tier golf/bar with large nets in a residential area and structures that would be four stories high or higher.
The group also noted that “more development without proper consideration for Jackson and the surrounding town would mean increased traffic and congestion on Anderson Road, Route 537, Route 571/526 and surrounding areas.”
A JNU flier that appears on its Facebook page states that the township has no plans to fix Anderson Road and the Route 537 intersection and adds that the proposed project would increase noise and light pollution. They were also concerned about the environmental impact of runoff and destruction of green space. It also stated concern over a potential decrease in home values and that it would require more municipal services which would mean more money from taxpayers.
Adventure Sports & Entertainment LLC proposed the plan two years ago and received preliminary approvals last year. Adventure Sports & Entertainment was formed to build and operate a state-of-the-art indoor facility at 567 Monmouth Road adjacent to the Six Flags Great Adventure Park, accessible from I-95 with close proximity to the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
Cardinale said last year that his vision was to deliver a sports entertainment experience, unparalleled in the northeast corridor. The facility would include a Sports Bubble built within or connected to a traditional building that allows for a dramatic mezzanine and first floor viewing of the “bubble.”
The project would also include five full-sized convertible basketball/volleyball courts including a “show court” with full peripheral seating for tournament finals and special events, a flexible multi-use turf field, and seating, that will offer multi-sport training, practice as well as to hold various tournaments, games and entertainment, a sports bar/food concession areas and seating, a multi-level premium laser tag experience, a full arcade area to augment the entertainment offerings and parties, multiple “party” rooms with adjacent space offerings including team meetings, conferences or various events, retail space to provide equipment and sports-related accessories, two hotels, a banquet and convention center and additional recreational attractions.
Cardinale testified during the meeting about the proposed brain research center that was part of the proposal. It would focus on multiple sclerosis research, a cause very close to him as his wife died from MS several years ago.
“My goal for this property is obviously to bring family entertainment and sports to Jackson but my personal goal is to create an MS research center that would be largest in the country and possibly the world. I built the MS for the MS Society at CentraState Hospital which handles 3,200 primarily women with diseases. My goal is to end MS. It took my wife’s life and I certainly want an eye for an eye. My goal is to partner with the Mayo Clinic, the brain research clinic there.”
Cardinale noted that during previous hearings, the president of CentraState Hospital provided testimony supporting the project which involves expanding the hospital’s research.
“What we will do when someone passes away from MS, within one hour they will be in the donor program, donating their brain and with a category 7 magnet from GE we will be transmitting information on lesions in the brain to 1,200 to MS labs around the world,” Cardinale said.
Cardinale added, “I’ve been accused of using this development for personal gain. This development is being created and the revenues I get from it will be going into that MS research center. Jackson has Six Flags Great Adventure as one of its greatest commercial assets. Jackson will also be known as having one of the greatest brain institutes in the world.”
Concerns were expressed by residents of Anderson Road about the impact of traffic that might be caused in the area by the overpass on Route 537 and I195. A lawsuit involving Anderson Road residents was filed last year that required adjustments to the proposal.
“I-195 is narrow and there are issues of buffering and traffic on Devine Road and Anderson. The Board took into account the residents’ concerns on traffic impacts,” Zoning Board Attorney Sean Gertner said previously.
Gertner said in an interview on January 16 that the unanimous approval of the board voting for the settlement may bring closure to the matter. The concession saw development that abuts Anderson Road removed from the GDP along with the stadium and the golf range that were part of the plan.
“They reserved the right to come back and put in a development application in the future,” Gertner said adding plan revisions did not include changes for the hotels or the 502 apartments. Some of the apartments were however relocated. It was noted that this was not a site plan approval but a conceptional plan approval.
The lengthy session called for Zoning Board Chairman Carl Book Jr. to postpone at least two other applications that appeared on the agenda after the Adventure Crossing application concluded.