JACKSON – Township officials stressed they were being proactive in regards to development issues in the community including a growing Orthodox Jewish student population.
Resident Sheldon Hofstein, who often offers comment and makes recommendations to the governing body, asked the council about the status of two prior suggestions he made.
While serving as a poll worker on Election Day, Hofstein said he noticed “many young married Orthodox couples and most of these people were in their 20s. Many came with their children; most of whom were under the age of five. There were quite a number of kids.”
Hofstein said some of the residents stated, “there was approximately 3,000 children under the age of five who will be starting school which creates a huge need for religious schools in Jackson. I know I brought this up before, but it is important that the council really plan for this. I mentioned establishing school zones.”
“Council President (Andrew) Kern said at previous meetings that because of the lawsuits (between Orthodox Jewish organizations, developers and residents against Jackson Township) that the council wasn’t getting involved in establishing new zones or changing some of the other zones. Is this a court order that is preventing you or is it your own reason for not doing this?” Hofstein asked.
Kern replied, “It is not my own reason nor a court order. It is working together with the community and the litigants to come up with something that works and can be constitutionally sound.”
“We are working on something that we have spent time on. This body up here has spent a tremendous amount of time and has invested many hours in these things. While we are in this litigation we are working through that process to produce the right document,” Kern added.
Hofstein also brought up that during previous meetings there were discussions of hiring an attorney with expertise in religious land use law. “Have you been working on that?” he asked.
Kern said yes but there was no announcement to make at this point. “That is something at work.”
“Hopefully, you will find somebody to help you,” Hofstein said.
He also made the suggestion noting five ordinances being introduced during the session that, “it would be helpful if at first reading just to let the public know why the ordinance is needed and what it contains and why the members are voting in favor of it.”
“It is just an open discussion and most of us see the highlights. It wouldn’t take long to explain to everybody what it is,” Hofstein said.
Elected BOE Candidates Congratulated
Councilman Nino Borrelli congratulated the four victorious candidates who won school board seats on Election Day in Jackson. The race saw the defeat of three incumbent board members for three-year terms as well as a newcomer to the one-year-term.
“It is never an easy task to put yourself out there but you did because you want the best for your kids and grandkids in the public schools. I wish the best to the four residents who won seats on the Board of Education and to those who did not, I hope you will stay involved and engaged in our town and school system,” he added.
Borrelli reminded residents that “there are many township boards and commissions you can serve on and provide your time and talent and skills on. There is a citizens leadership form on our township website if you want to apply for a position on a board or commission in our town. All of us up here got our start in public service by serving on some board or commission.”
Council President Kern also thanked the four residents that won Board of Education seats. “I look forward to working together with them next year. To all those who ran please try and stay active. Throughout the town there are opportunities for you to come out and volunteer with the town.”