JACKSON – Township officials voted to update and amend a portion of their housing compliance code doubling the cost of a home inspection from $25 to $50.
Council members voted in support of Ordinance, 14-21 which pertains to housing standards, resale and compliance and a required reinspection fee.
The Council also moved forward on identifying and hiring a grant writing service Millennium Strategies LLC that Council President Andrew Kern said would allow the township “to find more opportunities to offset some of the costs and expenses incurred.”
Lawyer Picked For Religious Zoning
The Township Council approved the designation of legal counsel representation for former township officials regarding litigation in the matter of United States versus Jackson Township.
Jackson had passed ordinances that the federal government said is discriminatory against Orthodox Jews.
In 2014, developer WR Property, LLC, bought five acres of property in the township intending to develop or market for development a religious Orthodox Jewish school.
In 2017, the township passed ordinances restricting dormitories and eruvs. Orthodox groups said that the ordinances were passed to target their population.
The town is also facing a civil suit for the same reason by Agudath Israel of America.
During the public comment period, two residents shared their mutual problem of flooding in their neighborhood. Joseph Floudas, of 902 Lakehurst Avenue and Lawrence Cella of 871 Toms River Road came before the governing body to request help with a growing problem.
Floudas, who moved into the neighborhood two years ago described it as a drainage problem “with water coming down onto my property, flooding it.”
He said the situation had worsened and is now causing property damage. At first it filled his driveway but now the water is coming into his house.
A recent rain storm caused mulch in the front of his yard to move all the way into his back yard and dangerously close to his inground pool. The homeowner said he has been sending pictures, videos and information to township offices “and it seems I am getting nowhere.” Floudas was told by a township employee that there was drainage that is supposed to be connected to Route 571 through his neighbor’s home but it was never connected.
“It was never connected to anything. I guess he plugged it up,” the Floudas said. He noted that such a connection was blocked possibly by his neighbor to prevent his yard from being filled with water “and overflowing to become a lake but it is not connected so the water comes out of there fills up that basin and goes down the roadway and comes down my driveway.
“There is no curbing in front of my house, the people before me must have put railroad ties there and now it is going over that and washing all my landscape debris in my front yard. It is all over my new air conditioner and I am concerned. Will anything be done?” Floudas asked.
The resident added, “it is like knee deep. I have sent videos to (Township Business Administrator) Mr. (Terrence) Wall. I’ve gotten no response. I’m getting nowhere and it is doing a lot of property damage to my property.”
Cella said he was also experiencing the same problem. “The water comes into my back yard and it has been coming and coming but the ground level is starting to get lower and the water came all the way up to my pool and washed my pool out. It overflowed it. I have a 40-foot pool and there was over six inches of water dumped into it.
“I just did a bunch of landscaping and it washed everything out,” Cella added.
Cella added that he built “a big trench in my back yard four feet wide by three feet deep just to keep the water from coming up to my back yard. The front of my house is on Toms River Road. The back of it is on Lakehurst. It is serious and it is a bad, bad situation going on.”
Mayor Michael Reina said information from both men would be shared with the township’s engineering firm and with Ocean County Engineer John Ernst. He promised an on-site evaluation would be performed to determine what was happening.
“We will look into it. I work for the County and I know these engineers personally and I will see to it personally that they look into this matter,” the mayor added.